Like many technologists, I don’t have a primary desktop operating system. That’s because on a regular basis, I switch between computers running Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu to complete different tasks and projects. Frequently switching back and forth between different operating systems isn’t as jarring as it might seem, in part because I have assembled a set of tools specific to each platform that helps me get my work done and keep my systems in tip top shape. Today, I’m sharing a list of the utilities that I find most invaluable for administering and getting the most out of a Mac.
A little history: First released in 2001 as Mac OS X, macOS is the proprietary operating system that ships with all of Apple, Inc.’s desktop and notebook computers, including the Mac Pro, iMac, and MacBook Air/Pro series. It is a Unix-like OS with BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) roots. After Windows, it is the second most widely used desktop OS platform, and it is popular with programmers and designers.
Now, on to the utilities!
What it does: Makes it easier to find and delete old or large unneeded files, uninstall applications you don’t want anymore, purge app caches, and run maintenance and optimization scripts to fix issues with macOS. Developer MacPaw regularly ships updates to keep CleanMyMac current.
Cost: $34.95 for one Mac
What it does: This app is a real workhorse that does a lot of different useful things. Some of them are: making GIFs and screen captures (both stills and videos), provide a clipboard history, set alarms, see what time it is in other places around the globe, and convert units of measurement.
Cost: $20/year (included with a subscription to Parallels)
What it does: Simplifies window management. “With Moom, you can easily move and zoom windows to half screen, quarter screen, or fill the screen; set custom sizes and locations, and save layouts of opened windows for one-click positioning.”
What it does: Enables easy temperature monitoring, fan control, and diagnostics for all Macs. You can see how hot your computer is running and easily ascertain which graphics card it’s using (dedicated vs. integrated) if you happen to have a higher end Mac laptop.
What it does: Gives your Mac a host-based firewall. It’s especially useful for monitoring outbound and inbound connections. You can pop open a map and see where your apps are sending and receiving data from.
Cost: $47 for a single user license (Little Snitch + Micro Snitch)
What it does: Gets rid of all of those stupid Desktop Service Store (DS_Store) and resource fork (_AppleDouble) files that otherwise end up littering flash drives and SD cards after removal from your MacBook.
Cost: $13.99 for access from the Mac App Store
What it does: Helps eliminate annoying “drive not ejected properly” errors by automatically ejecting removable media before your Mac goes to sleep.
Cost: $4.95 for a single-user license
What it does: Allows you to painlessly eliminate clutter on your top menu bar by deciding what items/icons should be shown all the time, and which should be hidden behind a divider.
Cost: Basic version costs nothing; the Pro version costs $4.99
Turbo Boost Switcher
What it does: Allows you to control when your Mac’s processor enters its “Turbo Boost” mode. Turbo Boost enables a Mac’s Intel processor to run at a higher clock speed when macOS requests. This is great when you’re plugged in to AC power and not so great when you’re running off the battery. This app can automatically deactivate Turbo Boost when you’re on battery power, reducing heat and lowering power consumption.
Cost: Basic version costs nothing; the Pro version costs $9.95
What it does: A modern desktop feed reader that allows you to easily keep up with lots of websites that you care about without having to visit all of them. You simply install the application and then add feeds to it (most sites that run WordPress will have feeds available at a URL like https://example.com/feed/)
Cost: None — free!