[The following is from my newsletter, The Magnet. You can subscribe here.]
Last year I started using a Windows PC after being a long-time Mac user. Originally, I planned to stop using my Mac, but a font issue with documents I deal with at Institute for the Future made that impossible, so now I alternate between the Mac and PC. I use the PC a lot for gaming, writing, blogging, and Blender (see below).
Over the years I've acquired many useful utilities and small programs that I use on the Mac. I've just started finding similar ones for my PC. In this issue, I'm sharing some of my favorite apps, many of which are free.
Tyke is a small free menu bar app that acts like scratch paper. Pasted text is stripped of formatting and links and converted to plain text. The text can be edited and pasted into whatever document you are working on.
Divvy helps me manage the size and placement of multiple windows on my display. Ctrl-Alt-L resizes and positions the active window on the left half of the screen. Ctrl-Alt-R does the same for the right half of the display. I've had it for years and use it dozens, if not hundreds, of times every day.
I only recently discovered TextSniper but now that I have it I use it all the time. It converts non-selectable text from photos, PDFs, presentations, and images into ASCII text. I use a hotkey combo to summon a crosshair that I drag around the words I want to capture. The text is saved to the clipboard for pasting. It is an essential part of my workflow.
Copy a link from YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, or another site, and Downie will download the video to your desktop. It's useful for saving videos you want to include in presentations or to archive.
Permute converts video, audio, and image files from one format to another (including the much-despised WebP format). It's super fast.
Meeter is a menu bar app that scans your calendar for scheduled Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, and Teams meetings and displays them in a pull-down menu. It also displays a countdown timer for the next upcoming meeting. When it's time for the call, Meetter generates a pop-up. Click it, and it will take you straight to the video call. It's very handy, and now I don't forget video calls.
Blender is an incredibly powerful 3D creation application that I'm still scratching the surface of. You can create 3D models of anything, render them, and animate them with a built-in physics engine. How can it be free and so good? Here's an example of one of my early efforts. It's well-known of course, but I still wanted to share it with people who might not know about it.