Apps of the Month – The Mac Month

posted by on 30th June 2007, at 9:02pm

This month, we’ll be looking at two brilliant Mac utilities – Growl and Quicksilver. I’d like to note that these are Mac-only, but never fear, Windows users, for next month, I have a large number of utilities for XP lined up.


Developer: Blacktree
Licence: Freeware
Available from:
Every Mac user will know that the dock serves as a kind of quick-launch bar as well as a place for open applications. But I hardly think anyone could get all their applications into there. What about folders in your home directory? No chance. Especially when your applications folder is as full as mine (98 items and counting, baby).

So what if you did have a quicklaunch system of opening any of those? And what if that quicklaunch system was via the keyboard, instead of the mouse? Press a keyboard shortcut, type the first few letters of an application’s name, press Enter – sounds like the perfect solution. How about a folder somewhere else on your hard drive? Keyboard shortcut, a few letters, press Enter.

Enter Quicksilver.

Install, run, set it to startup on boot. Ctrl+Space is that keyboard shortcut (by default, anyway), and you’re done. Try it out – press Ctrl + Space, type the first few letters of an application, and it should appear in the top box. Press enter and it will run. It might seem like a bit of a gimmick at first, but it becomes incredibly useful. Instead of having to crawl through your applications folder or open spotlight, Quicksilver makes the job a lot easier.

Rating: 9.5/10: Invaluable. Just after installing an app, though, it doesn’t always pick it up until a minute or so later.


Licence: Freeware
Available from:
Rarr. A friend has signed in on Adium. Grr. You’ve got a new email. Roar. iTunes is now playing Iron Maiden.

Ok, so it doesnt actually growl at you.

Growl is a unified notification system for OS X. It allows you to have one system to manage all notifications, whether it be from a messenger application, media player or torrent client. All the notifications will have the same look and feel, giving a clean, consistent system.

So why is this so special? The answer is simple: consistency, consistency, consistency. A unified notification system for all your applications ensures all your notifications stay consistent. Consistency is very important in user interfaces – rather than a million different notification systems in Windows and other operating systems, Growl unifies everything.

Of course, if something is rubbish, but consistent, it’s still rubbish; and so Growl is customisable. There are various skins pre-installed, as well as more that are downloadable. You can even choose to have growl talk to you in any voice from the default Mac OS X talking voice to a rather odd ‘Deranged’ voice. There’s also the option for emailing you notifications. This might not be so great if you have Growl set up to give you a notification when you recieve mail, of course… infinite loop!

Rating: Well, I frankly cant see anything wrong with it, other than that more developers should use it. 10/10

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