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Set a countdown, then monitor it out of the corner of your eye. Whether you’re a Pomodoro fan or simply someone who likes to count down proper key preparation, Menubar Countdown is potentially the perfect Mac app for your workflow.

Humans have been using countdowns to time tasks since they first discovered sand flows through glass at a set rate, but you probably don’t have an hourglass on hand. If you want to give yourself a set amount of time for a task – or track something else that’s happening, such as steeping tea – Menubar Countdown for Mac has you covered. It’s easy to use, and it even allows you to type a message to be read, out loud, by your computer when time runs out.

It’s a tiny app, sure, but it’s been part of my workflow for so long I thought it deserved an article. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to put some of my psychosis on public display – so keep reading for that.

Using Menubar Countdown

Start up Menubar Countdown and you’ll see a blank timer (00:00:00) in your menubar. Click it to see the main menu:

menubarcountdown-menu

Click Start to get started (logically enough). You’ll be presented with the main settings for your timer:

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menubarcountdown-main

Start by picking how long the timer should run. I’ve set it to 25 minutes here, the amount of time I try to work consecutively (see Pomodoro). You can then pick the style of notification you want: an alert sound, a popup window and even a spoken message.

That’s right: a spoken message. This is perhaps my favorite feature of Menubar Countdown, and is also among the greatest indicators of my insanity. Early in the day I use this to make my computer verbally abuse me every 25 minutes. He says things to me I cannot print here, raging against my inconsistent work performance.

And you know what? It works. My computer tells me that, if I’m not done writing that article yet, I’m @#$^ing up my schedule. That I need to get this crap done, now. And I believe him. I want to be better. To stop disappointing my computer.

HAL9000

Stop. Disappointing. My computer. What’s wrong with me?

Don’t worry too much: the voices I program into my computer (so as to get into my head) become nicer as the day goes on. I guess working from home — and generally only talking with people who support me – leaves me with the deep psychological need to be abused by a boss. So I created one.

*Ahem!* Back to the app… you can also set friendly messages. If you want.

menubarcountdown-friendly

Once you set up your countdown it starts counting. Down. You can watch the seconds go by out of the corner of your eye.

This is what I love about the app – awareness. Because it’s always in the corner, you’re always somewhat aware of it. This is great for Pomodoro purposes, but helpful regardless of what you’re counting down to. Knowing how long you have to focus, or wait for tea, or anything, is motivating.

Potential Uses

Here are just a few uses I thought of for this, off the top of my head:

Let me know of anything else you think of in the comments below.

Download Menubar Countdown

menubarcountdown-counting

Ready to check this Mac app out? Download Menubar Countdown from CapableHands.net, then. You’ll need to do the old “Mount the DMG then drag the application to the Applications folder” dance, but that’s a great dance so don’t worry about it.

Alternatives

Love the concept, but aren’t sure this app is the correct fit for you? Pester is a quick and easy alarm Pester - A Quick and Easy Alarm Clock for Mac Users Pester - A Quick and Easy Alarm Clock for Mac Users Read More , so look into that if you prefer alarms to countdowns. There’s also Due, the reminder app you’ve always wanted Due: The Reminder & Timer App You've Always Wanted [OSX & iOS] Due: The Reminder & Timer App You've Always Wanted [OSX & iOS] I'm not a big fan of scheduling apps, and to be honest I haven't had much to schedule until recently. I'm hopeless at remembering birthdays, and sticking notices on my whiteboard achieves nothing. I actually... Read More . So you’ve got choices.

If you’re a fan of web apps I recommend Tomato.es, the web’s best pomodoro app Pomodoro Web App Tomato.es Is Time Management Made Simple Pomodoro Web App Tomato.es Is Time Management Made Simple Can't focus? Get to work, now. Tomato.es is a free Pomodoro timer you can use directly in your browser – and it's possibly the best such app I've ever used. The Pomodoro technique is simple:... Read More . Seriously, it’s well worth checking out if you’re serious about a Pomodoro workflow. There are free desktop pomodoro apps 3 Of The Best Free Pomodoro Productivity Apps 3 Of The Best Free Pomodoro Productivity Apps Read More , if you prefer.

Finally, if long-term countdowns are more you thing, check out countdown widget for your Mac’s dashboard Know How Long It Is Till Something Using The Dashboard Countdown Widget [Mac OSX] Know How Long It Is Till Something Using The Dashboard Countdown Widget [Mac OSX] Always know exactly how long it is until...something. The countdown dashboard widget for Mac is a fun way to obsessively keep track of the exact seconds until the greatest events in your life – or... Read More .

What are your favorite timer apps? Let me know in the comments below.

Image credit: Reloj.cjp (Eduardo Diez Viñuela)

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