The Hottest Productivity Apps
The Mac App Store debuted this month and hit 1 million downloads in the first 24 hours. The App Store launched with 1,000 or so apps, many of which were already available on the pre-existing Mac downloads Web site. The store is filled with stuff that's fun but also has plenty of apps that make you more productive. Let's take a look at the 10 most downloaded free productivity apps on the Mac App Store, and then we'll look at the 10 most popular paid productivity apps.
Evernote, popular notetaking and archiving software available across many platforms, including Windows, Android and iPhone, is the most popular free productivity application on the Mac App Store. It's designed to help users "remember anything and everything that happens in their lives" by taking notes, saving interesting Web pages, creating lists and attaching images and documents. Evernote lets you "create text, web-clips and PDF notes, auto-synchronize notes among every computer and phone you use, share your notebooks with friends and colleagues," and even makes both printed and handwritten text searchable.
MindNode for Mac
For some people, a simple list with bullet points isn't enough to get organized. This so-called "mindmapping application" helps collect and organize your thoughts into visually appealing maps. "To-do lists, brainstorming, holiday planning, research, writing, and project management" are among the tasks people use MindNode to keep track of.
Alfred speeds up productivity on the Mac for both business and home users with a simple interface that makes it easier to launch applications and find what you need with search that works both across your hard drive and the Web.
With an image of a pink brain as its icon, Thoughtback is a "private idea 'journal' that automagically collects, organizes and emails your thoughts, questions and inspiring quotes back to you." One user review calls it "simple, clean, ingenious, & fantastic," saying "typically I just type or send notes to Evernote ... where I forget about them forever. With this little guy, I am constantly 'rewarded' for my new ideas with old gems I have forgotten about."
Whiteboard: Collaborative Drawing for Mac
This virtual whiteboard lets friends and colleagues with Macs, iPhones and iPads collaborate over local Wi-Fi networks to create new pieces of art.
DropCopy makes it easier to share files and folders across a network "by simply dragging files onto recipients in a popup window." One user writes in a customer review that "I use two machines in my office, and this app is spectacular for sharing files and the clipboard."
Another simple system add-on that extends the Mac's capabilities, MenuPop "makes the menubar's menu pop up from any window on any screen using a hotkey." MacWorld gave MenuPop one of its Mac Gems of the Year awards in 2010, saying the add-on is "especially useful on large displays and multiple-display systems [because it eliminates] the need to mouse all the way across the screen - or across multiple screens - to access menus."
Remind Me Later
This simple application makes iCal, the Mac's built-in calendar, a bit more intuitive. Instead of navigating through a menu to add an event, Remind Me Later works like this: "Type 'Buy groceries at 4pm tomorrow', and it will add 'Buy groceries' to iCal at 4pm tomorrow."
Toto, apparently named after Dorothy's dog, is a to-do list manager for Mac and iPhone, syncing across the two devices to keep your task list up to date no matter where you are. "This is the best to do list I've ever had, and I've tried a LOT of them," one reviewer writes. "Idk what it has to do with the Wizard of Oz, but whatever."
RDM+ Desktop Lite
For Intel-based computers running Mac OS X 10.5 and higher, RDM+ Desktop Lite connects mobile devices to remote computers, allowing control over your desktop even when you're not near it. After installing RDM+ on the desktop, download the application for the iPhone or iPad - free, ad-based and paid versions are both available. Remote access is also available from PC browsers, BlackBerries, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm OS devices by going here.
The most downloaded Mac App Store productivity app, among ones that actually cost money, is "Pages," a word processor and page layout application allowing users to be a "writer one minute and a designer the next." Users with only basic needs could get by with free tools like OpenOffice, but Pages was created by Apple itself for users who want a bit more. Features include more than 180 templates designed by Apple, integration with applications like iLife, graphics tools, and 2D and 3D charts. Pages, the first version of which came out in 2005, also works with PDF and the ePub book reading format.
A presentation making tool for Snow Leopard, Keynote is another application built by Apple. First produced in 2003, Keynote is Apple's answer to Microsoft PowerPoint, and allows importing and exporting of PowerPoint files. "I love how the animations aren't choppy as they are in MS PowerPoint," one reviewer writes. "It's not full of garbage like MS Office."
Designed for and created by students, Schoolhouse helps users build lists of homework, exams and tasks; keep track of scores and grades; manage project files, and visualize course schedules. Features include a calendar, class schedule, "smart notebooks" for organizing tasks, shortcut keys and sync with Apple's MobileMe service.
Another one designed by Apple, Numbers offers spreadsheet creation capabilities with 30 templates for home, work and school. Compatible with Microsoft Excel files, Numbers lets users share work online with the iWork.com public beta. "Effortlessly create formulas using an intuitive browser with more than 250 functions [and] add interactive controls such as sliders, steppers, and checkboxes that let you play 'what if' in real time," Apple says.
Built for Web designers, LittleSnapper is a "digital scrapbook, allowing creatives to snap, organize, edit and share screenshots and webpages that interest them," making it easier to create and organize a design library.
With supposed "military-grade security," Wallet keeps track of and secures sensitive information, including Web site passwords, software license keys and credit card numbers. Wallet has extensions for Safari and Chrome so you can access Wallet from your browser, and can sync across Macs, iPhones and iPads.
Today – Daily Calendar & Task Manager ($9.99)
Providing an at-a-glance view of daily events and tasks, this app lets you keep track of events and create new calendar items without having to open iCal (although Today does sync with iCal). The app is apparently designed for users whose iCal calendars are too unorganized and cluttered to be useful.
Art Text 2 ($9.99)
With more than 300 customizable templates and 600 icons and shapes, Art Text 2 is a design application "for turning text into art and creating logos, application icons, Web graphics, and buttons."
"I moved to Mac not too long ago and have been looking for something similar to Microsoft Office's Word Art," one user writes. "This did just what I wanted and more."
Another password manager, eWallet also synchronizes across Macs and iOS devices, and provides 256-bit AES encryption to secure passwords, bank and credit card info and more. EWallet features "live URLs that launch the websites you know, without the dangers of phishing emails or typing errors taking you elsewhere."
The Print Shop 2 ($49.99)
A graphics program for making cards, calendars, CD cases, DVD cases and other products, Print Shop 2 comes with 9,500 project templates, 19,500 photos and graphics, and various layout tools. One possible use: "Make a wall-poster-size sports calendar for your favorite team and import all the team's games from iCal with a single click."