You Control, by You Software
Posted: 1-Nov-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: You Software Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Lane Smith Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$49.95   Download

Overview
After getting a fresh, new computer with a clean and organized hard drive, it's incredible how quickly that hard drive becomes a black hole of files and documents. Before you know it, your computer goes from being clean and organized to complete chaos. Finding documents takes too long, and looking for that one special picture that you cannot remember the name of is near impossible. There are a few utility applications out there to help maintain file organization, but many are lackluster and eat up precious desktop real estate. You Software, developers of popular organization applications for Mac and PC, saw an opportunity to create a tool that would give control of your computer back to you. You Control is a versatile utility that sits in your menu bar or pops up with a hot-key command designed to give you control over all your music, movies, pictures, files, documents, and much more.


Pricing
You Software provides both "Buy It" and "Try It" links of their products on their web site. When you download the software, you have 15 days to try out a fully functioning version of the software before deciding to purchase. You can purchase the retail boxed version for $69.95, or purchase a single user license for the download version for $49.95.


Setup
I downloaded You Control from the web. Installing You Control is quite simple; after downloading the .dmg file, the file automatically mounts. The installer script automatically copies You Control to your desktop, ejects the volume, and opens the application. After the application is launched, You Control presents a simple and descriptive Quick Start guide that aids you in setting up You Control the way you want it to, and instantly begin using it. This was a very convenient installer!

Support
You Control includes excellent documentation both included with the download as well as online. The application itself supports in-depth descriptions of each module/feature, as well as an extensive user's manual. At
You Software's website is a wealth of tutorials and walkthroughs to fit anyone's needs.

Features

You Control sports several modules that let you do anything from browsing through your hard-drive to checking up on the outside world. Here is a list of some of the features:

Address Book - Quickly browse through all your Address Book contacts in order to address an email, draw a map of the contact's address on MapQuest, or display the contact's phone number in large type across the screen.

Calendar
- Linked with iCal, the calendar module allows you to quickly view your to-do's, upcoming events, or to see what day of the week November 12, 2007 is on.

Clock
- Much like the popular program iClock, this module allows you to add a customized clock to the menu-bar, which also shows the date on mouse roll-over. In supports multiple time zones and formats as well as a calendar.

File System
- Probably the most useful feature, the file system module allows you to quickly browse through any folder in your hard-drive by way of a menu or hot key. It includes a feature that allows you to display previews of picture files instantly, making your search for pictures much easier and quicker.

iTunes -
Control iTunes, browse through playlists, and change settings in an easy to access menu.

Mail
- See when you have mail with a quick glance at the top of the screen. The mail module is coupled with Apple's Mail and allows you to quickly preview emails without having to open up another window.

News Reader
- One of the modules I constantly find myself using, the News Reader is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader that allows you to keep up on news and updates from websites that support it.

Pasteboard
- The Pasteboard allows you to copy, cut, and paste up to 50 pasteboard buffers.

Processes
- This module allows you to quickly glance over user process and kill any processes that need quitting (alternative to Force Quit).

Recents
- Apple's 'Recent Items' menu on steroids. Show recent applications and recent documents from virtually anywhere. Extremely useful.

Stocks
- Need to know the latest in NASDAQ? With this module, quickly glance over the gains and losses of all your investments with ease.

System Prefs
- With this handy module, there is finally no need to go through the System Preferences main window ever again; go directly to the preference pane you want.

Fast User Switching -
Basically the same as Panther's User Switching menu, with a bit more customization.

Weather
- Never go outside unprepared again. Quickly look up the latest weather in your town along with a 9 day forecast. Unfortunately, this module uses weather.com as its reference, so don't rely on it too heavily.


Divider - Allows you to organize your menus into groups that make sense to you.


In Use

You Control includes a lot of modules (listed above) all packaged in one application. The number of modules or features, of course, is not as important as how useful the tools are to the end user. At first, I was quite apprehensive, and wondered if I had just cluttered up my menubar with a lot of "stuff" for little advantage. Within the first hour of using You Control, however, I was won over. Each and every one of You Control's modules provided some useful utility, and each can be customized to my personal preferences.

One might think that with 14 different You Control menu-bar icons, it would conflict with the File/Edit/View menus. However, You Control allows you to combine several modules into one so that each "group" only uses one icon in the menu-bar. This is extremely handy, and allows you to organize even further. For example, I keep my clock and calendar module under menu, and my mail and address book under another. You Control also supports hot-key combination that when pressed, the specified module's drop-down menu pops up right next to your mouse. Another feature I really thought was smart was the idea of corner menus. Small, unobtrusive blocks of color that can lie in either of the four corners of your screen that act just like the menu-bar selection, yet much more subtle . Even better, the corner menu's can pop up instantly if you hover your mouse over them, great for quick and easy access.

