24 essential OS X El Capitan utilities you need

Apple, OS X, El Capitan, Mac, software

Pick the right tool for the job

Credit: Florianric/Flickr

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers, and welcome to this collection of essential utilities for OS X El Capitan Macs.

Useful cloud

Online file services that sync with your Mac have been around for some time, and provide you with valuable storage, collaboration and more. I recommend Dropbox and Box.

Notes on the go

Evernote is an essential companion to anyone researching online. Use it to file clippings, notes and loads of other information in your online scrapbook, which you can access anywhere.

Contacts

Apple’s Contacts application is pretty good and integrates well with the rest of the OS, but for a contacts manager with more to offer check out CoBook, which adds powerful social media integration.

Data recovery

When things go wrong and you accidentally delete data or your hard drive fails then you’ll need Disk Drill, Data Rescue or DiskWarrior ($119). DiskWarrior is an insanely powerful recovery solution, but for basic file recovery all three work, including recovery of data from external drives.

Memory hogs

Noticed how some applications consume so much RAM your Mac moves like a geriatric possum? One way to fix this is to relaunch the memory-consuming app, the other is to use Memory Clean or Dr. Cleaner. Both will optimize your RAM to maximize available memory, while Dr. Cleaner will also clean the disk and check for large files.

Sleep well

We stare at our computers at work and at home, we use iPhones and iPads and then find we can’t get to sleep at night. There’s a science at work here concerned with the blue light used for displays and its harmful effect on the brain’s sleep centers. To help yourself use f.lux, which matches the color of your display to the time of day, filtering out that blue light at night.

Virus checker

Mac users aren’t terribly impacted by viruses, but we can still pass them on. If you work and share files with Windows users you should ensure your Mac doesn’t infect the lesser platform. That’s why I use Sophos Anti-Virus.

Liberate disk space

With over a million users, Disk Doctor ($2) is one of the very best disk cleaning utilities with numerous useful features – recommended.

File reduction

Monolingual removes the international language support files installed by default on OS X, reclaiming several hundred megabytes of space.

Backup (please backup, please, please)

Losing your images, music and other precious digital things is how almost every Mac user learns why they should back up. Use Apple’s Time Machine for one back up, but don’t stop there – create a second backup using either Carbon Copy Cloner ($40) or Super Duper! ($27.95) (both of which are excellent), and take a look at Crashplan as additional protection.

Faxing

You will be glad you got iFax each time you need to send or receive a fax.

Privacy

If you already use the rapidly improving DuckDuckGo for search (and you should) then you should also look at Little Snitch and Ghostery. Ghostery lets you control all the zillions of cookies ads firms install on your Mac, while Little Snitch lets you monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic so you can control your privacy.

VPN

NordVPN provides a fast, utterly private, encrypted virtual private network for completely secure Internet access on Macs and iOS devices. If privacy matters to you, you need this.

Maintenance

Onyx has been an essential utility on every Mac I’ve owned for over a decade. It handles all your Mac maintenance routines and provides numerous useful features to maximize performance.

Delete applications

When you install them many applications also put necessary Library and other files in place that consume lots of space on your Mac. When you delete the application those support files aren’t always deleted too. That’s why you use AppCleaner, which will delete all those stray support files along with the unwanted app.

Wireless networks

When you want optimize your own home or office network, find new open networks or even survey a larger building to identify any network ‘black’ spots, NetSpot is the essential tool for you.

Duplicates detection

To find large and duplicate files use OmniDiskSweeper, the industry standard tool for the job.

Keyboard extender

LaunchBar ($24) is the go-to application if you’re looking for powerful keyboard shortcuts – you’ll be amazed what it can do.

So that’s your Thanksgiving selection of incredibly useful Mac utilities. Did I miss any you like? Please let me know.

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