The Apple Dock has been a long-time staple of OS X, but for Mac automators and power users, the Dock is embarrassingly limited when compared to an alternative application like SpriTec’s SuperTab.
I’ve been a user of SuperTab for over a year now, and have referenced it in several previous articles for this site. But the recent 2.0 update of SuperTab warrants a well deserved review of some its automation related features.
For MAT readers, SuperTab is 50% off, $10, and you can also download a 30-day trial. SuperTab is an affiliate link. Thanks for your support.
SuperTab As Dock
Unlike the Dock, SuperTab remains hidden until you trigger it with the assigned hotkey or by pointing your cursor at a specified corner of your screen. Also unlike the Dock, SuperTab allows for multiple docks for different types of actions, including initiating screenshots, opening files, folders, and applications, setting display configurations, accessing your clipboard history, and even an AutoType feature similar to the features found in the text expansion programs, TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro.
I use SuperTab because it saves me the trouble of opening my application’s folder, especially for applications I use infrequently. It’s a quick way to access recently opened documents from any application. SuperTab especially useful those of us who prefer to use the mouse or trackpad over remembering lots of keyboard shortcuts.
For instance, SuperTab saves me a few clicks when I need to open Sound or Hazel in System Preferences. Instead of clicking System Preferences, I can click the Sound or the Hazel icon directly in my SuperTab dock. If I wanted to, I could even assign an hotkey to those items.
You can set up SuperTab to include as little or much docks as you want. The settings allow for adjusting the width, color, and opacity of the docks, as well selecting an hot corner on your monitor to activate SuperTab.
Also unlike the Apple Dock, SuperTab allows for interface persistence, which means you have the option for keeping SuperTab activated even when you’re not holding the assigned hotkey – that is if you choose to use the hotkey to activate the user interface. I prefer using the trackpad and Dragon Dictate voice command.
One of the reasons I never use Apple’s Application Switcher is because you have to keep your fingers pressed on the assigned hotkeys in order for the remain open. SuperTab gives you one of three options for how you want the interface to persist. It’s all explained the program’s settings.
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Auto Hide and Quit
For me, the most useful feature of SuperTab is that it can automatically hide and quit applications when they have been running in the background for a designated period of time. This feature is the best way to reduce desktop clutter and additional clicking and mouse moves. So for example, I can activate iTunes, browse and play an album, and SuperTab will hide iTunes when it’s in the background for five minutes.
You can also apply a trigger that will automatically re-launch application when it quits.
I also have a SuperTab dock setup for my recently opened documents, which again saves the trouble of burring through Finder folders. SuperTab can also filter and display files with a assigned tags
Each SuperTab dock can be assigned a particular set of content, such as your active applications, Dropbox content, clipboard history, application windows, or custom items.
I would like to use SuperTab for filtering and displaying open application windows, but in my experience when I have a dock assigned to show active windows, the SuperTab interface is slower to activate. That may be a RAM issue and it could work better on your computer.
Another useful feature that I’m starting to use is the Meta-Folder, which allows for holding various types of content, files, applications, website bookmarks, and/or auto type workflows.
While writing this article I added a meta-folder the applications from what I call my Utilities dock. These applications are not used everyday, but I do want them quickly accessible when needed. Because they are in a meta-folder they don’t take up space in a SuperTab dock. (Note: you can select multiple items in the Finder to add to a meta-folder, instead of having to add each file or application individually.)
When I click on the meta-folder in the SuperTab interface, the contents (the added applications) appear like a context of menu items.
What is also handy about meta-folder is that they can be assigned a hotkey. For my Utilities meta-folder, I have the hotkey mapped to a Dragon Dictate voice command (“show utilities folder”), which triggers the meta-folder contextual menu without activating the SuperTab interface itself.
SuperTab has several other features that I don’t particularly use because those features are handled by other applications. For instance, SuperTab can be used a screenshot or clipboard history manager, similar to iClip, which is the clipboard history manager I mainly use.
There’s also an AutoType feature, similar to Keyboard Maestro’s macros that you can set up to insert boilerplate text, or type certain keys (e.g., Space bar, Return, Left Arrow) in the order you set up. This action could be particularly useful for inserting login information for for say cumbersome banking site logins.
The Auto Type or action you set up appears as an icon in a dock and available when you need it.
Power Up With SuperTab
SuperTab is not necessarily a dedicated automation program like Keyboard Maestro, but its ability to automatically hide and quit applications, store screenshots and clipboard histories, filter files, and trigger keys make it a seriously useful tool for Mac automators and power users.
As a dedicated Mac power user, I say don’t limit yourself to Apple’s Dock. SuperTab offers better options and features.
Let us know what you think of SuperTab and how you use it in your daily workflow.
Note: SuperTab is now an affiliate of Mac Automation Tips.
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