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Top 5 tweaks for OS X: HyperDock, Bartender, Flashlight and more

by Brandon Russell | February 17, 2015February 17, 2015 5:00 pm PST

I enjoy more subtle desktop customizations, tweaks that improve the experience without being obnoxious about it. So when Mark came up with the idea for the top OS X tweaks and improvements, I immediately knew what I was going to pick. I was never in the business of completely redesigning how my desktop looks—maybe that could be a topic for another day. Today’s video will focus on the apps we found best complements our workflow without getting in the way. Yep, I’m still using HyperDock after all these years.

HyperDock: I still maintain that HyperDock should be built right into OS X. The app has a ton of awesome features, like window previews, the ability to control iTunes, calendar events and simple window management, which is similar to the Snap feature made famous by Microsoft. It also offers fully configurable shortcuts, though I haven’t really touched that aspect. I pretty much rely on it for window management and previews. It’s subtle, but it improves my daily workflow in a big way.

Bartender: This app isn’t necessarily meant to change how you work, though it does help you get organized if you’re anal about cleanliness. I hate when my menu bar is crowded—there’s something overwhelming about seeing a bunch of icons congregating in one spot. Which is why Bartender is so handy. It hides the clutter while still giving you easy access to your apps. You can tidy up your menu bar exactly how you want, including the ability to hide icons completely. Even Bartender’s icon can be hidden. It’s a little steep at $15, but I have zero buyer’s remorse.

Fantastical: Fantastical promises to be the Mac calendar “you’ll actually enjoy using,” and it definitely lives up to that promise. It lives in your menu bar for easy access, making creating an event super simply. And the thing that makes Fantastical standout is its natural language support, which means you can write in entries in your own style and the app will intelligently create an event. Fantastical hasn’t been updated in awhile, but the $19.99 app still remains one of the better calendar/reminder combo we’ve seen.

ControlAir: It’s better to see this one in action than to actually read about it. It’s free—that’s all I’ll say. ControlAir isn’t necessarily a must-have app, but it sure is cool. See what I mean in the video above.

Flashlight: Spotlight is much more powerful in Yosemite, but Flashlight gives it even more superpowers. The app, which is currently in beta, allows users to add over 120 plugins to OS X’s Spotlight search box, including the ability to send an iMessage, set a reminder, make an outgoing call, quickly translate text, and much more. It’s a great way to extend Spotlight’s capabilities, and, best of all, Flashlight is completely open-source.

Wild cards – Unclutter, Alfred, Stay and more

There are some other wild cards that didn’t quite make our top five cut. I personally use both Unclutter and Alfred on a daily basis, while Stay was a recommendation Ralph made. I know there are a lot of other apps out there that help improve the OS X experience, so let’s hear your recommendations in the comments down below.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.

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