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Mac OS X utilities abound

Third-party developers have developed utilities faster than Apple. Mac Advisor hed: Mac OS X utilities abound dek: third-party developers have developed utilities faster than Apple. by Dennis Sellers

As you all know, Apple is updating its new operating system, Mac OS X, right and left with patches to add functionality. And the company is now shipping the operating system, along with Mac OS 9.1, on all new Macs.

As Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said, Mac OS X is the future of the Mac. Taking the head honcho at his word, dozens of shareware developers have been busy churning out Mac OS X apps and utilities. The following are some worth your consideration if you’re using, or plan to use, Mac OS X.

Apple itself has released Apple Mail Import Script, a set of scripts that let you import mail messages to Mail, the e-mail client that comes with Mac OS X. The scripts let you import e-mail messages from Netscape Communicator 4.x, Eudora 5.x, Outlook Express 5.x, Microsoft Entourage, and Claris Emailer 2.x. It’s free and you can grab it from Apple’s download site, is a $15 user-interface enhancement. It provides floating pull-out, snap-shut drawers on the sides to store text, URLs, aliases, pictures, sounds, movies, and other items. You can also work with data in a drawer. For example, styled text can be edited, applications and folders can be dragged onto it, URLs can be opened, pictures can be viewed, and sounds and movies can be played.

DragThing, the $25 “original dock” application from TLA Systems, lets you tidy up your Mac desktop. Simply drag an application from the Finder onto an empty square in a dock and then drag documents onto it. Click a docked application to launch it or bring it to the front. Plus, the docks can contain files, folders, disks and servers. And there’s an option to display the currently running processes in a special dock. Finally, if one isn’t enough, you can have as many different docks as you would like, with flexible settings for each one.

eMail Alert!, a $15 e-mail notification and reader from Intelli Innovations, automatically scans your e-mail accounts on a regular basis. Then eMail Alert! can play sounds, display alert dialogs, launch AppleScripts, load URLs in your browser, and more to get your attention. Using the built-in message reader, you can read and reply to messages without leaving eMail Alert!, and delete the messages you don’t want (without having to download them)-all without having to launch your regular e-mail software.

Fetch is an FTP client that includes all the standard features of a modern FTP client. It displays the files on your account in a form that’s familiar because it mimics the appearance of the Mac’s built-in file lists. There’s support for 11 different proxy servers; folder mirroring; integration with BBEdit, Graphic Converter and QuickTime; Keychain support; server-to-server transfers; contextual menus; and Kerberos security. It’s $25 (though free to educational and charitable organizations) and can be downloaded from the Fetch Softworks Web site

FreeSpace from Unicorn Software Web site–a free utility that offers a graphical view of your hard disks–is now up to version 1.0.2. The hard-disk monitoring software tells you how much free space you have on all your hard disks. It indicates the free space available on your volume(s), shows the total space available, and displays a graphical bar with the free/total space available. Unicorn also makes such Mac OS X-compatible titles as Forest (which plays soothing nature sounds), Turbo Internet (a utility designed to accelerate Internet connections), and TurboMem (which will defragment your RAM and reclaim the free RAM other applications don’t use).

iView PhotoMover 2.0 is a $15 utility from iView Multimedia for sharing photos online. To use PhotoMover, you can drag and drop images onto it and upload them to a photo Web site. Or you can catalog all your photos with iView MediaPro, then select images in iView MediaPro, and choose PhotoMover as the helper application to upload directly from an open catalog to the photo Web site of your choice. You can use MediaPro to create a slide show that can play music and have up to 16 photos or movies onscreen simultaneously. It’s aimed at digital camera users, Photoshop users, artists, and desktop publishers.

MenuStrip 1.5 is a multipurpose utility for Mac OS X that allows access from the Mac OS X menu bar to frequently used settings such as computer volume, monitor resolution, and color depth. Perhaps the most useful features of the $12 product are the Hide All/Show All buttons and the Single App Mode toggle button that it places in the menu bar. When Single App Mode is enabled, all open applications, except for the front-most program, are hidden. When switching between applications, the newly activated application will be visible while all others become hidden. When pressed, the Hide All button will hide every window on the screen, including all Finder windows, showing only the desktop. The Show All button functions in the exact opposite way as the Hide All button: it “unhides” all applications that were previously hidden.

MP3 Rage, an all-purpose MP3 utility tool, is designed to improve the stability of Napster and Gnutella clients on Mac OS X. The price tag is $25.

PasswordWallet, which offers a one-stop place to store all your usernames, passwords, PIN numbers, or combinations, is a $15 shareware application. For security, PasswordWallet uses the BlowFish encryption algorithm with 448-bit keys to protect data. And for safety, it can copy your password to a clipboard and clear it automatically after you paste. The app also lets you save URLs with your entries and launch your default browser. One “master” password unlocks all of your other passwords.

NameCleaner 2.1.2 from Sig Software is a $20 utility for manipulating file names and types. It’s specially designed to help move files to and from foreign file systems such as MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95/98, Windows NT/2000, NetWare, and Unix. It includes mappings for more than 100 PC extensions and 100 Mac file types, and it lets you use system file mappings. All cleaning operations can be previewed before they’re performed, and NameCleaner also produces a full report of all cleaning operations.

Somewhat similar to NameCleaner is OneApp Clean Text, a tool for stripping text formatting, removing empty lines, and more. The $15 utility, from OneApp Software is designed for use when you need to paste some text copied from one document or application into another, and you want the text to get the attributes (such as color, font, dimension, and style) of the new document instead of preserving the attributes copied from the old one. OneApp also makes OneApp Slide Show, a $25 slide show and presentation tool for multimedia files, QuickTime movies, sounds and images.

Org from SukiSoft Technologies is a personal information manager (PIM) that links your appointments and to-do list items to your contacts in one interface. It lets you link your appointments and to-do list items to your contacts with a flexible multiview or all-in-one-view interface. Org consists of four modules: Address Book, Appointment Manager, ToDo List Manager, and Calendar. Each of these modules has its own independent window that can be hidden out of view or laid out on your desktop in a variety of ways. Alternatively, all four of these modules can be presented within the same window. The cost is $19.95.

Software Perspectives offers Relax, which is designed to offer “soothing sounds to provide stress relief.” The software comes with its own built-in environment called Forest Stream. The latest version supports Mac OS X, as a Carbon-compliant application. It costs $15.

Thoth is a $25 Usenet newsreader application. Its features include automatic viewing of downloaded images; binary posting; flexible article filtering (kill files) and sorting; reference-based article threading (with a view of the thread available while you’re reading posts); a multithreaded connection to the news server (you can have up to four connections); filtering with Regex support; multiple character-set support for both reading and posting in non-English language and non-Latin alphabet newsgroups; and integrated support for multiple news servers. It can be used both as an online and offline newsreader.

Insider Software offers UpdateAgent X, which brings applications and operating system programs on your Mac up to speed with the latest updates. After determining which updaters are required to bring a system up-to-date, UpdateAgent downloads the updaters over the Internet or copies them from CDs. The program can run automatically at regular intervals, maintains the confidentiality of users’ hard-drive contents, and provides hot links to vendors’ Web sites. The full version of UpdateAgent X downloads all updaters for every third-party application, and costs $49.95 for a full year of Internet-based updates.

Video Funhouse, from Evological and Chaotic Software lets you turn your Power Mac and video camera into a “virtual funhouse.” Using a palette of tools, you can twist, bulge, pinch, and push your face into virtually any shape imaginable. Then you can save snapshots of your work to send to others as JPEG images. It costs $25.

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