So you like to download. Maybe we’re talking eBooks, comic books, or TV shows. We already wrote a lot of articles concerned with the act of actually downloading things. In fact, MakeUseOf wrote an excellent primer on torrents, with The Torrent Guide for Everyone. Just last year, I wrote about 3 Mac OS X applications to speed up your downloads. But those are not the kind of things I want to talk about today.
Instead, I’d like to show you the other Mac OS X utilities that help me while downloading (anything). An essential toolkit, if you will, that are useful during and after the act of actually downloading something and make organizing your files that much easier. A lot of these apps are very basic and may already be present on your computer. Others, you may wonder how you ever coped without them.
This is the first application I install on my Mac. Sure, Mac OS X does a good job decompressing ZIP files, but The Unarchiver can take on almost everything. If you encounter an exotic archive in your downloading journeys, chances are good that The Unarchiver can help you on.
Useful for downloading various types of files and containers, The Unarchiver lets you specify when to extract the files to a new directory.
For more information on The Unarchiver, Justin wrote up a review of The Unarchiver last December. He reached a conclusion I agree with wholeheartedly - “there’s really no reason not to install this app.”
There’s only one type of file I regularly encounter that The Unarchiver can’t handle, and those are split files. Then again, this doesn’t technically fall under the jurisdiction of an unarchiving application.
You will recognize split files as a bunch of files ending in sequential multiple-digit numbers, starting with *.001. Splitting files can be useful if you have to keep yourself to a certain per-file quota, but you’ll have to rejoin them before you’re able to do anything with them.
MacHacha is a free application that lets you split and join these files very easily. To do so, just open MacHacha (which will initially run as a windowless application) and select File -> Alphajoin… from the Mac OS X menu bar. This will prompt you to select the first segment to be joined, which is the file with the lowest index.
Alternatively, if your files are spread out over a number of locations, you can use MacHacha’s interactive feature join and specify each consecutive segment in turn.
A lot of downloads are accompanied by NFO files, which contain information about the download. This includes technical details, like bitrates and frames per second, but often also instructions on how to use your download.
Most NFO’s are written using ASCII, often spiced up with some ASCII art. You can open these files in TextEdit, if you’re just interested in reading the information contained within. If you choose to do so, do take the time to make TextEdit the default application; it’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
However, NFOViewer provides an even more interesting alternative. This free, nifty application will display NFO files in its full glory, preserving ASCII art and generally rendering the NFO’s much easier to read.
Most downloads follow pretty rigid naming conventions. That’s great, and not just for consistency. Naming conventions allow your downloads to be picked up and processed by other applications, for example to automatically download subtitles for your videos. Every once in a while, you download some files that are named terribly or inconsistently. You can rename a few files by hand, but it quickly gets tedious.
Having an application to batch rename those files makes it quick and easy to impose a naming scheme on your downloads. You may only get to use it once a month, but it’ll save you a lot of time right from the start. NameChanger is a free Mac utility that allows you to manipulate file names along a number of avenues, including replacing specific occurrences of keywords, appending and prepending.
For more information on the capabilities, take a look at Jeffry’s full review of NameChanger.
Folder Tidy ($4.99)
Above, you’ve seen a number of tools to manhandle your files, but if you’re not careful you’ll still end with a big mess in your downloads folder. Some download clients let you categorise and order the files you download automatically. Alternatively, you can use an application like Folder Tidy.
Folder Tidy retails at just under five bucks. Using it, you can quickly sort your files into order. Just specify a source and destination folder, set up a number of rules to put files into different categories, and Folder Tidy will take care of the rest. You can find a full walkthrough of the process in Bakari’s full review of Folder Tidy.
What tools do you use to manage your downloads? Any additions, or alternatives to the download utilities above? Let us know in the comments section below the article.
Image credit: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net