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KeyCue, Secret Spy Folder Fight the Good Fight

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 8, 2013 5:00 AM PT

KeyCue by Ergonis is available at the Ergonis Store for 19.99 euros (about US$31).

KeyCue, Secret Spy Folder Fight the Good Fight

(click to enlarge)

Keyboard shortcuts can be a way to accelerate productivity, but their number can be overwhelming. The average OS X app alone has from 40 to 80 menu shortcuts. That's a lot of memorization for one program, let alone the multitude of programs an average user runs on a Mac.

Wouldn't it be nice if, with a single key press, all the shortcuts for a program would pop up on your screen? Ergonis Software thinks so. That's why it created KeyCue.

KeyCue pops up a screen of context-sensitive shortcuts for an open app when you hold down the command key. The menu also can be activated from an icon on the Apple bar.

Better yet, the program lets you execute the shortcut from the KeyCue screen. So if you're in Google Chrome and you forget the shortcut to bookmark a page, you can pop up KeyCue, move its selector to Bookmarks/Bookmark This Page/command-D, and the shortcut will be executed.

You can modify KeyCue in a number of ways to suit your taste. For example, you can change the activation key and color scheme and transparency of the KeyCue screen.

It takes only seconds to see how valuable KeyCue can be for productivity. Still, its pricing may discourage some users from trying it. Fortunately, Ergonis offers a trial version of the app to ensure you'll be satisfied with the program before you buy it.

Safe and Sound

Secret Spy Folder - Hide and Protect Personal Sensitive Files by Hoi Yan Mak of App Digital Concepts is available for US$2.99 at the Mac App Store.

Secret Spy folder

You don't have to be paranoid these days to worry about the safety of your data. With stories breaking daily of government spooks randomly collecting info from the Internet, hackers breaking into computers and ransacking their digital treasures, and cybercriminals extorting money with ransomware, there's plenty of reasons to take precautions against information theft.

One precaution you can take is to create a digital lock box on your computer in order to password protect important digital items from prying eyes. The "box" serves the same function as a wall safe or safe deposit box in the real world, although it's more convenient in the digital world.

That's the purpose of Secret Spy Folder.

Put a PIN In It

Secret Spy Folder is easy to set up. After launch, a screen will appear prompting a four-number PIN for the main program. You enter the PIN by clicking keys on a virtual keypad on the screen.

While a four-digit PIN may be satisfactory for banks -- although that's a bone of contention in the security community -- some of us would breathe easier if the developer had allowed a more complex password to be used for opening the app's main folder.

In addition to entering a PIN, the setup screen lets you create a hint for it. If your hint is "my birthday" or "my street address," you may want to pick another PIN. Those numbers, while not as easy to crack as 1-2-3-4 or 5-6-7-8, are easily deduced by password guessers.

After you create your PIN, the app asks you to create a password for accessing all files in the Secret Spy Folder. This password can be as long and complicated as you want it to be.

Password Proliferation

Before you can start adding files to the app, you need to set up a group. This seems like an unnecessary imposition, especially since each group requires another password. So at this point, you have to remember a PIN, a password to enter the All Files section of the program, and a password for the group.

In addition to choosing a password for a group, you need to choose an icon for it. Stock icons are included for videos, photos, downloads, documents and PDF files. Icons for a group can be changed at any time.

After the group is created, you can drag files or folders from anywhere on your Mac into Secret Spy Folder. Although you can't drag files into the All Files section of the program, you can see all files in all your groups in that section.

A tally of the amount of space a group of files occupies on your hard drive, as well as the number of files in a group, is prominently displayed in a panel to the right of a list of files and folders in a group.

Snapping Intruders

The app is designed to smoothly export files out of the protected confines of Secret Spy Folder and into other areas on your computer or in the cloud. Simply click the Export Files button, choose the files and folders to be exported and where you want them sent, and you're done.

Removing groups and files works in a similar way. Buttons for those functions are located on a toolbar at the top of the app.

While there are a few apps on the market similar to Secret Spy Folder, SSF has a neat little wrinkle. Every time the PIN for the program is entered incorrectly, the app takes a photo of the potential intruder with a Mac's built-in camera.

Secret Spy Folder will keep nosy people from looking at files you want to control access to, but it is unlikely to thwart a skilled hacker or the NSA. What's more, if you create a lot of groups, you're going to have to remember a lot of passwords. That can be more of a hassle than you may want to bear.

Want to Suggest a Mac App for Review?

Is there a Mac app you'd like to suggest for review? Something you think other Mac users would love to know about? Something you find intriguing but are hesitant to buy?

Please send your ideas to me, and I'll consider them for a future Mac app review.

And use the Talkback feature below to add your comments!

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and former special correspondent for Government Security News.

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