is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
What are the least glamorous software tools for the Macintosh that you can’t live without? I’m not talking about the likes of Quicksilver, Adium or other high profile applications that, even if they don’t come from major league publishers, manage to get plenty of coverage already.
Rather, I’m talking about little known or little-discussed applications, widgets or utilities without which your productivity just plummets. I know that I’ve got a handful of these that I unequivocally must install on any Mac I use; I’m passionately dedicated to them. So it occurred to me the other day that lots of people probably have unsung favorites too; and by virtue of their modest dignity, I likely haven’t heard of them.
So really, this post is a way of polling readers for hidden gems that I might like myself. To get it started, here are a just few of mine; link to yours in the remarks area below.
First, there’s WordService from DEVONtechnologies. As a Service menu plug-in, it’s as unglamorous as it gets; it’s hidden, hard to reach and virtually devoid of any interface. Still, once you install it, you’ll be amazed at how it gives you the ability to perform a staggering number of incredibly handy text operations: straightening smart quotes (and vice versa), transforming cases, word counts, reforming broken paragraphs and more.
For those who work with several different Web browsers at once, IC-Switch allows you to switch default browsers — and mail programs, FTP clients, newsgroup readers and RSS aggregators, too — from a little menu tucked at the top of the screen. So if you’re testing work in, say, the thoroughly lovable but perpetually lagging OmniWeb for an afternoon, you can use IC-Switch to ensure that any time you click on a link in an email program the system will invoke OmniWeb rather than your normal default.
Again for users of multiple browsers: Everyday Software’s Bookit allows you to reflect your bookmarks identically across your entire complement of browsers. In conjunction with the much-maligned (by me) .Mac service, it makes it completely possible — if not yet sufficiently automatic — to have the same Internet bookmarks on all of your hardware and software.
My capricious comment spam measures often dislike remarks loaded with more than two or so links, so you may find your comment getting routed to an approval queue, where they’ll remain until I can manually okay them. I’ll try and do that as quickly as I can. Also, you know you’ve got a thoroughly dysfunctional blogging environment when you have to write the kind of advanced disclaimer that I just did.+