Here some of the software I have spent money on and that was well worth worth the cost. Most of these deserve their own post and screencast just to show you how truly useful they are, but for now, here is a high level overview of each program.
- 1Password – I owned this software for about a year before using it. It was part of a MacHeist packaged deal. I didn’t think I would ever want to use a password manager. (Real men keep their passwords in their head right?) Grant mentioned that it was a must have piece of software, so I finally decided to try it out. It really is incredible. I’ve been blown away by how much time I was wasting dealing with passwords. If you deal with passwords for multiple clients, this really is a lifesaver. All of your passwords are protected and encrypted by a single strong password on your machine so your single password gives you access to all of your sites–even though they all have different randomly generated passwords. It will also act as a bookmark manager for sites that require a login. A single click will open the site and log you in. It can generate secure passwords and handle filling out forms with multiple identities and credit card information. There are plugins for pretty much every browser so if you create a password in Firefox, it will still work when you need to login from Safari. There is also a way to sync between multiple computers.
- JungleDisk – This piece of software lets you use Amazon S3 for storage and mounts it as a local disk. It also has a fairly good backup mechanism so you can schedule backups. You pay Amazon for your storage. JungleDisk also offers a $1 per month service that gives you some nice features like resuming downloads and updating only the changed portion of a file during backup. This handles the backup of important folders that I need to keep backed up, even when I’m on the road and not near my TimeMachine disk.
- ForkLift – This allows connections to SCP, SFTP, FTP and S3 storage locations. The big draw for me was the ability to quickly put something up on Amazon to make it downloadable without putting the strain on my server. (This is how I serve up the ambient sound files.) The ability to stay in the same program and deal with all my hard drives as well as any storage I have on servers or Amazon S3 has really made my life easier. The interface is very much in the style of the OS X finder which helps keep things easy to use. It also support quicklook and icons for images which makes it easier to navigate and find what you are looking for on the server.
- DevonThink Pro Office – This is where I put all my pdfs. Probably the best thing about DevonThink is the auto-categorization. It looks at the text of a document and then figures out where the other similar documents are and suggests the folders to move it to. You can literally categorize 100 documents in 3 to 5 minutes. DevonThink uses its own database, but you can easily export all of your documents out to the filesystem preserving the database hierarchy. Hopefully future versions will let you keep everything directly in the filesystem and just use DevonThink to manage it.
- Skype – I didn’t buy the program, but I did pay for the package that gives you unlimited calls in the US. With all my contacts in OS X, it means I can call someone by typing a few letters from their name and a single click. It is amazing how much time this saves over the course of a busy day of telephone calls. If you use Skype on a Mac, don’t forget that the audio in is a line in not a microphone input. You will need some type of amp or a USB headset to get decent sound (I use a Plantronic MX500I and it works well).
- Acrobat Professional – If you are trying to go paperless, there are some things that you just aren’t going to be able to do without Acrobat. Preview is very handy, but there are some features that just work better with Acrobat. In particular you can’t add your signature to documents with Preview and the markup and editing capabilities of Acrobat go well beyond most anything else I’ve seen. The workflow features is particularly nice because you can set it up to do something (like OCR or compress) a whole directory of documents at once and then just let it run overnight.
- Contactizer Pro – This piece of software does a few different things. It integrates with your AddressBook and iCal so if you add a contact it shows up in your AddressBook and vice versa. The program includes some basic project management features and you can do things like setup a process that gets populated with tasks every time you need to replicate the process. The key thing I use it for is for its mail merge functionality. It can merge to Word, Pages, and email.
- OmniFocus – I use this for keep track of tasks. The biggest plus to using this is that I can take an email, select the relevant text and tell it to create a task in OmniFocus. My assistant has a copy as well and I can put items in her OmniFocus so if I think of something while I’m gone I can tap out a note in my Blackberry and send it to her OmniFocus inbox. I believe they have a version for the iPhone and you can sync between the desktop and mobile versions.
- TextMate – A great all around text editor. It is simple enough to not get in your way and it is powerful enough to handle most anything you might need. It can do some tedious things very quickly for example, taking a list of items in a text file and wrapping each line with an html li tag to make a list. Another big plus is the fact you can use regular expressions in search and replace boxes.
Thank you very much for this great write-up.
Regarding DEVONthink you can actually just index folders on your hard drive without importing the files into DEVONthink’s database.
When you change, add or delete files and folders in those indexed folders you can manually synchronize those changes. It’s not yet possible to let DEVONthink automatically sync your indexed folders but this feature will come in a future version.
I love 1Password.
Does anyone know what happened to my.1password? That was a great tool for accessing my passwords when away from home.