Action Gear by Gear Square bills itself as a task manager. While I find Action Gear very easy to use, helpful in some ways, I also found myself wondering how to make it a part of my life. It is one of those programs, you have to run a while and start using, to see how it best works for you. This program is a very robust version one program. Gear Square has already thought of a lot of important things to have in a task manager. The most important being, it runs in the background, on your desktop or menu bar and is easily accessible. When needed, the Action Gear window will pop up, ready to take in whatever task you have to add at that moment. A First Look: Here’s what you see when you open the application with an Option + Space Bar keyboard shortcut. There is a two panel window with your Inbox, a list of folders and Smart folders on the left. In the larger right side of the window is your task list. Along the bottom of the window is a ‘New” pull down menu, which will serve up a new Action (task), group folder, reference item and so on. Next to that is a pull down menu with adjustments for your new Action; from here you can add details, tags, flags and attachments. You can hit ‘Schedule Today’, Delete and Clean Up. In the top Menu bar, where the Action Gear icon sits, you can access your preferences and use capture. A Bit More: The capture bit is pretty brilliant. You have the screen shot option and an iSight capture option. When you hit either of those, it pops into your task list as screenshot or picture and it leaves the picture open for review. It also gives you the option of adding the photo to iPhoto. These pictures are pretty static in the list. With a right-click you can see them in ‘Quick Look'. They are all labeled with a generic label, so you need to rename them as you make them. You have to right-click to see them again. You can tag, flag and add details to them. Your list of Actions has some useful features. It has on the left side of each item, a check box. On the right side of each item is a tag or multiple tags. If you flagged an item, you’ll see a similar red flag as in Mail. If you hit the ‘schedule for today’ option, your item will be posted in red. If you right-click an item the pop up menu gives you ‘item details’, ‘flag item’, 'schedule today' and 'delete' item. Opening item details gives you a box where you can type in notes. There is also a ‘schedule’ box, where you can add a date. It takes ordinary language as well as numeric dates. When I added ‘day after tomorrow’ if changed it to a date, then in 2 days, highlighted my item in red to remind me I had it scheduled for that day. When tagging items, you can get them sorted into the Smart folders on the left, according to how you’ve set those up. You can use the reference feature to create permanent items on your list. Those references can also be tagged. You can add 'attachments' into your list as well. When you’ve checked off items, they grey out with a line drawn through them. At the end of the week you can go back to the ‘clean up’ function and have those items removed. Finally you can set up ‘Growl’ integration with sticky notes. A new note will pop up, when an item comes due today. You can even limit the number of notes. You must be running Growl for this feature, of course. Growl does also include Mail, iCal and other supports for this reminder system. There are separate preferences for Growl support. Pro and Con Wrap Up: All in all this is a pretty clever Task app. Here are a few pros and cons I found. Under pros: I love the iSight and screen capture. I love the tagging and the Smart folders. It’s a sharply laid out program that is pretty easy to use. It’s also easy to let run in the background. It has a very robust keyboard shortcut set up. There’s a quick video on the website that gives a nice overview of the app. It has a very reasonable price tag for a task manager. Now for possible cons: This app works better if you are keyboard shortcut savvy. It becomes cumbersome if you are just using a mouse or trackpad. I know, I know, but I do consider this a con for users like my mom. So it takes some getting used to. Unless you have Growl installed, this program doesn’t babysit you. Growl itself could be considered a con, since a few of us remember the Growl/Tiger mess, though those issues are long since cleared up. I would also like to see a bit of Drag and Drop support. It would be great if I could go through my download folder and drop docs into a Smart folder I have set up in my Action Gear window.
Conclusion: Overall, for a task manager, Action Gear, hits all the right nails on the head. It is simple, manageable and unobtrusive until needed. With Growl integration, there are great reminder add ons. It integrates those Mac OS X gems, like iSight, we Mac users appreciate and Windows users say, “You can just do that?” The good news is that this is a version one application and Gear Square is still hard at work. I understand that an iPhone app is being developed to match the Mac version for a February release. I also suspect that improvements will be added as time goes by. So I may not give it a full five stars now, but the future holds that possibility.