The Mac App Store definitely simplifies the process of discovering new applications, and it goes a step further by making it super fast to download programs straight to your Application’s folder. No copying from dmg files or dragging and dropping from one folder to the next. On top of all that you can upgrade your Mac App Store apps from within the same Mac App Store application.
If you haven’t upgraded your Mac OS X to version 10.6.6 (free), I strongly encourage you to do so, for even if you don’t have the money to splurge right now on applications, there are several free productivity apps in the store you’ll want to download and have on hand when you need them. Here are a few of my favorites.
While we all know that it’s easy to make free Skype-to-Skype user phone calls on our Mac computer, there’s still another option – another free phone number! – for making phone calls via Wi-Fi. It’s called Whistle Phone.
This little gem allows you to make free inbound and outbound calls in the continental U.S. If you can put up with a simple 10-second ad, you can make these phone calls for free. You can also set up the application to forward Whistle calls to any phone number via its Follow Me service feature. It includes several other useful features, and the setup is easy.
Time Out Free
If you’re a Mac user who is glued to your computer all day, you’ll know that regularly tearing yourself away from the screen and your work is essential. If you don’t have the discipline to take needed breaks, Time Out Free can help you. Jackson featured this app before in his article How To Be More Productive By Taking Breaks [Mac Only]
I’ve used this program off and on for well over a year, and although it’s not the most attractive or the best Mac app on the block, it does the job of getting you off the computer – that is, if you let it.
After your break times are configured, Time Out Free slowly dims your screen so that you can at least get up to take a stretch. If you’re a hardcore Mac user, you can snooze your set break times and keep on working. You can also configure for mini stretch breaks to occur say every thirty minutes or so. After you download the app, you will discover a few other little features for how Time Out Free will help you make your break time a useful activity. Hint: iTunes.
Remind Me Later
One of the long-time questions I’ve had about Apple’s iCal is why must we users open the entire application in order to add a simple reminder or event? I still have not got an answer to that question, but at least there are a few free third-party productivity apps that attempt to make the process easier. A free one in the App Store is called Remind Me Later.
This little program resides in your menu bar and it can also be activated by an assigned keyboard shortcut. It just takes two clicks to quickly add a reminder or event to your iCal. You don’t even have to use number dates. You simply write something like, “Article due tomorrow, 12pm.” Done.
If you have ever downloaded a website written in a foreign language, you will know how much of a hassle it is to translate the content using Google. Well, Translator Free uses Google as well, but they have simplified the process.
Just select the language you want to translate a webpage into, drag the URL onto the Translator icon in your menu bar, and voila, the content gets translated. It can’t get any simpler than that.
If you find yourself copying files from say your desktop Mac to your laptop on a regular basis – or visa versa – DropCopy makes the process swift and easy.
You don’t have to fuss with passwords, dialogs, and confirmations, just drop the files into the app and presto they appear at your designated location.
Stone Hill Time Card
Another nice little productivity gem in the App Store is Stone Hill Time Card. When you activate and set up a project, this Time Card app keeps track of how much time it took to complete the task or job.
This app doesn’t track the time of each application you use (see Slife for that), but it could be useful for simply keeping track of the time you’re spending to get jobs done.
Another logging application in the App Store is aptly called, PhoneLog. It allows you to log phone calls you have made, including adding information about whom you called and what the call was about.
PhoneLog is not for someone who needs an automated process for logging phone calls, but it”˜s useful for occasions when you’re making say a service call for a household repair, or when you need to keep notes during a phone interview. You can also save all your logs.
If you often make video tutorials using video screen capturing apps like Jing or QuickTime Player, then FGDesktopLoupe may be of use to you. It simply dims your monitor screen and presents a spotlight beam that follows your mouse pointer to focus on designated areas of your screen.
You can use the CTRL-ALT to open the settings window and Command-ALT to toggle the dimmer effect on and off.
Okay, only graphic designers will understand the usefulness of Littlelpsum. It simply provides you with dummy fill-in text for when you’re designing websites or text layouts.
The app resides in your menu bar, and when you hold your cursor over the icon, it starts to generate words or paragraphs of fake text and copies it to the clipboard. In turn, you paste the “text” where you need it.
If you use Kindle or the Kindle app on your mobile device for reading, you will definitely want to download the desktop Kindle version for your Mac.
I reviewed the earlier version here. The recent update is better designed with faster downloading. Even if you don’t like reading ebooks on your Mac, the desktop version offers some useful features, such as accessing your book annotations, that you can’t get in the mobile iOS version. Hey, it’s free, so you might as well download it.
There are several other free Mac gems over in the App Store, so let us know about the ones you have downloaded. Your comments are a great way to recognize and thank developers for providing their programs for free.