As translators, we must spend countless hours in front of a computer, or, as is the case for many of us, two screens. So, how can we make our time in front of the screen a better experience? Aside from computer-assisted translation tools, what other programs should we use to help us work as efficiently as possible and save us time and reduce stress? Here are some “quintessential” apps I believe all translators (or most people, for that matter) should have on their Macs. Pricing information is available on the individual sites, but please note that many of these apps offer free trial periods.
This is the uninstaller Apple “forgot” to install in its OS. It allows you to remove any applications you no longer need.
ClamXav is a virus, spyware, and malware scanner par excellence. Once a virus is introduced, ClamXav detects it immediately. You can set the app to monitor your computer for viruses at certain times. It also has the ClamXav Sentry, a monitoring system that runs on your computer all the time. The Sentry feature has a handy and nonintrusive icon in the menu bar, although sometimes it will make your computer run a little bit hot, especially when you’re scanning large external drives. ClamXav used to be free, but it now costs $29.95 per year. It’s worth it, though, as it’s one of the best anti-virus programs for Mac.
Dropbox and Google Drive are some of the best cloud services out there. If you’re concerned about privacy, though, you can use Resilio Sync or Mega Sync.
Cocktail is a general purpose utility that lets you clean, repair, and optimize your Mac. It’s great for cleaning your computer’s caches (e.g., system user, internet browsers, and applications) and allows you to customize your system more than you would normally be able to do. For example, Cocktail will let you add boot options, such as “verbose boot,” as your default booting interface. You can also schedule Cocktail to clean your computer every week. It’s surprising how fast your computer becomes and how much space you save. And, unlike with Clean My Mac, the computer doesn’t become glitchy and slow after using Cocktail. I also really recommend the Cocktail blog (www.maintain.se/blog), which has great tips to maintain a clean and healthy computer.
Express VPN is considered the best VPN (virtual private network) by most users. It will encrypt your location and allow you to change it so you can access websites that would otherwise be blocked in countries with little (or no) freedom of speech.
Firefox Quantum (Free)
This is a privacy-oriented browser with tracking protection. It uses 30% less memory than Chrome, which makes it faster than most explorers (including Google Chrome) in most operations, as it takes advantage of modern hardware that has several processing cores. I also recommend the following extensions to use in Firefox:
- Facebook Container isolates Facebook from the rest of your activities so the company cannot track you on the internet.
- HTTPS Everywhere encrypts almost every website you access.
- OneTab brings all your tabs onto the OneTab page, saving considerable resources in the process.
- RescueTime for Firefox tracks all the websites you use and then provides you with a weekly summary explaining how productive (or unproductive!) your browsing has been.
- uBlock Origin and uBO-Scope block all the internet ads, including ads on YouTube and Facebook. In addition, it doesn’t require as many resources from your browser and computer as AdBlock Plus or Ghostery (which really slow down your browser). This is why I unreservedly recommend uBlock Origin instead.
Flux is an indispensable application every user should have. It dims the screen according to the time of day and geographical location. This allows for gentler, softer colors at night, saving your eyesight from damage and pain.
Once you’re online, applications can potentially send whatever they want to wherever they want. This activity is beneficial most of the time, except when it comes to tracking software and malware. Little Snitch makes any incoming and outgoing connection
on your computer visible and gives you the option to block certain applications from connecting online. Version 3 displays the geographical location of each incoming and outgoing connection.
Memory Clean is a great tool that allows you to clean your Mac’s memory in a nonintrusive way. It’s best used after you’ve finished using a memory (RAM) intensive app or game. You can set a threshold, and after your computer reaches that threshold the application will clean the computer’s memory. You can also do this manually.
Postbox is an email client with a very clean interface that allows the user to see all their email accounts in one place. Users will then be able to concentrate on the most important email. It doesn’t take much memory resources from the computer and its clean display allows for better organization and time management.
Privacy Scan is another excellent tool for cleaning your computer’s internet caches and will leave your browsers “like new.” You can choose to have it perform a low (one pass), medium (seven passes), and high (35 passes) threat erase. (Please note that your computer will run really hot for a while if you use the 35-pass erase.)
SMC Fan Control (Free)
SMC Fan Control is a nonintrusive, convenient, and quintessential application that allows you to control the speed of your computer’s fan. If your computer is running hot, you can easily increase the fan to its maximum speed (6500 RPM), hence extending your processor’s life. After all, it’s cheaper to buy a new fan than a new processor!
Ukelele is a nifty application that allows you to program your keyboard. It essentially allows you to reassign any physical key with a different character. For example, if you need the Spanish ñ but don’t want to press Option + n every time, you can reassign the keyboard so that you get the ñ character when you hit the semicolon (“;”) key. This is extremely convenient if you’re using an English keyboard and need to create keyboard layouts for different languages or other needs.
LaTex is a complex word processing software, as you essentially need to code to write certain parts. However, the reward is that you’ll get the most beautiful text ever written (from a graphic standpoint, that is). If you want an example, see Michael Cronin’s book Translation in the Digital Age, which was written using LaTex (http://bit.ly/Cronin-translating).
Nisus Writer Pro
This award-winning application is considered the best word processor for the Mac. It’s able to load large documents very quickly. It’s also highly customizable and even allows the user to run macros (besides common features like comments and track changes). It has a great “flag” feature, which means that it literally has a flag at the bottom of the screen showing the language the user is typing in at the moment. This is brilliant, as it allows the user to switch between languages in two steps (unlike Microsoft Office, where it takes around five to six clicks to change the text’s language).
Nisus saves files by default in .rtf, and can also open .doc and .docx (Word) documents, although this can result in some glitches. For example, tables or pictures may disappear when converting a .doc or .docx file into Nisus’ native .rtf.
Nisus has also been localized into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, and other languages. After using Nisus, Word becomes a clunky word processor. I unreservedly recommend Mac users to buy Nisus Writer Pro.
I’ve avoided reviewing any computer-assisted translation tools because those are commented on and reviewed all the time, whilst it seems that the “normal” applications are unknown to many translators. One last tip: Don’t forget about the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eyesight rest from the screen.
Remember, if you have any ideas and/or suggestions regarding helpful resources or tools you would like to see featured, please email Jost Zetzsche at email@example.com.
Daniel E. Josephy-Hernández has a PhD in translation studies from the University of Ottawa. He has taught English as a Foreign Language and translation studies in Costa Rica, Canada, and China. He is also a freelance Spanish>English translator and interpreter. He has published articles and given presentations on gender and audiovisual translation, interpreting, anime and gender in Japan, teaching, and graphic novels. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.