Every now and then I stumble across a life changing app that completely changes the way I interact with my computer. Quicksilver. Devonthink Pro. Jumpcut. Keyboard Maestro. 1Password. Dropbox. Hazel. These are Apps that I cannot do without! In my 20 years of being a mac user there has been a handful of such apps that are mandatory to install on any new computer that I use. I’ve just discovered a new app to add to the collection – Unclutter…
Warning: this app costs $30! ($US19)
…and once you’ve tried it you won’t the able to function without it!
What it does.
1. Activating Unclutter.
Unclutter is like a secret drawer that sits away hidden at the very top of your screen. When you move your cursor up to the top of your screen and scroll down, the drawer appears. This is the first great thing about unclutter – it is always there. It is very quick and easy to access. The scroll activation feature mans that you accidentally activate it like other similar products.
2. Using Unclutter.
Unclutter has three panels. You can see them in the screenshot below.
On the left (offscreen) is a clipboard.
I never use this because I have ‘jumpcut’ which I find to be superior.
In the middle is where the all the action is.
It’s basically a folder where you can drag any document or application. Any folder or document you drag will be moved into unclutter. This can be a bit of a pain so as you can see from the screenshot I have dragged lots of aliases into this folder so that it contains shortcuts to documents, servers or folder that I use regularly. This makes it easy to directly access frequently used folders.
You can put hard-to-access or hidden folders here, for example ~/Library.
You can put links to websites that you use regularly.
You Can put links to any folder. (e.g ‘working – dropbox’).
You can add in the admin page of a printer. (e.g. ‘DPC Printer’).
You can put a login to your VPN. (e.g. DPC Server.)
In my example above ‘Aliases’ goes directly to the folder where all these Unclutter aliases are stored. The advantages of creating an alias of what you want to link to and then putting the alias into unclutter is that you can rename it to whatever you want it to be, but leave the original folder with its original name. (For example I have renamed Dropbox/Wayne/working to ‘working-dropbox’ for simplicity.)
The right panel (onscreen) contains notes.
I already have a good notes app – Notational Velocity – where I store my long-term notes, but the unclutter notes panel is handy for storing code snippets and temporarily clippings that I don’t want to lose.
I stumbled across uncluttered because I was looking for a shelf to store some frequently accessed folders in. I found the Apple Dock at the bottom of the screen a little cumbersome and it’s not obvious which folder you are selecting because they are not named. I tried a few shelf solutions but sometimes they didn’t appear when I wanted them to and sometimes they appeared when I didn’t want to and some of them were very ugly.
I decided to trial ‘Unclutter’ thinking that I would never activated because of the $30 price. Unfortunately after the free 30 days I could not function without it! I’ve only been using it 2 months and I think it’s been well worth the price already.