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The 10 must-have utilities for macOS Sierra

Glenn Fleishman | Jan. 3, 2017
For the least frustration and most efficiency on your Mac, install these handy extras.

But I want something more for the routine number crunching I have to do that doesn’t rise to the needs of a spreadsheet. For that, I turn to Soulver ($12), a freeform calculating tool that allows you to specify and convert units as well as create basic formulas and perform currency conversion with updated values. Soulver creates calculation documents that can be saved, and can sync with an iOS version or send to other Soulver users.

best sierra utilities soulver

Soulver allows quasi-natural language entries of calculations including converting units and currency.

You can tap out calculation just fine, like (15 + 12 + 18) / 3, or access trigonometry and other functions. But I find Soulver best for unit math and conversion. It handles time, mass, volume, data storage terms, power, and others, and lets you specify both the input out and output units. So you can type in 1.5 cups + 3 tablespoons in deciliters to get a metric answer from different Imperial ones.

As a science and technology writer, it’s particularly convenient, because I can type in 1.9megabyte / 2.5 in kilobytes and get 760 kilobytes as the answer, or 125AU as km (AU are astronomical units, or the distance from the Earth to the Sun) and know it’s 1.8699733838×10^10 km.

My favorite, though, is calculating throughput, which is an annoying thing to sort out in most cases. Want to know how much a terabyte would take at 12 Mbps? Enter 1 TB / 12 Mbps in days and 7.7 days pops out as the result.

The interface for Soulver isn’t a traditional calculator approach, and if that’s what you prefer, or you need to perform calculations regularly that require entering a lot of numbers, PCalc (US$10) remains the gold standard in that format. It also handles unit conversions, scientific functions, and RPN entry style, and can hand off in-progress calculations among iOS, macOS, and, yes, watchOS!


I know I’m old school when I have to pull up an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server, but they’re still abundant. And am I new-school when I need to access Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud-storage service? Fortunately, both very old, somewhat old, and spanking new remote file access can be handled via Panic’s Transmit (US$34).

Transmit works with a variety of file server protocols, including FTP (which is insecure and you should really avoid!), SFTP (Secure FTP), WebDAV (a way of file sharing via a Web server in both secure and non-secure flavors), and Amazon S3. A straightforward interface makes it easy to set up connections, store favorites, and drop right to where you need to be. With a side-by-side file view approach, you can drag items from one side to the other for easy copying.


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