You Control was designed with the understanding that everyone has different tastes. Everything from the drop-down menu text to the icons that appear in your menu-bar are completely customizable. I like being able to customize the clock module's text and color, which really brings some life into the desktop. You Control even allows you to add chimes at every hour or so, if you prefer it.

My favorite module in You Control is the File System module, which allows you to quickly and easily browse through any folder you specify. The File System module is just like any other You Control module, whereas it can be accessed via the menu-bar, a corner-menu, or activated with a hot-key. When accessed, the module presents a drop-down menu that you can use to navigate through all your folders and files. The File System module is set up for use by entering the the path to the folder you want the module to list. For example, if I set the path to ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library, every time I accessed that File System module, I would see a list of the files and folders in my iPhoto Library in a drop-down menu. The File System module also sports options to show hidden files, file info, package contents, parent menus, and folder commands, allowing you to do just about anything you could do in the Finder. The File System module also features an image preview when you highlight an image file, making it much easier to find images needed for Photoshop projects, etc.. You can also have several different File System modules that list several different folder paths, allowing you to quickly and efficiently browse through your hard-drive.

My next favorite module is the News Reader module. This module enables you to subscribe to several RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds: live-updating scripts that many of the popular websites host to give users up-to-date information. You can find RSS feeds anywhere from your favorite forum to CNN.com, or my favorite, VersionTracker. Most websites with RSS feeds have a link on their homepage with an extension of '.xml' . Simply copy that address into the New Reader's settings palette, and that reader will sit in your menu-bar (or other specified place), when accessed, shows all the latest news from that RSS feed. I also really enjoyed the Clock module. Much more customizable that Apple's Clock, You Control's Clock module allows you to choose what format, font, and color the clock is. The Clock module also shows the date when the cursor is dragged over it, making it much more convenient than the Apple Clock's method of clicking the clock. Some other features that You Control's Clock supports is the option to have it chime every X minutes, and the option to have the computer to speak the time every hour.

With all of this functionality include in You Control, you might wonder what kind of impact it would have on your machine. I have a fairly slow machine (relative to the latest hardware), so I have to be pretty picky about what applications I let reside on my Mac. I half-expected You Control's engine to suck up my CPU, but was pleasantly surprised that it didn't.

The one annoying I ran into with You Control is that it significantly slows down login time if set to 'start at login', adding anywhere from several seconds to as much as a minute to your logon process. Along with getting used to the extended login time, new users may also have a difficult time adjusting to You Control's method for accessing its modules. Before You Control is truly a benefit, you need to learn and memorize the short cuts (whether by menu or hot key). You Control also comes with a hefty price tag, with the boxed version retailing for $69, more than half of the price of the Panther operating system (you can save $20 by downloading it instead).

While users of Apple's Mail program may enjoy the Mail module, users of other fine email clients, such as Eudora, will not be able to take advantage of the Mail or Address Book modules. Finally, one small irritant I ran across is the unreliable source the weather module uses to gather information from: Weather.com. I would prefer it if You Control allowed me to customize the source.

The bottom line is that You Control is a unique application that helps to make your already hectic life a bit more easier. With You Control, I find it so much easier to perform everyday tasks, such as searching through my hard-drive, reading up on the latest online news, and so much more. Just the other day I was searching for an image to use on a Photoshop project I've been working on, and it was buried somewhere within my iPhoto Library. Without You Control, I would have had to bring up iPhoto, load all my zillions of images, try to visually search through my library, find the image name, and search for it with the Finder. Instead, I used the File System module that I set to my iPhoto Library folder, browsed through my images using the image previewer, and found the image in the amount of time it takes iPhoto to start up. This is just one of the many uses that makes You Control a versatile tool that gives you back the control you need over your Mac.

Summary
I like to think of You Control as the 'missing bite' of Mac OS X. It is the ultimate application for living with a disorganized computer, and provides tools and functionality to further enhance your Mac OS X experience. You Control simplifies repetitive tasks such as checking your email, catching up on the latest news, quickly accessing your contacts and calendars, and so much more. You Control is one of those few must-have applications that makes living in a technology based world easier, and in You Control's case, more fun. It has some room for improvement, and comes with a "half-an-OS" price tag, but once you become familiar with all that it has to offer, you may wonder how you got along without it. With the power to customize this utility to meet your specific needs and fit your personal OS lifestyle, You Control serves as a very useful tool to any Mac user.

Pros

  • Fully Customizable
  • Powerful and efficient
  • Wide variety of features and modules
  • Features make daily routines simple
  • Quick and easy learning curve


Cons

  • Automatic startup slows down login time
  • Takes some time to learn the shortcuts
  • Weather module uses unreliable reference
  • No support for 3rd party email clients and address books
  • A little pricey


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice