10 Mac Power User Apps

by Bakari Chavanu Oct 10, 2008

If you're new to Mac computers or if you want to accomplish more as a Mac user there are an handful of applications, plug-ins, OS X features that will get on the road to becoming what is called Mac power user. These applications, though not all free,are guaranteed to save you time and help you work more efficiently at your computer. 

1. TextExpander: This little preference application is on top of my list of must-have applications for anyone who does a lot of writing on the computer. TextExpander  saves you countless keystrokes with customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings and images. If you're looking to do web design or coding, TextExpander will also be one of your best resources. 

2. Quicklook: This is another time saver, and it comes installed with Leopard. You can use this application to get an instant preview of almost any file on your computer,  including images, text files, PDF documents, movies, Keynote presentations, Mail attachments, and Microsoft Word and Excel files. Simply select file and hit the space bar. The file will appear for viewing. Hit the space bar again, and the preview of the file(s) will disappear. It's that simple. 

3. Toolbar and Menubar: The toolbar and menubar are not applications, but they are places where many applications, plug-ins, and folders can be accessed. Control or right-click on the toolbar any open Finder window (or go to View>Customize toolbar) and you're presented with an handful items you can put into your toolbar. Select the Show Icon Only view at the bottom of this pane, and you will get room to include additonal items. You can also add aliases of applications and folders to the Finder window's toolbar. Simply select the application, folder or document to the tool bar and wait for a plus-sign to appear, and then dropping it onto the toolbar. I have applications including TextMate, Safari, Disk Utility, DVD Player, and the Preferences folder in my Finder's toolbar. So for example when I want to open a document in TextMate, all I have to do is drag to the alias and it opens both the document and TextMate at the same time. 

4. Dafault Folder X: If you work at your computer most of the day, you should be using Default Folder X. This puppy will save you time in locating folders when you need to access them.  

5. Application and Folder Launchers: By all means add some sort of application and file launcher to your Mac. QuicksilverLaunchbar, and Butler  are a few popular ones. Essentially, these launchers enable users to open applications, files, and folders using just a few assigned keystrokes. If you're Mac beginner, these launchers will be a little difficult to learn, but once you figure them out, they'll save you time and frustration especially as your hard drive becomes larger with hundreds of files and applications. I use Quicksilver to launch many of my most referenced websites and to navigate iTunes in the background. 

6. 1Password: When I first downloaded 1Password  I put off really using it for like a year. It didn't seem very initutive, but upon reading an updated review article about it, I realized just how much time it would save me in filling out internet form and creating passwords and identities for various websites. 1Password is ten times better than the OS X keychain. There is also an iPhone/iPod touch application that securely syncs all your 1Password passwords and other personal information.  

7. Automation: Learn some automation hacks. I've written several articles about using Apple's Automator, but if you don't have time for that, check out an application called Hazel. You can use this application to help you keep your folder and files organized by the date, time, and kind. It can empty your trash on a regular basis, clean up your desktop, move selected files to a designated folder, and much, much more. This application also has a little learning curve, but once you figure it out, it will save you lots of time. For example, when I download and save a PDF, Hazel will move that file into my catch-all PDF folder. Hazel also cleans up my desktop every two days, putting files left on the desktop into a designated folder housed in my Documents folder. Files moved into that folder are removed to the trash after 30 days.  

8. Computer Notebook: All Mac users typically use some sort of application to store notes, screen shots, PDFs, business cards, etc. There are computer notebooks ranging the classic Mac Journal  to the now popular Evernote. Just get one and store all your junk there.  

9. SteerMouse: If you largely navigate your computer using the mouse, you'll love SteerMouse. With this nifty mouse driver, you can activate keyboard shortcut and icon actions by clicking one of the three or more buttons on most computer mouses. After using SteerMouse, you'll want to go and purchase a five-button mouse because of the functionality that this driver gives you.  

10. Google Docs: Google Docs of course are not Mac applications, but I personally think web applications are becoming the power user tools. These type of web applications are easy to access on various platforms and they reduce some of the clutter on your hard drive. I recently wrote about Google Docs  and why think it's better for than using TextEdit, Microsoft Word, or Excel for small and regular data processing needs.


  • Spell Catcher does EVERYTHING that TextExpander does AND MORE:  It also does spell checking, (optionally) journals all your typing keeping a backup, changes text characteristics (e.g. changing everything to uppercase), etc. It does this all at the same price that TextExpander has.

    James Katt had this to say on Oct 12, 2008 Posts: 11
  • I used TextExpander, and whether it’s a simple email signature or several paragraphs of a standard response, you’ll love how easy it is to use TextExpander to avoid typing the same thing over and over. -Gauthier, Houghtaling and Williams

    GHWLegal had this to say on Aug 09, 2011 Posts: 9
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