It shouldn't be this fiddly
So, with OS X El Capitan, you can now have half of your screen devoted to one app and the other half to another. It has been unexpectedly excellent for our productivity: somehow even more than just dragging two windows next to each other like we used to. However, if you don't know how to do it, it isn't obvious.. Plus, some of the things it does really aren't obvious either. Although some apps play nice with it and some don't even let you try, there is a surprising third class of apps that say they work Split Screen yet you'd never know because they need careful handling.
Focus on your work by fading out everything else
This is you. On your Mac. Countless apps open, endless windows, you have to dig through to find what you're doing next -- and then as you work, your eyes flick to that Facebook window over to the left, or that email inbox to the right. HazeOver: Distraction Dimmer 1.5 for OS X focuses you by making the document you're working on be clear and vivid, while the rest of your desktop is darker, dimmed, almost greyed out.
Subscription-free versions of Office 2016 suite available to purchase
A standalone version of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac has been released, on the same day Microsoft launches Office 2016 for Windows. Already available to download for Mac users since July as part of Office 365 suite, today's release is the first time the most recent version of Office is being offered for purchase on Mac without requiring the subscription, with both Office Home & Student 2016 and Office Home & Business 2016 versions being offered.
Use these tools and get going
It's a big job, Getting Things Done. David Allen's clever system takes effort but it actually works and despite all the work you have to put into it, you do tend find yourself feeling lighter than you used to. Fewer things are pressing on your mind because you're handling them all. If the hardest part of GTD is keeping at it then we'd say the second hardest part is understanding Allen's corporate language. Hopefully we've dealt with translating that all week – including yesterday's coverage of the single most vital part of GTD – but now we want you to go do things. We want you to do them with our recommendations of specific Apple technologies and software.
The most important and least-used part of GTD
If anyone ever manages to collate some statistics about Getting Things Done, the productivity cult (nee methodology) of David Allen, there are some figures that are certain to be there. For a start, the number of people who begin using GTD and give up will be high. Equally, though, the customer satisfaction rating for those who stick with it will be enormous. You can just bet, however, that a giant number of GTD users skip one feature. For once, software is not the brilliant help we've been saying it is all week: even To Do apps often leave out this part. Yet the Review is crucial to every single thing that is good about Getting Things Done.
Getting it all written down and never stopping
Previously: David Allen's Getting Things Done is a tremendous methodology for being more productive, for just handling all your responsibilities and all your work. It is a system that has fans but it isn't one that comes with a shopping list of Apple gear –– and we think it should. That's especially true with today's edition of this Pointers series where we're concerned with GTD's first step: the collection of what exactly it is you need to do.
The OS X and iOS guide to getting productive
Perhaps you know this, but there is a productivity system, a methodology, called Getting Things Done which was invented by David Allen in the 1990s, and introduced to the world in his book. It's about handling all your work, about coping with lots of tasks and ultimately, yes, about getting things done. Allen is a spectacularly clever man, and his methods -- honed over years of working with corporate types under pressure -- are genuinely useful and we'd even go so far as to say brilliant. They take effort to master, but they're simple to understand and they are very effective, to the extent that GTD, as it's known, has its evangelists. So we're just about to annoy most of them.
An app that attempts to simulate the feeling of taking notes by hand
There are tons of apps in the App Store for word processing, giving users the ability to turn their iPads into portable productivity powerhouses. These apps, however, tend to ignore one of the best features about the iPad -- the fact that it has a touch screen. We looked at Upad 3, a productivity app that is designed to work with your handwriting, rather than typing.
Gain extra utility with lesser-known functionality in the Dock
The Dock is one of the many features of OS X that is taken for granted -- and often underutilized. Sure, a fair number of users eventually figure out that the can take things off the dock -- usually by accident, resulting in some considerable alarm -- but it has come to our attention that shockingly few users really leverage the Dock as Apple intended. In this installment of Pointers, we'll go over some of the "hidden" powers of the Dock that turn it into a real productivity tool.
Cunning little app stops you from using your phone
They say for every time you check your phone, you lose about 15 minutes worth of productivity. With Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Vine, and all our other favorite social media outlets competing with real life for your attention, we can assume this is a fairly conservative estimate. What if there was a great visual reminder that swayed you away from checking your phone every five minutes? That's why we checked out Forest, a simple app that helps you stay on task.
Mac and Windows users alike need only an Apple ID to use web versions of productivity apps
PC users that have been curious to try out Apple's suite of productivity programs, formerly known collectively as iWork, are now able to do so from the main iCloud.com website, the feature having been taken out of Apple's beta.icloud.com lab. Earlier this month, Apple made a free 1GB account available to any users who wanted to sign up but did not have an Apple device, but only within the beta site. Now the applications (in their web versions) are available free for anyone with an Apple ID to use.
Fantastical, Clear, Duet, GoodNotes and others significantly discounted
On Thursday, Apple gathered 19 leading productivity apps and put them under a banner sale called "Get Productive" for iOS, with a mostly-different set of 20 apps for Mac users, each at their respective App Stores. Among the better-known offerings are the popular calendar program Fantastical 2 for iPhone now $2 (normally $5) and Fantastical for Mac (half off its normal $20 price), to-do app Clear for both platforms ($2 versus $5 for iOS, $5 versus $10 for Mac) and Duet Display, a new app that allows users to connect their iPad to a Mac and use the former as a second display (normally $15, now on sale for $8).
Likely includes better compatibility with recent iOS 8, OS X 10.10 changes
On Thursday, Apple updated its productivity apps for OS X and iOS -- previous sold together under the banner "iWorks" -- with no specified improvements or features other than the usual "bug fixes and stability improvements tag." Keynote for OS X has been update to version 6.5.2, with Pages at v5.5.2, and Numbers at version 3.5.2. The three corresponding iOS apps are all updated to v2.5.2. The update may also reflect some changes made in recent updates of Yosemite and iOS 8, or hint at some security fixes.
Evernote Scramble released, offers uploading to iCloud, business card info to LinkedIn
Evernote has released a new scanning app today, including the ability to scan a document automatically upon launching the app. The app will locate the document in the camera's field of view, and sharpen the image of contents in view of the iOS device. Scans can be uploaded to iCloud or shared via AirDrop, text message or email. Business cards scanned by Evernote Scramble, the app can associate the information with the contact's LinkedIn account. Evernote Scramble is free to download.
Time management desktop app successfully improves concentration
We all feel it, especially those of us working from home -- there is never enough time to get stuff done. Or, perhaps more accurately, there is not enough time in a day to get everything done that you should ... while also procrastinating with endless sources of distraction an Internet-connected computer has to offer. Enter Vitamin-R 2, an app for OS X (and also available for iPhone) that asserts that it can promote the optimal conditions for your brain by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly-focused activity alternating with opportunities for renewal, reflection and intuition.
Productivity app DropTask uses bubble-based Visual View of task assignments
Telecommuting is anything but rare these days, and for many people who have to work remotely on group tasks, it often becomes somewhat of a chore to try to stay in contact. Often, users are chained to computers or constant conference calls. DropTask by Think Productivity has a clever solution, allowing users to share a space within an app, where everyone is able to see the progress of the project from wherever they are.
Old-school time management technique timer, simply
There is virtually no limit to the amount of productivity apps in the App Store, and almost all of them are packed to the brim with bells and whistles that claim to increase productivity. However, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. OneThing by developer BumbleBee Communications promises to help keep users focused and productive, without overwhelming them with needless features.
Seen as pushback against Microsoft's Surface ads, yet features Microsoft apps
Following on the heels of two new "Your Verse" iPad ads, Apple has begun emailing prospective buyers touting the iPad's "office" apps, including both its own "iWork" apps as well as Microsoft Office for iPad -- even though the campaign is seen as a pushback to Microsoft's recent ads for its failed Surface tablet in which it points out that the Surface's accompanying keypad cover and laptop-like OS as productivity selling points.
Repurposes Office domain for online productivity suite
One day after renaming its SkyDrive cloud storage to OneDrive, Microsoft has performed a second rebranding effort, this time on its online productivity suite. Office Web Apps is being renamed as "Office Online," and in an effort to make the service easier for users to discover and move away from Google Docs, Microsoft is now using the Office.com domain name for the web apps.
Realmac Software rectifies confusion with Clear by offering it free for limited time
Realmac has announced an upcoming, limited-time offer, making Clear free, as part of its consolidation process. A new version of productivity to-do list app Clear was released last year, called Clear+. Built as a universal app for iOS 7, Clear+ was structured as a paid upgrade, with the original version removed from the App Store. Clear customers, according to Dan Counsell of Realmac Software, reported confusion and frustration over the switch to charging for the update version, so Realmac updated the old version of Clear for iOS 7 and reintroduced it.
Said to save more than 500,000 sheets of paper per week, increase productivity
The Parliament of Kenya is set to follow in the footsteps of its neighbor Uganda and outfit its legislative representatives and staff with iPads to replace traditional (and frequently revised) paperwork, reports the country's Standard Digital News. While the overall cost of around $350,000 is considered high by Kenyan standards, the lawmakers said the expenditure is justified by decreasing paper use and gains in productivity among members.
MacUpdate's Winter app bundle offers a $400 value for $40
Mac-only software directory MacUpdate has released its latest app bundle for the winter holiday season. Containing 10 apps (with an addition two bonus apps for early buyers), the bundle is worth nearly $400 and sells for $39, a 90 percent savings. The Winter Bundle consists of primarily of productivity and office utility apps.
Real-time collaboration competes with Google
Microsoft has introduced a range of new features to its Office 365 web apps, strengthening the free productivity tools amid a growing rivalry with Apple's iWork suite. Real-time co-authoring is the focal point for the web-based utilities, enabling multiple users to simultaneously collaborate on the same project. The feature essentially catches up with the capabilities of iWork and Google Docs.
IFTTT introduces iOS Photos, Reminders compatibility
Productivity app IFTTT (pronounced like 'gift' without the 'g') has released its latest update, version 1.2. IFTTT allows users to enter formulaic commands (called 'Recipes') to complete tasks between apps and web services (called 'Channels'). Version 1.2 has introduced Actions for iOS Photos and Reminders, as well as a new Feedback button within Settings. The background syncing has been improved for iOS 7, and new swipe gestures have been added. IFTTT is available on iTunes for free download.
Latest Evernote includes home screen customization, map notes
The latest update of Evernote's mobile app for iOS and Android has been released, offering new features and improvements. Evernote is a productivity organizer that lets users sync notes, to-do lists and photos across devices, as well as share notes through social media tools. Version 7.1 on iOS features the addition of displaying notes on map, as well as the ability to now customize the home screen layout.
12 Mac productivity apps for $35
Software developers Raskin and Paddle have collaborated in their release of a Mac OS X app bundle, titled "Cheaper by the Dozen". From illustration technology to network management to social media consolidation and more, the $35 bundle features productivity-oriented software, both previously-released and debuting as standalone software for the first time, such as Marked 2. Available until October 10, the "Cheaper by the Dozen" Mac Bundle can be purchased from Paddle.
Bundle includes Parallels Desktop 8, MotionComposer 1.6, DiskAid 6
Today, MacUpdate has launched its annual Spring/Parallels bundle. The latest bundle includes 10 productivity, utility and creative packages for OS X, including 1,000 OpenType fonts, all for $49.99. The bundle includes five applications normally priced higher than the bundle itself, including virtualization solution Parallels Desktop 8 with a normal retail price of $80, and web animation generator MotionComposer 1.6, normally priced at $149.
Final week features cut-rate prices on various utility apps
Following two weeks of sales on various productivity and organizational programs, the Mac App Store has kicked off the final week of its "Get Stuff Done" promotion with a set of discounts on 10 utility apps, including Calendar helper Fantastical, password manager 1Password and Yoink, a "weigh station" to make dragging files between destinations easier. Apple had earlier discounted a set of "prioritizing" apps during the first week, and organizational programs during the second.
Unusual themed discount roundup on Mac App Store
In a rare move, Apple has started a three-week "productivity apps" sale called "Get Stuff Done" that offers discounted prices on eight "prioritizing" applications for the Mac on the Mac App Store. The second week will reveal sale prices on as-yet-unnamed organizing apps, and the final week will spotlight savings on utility apps. Sale prices currently ongoing include $3 off the normally $10 to-do app Clear; half-off pricing on Things 2, 2Do, Due, The Hit List and Taskpaper; 40 percent off BreakTime, and substantial savings on Todo.
