Blogging about our lives online.


8 Geek Tools For Your Mac

Here's a quick roundup of the applications I have found most useful since switching to Mac (from Linux, although I still ssh into my Arch Linux box regularly). Most of these are included but some need the Developer Tools installed and really, even if you're not using Xcode, you should install the Developer Tools and Optional Installs. You want them.
Big deal, it comes with a calculator. But this calculator has some barely hidden super powers lurking in the menu options. Paper tape to show your calculation history, scientific and programmer modes, an RPN mode, and a whole load of unit conversions. When you start this calculator it gives the impression of being a $10 Toys-R-Us thing, but there's way more than meets the eye. Grapher
The one thing Calculator doesn't do is graphs, but if you have the Developer Tools installed, you have a program that will do far more than your average graphing calculator. And with style. Located at /Applications/Utilities/Grapher, this app is a graphing machine! From simple parametric equations to complex 3-D differential equations, this thing will graph it. The equation templates and examples are quite nice too if you're not sure where and how to begin. Spotlight I could recommend Quicksilver, which does way more than Spotlight could dream of, but when it comes right down to it I only really used Quicksilver for application and file launching anyway. Spotlight does this really well. There are no applications, other than droplets (see Automator) in my dock anymore. Cmd-Space your way to a clean dock. Icon Composer I don't know why, but I like to create my own icons for the stuff in my dock. Maybe I'm alone in this. But if you want to give it a go here's how I do it:
1. Draw the icon using GIMP / Photoshop, at 512 x 512px (transparency and gloss are your friends!)
2. Drop the saved png into Icon Composer (/Developer/Applications/Utilities/ )
4. Drop the icns file onto icns2icon, and the file will become the icon...
5. Cmd-i (Get Info) the icns file and whatever file/folder you want to apply the icon to.
6. Select the source icon in the "Get Info" window and Cmd-C, select the destination icon and Cmd-V.
Automator If you have a repetitive task there's probably an Automator script to do it. There are only three that I use regularly and these are all in my dock as droplet style applications. They are:
Renamer: This is just the "Rename Finder Items" plugin, with "Show this action when workflow runs" checked so that you can choose the options whenever you run it.
Comment: The "Set Spotlight Comments" plugin, again with "Show..when run" checked so it's completely generic. Once in a while I get in a phase where I feel the need to tag all my files.
Desktop Alias: Rather than store my current project folders on my desktop I just drop them on this and it creates a desktop shortcut. "New Aliases" patch. I have done some more elaborate Automator scripts, but these are the ones that are general enough for daily use. Megazoomer
Okay, this one isn't included with your Mac, but it really should be. You have to download Megazoomer as well as SIMBL.
What this does is add a "Mega Zoom" option to every app so you can fullscreen anything, as you can see from the screenshot, I'm typing this with vim on a fullscreen terminal with slight transparency (just enough to read a website in the background).
This screenshot is not cropped at all.
It's kind of like a bit of 'ratpoison' window manager for your Mac. This is true fullscreen, no dock, no menu bar, no distractions...
Quartz Composer This is an amazing bit of software located at /Developer/Applications/Quartz Composer. See the examples at /Developer/Examples/Quartz Composer/Compositions/Conceptual for some idea of what it can do. This can create some really cool 2D / 3D visuals. Also see for some cool visual designs using Quartz Composer. Terminal Finally I must recommend that you pimp your Terminal. If your going to have any geek cred at all you need a sweet terminal. Here's my preferences, mix to your own tastes: Background color: 91% Black, 96% Opacity. Font: Bitstream Vera Sans Mono 13pt, greyish-green, antialiased vimrc: ...maybe i'll get into settings in another post. I have done quite a bit of monospace font testing and this is my favorite. Very close competitors are: BPmono, Terminus and Droid Sans Mono.
And the next step, after you get your Terminal looking really cool, is to learn how and why to use it. Happy Hacking!

No comments:

Post a Comment