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10 quirky little OS X add-ons that increase productivity

If you use a Mac, you're going to want to take a look at these quirky little add-ons. Each one can save you time, increase productivity, and reduce frustration.

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Topic: SMBs
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1 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Quirky OS X add-ons

There are only 24 hours in each day, and yet we often have vastly more work to get done than the fabric of the time-space continuum will allow.

To increase productivity, we've taken to the digital domain, our phones, tablets, laptops, and so on. We're all familiar with the big productivity applications (and I've even explored with you my daily productivity flow).

But when it comes to getting the absolute most out of your day, sometimes it's the little add-on that can return a few minutes to your life, give you time to get another cup of coffee, or help you do a slightly better job.

In honor of those quirky add-ons, I've picked out ten of my favorite and present them to you here.

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2 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

SoundBunny - $9.99

Have you ever had your computer suddenly flare up, sound popping at ear-splitting volume? What about this scenario: your volume control is set perfectly for one application, but all wrong for another?

To the rescue hops SoundBunny, a volume control that controls each individual sound channel separately. That's all it does, but it does it well.

I've found it helps in my day-to-day work when a browser decides to start yelling at me, and also when recording lessons and webcasts.

Get it here.

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3 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Divvy - $13.99

There are a whole bunch of screen snap tools that do some of what Windows 7 brought to light: the ability to move a window to a segment of the screen and have it snap into place.

Divvy is a different beast. With one keystroke, the little Divvy screen pops up and you can draw out where on your screen you want your window. If you want to perfectly arrange your windows, Divvy is very big help.

Get it here.

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4 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Keyboard Maestro - $36

Keyboard Maestro is one of the reasons I use OS X as my main operating system these days. While Windows and Linux are certainly customizable, Keyboard Maestro lets you build macros and functions with a level of ease that the other systems can't touch.

Sure, I use a Mac because I can run both Mac and Windows applications side-by-side and I need both native environments, but I've bought licenses for Keyboard Maestro for every Mac I have, and it helps me automate anything that seems to need automating.

Without Keyboard Maestro on OS X, I probably would have stayed with Windows as my primary OS and just run the Mac applications I need on a side machine. It's that powerful and that helpful.

Get it here.

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5 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Overflow - $14.95

Parallels lets you integrate Windows applications and Mac applications on the same machine. But it's often hard to find them and launch them in a way that makes sense based on project.

Overflow is a pop-up launcher that allows you to divide applications into groups (like folders) and easily pick and choose which ones you need.

Is it necessary? Heck no. But it sure has saved me a few seconds here and there, and makes application selection a faster process (and yes, I know you can use spotlight, but I like to tap the apps I want to launch).

Get it here.

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6 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Dock Clock - $1.99

I sometimes forget that Dock Clock isn't part of OS X. It's always on my screen and always keeping me aware of time.

I am in a tremendous number of meetings and I also do a lot of webcasts. I keep the floating Dock Clock on my screen and I'm able to constantly keep an eye on it, to know where we are in our agenda.

Sure, it also updates in the Dock, but for me, the simple reliability of the floating window helps me get my job done.

Get it here.

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7 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Hue-topia - about $8.50

If you use Hue lights, you'll want to use Hue-topia. Hue-topia allows you to control your Hue lights from your computer's desktop.

A quick shout-out goes to the program's author, who added a keyboard shortcut feature I wanted so Hue-topia would work with Keyboard Maestro.

One interesting note: it's not entirely clear how much the application costs. It was available on the Mac App Store when I bought it for about $8.50US. Now, it's not on the app store and while Shiela offers a free download trial, the price isn't evident. I sent a note to her, but the timing of this article was such that I hadn't heard back by deadline.

Even so, if you use a Hue lighting system, download Hue-topia and give it a try.

Get it here.

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8 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Little Ipsum - free

Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent commodo cursus magna, vel scelerisque nisl consectetur et. Donec sed odio dui.

Don't you agree?

Okay, seriously, Little Ipsum is a program that generates filler sentences and paragraphs like the one above. That's all it does, but if you're a designer or need to drop in some filler text, Little Ipsum lives in the menu bar and makes it easy to get a temporary chunk of text to fill in a zone in your project.

Get it here.

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9 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Nisus Thesaurus - free

If you're ever looking for the perfect word, you have a bunch of options, including the Thesaurus tab of the OS X Dictionary app.

One option you may not be aware of is Nisus Thesaurus which has a few advantages, including the ability to work with OS X services and the nice ability to browse through a wide variety of word use forms to find the exact word. For example, if you're looking for a synonym for "right" you might find "correct." But is that "correct as in adjust, correct as in chastise, correct as in compensate, or correct as in right? Nisus Thesaurus shows you all these forms. It's very helpful.

Would I recommend you buy this given OS X comes with a Thesaurus? Probably not. But Nisus Thesaurus is free and can help fill in the blanks when you're looking for just the right word.

Get it here.

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10 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

ProLevel - $4.99

I spend a lot of time fiddling with sound, trying to get it just right for my broadcasts, webcasts, interviews, meetings, and classes.

It's often difficult to tell which sound channel is producing what sound, but ProLevel, a simple five buck tool, makes the process quick and easy.

ProLevel is a sound meter for your various channels. You no longer need to rely on your hearing to know the level of sound -- you can match sound levels objectively and accurately.

Get it here.

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11 of 11 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

HyperDock - $9.95

I may use the Mac, but that doesn't mean I don't like Windows.

When I started using the Mac on a daily basis, one of the first Windows features I found lacking was the application preview thumbnails in Windows 7 provide.

Fortunately, you can get that feature back if you install HyperDock. It doesn't do much, but it doesn't need to. It pops up little thumbnails, saving time and frustration.

Get it here.

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