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Blast is a great way to keep track of what you use and where it is on your Mac

Mac OS X has buckets of really neat features, many of which aren't always obvious. One of the things I use frequently in OS X is the "Recent Items" menu, which is invoked from the Apple menu. It shows recently used apps and documents.

Blast (US$9.95 for a single user) is kind of Recent Items on steroids. It resides on the menu bar, and keeps track of every item that was recently used or changed. Take an incoming download, for example. Sure, I can go to my download folder, but I often have more than a hundred items in there. Yes, I can then search by date and come up with it, but with Blast, it's instantly found with a click. That's something the Apple Recent Items menu doesn't do.

Even better, I can then drag the item somewhere else, like to an email, or to a program icon to launch it. Of course, I can double click on the item, too. All your recent saves are there, along with a list, for example, of what documents you read yesterday. If you have a favorite place you go, like a folder of images, that folder can be pinned to a sidebar so it is always there.

I work with a lot of photos, and they are scattered about in folders all over my hard drive. I do have some organization to it all, but it is a lot easier to click on Blast, then click on the image I was updating. The list is persistent, so if I reboot my Mac, the list is still there.

You can also display a list by type, so only apps, images, movies, sound files, documents or folders are displayed. Images show a small thumbnail, helping to make the process mistake free.

There are some negatives. I found a lot of items appeared on the list overnight. I'd done an automated backup, and those changed items on my external backup disk were noted. It was easy to solve, though: using Preferences, that hard disk was excluded from being searched. Still, I should not have discovered that issue on my own, it is something the app should allow when you first set it up. I've talked to the developers about this, and they are working on it. Further, there is no control over the time parameter the list observes. How is a "recent" item defined? I'm not exactly sure. Certainly, things that I looked at today and part of yesterday are there, but I'd like to see some granular control over how that list behaves.

Even with those criticisms, Blast has really changed my work flow. I'm now instinctively using Blast to get quick access to files and apps more quickly than I could before.

Blast is $9.95 for one computer, or $19.95 for a family license. Not everyone will need the capabilities that Blast has, and the Apple Recent Items feature might do the trick for many users, but I'm finding good uses for Blast. It's saving me time and reducing frustration. You can try Blast for free and see if it enhances your Mac life. Check the gallery for some screen shots of Blast in action.

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