How Can You Optimize Your Computer for Top Productivity?

10 Utilities I Install First on Any New Device to Shave Time and Drive Results

A while back I swapped my MacBook Pro for an iMac as my main computer. The iMac is a killer machine, but I was honestly a little frustrated at first.

We all have ways we like to work. And some are more efficient than others. Over the years, I’ve tinkered and fine-tuned my approach for maximum productivity.

Shave a few seconds here and there on regular tasks, and pretty soon it all adds up to real time. The great thing about our devices is that if we set them up correctly, we can save all that time automatically.

So much of what we do depends on routine and muscle memory. I like to be device-independent so my workarounds and solutions are the same wherever and however I choose to work. I can pick up on one where I left on the other without losing momentum.

The trouble was that when I migrated to the iMac I hadn’t done that.

The solution? I systematically installed the utilities I used the most on my MacBook Pro. These ten programs can help just about anyone work faster and more efficiently—especially if you switch between different devices.

  1. Startupizer controls what apps launch when I boot my computer. It’s like an assistant who sets out all your tools when you arrive to work. They’re ready the second I am. One great feature: You can program different launch sequences for different purposes.

  2. Bartender allows me to select what icons appear on my menu bar, instead of twenty-five cluttering the space at random. It might seem merely cosmetic, but it’s not. Visual clutter can really bring down your productivity. Cleaning things up speeds things up.

  3. Alfred works a bit like the native Mac Spotlight Search—on steroids. It has some redundant functionality with Keyboard Maestro and Text Expander, two utilities I’ll explain in a minute. But I primarily use it for searching and launching applications.

  4. Keyboard Maestro is a keyboard macro tool that allows me to launch apps and automate responses or actions. It even has a built-in macro recorder so you don’t have to remember the tips you used. You can deconstruct and then automate an amazing number of actions.

  5. Text Expander allows me to type a few letters or a phrase that the program then expands into a longer, more complex text. This saves tons of time entering email addresses, contact information, or even common replies to email or social media queries.

  6. Hazel sweeps my hard drive. It watches whatever folders I tell it to and automatically organizes files according to my preset rules. You can use it to move files around based on name, date, type, and what site they came from. That makes it the perfect tool for cleaning up your downloads folder.

  7. GoogleDrive allows me to keep all my documents and projects in the cloud so they’re accessible across all of my devices. That by itself would make GoogleDrive essential, but it also allows me to share and collaborate in real time with my team on dozens of files. Nothing beats GoogleDrive for complex, collaborative work.

  8. Insync connects what’s on GoogleDrive to my Mac’s Finder. Instead of jumping in and out of my browser, I can act as if all my files are local. And they are. But it’s even better because I can adjust the settings so that certain files are off my local drive but still present in the cloud. This ensures I have access to whatever I need without taking up valuable, local hard-drive space.

  9. Snagit is an image-and-video capture tool. I use this every day to grab screenshots, edit images, and even add annotations. It’s similar to the Mac’s default Screen Capture but far more robust. It enables me to choose where screen captures are stored so I can keep clutter off of my desktop. I also use it for quick screencasts and how-to demonstrations.

  10. BackBlaze is the backup software we’re currently using at Michael Hyatt & Company. I’ve got backups backing up my backups, and BackBlaze is one of the best. To date, they have backed up over 10 billion files for both Mac and PC users. Their tracking services allow you to locate your computer if it’s lost or stolen. Plus, you can have a replacement hard drive shipped to your door with your data on it.

I haven’t even mentioned Evernote or Nozbe, but I’ve covered those before.

Nothing slows us down like the wrong tools. But with the right apps and utilities we can optimize our computers and maximize our productivity.

Once I got my iMac properly set up, I was able to get back to the speed and efficiency I was accustomed to—saving time for the things that matter most.

Question: What productivity apps do you always install (the ones you can’t live without)?

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