Like its iOS counterpart, the Mac App Store excels in its variety; I regularly scan the top download lists and I?ve stumbled on a few inexpensive, focused apps that fit my interests well.
While there?s been at least six such apps that I?ve tried since the App Store?s debut, two have gotten by far the heaviest use: Folder Watch, a file syncing utility and Minutes, a simple, colorful timer app. I?d recommend checking out both.
Many Mac users have the need to keep two drives or content folders in sync. For instance, perhaps you?ve got a local document folder you want auto replicated to Dropbox. Or you have an external hard drive used to back up specific local directories (in my case, local Music, Documents, and Dropbox folders are copied to subdirectories within my external backup drive.)
It?s true that this work can be done manually in the Mac Finder or with a fairly straightforward Automator script. However, none of those options have the ease of use and simplicity of Folder Watch: Simply pick a source and destination folder and hit the play button to activate the watch; real time changes made in the source folder are mirrored in the destination immediately while the app runs in the background. Any changes are accompanied with an optional Growl notification, a nice, subtle touch.
Folder Watch also takes up little memory while running and has an intuitive, row based interface. I?d ideally like some more app customization, but overall the app?s simplicity is its strength; additional options and preferences could distract from the app?s feature set. It?s available for $5 in the App Store.
Almost every Mac user needs a simple countdown timer at some point. It?s true that this can come from countless outside sources like a kitchen timer or a watch. There?s also the built in timer on the iPhone?s Clock app, not to mention great looking third party apps like Focus Booster that I?ve recommended in the past.
Nevertheless, there?s something about having the timer on my Mac desktop that I find very accessible when I?m in the middle of work. Minutes fits its timer functionality well – you can set as many little timers as you want easily: Turn the knob with the mouse to set a time or alternatively use several keyboard shortcuts. Each alarm can go off with a fairly pleasant sound, auto fade out iTunes music, or play an iTunes playlist.
I currently use the app as a Pomodoro timer to accompany my work day. I have two alarms, a red one set at 25 minutes to handle a single Pomodoro work cycle and a blue five minute timer used to measure breaks between cycles.
Minutes isn?t perfect – when running it takes up more CPU usage than expected and I?d prefer a choice of several alarm ring tones – but it?s still a no brainer purchase for $1.