Next to godliness

Managing hard drive space (yes, settle in folks, this post is pure fun) is a constant problem in my home. Recent smiting from Olympus notwithstanding, keeping up with the onslaught of music, video, photos and work files is a challenge.

Recently I’ve come across a few apps worth mentioning for keeping tabs on just what is bloating my Macs.

I have a Smart Folder set up that only lists files over 100MB. This is useful for pruning big-ass files, the easy marks. But, other than mail archives and video rips this is a small folder indeed.

Enter Grand Perspective.


This (free) app seems like eye candy, but it is a lot more than that. It gives you a visual tapestry of your file system (though it sorta looks like a map of drive clusters, which it is not). Mousing over the map shows you collections of files, grouped by color and outlined together. This is super-useful as it highlights groupings that may be huge even if the individual sizes of the files may be small. For instance, Grand Perspective helped me move nearly 10GB of support files for LiveType onto an external drive. I would never have known all that crap was in there.

A nice complement to Grand Perspective is WhatSize, a more traditional listing of every file on your machine by size. Also free. WhatSize retains folder organization so you can see at a glance what should get the heave-ho.

Lastly, Hazel (US$21.95), an app that I have had in trial mode on my machine for a while but which, like Quicksilver, I needed a kick in the pants to get really using. Hazel is a bit like Smart Folders except that you can set up rules for nearly any kind of file. It can do just about anything to a file, especially in conjunction with Automator actions. For example, Hazel constantly monitors my drive for duplicate files, segregrates PC-only attachments I receive (for purgation in the holy fires of iWork) and automatically prompts me to remove support files when I nuke an app.

While I’m at it I might as well list a few apps that I am very fond of lately. All Mac, unless otherwise noted.

DropCopy – Opens a little wormhole on your desktop for dragging files to other machines. Unlike a folder alias it can have multiple destinations.

iPhone Remote – Access your Mac from your iPhone. You can use it as an iTunes Remote, PervCam remote viewer for the iSight, file browser, or to stream files to.

Coda – Superb single-window web coding app. Dreamweaver cowers in the corner.

Mouseposé – Nifty app that turns your pointer into a spotlight for highlighting things during presentations. Also has a keystroke mode where your typing is highlighted in big letters onscreen.

Flickr Export for iPhoto – If you manage photos in iPhoto and post some to Flickr this is indispensable. You can do everything to the photo pre-upload but geolocate it. Really solid. There’s also an Aperture version.

NetNewsWire – The latest version of this newsreader adds a few great touches like iTunes-style “cover art” for the site your feed is being pulled from and great handling of embedded media and microformats. Also synchs with online version, PC app NewsGator, and an iPhone web app!

Earth Addresser – Yanks all the addresses from OSX Address Book and plots them as a layer on Google Earth. Interesting at-a-glance view of the folks you know.

HandBrake – The latest version of this DVD rip … er, backup program has defaults for AppleTV and the iPod/iPhone. Handy. There is a PC version but it rather blows.

iStat Pro – Puts the dashboard in Dashboard. Highly configurable system status widget.

Dashalytics – If you use Google Analytics to track website traffic, this is a great window into the data. Also a Dashboard widget.

Weather Underground Dashboard Widget – Like the site it is a visual fiasco, but it displays great info. Way better than the default weather widget.

And lastly, apps that I desperately want to like, but just don’t yet. (There’s hope. I went through this with Quicksilver and Hazel.)

Tinderbox – Eastgate’s hypertextual note-taking system-cum-personal CMS. Their Storyspace changed my life. I guess I’m expecting this to do so as well. Perhaps I should set my expectations lower for a piece of software.

Joost – Remind me why I want to watch full-screen TV on my laptop?

iPhoto ’08 – Permit me to step out of the RDF for a moment, but isn’t an Event just a smart folder by date?

Slife – A very cool idea for tracking and visualizing app usage over time, but it is a serious resource hog and supports apps inconsistently.

Now, go be productive.