Monday, April 29, 2013

10 Productivity Apps For Your Mac-Based Home Office

by Bakari Chavanu
productivity apps for mac
If you work at home-based office like I do, you no doubt spend a significant amount of time getting things done on your Mac. While I have already written about the advantages of using a standup desk, there are also several important and general productivity apps for Mac, for almost any type of workflow you engage in.
Though there is no robot application (yet!) that can do all the work for me, the following are 10 of the most useful free or low-cost productivity apps that I use on a daily or regular basis. These applications not only save me time but in many cases help me work more efficiently.


It's difficult to work in any home-based office and not need a useful calendar. Though OS X comes installed with a default Calendar application, the third-party option, Fantastical ($19.99) is hands down the best calendar you should run on your Mac.
With Fantastical, you can input and check calendar events and schedules right from your Mac's menu bar. You can create a new event simply by opening Fantastical's drop-down window and entering the data for the event. Instead of clicking numbers and times, you simply write the event as if you were writing it on a scratch sheet of paper.
For example, to schedule a lunch meeting for next Wednesday, simply type: "Lunch with Bakari next wed, 11:30am, at Fresh Choice." As you type, you watch Fantastical fill in all the data for you.

productivity apps for mac

You can preset the type of reminders you want for calendar events. Fantastical syncs with Apple's Calendar application, but there's also an iPhone version ($8.99) of Fantastical that works the same way. By having Fantastical in your menu bar, you don't have to open the Calendar app just to add or review a few events.

Super Memory Cleaner

If you find that your Mac slows down throughout the day or when you have several applications open, you should download Super Memory Cleaner (free). It does a great job of cleaning up hundreds of megabytes, or even gigabytes, of memory with one simple click. You can select to have it auto-clean, or clean at startup.

productivity apps mac

Desktop Wallpapers

If you meet clients in your home office, and/or you like your office to have professional décor, your desktop wallpaper should be just as classy as your iMac or Macbook computer. My wallpaper of choice is a collection produced by Vlad Studio.

productivity apps mac
These free wallpapers are designed by digital artist, Vlad Gerasimov, and you can download them for nearly any size desktop monitor. I recommend selecting and downloading a few dozens of your favorites and simply have your Mac change the pictures everyday, or each time you wake up your Mac. I find that these unique wallpapers add a little inspiration to my daily workflow.


There are occasions when you need to keep your Mac desktop or laptop awake when you're doing a presentation, or playing a video while multitasking in another part of your office. This is where Caffeine (free) comes in. When you enable it, it keeps your Mac from going to sleep until you cut if off. Jackson reviewed this application when it was first released back in 2008.

productivity apps mac


There are no shortage of to-do applications for the Mac, but if you're still looking for one, you should give Wunderlist (free) a try. Dave reviewed the iOS mobile version of Wunderlist, but the desktop version contains a similar user interface.

productivity apps

Wunderlist is a clean, well designed cross-platform program where you can mange and sync all of your to-do lists. You can also share and collaborate lists with your colleagues. If you don't need a task manager with lots of bells and whistles, Wunderlist can be very useful in your workflow.


FunctionFlip (free/donation) is a Preferences utility that allows you to customize those Fn keys at the top of your keyboard that you might rarely use. For instance, while I constantly use the assigned volume keys, I hardly ever use the brightness, iTunes, Exposé and Launchpad Fn keys on my iMac.
So with FunctionFlip, I can turn off those functions and assign them another purpose using applications like Keyboard Maestro or QuickSilver.

productivity apps


Another useful task and project manager is an online and mobile application called Trello. It's sort of like a whiteboard for sorting ideas, lists of tasks, and project workflows. You can share your "whiteboards" with others, and view them in any web browser or the iOS version (free) of of the application and service. Erez reviewed Trello in more detail here.

productivity apps

Launchpad Manager

If you have amassed a lot of applications on your Mac, you have probably experienced how difficult it is to use Launchpad to access all of your applications. The Launchpad feature in Lion and Mountain Lion is not very useful if you don't have your applications organized alphabetically or in folders. This is whereLaunchpad Manager ($7.99) comes in.


Launchpad Manager includes over a dozen features, including the ability to alphabetize applications, delete icons from Launchpad without uninstalling the applications themselves, and move selected applications to another Launchpad page. You can easily move applications into groups, rename icons and groups, and quickly cut and paste applications from one folder to another. You can use custom layouts of your Launchpad for different purposes.
You can download a free version of Launchpad Manager, but many of its advanced features are only available in the paid pro version.


Dropzone ($9.99) is a nifty little application that enables you to perform various tasks from the menu bar or from the left or right side of your desktop screen. For example, say you download a new application that is delivered to you in a DMG file. You can drag that DMG file to Dropzone and drop it on theInstall Application action, and it will proceed to automatically open and install that application, and then delete the DMG file for you.


