Here are some of our favorite Mac tips and tools (some of them are for PC users too). We don’t have a financial relationship with any of these companies, nor are we responsible for the quality of their products or services. So please do your own research as necessary–as you should do with any recommendation.
1Password software, built especially for Mac, keeps track of all your different online passwords for all the various websites you log in to. It works with any browser (including Safari, Firefox, and Opera). Once you install the software, it places a “1P” button into each web browser’s toolbar, and when you get to a web page that requires a login, you simply click on the “1P” button.
It also can generate strong passwords for you, using random strings of letters and numbers, and it remembers them–so you no longer have to think of a password that’s hard for others to guess yet easy for you to remember.
There is also a 1Password iPhone app, so you can take your passwords with you everywhere.
Price is $39.95 per user. Free trial allows you to keep track of up to 20 passwords, so you can try before buying. http://agilewebsolutions.com/products/1Password
Many Mac users back up using Time Machine to a hard drive. But what happens if there is a fire or burglary in your home or business, rendering your backup unusable or unavailable?
Mozy provides inexpensive backup of your entire computer (or a selected portion of it) over the internet to a server located remotely. It’s a great addition to having a local backup.
Once you install the Mozy software on your computer, and set up which files and folders you want backed up (or your entire computer), the backup occurs in the background on a schedule you set. All files are transferred and stored using encryption for security. Mozy can restore your entire computer after a crash or loss of data, but it can also retrieve one specific file from months ago.
Price for home users is $5/month for an unlimited amount of data. Price for one computer at a businesses is $4/month plus $0.50 per GB per month. http://www.mozy.com
SugarSync allows you to sync selected files automatically between two computers (and an iPhone, if you choose). If you work on one file at one computer, those changes automatically appear on your other computer. The two computers don’t have to be on the internet at the same time–for example, the next time your laptop is online, any changes to files you made on your desktop will be updated automatically.
SugarSync works for Macs or PCs. You can even sync files between a Mac and a PC. It’s fantastic for a project you’re working on at the office, and then want to continue working on at home in the evenings. Or for files you routinely need in multiple locations.
Files that are synched are also backed up to SugarSync’s remote server, which you can also access over the web. All files are stored in an encrypted format and are transferred using SSL security.
Prices vary depending on total size of files you are synching; they start at $5/month for 30GB and go up to $25/month for 250GB. http://www.sugarsync.com
Secretary in Israel
This isn’t exactly a Mac thing, but we loved this idea when we learned about it, plus it works thanks to the glories of modern technology. Secretary in Israel provides experienced virtual executive assistants for any size business at an hourly rate. (A “virtual assistant” is an office or personal assistant who is not located in your office yet can perform almost all the same tasks that an in-office assistant can.)
All of Secretary in Israel’s assistants are American women living in Israel, who went to top American colleges, and have many years of experience working in offices of major American companies. The cost is much less than it would be to locally hire someone with an equivalent background. Your virtual assistant can answer your phone, respond to your email, book appointments, organize events, write letters (and mail them from the USA), do research, even order lunch for you — thus freeing you up to accomplish more high-level work or have more available billable hours.
Secretary in Israel pairs you with an assistant based on your needs and her experience, as well as on personality fit. You can use your assistant for as few or as many hours a week as you need, and you are charged at an hourly rate only for the hours that she works. You can cancel at any time, although the longer you work with your assistant, the better she will be able to anticipate your needs. http://www.secretaryinisrael.com
We haven’t used this service but others swear by it, so we decided to include it.
Mimeo provides online printing and shipping of brochures, presentation materials, and other documents. You upload a file to their website, they print it, and bind it if necessary, and then they Fedex it to your location of choice.
It saves you the time of standing in front of the photocopier, or (even worse) going to Kinko’s and having them screw it up AND take forever to do so.
You can upload Word, Quark, Illustrator, Excel, and various other file formats, and have them printed–Mimeo can even print and bind them all in the same document. You can print in black & white or color. There are various paper choices and binding options. Mimeo also prints posters and creates CDs and DVDs.
Prices vary; you can get 50% off your first order. http://www.mimeo.com
This free program is intended to help you avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI) by forcing you to take breaks from typing. You can schedule the length of the break plus the time in between breaks. You can also set “micro-pauses” which are shorter breaks. The program is smart enough to detect when you’re taking a natural break so it won’t make you take too many artificial ones.
Don’t forget to rest your eyes at the same time you rest your wrists. Try to look away from the screen and focus on something far away for a few minutes each half hour. Even better: take a walk around the office and stretch your legs too.
You may not think of taking a break as a time or energy saver, but in the long run it will make you more productive and less prone to tiredness and physical injury.
AntiRSI software is free; consider a contribution via PayPal (link on the website). http://tech.inhelsinki.nl/antirsi/