utilities

Productivity Tools for 2020

As we get 2020 underway, I wanted to list a few of the tools I've been using that make a huge difference in my productivity. I use these on a daily basis and they have proven their worth on multiple occasions. This isn't a complete list, but just about everyone can benefit from these tools. They are extremely powerful in what they do, yet easy to learn and understand.

Productivity Tools for 2020

2Do – My choice for task management when testing, for creating checklists, for creating ToDo lists and keeping track of bills and appointments.

Alfred – An automation and workflow tools I have recently added that has already saved huge amounts of time. Navigate Finder using the keyboard, set up custom web searches, find files, set up snippets, make a clipboard manager and build workflows. I've made several of my own custom searches and built some very nice workflows.

CodeRunner – My choice for writing and testing small snippets of code. Works for Java, Groovy, Bash, AppleScript and others.

CopyLess – A very useful clipboard manager that sits on a secondary monitor so I can pull out names and figures with a click.

DevonAgent – An absolute must for those doing research and deep dive searches. Search through hundreds of websites for the information you need while tossing away duplicates.

DevonThink – The most powerful document management tool I have ever used. It stores documents, web site archives, source code, emails, news feeds and just about every other type of information you have on your machine. An absolute gem.

Dozer – Clean up the menu bar with this well designed tool.

Infinity Dashboard – Monitors websites so I don't have to. I use it almost exclusively to monitor price changes on Amazon. In that regard, it's already saved a couple hundred dollars.

Keyboard Maestro – The other half of my automation engine. Set up keyboard shortcuts, automate applications or build your own. An incredibly handy and extremely powerful tool for getting work done in a fraction of the time. You can probably replace paid applications by using this one.

LibreOffice – No interest in Microsoft Office by whatever name they call it. LibreOffice is powerful, effective and has features I actually use.

MiniNote Pro – I have several note taking tools, but MiniNote is the most used. I use it for quick notes about a project or topic I'm working on. It has effective organization to group topics together. It's also a great way to push notes from my Mac at work, to my Mac at home.

MWeb – Another very powerful note taking tool with Markdown capability. Great organization, themes, formatting tools, export capabilities and can publish to the web.

PopClip – My little friend to help format, link, delete or push my selected text to another app. I didn't know how useful this would be until I started using it.

Quitter – A great tool for closing down apps you aren't using. Keep you system tidy and regain some memory for tasks you've completed or will come back to later.

Scrivener – The most glorious word processing tool I have ever used. I've had Scrivener for 5 years now and I don't write documents in anything else. If it's more than a paragraph, it's written in Scrivener.

Simon – It monitors websites so I don't have to. While Infinity Dashboard has some built in modules, with Simon you can monitor anything. Check for new articles, software updates, uploads, or be notified if a site goes down. It's a little more "do it yourself" but very powerful.

SnagIt – One of the best screen capture tools around.

SnippetsLab – If there's a code fragments I'm going to use again, this is where it goes. Great for all types of notes, not just code.

TextSoap – An incredible text formatting tool with a solid editor. Parse text with built in cleaners or build your own. I'm not entirely sure there's a limit to how this can be used. It's an IDE for building ways to parse, clean and copy text.

TypeIt4Me – My choice for text expansion. This has saved so much time and helped fill in so many forms. If you write code, send template emails, work in tech support, or have any reason to write the same piece of text more than once, TypeIt4Me is a must have. It's easy to set up and will save you days of typing.

WindowManager – A great way to keep windows organized. Snap windows to a position on your screen. Maximize, half-size, center, or in the right hand corner, this app makes window position incredibly easy.

Other articles of interest:

CopyLess and PopClip Jump Aboard the Party Barge

Since I’m building up a host of efficiency tools, I’ve added CopyLess 2 and PopClip to my arsenal.

At first glance having CopyLess might seem contradictory since Alfred already has a clipboard manager. Under normal circumstances that would be correct, but I want to use a clipboard manager in a slightly different, but very specific way.

Since I have multiple monitors (4), I want the clipboard manager to float on a second monitor and be visible at all times. It needs to be on top of other apps and not disappear when it loses focus. When filling out forms and working on certain test scenarios, I want to move back and forth as quickly as possible to copy and paste data. I don’t want to repeatedly press key combinations or go to the menu bar to make my list appear.

There are a lot of really good clipboard managers out there, including the one built in to Alfred, but CopyLess was one of the few that could actually stay on top of other applications, keep track of a large list and set aside text as favorites. And because of that, it’s working out really well for me. It also comes in at a very affordable price with some nice customizations.

