The SuiteTake App Store

suitetake-app-store

And now, introducing the SuiteTake App Store! Well, ok not really. It just seams as though everybody is getting rich selling apps these days so why not jump up on that band-wagon? The proliferation of the iPhone App Store, and the many others imitators from Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and on and on, it’s important to take a step back every now and then and remember that they still do make cool apps for regular computers too. And it may be hard to believe but some of them actually aren’t flashlights.

The following is a brief list of 5 cool apps that we just love to have on all our Macs. All 5 are what I would call utility and workflow type apps, they’re not things like After Effects or Firefox, apps that are essentially the core function of your Mac. These are little ditties that just make life, and work, that much easier.

Everyone goes through a learning curve when it come to technology and computers. You begin as a novice and learn more and more over time until you become very streamlined and efficient with the tasks you do everyday, whether it’s crunching spreadsheets or compositing layers. Even though the latest and greatest versions of OSX and Windows have come a long way to improving upon the efficient user experience they still leave a lot of things up to third parties to fill in the gaps. For most of us there will come a time in our learning curve where we have become so advanced and efficient that our software actually gets in our way, we can think and process what we want to do much faster than we can type and click. These few apps go a long way in solving these types of problems.

iStat Menus

This nifty app live at the top of your menu bar
This nifty app lives at the top of your menu bar

This nifty little app is a great for those of us who need to see whats happening under the hood of our Macs. It’s a complete system monitoring app that displays information as tiny icons at the top of your menu bar. It monitors in real time your CPU and Memory, Date and time, drives, network, and temps fans and power. Everything is customizable and user configurable via a pane in your system preferences. You can select which items you want to see, change their appearance, and even their order from left to right.

I find iStat most useful in two ways. First, by monitoring the network and CPUs I can see at a glance the status of any processes that are going on and whether or not they have stalled. All of a sudden I may notice that an app has crashed and is pegging the CPUs, I can then just force quit the app and go on without any more trouble. And secondly, this one of those small things that I just love about apps like this, is that the OSX menu bar does not include the date as a number, it can only display the day of the week. iStat Menu displays a little iCal looking calendar page right next to OSX’s day and time. I use this feature every single day and love it.

iStat Menus is free (with a suggested donation) from the fine folks at iSlayer.com

Default Folder X

DFX adds a translucent border to your open and save dialogues
DFX adds a translucent border to your open and save dialogues

Default Folder X is an app that now that I have it I don’t know how I ever worked without it. Directly from their website: “Default Folder X makes Mac OS X’s Open and Save dialogs work as quickly as you do.” One of the biggest time wasters in any workflow when you have to deal with a lot of files and folders is opening and saving and just navigating through endless strings of folders upon folders. When I want to open or save something I just want to hit a key and bam, move on. Default Folder X adds a translucent overlay to your open and save dialogue boxes that offers several time-saving shortcuts. These shortcuts point straight to recent, open, and favorite folders that you can customize and even delegate among different applications. It beefs up spotlight’s power by allowing you to add your own search keywords on the fly. One feature of Default Folder X that I was amazed wasn’t part of OSX is the addition of hierarchical pop-up menus. You can easily mouse through the menus straight to the folder you need without click after click.

I have found that the recent destination button and being able to select already open Finder windows as the most useful. There are loads of other features that I simply haven’t gotten around to customizing yet, probably because I’m so happy with the few that I use daily.

Default Folder X is well worth it at $34.95 from the people at St. Clair Software

LaunchBar

Take this Dock!
Take this Dock!

