Mac Utility

Mac Essentials: Growl

Growl for Mac
Growl

If you are someone who has just switched from Windows to Mac, this will come as a pleasant surprise to you. Growl is a universal cross application alert system for Mac, something that does not exist on the Windows platform.

You get so used to the alerts from Growl that it becomes an integral part of your daily workflow. It feels like a native application for the Mac which you become highly dependant on. As mentioned earlier, Growl is an alert tool that can be used with a large number of applications to keep you informed that an action has taken place. It will show a pop-up on the top right(default – can be changed) telling you about the action that has taken place.

Growl alerts are highly customisable and allows you to choose from different styles, locations(corners), duration of display etc. You can choose not only whether to receive a notification from a particular application but also which notification to receive based on the type of activity a program is reporting. As soon as you install and launch a program that supports Growl, it appears in the list of programs on Growl’s automatically, ready for further configuration.

Growl PreferencesGrowl Notification ScreenshotGrowl Notification ScreenshotGrowl Notification Screenshot

Mac Essentials: iStumbler

iStumbler
iStumbler

iStumbler is a tiny little free open source tool that helps in finding wireless networks and devices with your Airport or Bluetooth equipped Mac. It is a tool that you install immediately after you get a new machine. iStumbler provides additional features over and above the Mac network tool and is very easy to use.

The interface is very simple and it provides real time display of signal strength with complete debugging information. It also provides a real time graph of the network at the top of the interface to display the stability of the network you selected.

iStumbler is a great tool to find wireless connections around you. It is specially handy when you are at a new location or just trying to explore and figure out which of the available wireless connection is the best for you.

iStumbler-99
iStumbler-99

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Mac Essentials: Quicksilver

Quicksilver
Quicksilver

Quicksilver is one of the first tools I install as soon as I get my hands on a new Mac. It is one application that feels completely native to the OS and one that you’ll not be able to live without on your Mac.

Quicksilver is the quickest way to get to application, contact, music or any other file that sits on your machine. It lets you reach any application or file by a press of few key strokes.

Quicksilver is activated as soon as you turn your machine on and sits in the background unless it is called for. You need to define a shortcut key to launch it on the screen or just use the default shortcut that comes with the software. Once launched, you can type in the first few letters of the application or file name and quicksilver will give you a list of items that start with those letters. You can then select the application or the file that you are looking for and launch it by hitting return.

Quicksilver is designed to intelligently remember your choices against each option that you select for a given input. So for example, if you type “pa” it’ll give you a list of files that start with pa including the application “pages”. Now every -time you select pages when you give pa as an input it remembers your selection and the next time you give a similar input it’ll show you pages at the top of the list.

You also get a variety of Quicksilver plug-ins for various applications. The plug-ins include everything from using a contact to dial a number to interacting with images, text, spreadsheets.

Apart from just launching an application or a file, Quicksilver also give you a selection of actions that you may want to take with the item in list. You can extend and customise Quicksilver to do exactly what you want it to do.

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Mac Essentials: Caffeine

Caffeine
Caffeine

Imagine yourself watching an interesting video on one of your favourite sites (You Tube, Vimeo .. alright, you get the idea!) and the screen of your Mac goes dark right when there is something interesting. It would take even more time to get it back to normal if your screen saver activates with a password to unlock.

This not only happens while watching a video on website but also while having a video conference on Skype and other messengers. This is mainly because watching a video on website or having a video conference without any chat or other task on the machine in parallel is not considered as an activity by Mac. It thus dims the screen after some time and starts screen saver in due time. This activity will be based on your settings in Screen saver and Energy Saver preferences.

Caffeine comes handy in such situations. It is a very small program which once clicked will keep the machine awake and force it to ignore your screen saver and energy saver preferences. Once you are done watching the video or with the video conference, you can click the Caffeine icon again after which things will go back to normal.

As the name suggests it helps keep your machine awake when you need it to. It is one tiny little tool that is a must have on your Mac

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