Declutter Your Digital Life
MacFormat UK|August 2020
Overwhelmed by everything in your digital life? With the help of a few handy tips and apps, you can regain control
Alex blake

Spend any amount of time with your Apple kit and it can quickly feel overwhelming, with notifications, emails, alerts and alarms barraging you left, right and centre.

With so many digital devices in our lives, it can very quickly overload even the most efficient of multitaskers. It’s enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to break the cycle and declutter, helping to bring a much-needed dose of tranquillity to everything you do. Whether that’s focusing on important work or minimising the time spent on repetitive chores, there are loads of ways to cut out the cruft. And that’s what we aim to cover in this feature. From automation apps that can perform your tedious tasks to one-click time-savers and visual simplifiers, we’ve rounded up the best apps help you stay on track.

With our handy focus tips, you’ll be back in the driver’s seat in next to no time.

SIMPLIFY YOUR MAC

Feeling overpowered by the mess on your Mac? These handy apps will dust away the clutter and streamline your computer like never before

Whether you use a Mac for work or play, it doesn’t take long for it to get overloaded with stuff. Before you know it, your desktop’s a mess, your documents are all over the place and you’re left wondering how to fix it.

At the same time, there are so many tasks that we all do on our Macs that are much more complicated than they need to be. The result is you spend so much time doing tedious chores that just turning your Mac on is an anxiety-inducing exercise. Combined, these two issues can take the fun out of the Mac.

On this page, we aim to solve both problems with a range of apps that can tidy up your Mac and sort out those niggling tasks that you just hate doing. Without the mess clogging up your system, you’ll be able to get on with more important jobs without the clutter stifling your workflow.

Zapier

Free (offers in-app purchases) FROM Zapier Inc, zapier.com

Zapier is an easy-to-use automation website that lets you build workflows for over 2,000 apps and web services. For instance, when a colleague sends an email attachment, you can have the file automatically downloaded and shared to your team’s Dropbox folder. Handy.

Alfred

Free (offers IAPs) FROM Running with Crayons, alfredapp.com

NEEDS OS X 10.11 or later

Restore order with Alfred, an all-in-one assistant. Use it to automate repetitive tasks, locate hard-to-find files, control your computer and more. It has a handy text expansion tool, integrates with 1Password, and supports hotkeys.

Spotless £19.99 FROM Light Pillar Software, lightpillar.com

NEEDS macOS 10.12 or later

Spotless is like a maid for your Mac. It tidies everything up for you, and once it’s learned a few rules (JPG files go in the Pictures folder, for instance), it can even do it automatically. It’ll take your Mac from a mess of disordered files to the very picture of organisation.

Gemini 2 £15.95 FROM Macpaw, macpaw.com

NEEDS OS X 10.10 or later

Running out of space on your Mac? Set Gemini on the case. It finds duplicate files with unerring accuracy and can clear them out automatically or let you sift through the results. It even learns which files you tend to keep and implements its findings on subsequent scans.

SMALL APPS THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Yoink

From £5.99 FROM Eternal Storms Software, eternalstorms.at Needs iOS 11/OS X 10.10 or later

Moving files around your Mac and clipboard can be a real hassle, but not with Yoink. It creates a virtual ‘shelf’ to store your items – just drag a file to the side of your screen and drop it on the shelf, switch apps and drag it from the shelf to the new destination.

One Switch

$4.99 (about £4) FROM Fireball, fireball.studio Needs macOS 10.14 or later

One Switch is a genius time-saver. Instead of digging through SystemPrefs every time you need to change something, this app displays your Mac’s most important settings with toggles to turn them on or off. Click its menu bar icon and away you go.

Bartender

$15 (about £12) FROM Surtees Studio, macbartender.com Needs macOS 10.12 or later

App icons can take up a lot of space in your Mac’s menu bar, but you can hide them with Bartender. It lets you conceal menu bar icons permanently or temporarily with a click or keyboard shortcut, rearrange them, search through them and more.

