Most productivity enhancing applications are either overkills, or inflexible in regard to an established workflow. The exceptions on this rule often manage to fly under the radar; make using your computer easier, without impacting the way you do your work.
I’m talking about those simple utilities that are often absent from your dock, but do their heavy lifting in the background. Those utilities you can imagine being shipped with a future version of your operating system.
Within this category, application launchers are legion. Alfred, one of the most popular launchers was reviewed by Jeffry Thurana in 2010: Alfred – A Free Alternative To Quicksilver & QSB. Himmelbar takes a different approach, not focussing on keyboard shortcuts and dynamic searches as much as on predefined application shortlists.
The idea is simple. HimmelBar adds an icon to your Mac OS X menu bar which enfolds to a list of search locations, like your Applications and Utilities folders. If your Dock reflects your prized collection of applications, HimmelBar contains the ones that made your shortlist. Or all of them, it’s your choice.
Although HimmelBar works like a charm on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), it should be noted that the application is no longer being maintained. The website mentions that the project was put on hold, and the last update stems from December 2008.
As I mentioned above, the HimmelBar shortlist exists for search locations. These are folders whose applications you want to show. By default, HimmelBar will go through these folders, two levels deep, and compile the applications it finds in one big list per search location. A few of these search locations are listed in the preferences, but you can also add your own folders.
However, you should know that if a folder you add is contained within a preexisting search location, it will no longer be shown in the latter. In other words, you can’t add duplicate references in HimmelBar.
For each of these search locations, you can edit out some of the items to make the list more manageable. You can also enable deep search for most of them, which will prompt HimmelBar to search beyond its default of two folder levels. Finally, if you have a capricious application catalogue, you may want to enable ‘Watch for changes’ in the setting. This will automatically keep HimmelBar’s application list up to date, without you having to use the manual refresh button.
Quit Running Applications
In the HimmelBar drop-down menu, you’ll notice two other options. Rather than using HimmelBar to open new applications, you can also use it to clean house. Hide All sweeps all applications that are cluttering your computer under the proverbial carpet. In contrast, Quit Others takes out the big guns and quits all but the foremost application that is currently running.
You can add to a blacklist in the preferences if you want to safeguard some of your applications from this process. That way you can use it to, say, close all applications except your text editor and internet browser.
Do you use a lot of third-party utilities on your Mac, or has Apple managed to sate the larger part of your hunger? Which are the ones you can’t do without? Weigh in, in the article comments!