Mac version gains keyboard shortcuts, web client also updated
Evernote has updated its self-titled cloud-based note and capture program for the Mac to version 3.3, adding a new Premium user feature, new keyboard commands, new user controls and the addition of optional LinkedIn sharing. The web version has also been given the LinkedIn support along with a new slideshow option for picture-oriented posts. The Mac App Store version also incorporates both the recent Activity Stream feature as well as Retina display support.
PDF viewer, multiple accounts now included
GoDocs, an iOS utility for working with Google Docs online, has expanded significantly in new version 3.0, available now on the App Store ($5). The new version adds a pro-level PDF viewer that supports even large PDF documents, PDF links and searching, as well as new folder-level document management and an ability to switch between accounts with a passcode lock. Push notifications for document changes has also now been incorporated.
Clear goes on sale to celebrate new release
Realmac Software has updated its popular to-do iPhone app Clear to version 1.1, adding in several user-requested features such as a better UI for alerts and a "shake to undo" feature. The update also adds support for new themes, some of which are hidden or must be "unlocked" through usage, and the app has now removed the character-count limit and added an option to show the iOS status bar, which was previously always hidden.
Paid update will overhaul launch manager
Productivity app developer Chronos today announced a new and renamed major upgrade of its nine-year-old F10 Launch Studio, now called LaunchMagic 4. The new version is said to be faster, more powerful and easier to use and offers more than a dozen major new features, including support for documents and folders rather than just applications, menu bar access, QuickLook previews with full path info, dock launching from the menu bar and more.
Additional file types supported also
CloudOn, a free iPad productivity tool that offers a cloud-hosted version of Microsoft Office has updated to version 2.0.3, adding support for cloud storage service Box as well as Dropbox. The company has also expanded the number of supported file types by integrating a PDF reader and file viewer that opens almost any file type, and have also built in e-mailing files to colleagues. The program relies on services like Dropbox and Box to handle file management.
Keeps relevant documents, webpages to hand
Productivity and research software maker Devon Technologies has launched two products that constantly analyze what user is working on and keep relevant documents, contacts, media, e-mails and other content in a quickly-accessible list for instant access. DevonSphere Express searches a user's Mac or webpages on the Internet, while DevonSphere Server brings Devon technology to the server level.
Uses 'heat index' for priority sorting
While iOS and the App Store have no shortage of ways to create and manage to-do lists, RealMac Software along with Impending are offering up Clear, a new to-do app now available for $1 for a limited time. Clear is a visually-oriented, iPhone-centric task and note app that offers basic features but done in an elegant way. Though the app is compatible with iPad, the company says an iPad-centric version is in the works.
ePillow gains five new designs
The Productive Mac Bundle is a collection of eight Mac tools designed to improve a user's productivity. The bundled applications include Fantastical, BusyCal, Home Inventory, NoteBook, Default Folder X, LaunchBar, Cashculator and Tags. The bundle is being sold for $40, however, anyone that recommend the package to three other customers will be refunded the entire cost. In addition, all customers will be automatically placed into a draw for licenses of Soulver, Printopia, Flow, and DesktopShelves.
New app posts reminders to stay on a task
Macoscope has released Focusbar 1.0 for Mac, a new productivity app that provides a small reminder bar for any activity the user enters. The bar then makes reappearances at random intervals, and when a user switches windows. It helps focus the user on a single task, and alerts the user when he or she is about to go off-task.
Conductor can launch Mac, PC apps, switch windows
Windows support has arrived for m3me's productivity app, Remote Conductor for iPad. The app wirelessly connects, via 256-bit AES encryption, to a Mac as a control center -- capable of application and window switching and remote program launching. It also allows users to work on the iPad as a wireless trackpad or a secure keyboard for the desktop Mac. The app requires the desktop machine to have Conductor Server software installed.
Safari Extension Gallery refresh
Plum Amazing has released new versions of three productivity tools, iKey, yType, and CopyPaste. iKey 2.5.1 is an automation utility that allows users to create shortcuts that can perform a number of common tasks. Users can select the command, a context in which it runs, and a launcher that defines how the shortcut is activated. yType 1.0 is a brand new application that can automatically enter a defined string of text when a selected snippet is entered. Finally, CopyPaste 3.1 provides a graphical interface to a user's clipboard, allowing them to edit, display, and archive clipboard content. iKey and yType are available through the Mac App Store for $30 and $10 respectively, while CopyPaste can be purchased online for $30.
