September 19, 2012

Spectacle, Alfred, and More of My Favorite (Free) Mac Productivity Apps

I really enjoy finding new tools that make my life easier. These are a few of my favorites that I use constantly. I hope you find something you can use!


This little app lets you easily arrange your application windows. I find it very useful if I want to quickly put two windows side-by-side. I also use it to make a window expand to fill my screen without using my mouse. As in, resize the window to fill my screen rather than going into "full screen" mode (which doesn't work right with multiple monitors).

You can also quickly send windows to the corners, or top/bottom half of your screen.

Get it free in the app store.


I use Alfred all day, every day. It is like the built-in Spotlight only much more customizable. It's kind of like Siri, except that it works right and quickly - and if Siri required only typing a few characters. Press a quick hotkey, Alfred will pop up, and you can perform searches or actions on your Mac. It remembers your selections so it gets "smarter". You can also perform a lot of custom searches, like weather, wolfram, ebay, and many others. You can even type math calculations and get answers. 

I mostly use it to open files or to open a file's enclosing folder so I can grab the file or view its info, but it can do so so much more. Note that some people swear by Quicksilver, which I believe is similar.

Learn more and download it here. The basic version, which I use, is free.

Flycut / Jumpcut

Flycut is a clipboard utility forked from Jumpcut. It logs your clipboard history (but not images, blast it) so you can copy multiple lines of text. Useful if you're heavily copying and pasting, or if you accidentally lose something you copied earlier. 

Get it free in the app store.


You've probably heard of this one! But in case you haven't, dropbox is free (up to 2GB) cloud storage for your files. Not only that, but it is very easy to use and access. You will have a folder on your local computer with all your Dropbox files. These files sync automagically with Dropbox in the cloud, so you can always take your files with you and edit them without an internet connection. If you use multiple devices or want to share files with a team, Dropbox is one of the best options out there.

Check out

Awesome Screenshot: Capture & Annotate

This is an extension for Chrome, actually. But I use it every so often when I need to capture a screenshot of a webpage. It can create one picture of the entire page, even though much of the page content can be below the fold. Or you can just capture a select piece of the page, but Mac already has a handy screenshot shortcut for that (Shift+Command+4). You can also annotate and markup on the image, save it temporarily online, save the image locally, etc.

View the extension here


Like Dropbox, many of you have heard of this. Evernote is a could-based notepad, essentially. It has a lot of cool features. You can save entire webpages, tweets, text, files, etc. I mostly just use it as a giant pile of my notes and to do lists. Hootsuite also has an app that links to Evernote so that you can save tweets to an Evernote notebook with one click. 

Visit Evernote's website here. Evernote also has browser extensions.


A great open-source all-in-one chat program. I use it to connect to coworkers through AIM, and friends through Google and Facebook chats in one persistent app.

Check out the Adium website here.

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