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The Productive Macs bundle

There is yet another software bundle out for indie Mac OS X applications. This time, it is called the productivity software bundle and it features eight productivity-related applications.

I found this bundle via Shawn Blanc, and I was was rather excited at first. There are some notable apps in this bundle, such as TextExpander, Path Finder and Mail Act-On — software I have heard a lot about.

What’s in the bundle?

As with all similar bundles, there are big names in there that sell the bundle, and some little guys catching a ride. Here’s a full list of what’s in there, and my thoughts on it:

Text macros application: type an abbreviation anywhere, and it gets expanded to a full snippet of text. A highly-recommended time saver.
Path Finder
Replacement application for the finder, featuring tabs, dual pane browser, terminal and more advanced stuff. Some people swear by it, so I was keen to give it a try. It’s not bad, but I cannot get used to using a third-party application as my file browser. Reverted to Finder and uninstalled.
Social media desktop application. Doesn’t sound like and isn’t a good fit. A desktop app is too much overhead for the casual user; it offers too few advantages for the ‘power user’. Uninstalled.
I don’t get this app. It’s spotlight search, but with a cluttered interface and an annoying helper app that shoves a big window in your face when the mouse cursor touches the edge of the screen. I have no clue why I wouldn’t use Spotlight proper. Uninstalled.
A simple application that displays daily events and tasks from iCal. It’s a nicely executed idea, but I am not a heavy calendar user so an entire application just to display today’s events is overkill for me. Besides, if I was going to enhance iCal with an external app, I’d go for Fantastical — it just adds a little more value. Uninstalled.
Keyboard Maestro
A keyboard macro program, used to control parts of your desktop without the mouse. Sounds good, but I haven’t really tried it yet. I also don’t really have a need for it, as I use some handy native OS X shortcuts and have set up some other dedicated apps with keyboard shortcuts. Will probably never use and uninstall soon.
A simple application from the same company that makes Socialite, that gives you a list of recently used documents. Just like Mac OS X already does itself. Solves no problem I am having. Also, I don’t really like the interface. Uninstalled.
Mail Act-On
A plug-in for Mail.app that neatly exposes some handy features for working with messages from your keyboard. It does several things, but I use it mostly for filing messages — a feature I sorely miss in Mail.app. When trying to keep your inbox empty, moving messages to other folders with a few simple keystrokes is so much better than drag-and-drop or using Mail’s own “Move to folder” menu item.

So, I uninstalled most of the apps within a day after first installing them. They’re not bad software — I just prefer to use as little software as possible (Patrick Rhone at minimalmac has lots more to say about that). There is a cost involved with the installation, usage, maintenance and added clutter of using third-party applications. I find only very few applications add enough value to outweigh their costs (let alone their price).

Bundles are nice, even though you won’t use most of it.

I still think bundles like this are a good thing. As a customer, I get some nice software at a discount. The developers get more people trying their app, that otherwise probably wouldn’t have paid full-price. If the app is good, there’s a good chance you capture some new paying customers for the future.

To buy or not to buy?

The Productive Macs bundle is a good purchase. I was just about to pay to full price for TextExpander, which is $32.95 on its own. At $29.99, this bundle is worth buying even if only for TextExpander. Considering you also get Mail Act-On, this really is a steal — even if takes some time to install, try and then uninstall all the other apps.

Arjan van der Gaag

Arjan van der Gaag

A thirtysomething software developer, historian and all-round geek. This is his blog about Ruby, Rails, Javascript, Git, CSS, software and the web. Back to all talks and articles?


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