OS X Tools I Use: Email and Browsers

I have been meaning to put together some posts outlining the tools I use daily or weekly to get my work done. I thought I would do just that by starting with email and web browsing. I will get to more complicated things like writing and research in later posts.

Note that all of this is done on a mid-2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display. It has a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 740GB SSD, and runs the latest version of OS X Mavericks.


I spend a lot of time in email. Communicating with students, corresponding with colleagues and collaborators, and keeping up with family. To do these things, I use Apple’s Mail with a number of plug-ins.

  • Attachment Tamer
    Controls how attachments are sent and shown in Mail. Very valuable when sending email with embedded images and when sending email to Windows users.
  • ForgetMeNot
    I send a lot of email, some with attachments and some without. ForgetMeNot scans email I send before I send it and looks for phrases that indicate that there might be an attachment to the message. If it thinks there is one and there is nothing attached to the message, it gives me a warning that I might have forgotten the attachment.
  • Mail Act-On
    This is, by far, the most useful Mail plug-in that I use. Among other things, it allows me to

      • Preview a message in Mail without it being marked as read.
      • File messages away to any of my many mailboxes with a single keystroke.
      • Easily open the mailbox of my choice with a couple of keystrokes.
  • QuoteFix for Mac
      • tries to remove the signature from the original message
      • removes some unnecessary empty lines
      • positions the cursor below the original message, instead of above it (in other words, bottom-posting instead of top-posting)
      • can (optionally) prune nested quotes from a specific level and above
      • also provides customized attributions for replies and forwards

Web Browsing

I spend a lot of time on the web. While I like to read the news on my iPad at home, I also do so during the day when I am in front of my laptop. I also use it for unit conversions in Google, online research, accessing ANGEL (Penn State’s course management system), accessing eLion for student advising, checking weather forecasts several times a day (I am a weather geek), and much more. With that said, I tend to switch back and forth between Google Chrome and Safari as my browser of choice. I find both to be fast and stable, though I ever so slightly prefer Chrome’s layout over Safari’s. More importantly, I think, are the plug-ins/extensions I use in both browsers.

1Password — The essential password manager on any platform. I would be screwed without it.

Add to Amazon Wish List — Nice before the holidays, but I don’t use it much any other time of the year.

Evernote Web Clipper — I use Evernote to store all kinds of information that I would like to keep for future reference. Their web clipper is nice for grabbing content from the web for this purpose.

Invisible Hand — I do the vast majority of my shopping online (I hate malls). This is a nice little tool for comparing prices on stuff for which I am shopping online.

Pocket — I use Pocket to save articles to read later (on my Mac or any iOS device) and for referencing at some future date. Their browser extension makes that easy.

Chrome Only

Tweetbot This — Tweetbot is my Twitter client of choice on my Mac and on my iOS devices. Tweetbot This makes it easy to tweet a page in Tweetbot. In Safari, I use a Javascript link in my Favorites bar.

Clearly — Clearly gives me a Safari Reader-like interface to articles.

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