You can create another action that sends files to a pre-selected folder. There's actions for quickly printing a file or converting a long URL to a short URL. You can download a 15-day trial of the application, which I recommend. Spend some time with it, and check out the user contributed actions for Dropzone.
If you find more than five actions that will enable you to be more productive, then it may be worth paying for the application,which you should download from the Mac App Store.

Time Out

One of the ways to be more productive in your Mac-based home office is to actually take breaks from your Mac. Time Out (free) will remind you to take "normal", say 10 minute breaks, and "micro" breaks, like 10 seconds every 30 minutes, based on the time intervals you set.

productivity apps for mac

When I don't use this application, I end up working at my computer for hours before I take a break. Not taking a break causes a strain on my eyes, and by the afternoon I'm less productive. You can postpone or skip breaks, but doing so too often will defeat the purpose.
That's it for my Mac-based home office applications. Let us know which productivity apps for Mac that you find most useful in your workflow.


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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Which Employee Type are You?

Employee "A" in a company walked up to his manager and asked what my job is for the day? The manager took "A" to the bank of a river and asked him to cross the river and reach the other side of the bank. "A" completed this task successfully and reported back to the manager about the completion of the task assigned. The manager smiled and said "GOOD JOB"

Next day Employee "B" reported to the same manager and asked him the job for the day. The manager assigned the same task as above to this person also. The Employee "B' before starting the task saw Employee "C" struggling in the river to reach the other side of the bank. He realized "C" has the same task. Now "B" not only crossed the river but also helped "C" to cross the river. "B" reported back to the manager and the manager smiled and said "VERY GOOD JOB"

The following day Employee "Q" reported to the same manager and asked him the job for the day. The manager assigned the same task again. Employee "Q" before starting the work did some home work and realized "A", "B" & "C" all has done this task before. He met them and understood how they performed. He realized that there is a need for a guide and training for doing this task. He sat first and wrote down the procedure for crossing the river, he documented the common mistakes people made, and tricks to do the task efficiently and effortlessly. Using the methodology he had written down he crossed the river and reported back to the manager along with documented procedure and training material. The manger said "Q" you have done an "EXCELLENT JOB".

The following day Employee "O' reported to the manager and asked him the job for the day. The manager assigned the same task again. "O" studied the procedure written down by "Q" and sat and thought about the whole task. He realized company is spending lot of money in getting this task completed. He decided not to cross the river, but sat and designed and implemented a bridge across the river and went back to his manager and said, "You no longer need to assign this task to any one". The manager smiled and said "Outstanding job 'O'. I am very proud of you."

What is the difference between A, B, Q & O? Many a times in life we get tasks to be done at home, at office, at play.,
Most of us end up doing what is expected out of us. Do we feel happy? Most probably yes. We would be often disappointed when the recognition is not meeting our expectation. Let us compare ourselves with "B". Helping someone else the problem often improves our own skills. There is an old proverb (I do not know the author) "learn to teach and teach to learn". From a company point of view "B" has demonstrated much better skills than "A" since one more task for the company is completed.

"Q" created knowledge base for the team. More often than not, we do the task assigned to us without checking history. Learning from other's mistake is the best way to improve efficiency. This knowledge creation for the team is of immense help. Re-usability reduces cost there by increases productivity of the team. "Q" demonstrated good "team-player" skills,

Now to the outstanding person, "O" made the task irrelevant; he created a Permanent Asset to the team.
If you notice B, Q and O all have demonstrated "team performance" over and above individual performance; they have also demonstrated a very invaluable characteristic known as "INITIATIVE".

Initiative pays of everywhere whether at work or at personal life. If you have initiative you will succeed. Initiative is a continual process and it never ends. This is because this year's achievement is next year's task. You cannot use the same success story every year. The story provides an instance of performance, where as measurement needs to be spread across at least 6-12 months. Consequently performance should be consistent and evenly spread. Out-of-Box thinkers are always premium and that is what everyone constantly looks out for. Initiative, Out-of-Box thinking and commitment are the stepping stone to success.