Slidepad

$9.99 (about £8) FROM Potter Dai, slidepad.xyz Needs macOS 10.13.4 or later

Love the iPad’s Slide Over feature? Now you can do it on your Mac with Slidepad. Connect a web app like Notes or Slack, then every time you move your pointer to the side of the screen the app slides over. It’s perfect for clutter-free multitasking.

AUTOMATE TASKS ON THE GO

How to offload repetitive iPhone and iPad tasks and get more time for the things you love

If it was up to us, our mobile devices would be used for nothing but the good stuff – reading MacFormat digital editions and sharing video calls with our pets, of course. That’s the vision Apple had in mind when it unveiled the first iPhone, after all… probably.

The reality, though, is very different. When we carry tiny computers in our pockets, they tend to take on any and all tasks we can think of. Sending our emails, managing our contacts, taking our pictures – there’s a lot to stay on top of for these essential devices.

Get the right mobile setup, though, and streamlining your iPhone or iPad is a piece of cake. With a wealth of apps to choose from (around two million on iOS), we’ll show you the apps and tips that can make a real difference. After all, shouldn’t our devices work for us, rather than the other way around?

Cardhop

£4.99 FROM Flexibits, flexibits.com Needs iOS 12 or later

Cardhop brings natural language nous to your contacts. Just type ‘call Rob work’ and it’ll sort it. Even better, to add a contact just type out their details and Cardhop will put everything in the right place. It saves you time and makes managing your contacts a cinch.

24Me Free

(offers in-app purchases) From 24me, twenty-four.me Needs iOS 9/watchOS 3 or later

The 24me app takes info from your calendars, notes and tasks to handle your schedule, ensuring you never miss another meeting or leave late for that important journey. Forget trying to get on top of all your tasks manually – let 24me take the organisational strain.

STREAMLINE YOUR iOS OR iPadOS D

Add cards to Wallet

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

RELATED STORIES

WINDOWS 10 ON M1 MACS: WHAT YOU CAN DO (VIRTUALIZATION, SORTA) AND CAN'T (BOOT CAMP)

VIRTUALIZATION IS KEY, BUT THE LACK OF A CONSUMER VERSION OF MICROSOFT’S M1 -COMPATIBLE OS KEEPS THE SITUATION IN DOUBT.

9 mins read
Macworld
April 2021

Mac 911

Solutions to your most vexing Mac problems.

7 mins read
Macworld
April 2021

AirVPN: Excellent service that power users will love

An excellent service with a known history, a solid network, and very good speeds.

7 mins read
Macworld
April 2021

INPUT DEVICE: LOGITECH MX MASTER 3 MOUSE: LOGITECH STICKS WITH A WINNING FORMULA

I have two desktop Mac setups, one at home and one at the Macworld office (ah, going to the office, those were the days).

5 mins read
Macworld
April 2021

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Explore Emmet and Cheboygan counties by foot, bike or hoof, thanks to this scenic trail.

1 min read
Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine
April 2021

THE MAGIC MOLEKULE

There has never been a better business (or planetary) climate in which to sell a handsome and expensive product designed to calm and stoke your anxieties about dirty air.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
March 15 - 28, 2021

iOS 14: HOW TO MAKE YOUR iPHONE ‘AESTHETIC'

BY USING SHORTCUTS TOGETHER WITH CUSTOM WIDGETS AND THE APP LIBRARY, YOU CAN BUILD A TOTALLY UNIQUE HOME SCREEN LOOK.

4 mins read
Macworld
March 2021

HALLE COMES OUT SWINGING!

Rages against child support & claims she can’t keep a man

1 min read
Globe
March 01, 2021

8 Bad Seed Oils You Should Replace

Low energy? Brain fog? Mood swings? It might be the oils you’re eating.

4 mins read
Better Nutrition
February 2021

MacBook Air (13–inch, late–2020)

Apple’s first post–Intel MacBook is here — and it flies, mostly…

4 mins read
Mac Life
March 2021