Put Regularly Visited Web Sites Within Reach

[Editor's note: The following review is part of Macworld's GemFest 2009 series. Every day until the end of June 2009, the Macworld staff will use the Mac Gems blog to briefly cover a favorite free or low-cost program. Visit the Mac Gems homepage for a list of past Mac Gems.]

If you're like me, you tend to check your e-mail, Twitter account, RSS feeds, and the like regularly and repeatedly. This is where Monitor steps in. It's a small and lightweight free application that seeks to put these regularly visited Web sites within easier reach.

Upon launch, it presents you with six tabs for quickly switching between your e-mail, Twitter account, RSS feeds, blog, Web site stats, and e-commerce account; there are also two more tabs for jotting down notes and to-dos. By default, Monitor uses Gmail for e-mail, Google Reader for RSS feeds, WordPress for blogs, Mint for Web site analytics, and PayPal for e-commerce, but all of those can be changed through the preferences panel (which also includes settings for using Monitor as a menu bar application and auto-hiding Monitor when it's inactive).

(Image Caption: It may seem a little too simple, but for those of us who need constant access to a bunch of websites, Monitor's single window interface may be just the right solution.)

When you want to check one of your accounts or take notes, just click on Monitor's icon in the Dock and then click the appropriate tab for the job. Each of the tabs refreshes at customizable intervals (except notes and to-dos, which are offline) and always displays the most up-to-date content. Since Monitor is written in Cocoa, it also includes the standard features you expect from a Cocoa application--support for text-to-speech and the floating Dictionary panel being just two of them.

Although Monitor might not be quite as useful or feature-filled as dedicated desktop clients for accessing most of the accounts described above (like, say, Mail [ Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ] for e-mail, or NetNewsWire [ Macworld rated 5 out of 5 mice ] for RSS), there is something to be said for the ability to keep all your important accounts online within easy reach. Monitor gathers them all in one window and keeps them separate from the chaos of your regular Web surfing activities. In doing so, it solves a problem I hadn't even realized I had.

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[Aayush Arya is a journalism student from India and regular contributor to Macworld. His online haunts include his blog, Penned Thoughts, and his Twitter feed.]

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