Congratulations, Mac-based freelancer or business owner! Maybe you're just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey or perhaps you're gearing up to take things to the next level. Either way, if you're already feeling overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list that you have yet to actually jot down, these ten great business apps and plug-ins could be just what you need to tackle the tasks at hand.
Let's face it: Apple's iCal is good for the occasional shopping list and errand reminder, but if you're running a business or juggling clients, you'll need something with more organizational oomph. The $149 Daylite ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) from Market Circle is a much better tool, making it easy to track customer correspondence, manage tasks and delegate them to fellow employees, and link files to projects and appointments. Daylite is a productivity enhancing dashboard for virtually any business, and you can even bring it all with you using the free Daylite Touch for iPhone app.
Also from Market Circle, the $59 Billings ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) is to time tracking and invoicing as Daylite is to project management. You can track the time you spend on a project, right down to the minute, and create customize invoice templates for billing repeat clients. In fact, if you manage your projects in Daylite, you can send it all to Billings when it's time to invoice. Billings can track when customers are late with payment, sync due date alerts to iCal, and take it all on the go with the free Billings Touch for iPhone ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ). If you need Billings for your small-to-medium business, Market Circle is beta testing Billings Pro with support for multi-user time tracking and billing.
Mac OS X doesn't offer much flexibility when it comes to protecting your data. You can use the Security preferences panel to turn on FileVault and encrypt your entire user folder. You can use Apple's Disk Utility to store particular files in an encrypted disk image. But if you're looking for the easiest way to encrypt a few folders, or password protect folders so others cannot view files when you step away, Tao Effect's $30 Espionage ( Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ) may be the answer. This utility lets you encrypt specific folders on your Mac or just password protect them from prying eyes. It integrates into the Finder and stays out of your way. It also makes it easy to protect e-mail messages, chat transcripts, and sensitive application support data. Espionage is a great way to protect business documents and financial records.
Whether you're building a small business or working as a lone freelancer, file backup, synchronization, and collaboration are essential. For more than two million people (and counting), Dropbox has quickly become the go-to solution, as this online service's file synchronization and collaboration features work across the Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android, and even Linux. Download the Dropbox software and sign up for the service. The software creates a folder in your user folder that looks like any other, except anything you save here gets uploaded quickly and securely to your Dropbox account in the cloud. Save changes to a document, and they are again uploaded quickly while you continue working. Like OS X's Time Machine, Dropbox stores a month's worth of file revisions, but you can access them online and retrieve a previous version even if you're away from your computer. You can share folders to collaborate with other users, and Dropbox offers 2GB of space for free to help you get your feet wet. Upgrade to a Pro 50 account for 50GB of storage at $10 per month, or to a Pro 100 account for 100GB of storage at $20 per month.