Review: You Software Part 1

You Control turns your Mac into a one-stop information center (January 23rd, 2004)

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Product Manufacturer: You Software

Price: $49.95 until February 8; $69.95 thereafter

The Good

  • Intuitive setup, integrated modules, customized configurations

The Bad

  • $70 price tag may be too steep for some buyers

First things first: I'm a small business owner, and I operate my business out of my home. I tell you that, because it will help you better understand, perhaps, the parameters I attach for really cool software:

  • The software must be effective
  • It must be effective, without requiring me to spend months configuring it. At the same time, it should allow me to go as granular as I want, if I want to do so.
  • Making it work should be more or less intuitive. After all, that's why I use a Macintosh in the first place.
  • It should perform as advertised; unnecessary marketing hype doesn't thrill me as an end-user.

If you can do that, you've got my vote and my money. If you can't, it won't stay on my machine.

With that in mind, I recently received two pieces of software from You Software. You Software was started by several guys who founded and built Extensis. Their first two products this time around are You Synchronize and You Control, They're products that at first blush appear to be consistent with the company's stated objective of making "the software you already own (such as operating systems and applications) easier to use and customize, so your computer works the way you want it to work." In reality, that would make You's products helper applications; they aren't. But one of them works quite well for me; the other works, but it didn't make me want to turn in what I'm already using.

You Control

Simply put, You Control lets you turn a small part of your Mac into a one-stop information center, replacing four or five other pieces of shareware that you may already have. It's designed to pull multiple elements together, and it does so elegantly.

Here's what I mean. In my tool bar, I currently have a "You menu" that I've configured, allowing me to see my local seven-day weather forecast, how my stocks are doing, news headlines, and to navigate to any file in my root directory.

Configuring the menu took me about 10 minutes, which included choosing to use the You corporate icon in the menu bar, rather than a word-driven menu. I also added a Clock module, which You says is the clock that Apple should have incorporated in Panther. They're right; it lets me see the time in multiple zones, as well as shows me a calendar for the current month, with the option of going backward or forward.

Click to enlarge I could have chosen to use additional modules, like Pasteboard, Calendar (which synchronizes with iCal), Processes or iTunes, but I didn't. But if you look at only the modules I chose to use, they replace shareware such as WeatherPopPro ($8), NetNewsWire ($30), and iStock ($12), and they do it all under one interface for $50.

That's important to me for a variety of reasons. Desktop space and menu bar space is at a premium on my iMac; I can't afford to have a row of icons piled up, one after another. And as much as I love Konfabulator, I don't like having multiple widgets open all over my desktop. You Control gives me the control I need. It also lets me determine how I want to activate the menu modules. While I chose to place the activation on the right side of the menu bar (I'm a traditional kind of guy), I could have moved it to the left side, or chosen to use corner activation or hot keys, which can also be used to launch other applications or documents. That, in itself, replaces hot key utilities like Keyboard Maestro or FunKeys ($20).

The marketing guys at You say they'll roll out additional modules over the next several months, at no charge to registered users. That's nice to hear, but I'm pretty darned satisfied with what they're already offering; anything else is going to be pure gravy. You's home page announces that You Control won Macworld's Best of Show award in San Francisco. I can see why.

by Steve Friedberg


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