Initiative should be lifelong. Think of out of the box…..Happy Working

Source: Enjoythe

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How GPS Works

 [MakeUseOf Explains]

how gps worksAs an avid gamer, I’m surprised by the correlation between GPS-like features in modern video games and the proliferation of GPS technology in mundane life. When I was a kid, paper maps and cartography were still common; if you got lost, you suffered through it and found your way to your destination. Nowadays, we’ve got the wonders of GPS to guide us there and back again.
I’m only 24 so I don’t mean to sound like the pre-GPS era was a “golden age” or anything like that. I appreciate the convenience of GPS and it has saved my butt on more than a dozen occasions. But like a lot of technology, we tend to take it for granted. I know I do.
What is GPS? Do you know how GPS works? What’s the secret behind the near-pinpoint accuracy that it offers? Keep reading to learn about the impressive thought that went into building this magnificent navigational system.
how gps works
What is the common point between nuclear power, the Internet, and GPS? They all started as projects meant to bolster the US’s technological edge over the rest of the world. Specifically, the technological edge of their military. The Internet would allow fast communication over long distances; nuclear power could be both destructive and energy generative; and GPS meant ease of navigation for military forces through foreign terrain.
The GPS, which stands for global positioning system, is actually a network of 27 man-made satellites that orbit around Earth. Out of those 27 satellites, 24 are currently in use and the remaining three are there as failsafes in case one of the 24 malfunctions. Based on the arrangement of these satellites, at least four of these satellites are visible in the sky at any given time.
how to use gps
In tandem with the orbiting satellites, there are five monitoring stations on the Earth’s surface: the master station (in Colorado) and four unmanned stations placed in faraway locations that are as close to the equator as possible (Hawaii is one of those locations). These unmanned stations collect data from the satellites and forward to the master station, which interprets and makes adjustments before relaying the proper data back to the GPS satellites.
Though this system was originally intended for military use, the US opened up the system in 1983 for civilian use which is why we can use those satellites today to find our nearest Starbucks at the snap of our fingers.
Okay, so we have this global system of satellites and stations that are constantly shifting around in the Earth’s atmosphere and relaying data back and forth. How do our mobile devices and car trackers tap into the system to figure out where exactly we are? And if there are so many satellites floating around up there, why does your GPS signal sometimes fail?
Think about what you use for GPS navigation. Whether it’s a dashboard mount from TomTom or the Maps app from Google, the idea is the same: your device is a GPS receiver. In other words, your device receives data from the GPS satellites overhead. What sort of data? Simply put, each satellite tells your device the distance between you and that satellite.
At this point, you may be a little confused because you’d think you need more than distance from an object to pinpoint your exact location. And you’d be right! Using the distance from each satellite, your GPS device can use a technique called trileration to find where you are.
how to use gps
Imagine you’re lost out in the wilderness. If you called your friend in Philadelphia and he magically knew exactly how far away from him you were, he’d tell you that you’re 400 miles from Philadelphia. Knowing that isn’t enough, though, because that distance from a single point could mean any point along the circle of a 400-mile radius around that point.
how to use gps
So you call a second friend in New York City and he says you’re 300 miles away. Now you have two circles of distance and every point along those circles is a potential place where you could be at this moment. As you can see, the two circles intersect in two spots: based on the distance data, you know you are at either one of these spots.
how gps works
And if you called a third friend and he told you that you were 200 miles from Newark, you’d have three circles that intersect in one location. That’s where you are.
This same technique is used by the GPS where each satellite can be viewed as one of your friends from the example above. But since satellites work in 3D space, you’d have to imagine the intersection of spheres instead of circles. Combine that distance data with the fact that you must be standing on the surface of the Earth (which acts as the 4th sphere) and it’s pretty easy to find where you are.
For accurate GPS data, most devices try connecting to at least four satellites. This is also why it sometimes takes a long time for your device to update GPS locations. It’s also why you sometimes don’t have a signal: you may be connected to one or two satellites, but that isn’t enough.
Of course, there’s a lot more math and science behind how GPS works. For example, compensating for the signal delay between satellites and receivers (radio waves only move so fast). Ever wondered why GPS kills your phone’s battery? It’s because your phone needs to constantly correct errors in calculation.
Hopefully you learned a bit about the GPS and how it works. I actually didn’t know how it all worked until I did my research for this article and the idea behind it is both fascinating and clever. If you still don’t understand it, perhaps I didn’t explain it well enough; in that case, I urge you to ask questions in the comments for clarification.

Everything You Need To Know About Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts

mac keyboard shortcuts
No matter what operating system or program you’re using, keyboard shortcuts are a tool you can use to make things quite a bit easier for yourself. Simply not having to take your hands off the keyboard can save you lots of time wasted by reaching for the mouse. This is why learning keyboard shortcuts for the systems you use every day is so vital to productivity. Once you get familiar with the keyboard shortcuts, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them.
If you’re a Mac user, you’re in luck. There are many useful Mac keyboard shortcuts for everyday functions. You may even know a few of them already. To ensure you get the most out of your Mac, today we’ll talk you through all the important things you should know about using keyboard shortcuts on Mac OS X.