CopyLess 2

Another tool in the efficiency category is PopClip. This was also a new one to me, but I can see why people are fans. When you select a block of text, it creates a floating bar like you see on iOS devices. But it’s more than just Copy/Paste. There are a hundred plugins available that allow you to do something with that selected text whether it be reformatting it, creating an appointment, performing a search, or turning it into a note.

The popup bar is very handy on it’s own, but when you add the extended functionality of plugins, you get a tool with almost limitless possibilities. It’s another way of linking actions and functions together so you can continue from one task to another in a seamless way.

PopClip

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Tools for the QA Engineer

When it comes to web testing, people are familiar with Selenium, Postman, JMeter and others. They’re the staples of heavy testing. But what about when testing has to be done manually. What are the sorts of the tools you bring to the party when you know you’ll have to write everything down by hand and keep a record of what was testing.

I was recently going through the tools I use and came up with this short list of essentials. There is always another tool to add to the belt, but at minimum, I wouldn’t start a project without these.

Here is a list of my personal favorites. Some of the tools have changed over time and might change again before next year is up.

For example, I liked Boostnote, but chose to go with SnippetsLab for the Gists functionality.

I think this is a pretty solid list. I’m sure there is plenty of variation with the actual tool names, but if there is some functionality I’m missing, I’d love to hear about it. I’m always looking for a way to save time and increase efficiency.

TextExpander
– TypeIt4Me
– I save so much time using this tool. It helps to write code fragments as well as fill in forms with standardized info like address, phone, company, etc. Saves a lot of typing. It also handles a lot of my most common snippets.
Note Taking
– Mini Note, MWeb, TextSoap
– Mini Note is for quick text items and a way to share info across Macs.
– MWeb is a great way to take notes, write Markup and create documentation.
– I just added TextSoap for it’s parsing. This could be a big help with filtering big files and log entries.
Document Management
– DevonThink
– DevonThink is my trusted friend for document management and note archives. It holds documents, code, links, and just about anything else you can store on your machine. For Windows, get RightNote.
Clipboard Management
– CopyPaste Pro
– CopyPaste Pro is my current clipboard manager and helps with repetitive pasting operations.
Task Management/Test Management
– 2Do
-My standard way of tracking tasks and creating test case items
Code Development
– Coderunner
– Very handy text editor. A great way to run shell commands. Helpful for writing sample code.
Screen Capture
– SnagIt
– It’s capabilities shouldn’t need any introduction. 🙂
File Sharing/Download
– FileZilla
– FTP is alive and well. This is the tool for the job.
Snippet Management
– SnippetsLab, DevonThink
Window Management
– Fiplab Window Manager
– It is so beneficial to be able to resize windows, split screen, and order your work environment.
– Magnet is a great alternative. For Windows, you need DisplayFusion.

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Dozer – Hide menu bar icons on macOS

Over the weekend I desperately needed to hide some of the icons in my menu bar. Things have gotten out of control. The icons I really want to use keep getting pushed off the screen. But like so many things in the Mac world, there is an app for that.

A quick search revealed just the tool for the job – Dozer for Mac.

It has one job, hide the icons you aren’t using so you can get to the ones you are. It takes just a moment to configure and the results are glorious. My menu bar now has 8 icons rather than 30+.

Even better? It’s free.

Dozer for Mac

Other articles of interest:

A shortcut to your applications with Fiplab Shortcut Bar

A pattern is emerging that I am a fan of Fiplab and the tools they make. That is true. They make several productivity tools that I find very beneficial. Another in that list is the Fiplab Shortcut Bar.

I have no shortage of apps installed, but there are a handful I use everyday. And I want to get to them quickly. Enter Shortcut Bar.

It’s a small menu bar applet that is configured to display whatever list of applications you build. Or, jump to a set of folder that you use frequently. This keeps the Dock from being overrun with icons.

In my case I have Katalon, the App Store, Coderunner, LibreOffice, MWeb, SQL Studio Pro and a few others in my dropdown list. These are the tools I go to each day.

But it’s not just for apps. It can be folders as well. It could be a training folder, a folder for test plans, or even a specific document you need to load, such as a template.

It only takes a few minutes to build the list or add folders. Once complete, it will be a quick change to click on the menu bar rather than Lanchpad to start your most common apps.

There are similar tools out there, but I have found Shortcut Bar to be very reliable. I’ve had it at work and at home for about a year. I make changes every now and again as apps get replaced or fall to the wayside. But it’s a clean list of my common tools and I like the way it works.

Shortcut Bar – Favorites at your fingertips

fiplab-shortcut-bar

Other articles of interest:

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