6 (more) essential utilities for your Mac

A few weeks ago I spoke up for '5 essential utilities for any Mac user',   since then I've been contacted by readers who've suggested a few additional tools that could also improve your Mac life. I've taken a look at a few of these and given them a gentle kick around, so read on for a second small collection of utilities you need for your Mac.

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CopyPaste Pro ($30)

Each time you copy something to paste somewhere else, the item you copy is held in the Clipboard. The problem with the Clipboard inside Mac OS X is it is build to handle just one item at once: wouldn't it be useful if you could pop several items in there, so you could paste them all into the same document or other project file without swapping between apps? With CopyPaste Pro, you can.

The software offers numerous features, including:

  • Every clipping is saved and made available in the clip browser
  • Clips can be edited with a built-in word processor
  • There's tools for time stamp and data extraction of clips
  • Multiple clip views
  • Archives and more

More on CopyPaste in the video below:

Apple Jack (free)

This powerful utility almost made the last collection, but I avoided it as while it is extremely capable it offers some features that may challenge novice Mac users. But what it does do it does very well, and as a troubleshooting tool it is your friend.

What can it do? Perhaps you can't get your Mac to start-up properly and you never make it to the nice Mac user interface, perhaps you just need to find another way to start-up your Mac but don't have a startup CD to hand. Apple Jack to the rescue.

AppleJack can start even if your Mac doesn't. Using it you can repair your disk, repair permissions, validate the system's preference files, and get rid of possibly corrupted cache files.

All you need to do (once AppleJack is installed) is launch your Mac in Single User Mode by holding down the command and s keys at startup, and then typing applejack, or applejack auto or even applejack auto restart. (Each has a different function, all launch AppleJack). I've used this frequently, often to get other people's machines back on track. There's an excellent in-depth briefing on the software here.


1Password ($39.95)

There's so many websites and services demanding passwords these days it just isn't funny. We all know we should use a different password for each one, but face it, we can't remember all the combinations.

This is frustrating.

Perhaps we might jump into Keychain to store passwords there, or maybe we have created a password-protected file for them inside Bare Bones Software's excellent Yojimbo, but it would be good to have a dedicated password manager. And we do, it is called 1Password.

Available for Mac, Windows, iPad and iPhone, 1Password can create strong passwords for you, which it can remember for you, and all this action takes place in your browser. It is all secure, with passwords to your password collection (the one password you need to remember).

There's 1Password plug-ins available for nearly every Mac browser and you can sync your data across multiple Macs via MobileMe. You can also carry your passwords with you using the iOS app, which basically guards all your passwords and is compatible with the application's own built-in browser. 1Password can also handle secure notes, credit card details and more.

Yojimbo ($39)

I really like Yojimbo. I like it because it supports the somewhat casually disorganized way in which I work, It lets me easily save those scraps and slices of images, documents and other data I want to put to one side as I work away.


There's so many features: Spotlight search, MobileMe integration, iPad and iPhone apps, and it is extremely easy to learn and to use. You seldom need to worry about things, there's lots of ways to store/save information, and you can even add tags to your saved files to help you sort them into relevant groups in future.

I've been using it for just over a week and I'm extremely pleased with it so far. I like it that it remains quietly in the background, and if I need to save something I can do so using drag-&-drop -- it is a no hassle system that doesn't get in the way of what I'm trying to do. I'm slowly but surely beginning to think Yojimbo offers the kind of features Apple could consider building into the OS. I like it a lot.

Growl (free)

I have a love-hate relationship with Growl. I like the immediacy of knowing you have received an email, or whatever else you're tracking with the app, but I also hate the immediacy, because it can interrupt sustained workflow.


However, with some evidence around to suggest Apple's Mac OS X Lion will offer some form of background notification system, then we may as well get used to the best notification system out there right now, which is Growl.

Growl lets Mac OS X applications notify you about events. It installs as a preference pane within Mac OS X System Preferences. There users can enable and disable notifications for each application. Users can customize the display and turn notifications on and off.

Some examples:

  • Safari has finished downloading a file
  • You've received new email
  • iTunes has started playing a song 

 iFreeMem (£10)

There's nothing more frustrating than when you are attempting to switch between applications and the spinning colored ball comes up with your system seemingly freezing for a few seconds.

This sometimes happens when your memory manager frees up cache memory for your application.

What happens is a little cache memory gets used every file or application read from hard-disk. What iFreeMem does is clear this cache up -- and it is quicker to run the utility that than to restart your Mac, which also clears the cache.

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