Universal Mac organization with Unclutter (and it’s 40% off!)

[Tweet : nvALT]

Unclutter has been around for a while now, and it’s just as intriguing to me as it was when it was released. It’s a utility that combines clipboard history, interim file management, and a notepad all in one app with a clever (and elegant) interface.

(Oh, hey. If you already know about Unclutter and just want the sale link, here you go.)

To open the Unclutter panel, you just put your cursor over the menu bar at the top of the screen and scroll down (i.e. 2-finger swipe down, or a scroll wheel, or possibly a ball if you still like those mighty mouse things and the ball didn’t gum up on you years ago.) The gesture to open it can also be customized with alternatives like holding down a modifier key or having it just open automatically after a delay.

When the panel slides down, you have three panes across your screen. Clipboard, files, and notes. The widths can be configured and individual panels can be rearranged and be disabled, so Unclutter can fill just the functions you need without being, well, cluttered.

Clipboard history

The clipboard pane provides a history of everything you copy. Text, images, files, etc., and you can choose items from the history to re-paste. I honestly don’t know how people survive without some kind of clipboard history (e.g. Keyboard Maestro, LaunchBar, Alfred, etc.). Having to constantly remember that you put something in your clipboard and it will disappear if you forget to paste it before you copy something else is agitating.

Unclutter’s clipboard history works perfectly for any standard usage, providing a visual overview of what’s been in your clipboard with any item clickable to paste it again. You can also star items to add them to favorites and keep an easily-accessible list of common clippings available.


The files pane is a primarily a temporary holding area. Like Yoink and the Dropzone Drop Bar, you can use it as a place to drag files to while you get to the place where you want to put them. Collect files from multiple places, switch Finder windows or apps, and drag them back out.

Unlike Yoink and other tools, Unclutter actually moves the file to an interim folder rather than using File Promises. Generally I prefer the “promises” method, but there are a few nice things about this method: files persist between app launches and reboots, and you can set the temporary folder to be in Dropbox, so you can actually have your “holding area” sync across multiple machines and devices.

Folders in the files pane can be dragged to, so you can create various organization systems. You can also hold down Option to copy a file/folder into the file pane, or hold down Command-Option to create an alias. Using an alias means you can have a permanent reference to a folder without actually moving it, so you can do things like alias your Documents or Applications folder (or any folder you move files to frequently) to make dragging files there easy from any application.

Files in the files pane can be searched by name right from within Unclutter. You can view them as a list or as auto-arranged icons, organized by name, kind, or date.


The notepad pane is similar in interface to nvALT and its ilk. Just a place where you can quickly take plain text notes and quickly reference them. Notes are displayed in a list, sorted by date added. The search feature is fast and full-text, so finding notes quickly doesn’t generally require a lot of scrolling. You can jump to search with ⌘F, but you do have to click in the pane you want to search before that will work. If you (like me) prefer nvALT’s more modal, keyboard-based interface, you can always disable the notes pane as well.

In summary, Unclutter is a great utility, combining 3 tools that would otherwise require dedicated apps or a more complex app with additional capabilities that not everyone needs. It’s also inexpensive at $9.99. And right now it’s on sale for $5.99 (40% off). I’m a little late in mentioning the sale, so there’s only one day left to grab it (sale ends Nov 17).