Offers folder organization, encryption, more
Clippings is a new notepad and note-taking app for the Mac from Lagente Software that focuses on ease of use and elegance rather than an extended set of features. It does offer some advanced features such as encryption, quick search, formatting options and folder-based note organizing, but was created for users seeking a simple notepad app. It is now available worldwide in the Productivity category of the Mac App Store.
Now available on the Mac App Store
TimeTag, having established itself on the iOS platform as a convenient way to track a user's day by avoiding timers and spreadsheet-esque record-keeping in favor of simple "tagging" techniques, has debuted as a Mac app on the Mac App Store. The app automatically and intelligently groups hours by activity, when can then be broken down in to sub-categories or gathered together into meta-categories using natural-language, user-defined tags.
Software can access hidden Dock, Finder features
Nulana has launched a new productivity title, NuKit 1.0. The software provides a number of utilities for a variety of Mac OS X tasks. It can launch programs, edit shortcuts, move windows and run calculations. The Launcher offers a quick-search function, narrowing down choices as the user types the first few characters of the application title. NuKit gives users access to hidden Dock settings, Finder preferences and system settings, allowing appearance changes such as a 2D dock.
Productivity tool works with Things, OmniFocus
Publicspace.net has announced its new productivity tool, Vitamin-R. The software is a collection of tools designed to help organize large projects by breaking them down into manageable tasks. Tasks are reduced down to 10-30 minute slices, each focusing on one specific event or objective. The software also features a 'now and later board' that allows users to jot down ideas to work on later, aiding in keeping focus on the current objective.
KeyCue 4.3 ($27) helps users to make better use of keyboard shortcuts that different applications provide. After holding down the Command key for a set period of time KeyCue opens and displays a table of all currently available menu shortcuts. In the new release, the keyboard combination used for activating KeyCue can be defined by the user and a new double-tap option to activate KeyCue by pressing a modifier twice has been added. KeyCue 4.3 can also display menu shortcuts and Keyboard Maestro macros together in a single table. [Download - 0.98MB]
GroupWise 8 update ships
Novell has released GroupWise 8, an update to its productivity and collaboration software that adds a customizable dashboard and Web 2.0 workspaces. The new version's dashboard allows users to interact with e-mail, calendar, contacts and task lists in one location, and features Web 2.0 enabled team workspaces, blogs, RSS feeds and applications. All the features work through the dashboard, which also allows administrators easy access and control, working across all three major platforms, supporting Macs, Windows and Linux.
Keyboard Maestro 3.4
Stairways Software has announced Keyboard Maestro 3.4, the latest version of its 'productivity enhancer' for Mac OS X. This release includes a 'typed string' trigger, allowing the user to fire off macros when typing a matching string. Triggers can be created with easily remembered mnemonics. Appearance has been enhanced to look more like the default system program switcher. Import/export of the named clipboards has been improved for better sharing of macros.
IOnce 2.0 for iPhone
PageOnce says it has made significant upgrades to its free productivity app that helps iPhone users keep track of credit card, cell phone, MySpace and other online accounts. iOnce 2.0 features "significant security enhancements," and allows users to add and manage all of their online accounts directly from an IPhone or iPod touch by signing up for the company's online services. Also added is a "mobile destruct" feature that automatically deletes personal information if a user's mobile device is lost or stolen.
Keyboard Maestro updated
Stairways Software has announced Keyboard Maestro 3.3, an update to its productivity-enhancement software. Keyboard Maestro's macros allow users to control and enhance applications. Users can control windows or menus; insert text; open documents and more, with just a keystroke or mouse-click. The 3.3 release adds a status menu and status menu-triggered macros. Actions within complex macros can now be enabled/disabled individually as well. Version 3.3 also adds a Fast User Switch action and can preserve users clipboard history across user-logins. Cut, copy, paste and duplicate are now available for macros, triggers and actions; in addition, the software has a number of other enhancements and bug-fixes. Keyboard Maestro 3.3 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, and costs $36. There are volume discounts offered at five units (50% off) and twenty units (65% off).
LivePresets for Illustrato
Artlandia has released the third in a line of productivity plug-ins for Adobe creative software. The company says LivePresets works with two basic classes of static Adobe Illustrator objects -- symbols and swatches -- and makes them editable dynamically. The plug-in allows users to interactively edit multiple art objects from a single source.