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App of the Week: GrandPerspective

Sometimes I look at my Mac’s hard drive and wonder what is taking up so much space.  After cleaning out caches, deleting apps, and searching the many of the ins and outs of my Mac’s hard drive, I still have a lot of hard drive space being taken up.  I had never really used hard drive visualization tools before, but I decided to use one, and the first app that came to mind was GrandPerspective.

GrandPerspective is a simple little tool that couldn’t be more straightforward.  When you open the app, it asks you to select a folder or hard drive that you wish to scan.  After selecting what you want scanned, GrandPerspective quickly begins scanning your hard drive for all the files and folders within your selection and how much space they are taking up.  When it’s done, it displays in the files in colored and sized boxes within the window.  The bigger the rectangle, the more space that particular file is taking up.  Just hover over that rectangle, and in the bottom left-hand corner, the name of the file, the size, and its location on the hard drive will be displayed.  The blocks are colored in groups.  So that things like movies and videos that are all in the same folder or cluster are colored the same.

If you want more detailed looks at the files examined, you can always zoom in on blocks and then look at those smaller blocks and files.  And GrandPerspective adds something very important.  After selecting a

GrandPerspective’s tiled block approach

block, you can in the “Reveal” in the top of the window to see where it is in Finder.  Or if you have a file selected, GrandPerspective can open that file in the default app for that file (so Word for documents, iTunes for audio files, etc.).  You can also delete those selected files, though this feature is turned off by default.  It really doesn’t get any simpler than that because that is all that the app really does.

My one complaint about the app is that I wish I could double-click or right-click on a block in the app and have it either show me where the file is in Finder or open in its default app.  Besides that though, GrandPerspective is a really simple and helpful app for showing you visually what’s been eating up your hard drive space.  GrandPerspective is made by Eriban and is available for free at http://grandperspectiv.sourceforge.net/.  Donation is encouraged.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus.  Thanks!

Updated May 17th, 2012: Clarifying double-click or right-click for opening a file.  Thanks to Erwin, the app’s maker for requesting the clarification.

App of the Week: Dropbox (plus a bonus)

 When you install a new app for the first time, your first thoughts are usually judging whether or not it’s worth keeping and using, especially for the inevitable day you get a new device.  It is not everyday, though, that an app makes it to your personal "top 10 apps" list, especially in the first 5 minutes.  But this week’s app, Dropbox, did just that.

 Dropbox is a file synchronization tool, that can also acts as a backup tool, and a file sharing utility, all in one program.  After making a free account on Dropbox’s website, you download the apps, and install it.  The app logs your computer into your Dropbox account, and makes a folder on your computer.  From there, any files you put in there are copied and uploaded onto Dropbox’s very secure servers.  You still have the file on your hard drive for anytime use, but also one online that you can access anywhere, anytime by logging into your Dropbox account through a Web browser.  Even better, it works for Mac, Windows, and the major versions of Linux.  They also have an iOS, Android, and Blackberry app (other systems on the way), that work a little differently, but we’ll discuss that in a bit.

 You can also make folders within your Dropbox folder to organize your stuff.  There is also a pre-made "Photos" and "Public" folder that allow you to share files with other people.  The Public folder is especially useful; once the file has been uploaded to the Internet, you can copy a link from Dropbox, and share it with anyone by email, social networking, anywhere you can put a link.  Once they click on the link, the file will start downloading to their computer. 

 Since it is cross platform, you can install Dropbox on multiple computers in your own house or across the world that will sync to your web account, so you have the same files everywhere.  You can tell Dropbox, though, to only sync certain folders to certain computers, which is nice if you don’t want to mix home and work files, but still want to keep them backup and access anywhere.  If Dropbox sees that your multiple devices are on the same network, it will sync over the local network first before the web syncing (which is many times faster).  I wouldn’t suggest syncing applications though, only files like documents, pictures, etc., as they won’t necessarily install across devices (not to mention the legal issues). 

The mobile apps work a little differently compared to the desktop apps: mobile apps only show you a link to the files in your Dropbox, but don’t download them to your device unless you manually tell Dropbox too.  A bit of a hassle, but makes sense given the small hard drive space of a mobile device compared to a full computer. 

What’s the catch you might ask?  Dropbox is free, but it only gives you 2 gigabytes of online storage, or the storage size of a small flash-drive.  For things like school papers, documents, etc., this is still a lot of space, but people with large photo or music collections  this certainly won’t solve their problems.  You can pay Dropbox for 50, or 100 gigs of online space.  However, Dropbox gives you several ways to get more space for free including:

        Following thier tutorial after the first installation,

        Connecting it to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts

        Having a .edu email address (college students and professors).

        Sharing Dropbox with your friends

        And many more

 That’s where my apology comes in:  Last week, I went to Charleston to go help rebuild some houses for those in need (I highly suggest everyone does that many times in their lives, though don’t everyone fly to Charleston).  Because of my leaving though, and the purposeful leaving behind of my Macbook, I did not get a chance to upload an "App of the Week" post like I usually do.  For that I am sorry.  To make up for it, I have a special Dropbox link for you all.  If you don not yet have a Dropbox, and you want one, hit the link below.  Once your register, Dropbox will give you 250 megabytes of free space (about 1/8 the size of Dropbox by itself).  It’s not much, but it’s free space.  Can’t argue with that can you?  I didn’t think so.

Here’s the link: http://db.tt/AMoy7pj

And for those of you who don’t like the free space: www.dropbox.com

If you have an app that you would like me to look at, feel free to shoot me an email at easyosx@live.com, or leave a comment.  And don’t forget to check me out on Youtube by hitting the Youtube button at the top.  Thanks for reading.

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