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Utilities I couldn't live without...again

What utilities do I love to use....?

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A while ago I wrote an article about utilities I couldn’t live without:

OSX Utilities I couldn't live without

I thought it could do with some updating, as I’ve some more cool stuff to add to the list.

TextExpander (OSX) Breevy (Windows)
These are brilliant apps that enable you to expand shortcuts to full text - if, like me, you edit a lot of docs and find yourself typing the same words/terms then you can save a heap of time by using these apps. For example in EverNote I always store my notes with the date before the title (So for example 2014-11-24 Blog Entry) with TextExpander I can have that date automatically inserted by using a shortcut - in this instance ;en - I.e. I just type that and it automatically fills in the date.

Same with my email address - I find myself typing it loads of times, so now I’ve just shorted it to ‘@@@‘ - I.e. Type in three @ signs and it auto-populates my Email address.

Brilliantly useful.

Mountain for Mac
This is a great little toolbar app that allows me to disconnect some/all of the drives on my machine quickly and easily. You can read about it here:

Mountain for Mac

IFTTT.com (If this, then that)
This is less of an app more of an internet service - as the name says it’s an automation tool - you can tell it to do things, if things happen (I’m sure you’ve worked that out!). It’s brilliant - and has feeds for all kinds of stuff. Mine is configured so that stuff I favourite on Twitter for example get pushed into my EverNote notebooks.

You can read a review of it here:

IFTTT PCMag

SizeUp
This is a great little application that gives you window control from the keyboard. You can push windows to the left/right, top/bottom etc. as well as to different screens and spaces. Personally I prefer using the keyboard so I find this little application invaluable. It’s written by Irradiated Software and can be obtained here:

Irradiated Software - SizeUp

Cinch
This is another great utility from Irradiated Software. Those of you familiar with Windows 7/8 are probably familiar with the way you can drag windows to each side of the screen, or to the top, to arrange the windows either half or full screen. Cinch adds this ability to OSX. A very useful tool and one I use constantly. It can be obtained here:

Irradiated Software - Cinch

VMWare Fusion 7 & Parallels 10
Notice how I’ve listed both? I use both, regularly, but for slightly different things. Both of these applications are great at virtualising Windows products, of in fact pretty much any guest operating system. So why do I use both? Well, mainly down to scaling and experience.

I work predominantly with Windows based infrastructures so having access to those environments is vital. VMWare Fusion is fantastic for virtualising Windows server based operating systems and scales really well. My ‘demo’ environment includes anything up to 6 servers running Active Directory, Exchange, Lync Server and various clients. Fusion handles this well on my laptop - simply brilliant. In my experience Parallels doesn’t quite scale as well as Fusion for multiple server guest operating systems. So, why do I use Parallels?

I use Parallels for the my desktop vritualisation. I depend on applications such as Outlook, Visio and of course Lync. These are apps that are just so much better than equivalents on OSX - Outlook especially. Parallels enables me to run them well - and run them the same as any other application in OSX - in the dock, and in a Window.

So, I use Fusion for server based guests, and Parallels for desktop. It’s a great solution & works really well.

If I had to choose one out of the two - which would I choose? Well for me, with my dependency on running Server OS’, it would have to be Fusion. If it were just for desktop OS such as Windows however Parallels would get my vote.

EverNote
Somebody recommended the EverNote product set to me - and wow, I’m stunned by it. Its organisation of notes, seamless synchronisation across platforms (Windows/OSX, mobiles/iPad etc.) just simply blew me away. I now use it for pretty much
everything and can’t begin to recommend it enough. Any downsides? Well, currently the client is a bit sucky on Windows 8 (the desktop app - there’s a touch one as well), but I’m sure that will be improved. The issue is the text is just too small, and not scaled properly.

Also, plug-in products like
EverNote Hello and EverNote vJournal make the product absolutely invaluable to my day to day work now. Simply cannot recommend it enough!

DropBox
What can you say about DropBox that hasn’t been said already? It just works. Blindingly simple application for keeping your information synchronised across devices. My usage has changed though - my main storage is now on OneDrive, with DropBox used for other ‘casual’ stuff such as screenshot sharing.

OneDrive
I use this for all of my sync’d file storage - don’t get it mixed up with OneDrive for Business - I find OneDrive for Business to be terrible compared to the consumer product.

1Password
Another obvious one! This is a great multi-platform product for storing and generating complex web site passwords, and any other information you want to keep secure & encrypted. It’s beautifully designed, and integrates directly into your Web Browser so you can copy/paste those complex passwords without ever having to see or type them in. Great way to ensure you’re secure online.

There’s great clients for the mobile devices too - and synchronisation is simple either via DropBox or iCloud. Downsides? Well, it’s a little pricey I think….

Litte Snitch
This is an interesting application that may only be of value to the more technically astute out there. The application controls outward connections from your Mac so gives you great visibility on what your machine & sessions are trying to connect to. I’ve found it invaluable when trying to investigate connectivity issues with software - I can see
exactly what the software is trying to connect to, rather than going by what I assume it’s connecting to. I used it for example to track down the ports and targets for BackBlaze so that I could route my uploads to a separate ADSL line. Very useful.

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