LaunchBar is perfect for those of use who are keyboard shortcut obsessed, which, as editors, most of us are. If you are keyboard shortcut obsessed then you strive to do as much as possible without ever touching a mouse. You know all the commands in FCP, AE, PS, OSX, and even their Windows equivalents whenever the need arises. You even know the illusive CNTRL+EJECT command to activate the Shutdown/Sleep/Restart box. LaunchBar is for you. The best way to use LaunchBar is to set it up to automatically launch at login. It is activated by a configurable shortcut, we use CNTRL+Space. When you enter the shortcut a little menu drops down from underneath your menu bar, you then begin typing what you want to do. Most commonly this is the name of an application you want to launch. For instance, when I want to launch FInal Cut Pro I press CNTRL+Space then F-I-N. As soon as you begin typing a contextual menu drops down with suggestions that match what you are typing, when Final Cut Pro appears just hit enter and the app launches. LaunchBar remembers what keystrokes you use to launch what apps and makes life even easier. When I want to launch Mail all I need to do is type CNTRL+Space, M, and Enter. Now I’m not knocking the Dock, it’s fast and convenient, but for a keyboard shortcut junkie LaunchBar is the way to go.

There are dozens of additional features packed into LaunchBar from Spotlight searching, recent documents, web searching, iTunes browsing, Address Book entries, and so on. I love it for simply launching apps and constantly find myself hitting CNTRL+Space on Macs that don’t have it.

LaunchBar is approximately $34, actually €24.00, from the folks across the pond at Objective Development (They also make Little Snitch which is another gem)

1Password

Try and steal my HampsterDance.com login now!
Try and steal my HampsterDance.com login now!

It seems as though you can’t check the weather these days without logging in with some username and password. Username and password overload is a real problem these days with having literally dozens of logins all across the internet from Amazon, to eBay, to your bank, even SuiteTake! Very commonly people, myself included, resort to using the same username and password again and again across multiple sites just to allow yourself a fighting chance at actually remembering one. it doesn’t take an internet security genius to figure out that this can be a huge security risk to your business and personal life.

1Password is a utility that creates, stores, and recalls strong passwords for you right in your web browser. Any time you go a site where a password is required shortcuts that install in your browser allow you to create a password, that can be customized from simple to incredibly complicated, enter it in the proper fields then stores it for subsequent use. When you return to the site later you just hit the 1Password button and it autofills your password information. It works with almost any common web browser like Safari, Firefox, and Opera.

There’s not much more that needs to be said, if a thief managed to get one of your un-secure passwords they could run amok all over the internet with it. Using 1Password easily thwarts would-be criminals.

1Password also saves credit card information to speed up checkout processes and has portability features that allow you to access your saved password information when you’re at a computer other than yours. A handy iPhone app is also available. It is $39.95 from Agile Web Solutions.

MPEG Streamclip

De-mux anything that needs de-muxing.
De-mux anything that needs de-muxing.

Ok, this one falls out of the same categories as the apps above but I had to include it because this app has been a savior countless times across editing forums.

Have you ever needed to de-mux a DVD VOB file? If you’re an editor of any kind, yes, yes you have been given a DVD Video and been asked to incorporate it into a project. Hum, what the heck is a VOB file? Certainly not a edit friendly format.

MPEG Streamclip is a video converter app that, among many other things, can de-mux DVD VOB files to user-friendly Quicktime and Windows formats. Just pop in a DVD, select your settings and walk away as it converts everything for you.

Yes, there are many apps out there that do the same things that MPEG Streamclip does but the catch is that MPEG Streamclip is free! Yes, it’s a free app that is in version 1.9.2 and has been around for years. And yes, it does work and is reliable enough for a professional environment.

MPEG Streamclip Free at Squared 5

The SuiteTake

If you’re not there yet, one day you’ll get to a point where your efficiency with you computer outpaces your ability to click and type fast enough. There are hundreds of useful apps like these out there that go a long way in helping improve upon that efficiency and overall user experience. these are just 5 of them, the list could go on and on and on. The best part is that the most expensive app listed here is less than 40 bucks. Drop a little cash and save yourself hours of frustration.

And please, offer your favorite gems bellow as comments. I’m sure there are loads of apps out there yet to be discovered, we’d love to hear about them.

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