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OS X Tips: Useful Mac utilities

Improve your OS X experience by augmenting the operating system with a few utilities -- some free, some that will cost you a few dollars, all are excellent.
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1 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Introduction

There's little doubt that OS X 10.9 Mavericks – of the upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite – operating system is a fully-featured platform that allows you to get a lot done, but adding a few extras in the form of utilities can help you get an awful lot more from the platform.

Here are my top six utilities that I have installed on my Macs.

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SnagIt

Apart from the Google Chrome Browser, this is the application I use the most on my Mac. OK, OK, I know that's because I take a barrel-load of screenshots each and every day, and that might not apply to all of you, but if your job involves screenshots, SnagIt is a huge timesaver that streamlines the whole process.

It also makes taking complex screenshots – where perhaps you have to use a timer or scroll down a window – a snap.

I know OS X has built-in screen capture functionality, but I find it a lot more cumbersome to use than SnagIt.

Price: $49.95

More info.

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Caffeine

A simple app that does just one thing, and does it well.

Caffeine is an icon that sits in the menu bar, and when you want to stop your Mac from going to sleep for whatever reason, you click on it. When you're done, you click on it again.

You can also enter custom durations for it to prevent your Mac from going to sleep.

Price: $5.99

More Info.

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Mountain

Manage your Mac's volumes fast and intuitively from the menu bar, allowing you to eject and remount volumes without having to unplug cables.

It also supports automatically ejecting all external volumes when the system is going to sleep and mounting your favorite network drives when recovering back from sleep.

One of the features I really like is being able to identify apps that are preventing volumes from being unmounted, and allowing me the option of either closing those apps or forcing unmounts.

Price: Free

More info.

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iStat Menus

iStat Menus is an advanced Mac system monitor, covering an enormous range of stats ranging from system temperatures to CPU performance.

iStat Menus puts an awful lot of important and useful information right at your fingertips.

How detailed? Well, it can show you the battery levels of your Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad and Apple wireless keyboard. That's pretty detailed in my opinion.

Price: $16

More info.

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Temperature Gauge Pro

Apple is pretty good at keeping Macs running cool even when they are under heavy loads, but when I'm pushing my hardware I like to keep it a little cooler than the limits Apple's engineers have built into the system.

To do this I use Temperature Gauge Pro. This is a simple utility that sits in the menu bar that not only gives me a complete overview of system temperatures, but also allows me to set temperatures at which the system fans kick into high gear.

Price: $9.99

More info.

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ForkLift 2

Finder is good, but ForkLift 2 is better. It is the most advanced file manager and FTP + SFTP + Amazon S3 + WEBDav client available for OS X. It is packed with awesome features such as"

  • Multi-file rename
  • Sync to
  • Transfer queue
  • Virtual file containers
  • And much more

Price: $29.95

More info.

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