The Primary Shortcut Keys

There are dozens of symbols used to denote keyboard shortcuts in Mac OS X. Throughout the operating system they are used universally, so there is no confusion. On the internet, often people use full or brief names as they don’t know how to type the symbols or want to ensure it’s very clear which key they mean. Here are the most common keys and symbols you will need to use for shortcuts.
  • Command (CMD) – Often shown as a four-petaled ? symbol, apple logo or in brief as CMD.
  • Option – Shown using a symbol of a left-to-right slash with horizontal lines ? or in brief as OPT.
  • Control – Seen in shortcuts as the caret ^ symbol or in brief as CTRL.
  • Fn (Function) – Usually written as Fn.
  • Shift – Often denoted by an upwards arrow ?.
  • Caps Lock – Shown in shortcut menus as an upwards arrow with a line underneath ?
  • Delete – Seen as a backwards arrow symbol ? or in brief as DEL.
  • Escape – Usually seen as a circular symbol with an arrow heating to the top-left ? or in brief as ESC.
Note also that if you are on a laptop, you may need to use the Function key to access certain keys, like the F1-F12 keys.
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mac keyboard shortcuts

The Most Important Mac OS X Shortcuts

There are so many keyboard shortcuts available by default that it would be overwhelming to list them all here. Instead, learn a few of the most important shortcuts, then take a look at the cheat sheets offered below.
Startup/Shutdown Shortcuts:
  • C – Start from bootable disk.
  • CMD-S – Start in Single User Mode.
  • SHIFT – Start in Safe Mode.
  • OPTION-CMD-EJECT – Put Computer To Sleep.
  • CTRL-EJECT – Opens Restart / Sleep / Shutdown Dialogue.
Finder & Application Shortcuts:
  • CMD-A – Select All.
  • CMD-C – Copy.
  • CMD-X – Cut.
  • CMD-Z – Undo / Redo.
  • CMD-V – Paste.
  • CMD-S – Save.
  • CMD-F – Open Find Dialogue.
  • CMD-N – New Finder Window.
  • CMD-Shift-N – Create New Folder.
  • CMD-R – Show Original Of Alias.
  • CMD-W – Close Window.
  • CMD-M – Minimize Window.
  • CMD-Q – Quit Application.
  • CMD-OPTION-ESC – Open Force Quit Dialogue.
Screenshot Shortcuts:
  • CMD-SHIFT-3 – Screenshot Of Whole Screen.
  • CMD-SHIFT-4 – Screenshot Of Selected Area.
Spotlight/Application Changing Shortcuts:
  • CMD-Space – Open Spotlight Search Field.
  • CMD-Tab – Change to Next Most Recently Used Application.
  • F9 – Tile / Untile Open Windows.

Mac OS X Shortcut Cheat Sheets

We love our shortcuts at MakeUseOf so much that we create cheat sheets for everyone to download. Here’s the latest version of our Mac OS X shortcut cheat sheet for you to use. Also, here is a cheat sheet written by Apple, which could also be of use to you as it discusses many of the regular shortcuts used within programs in Mac OS X. If you’re having trouble learning your shortcuts, there’s also a program called Cheatsheet which will help you to recall them.

Keyboard Shortcuts Within Programs

In every Mac OS X program, you can find useful Mac keyboard shortcuts to use simply by looking at the menu items. Next to the menu item you want to use, often there is a keyboard shortcut listed next to it. Not all items will have a shortcut by default, but if you find yourself using the same menu item repeatedly you can easily see how you can make the job quicker for yourself.
mac shortcuts
If you use a particular program every day, search for that program’s keyboard shortcut. Sometimes there are very specific shortcuts available which make a world of difference to your everyday usage.

Creating Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts in Mac OS X

Head to your System Preferences, then Keyboards and you’ll find an option for Keyboard Shortcuts. From here, you can add your own keyboard shortcuts to control your actions throughout Mac OS X. Be creative! When you’re finished you’ll see the shortcuts listed in the menus for the relevant programs.
mac keyboard shortcuts

Shortcuts For Special Characters

To type special characters in Mac OS X, there are plenty of shortcuts available. For instance, it’s easy to type accents for foreign languages if you learn the keyboard shortcuts. This will save you from having to swap keyboard languages regularly.

Transferring Keyboard Shortcuts From Other Operating Systems

Many programs have instructions online featuring keyboard shortcuts for Windows. Often these same shortcuts can be used on Mac OS X just by changing the CTRL key for the CMD key. For instance, normally you would find CTRL-S to save in Windows versus CMD-S to save in Mac OS X. Save your work first though, just in case it doesn’t do quite what you expect!
Which Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts could you not live without?

How to Stop Third-Party Apps From Accessing Your Private Data on Social Media

By   Nancy Messieh  Email subscription management service recently made headlines for  selling user data  to other companies,...