One of the current trends in software development seems to be making universal desktop applications. What I mean is this- small applications that will handle a few particular functions that work with all the programs on your desktop (or around all your programs). These programs are designed to do their tasks very well, efficiently and with much detail. Mac OS users are accustomed to this kind of program, since Mac OS is designed this way.
Still, there are 3rd party developers that design stronger, more specific software than the standard Mac OS versions. Speed Download is just such an application. It is a universal download manager, that will handle as much of your downloads (and uploads or transfers) as you let it. I wasn’t entirely convinced that I would make use of Speed Download, since most of my downloading is iTunes involved and is handled there. Plus any other browser downloading is handled deftly by my browser of choice, Firefox. Speed Download is designed for large and heavy traffic. You can add servers and make a schedule. It’s nice to have a history of all your activity as well. After the initial perusal, I started looking for things to do with Speed Download to try it out.
It’s a very OS X-like program; giving you a main window with a line of cool looking icons, along the top of the window that are the different functions of Speed Download. Included icons are: add, start, stop, edit, reveal, remove, queue, hold, clear inactive, schedule, upload, add from URL. Then on the left side of the window are your different folders and lists. You’ll see: Downloads, Uploads, Received, Servers, History and a set of Smart folders. I have to say at first glance the slick icons, style of the program and self explanatory ease of use of Speed Download looks like something Apple put into OS X Tiger. It’s almost hard to believe that this is a 3rd party application. That just shows Yazsoft knows the Mac.
There seem to be several ways to get SD to start working. One- you can enter an URL. Two- use drag and drop to the dock icon. Three- Leave SD open and then go about your business. SD will automatically pick up most downloads you start, although iTunes still handles it’s own. SD works very quickly, I was surprised when after spending a few days trying to get the Cocktail update, that I got it lightning fast through SD with no delay. Add to that feature, the ability to upload, fully customize FTP and HTTP settings and scheduling to automate downloads. In the Add Files from URL you can also specify account names, passwords, file types and how to handle links. You can direct your computer what to do upon finishing. (Sleep, Shut down, etc.)
A Bit More
Another use for SD would be to upload your photos and data to multiple sites or servers. You can connect to your .mac account or your iDisk. Your downloads will also auto-resume if interrupted. Use the Reveal icon to ‘spotlight’ where your files are stored. Use the Clean Up to get rid of past downloads. You can do a permanent erase or leave a history of your downloads available without the files themselves. You can toggle the upload/download lists with the tiny icons on the bottom of the main window. You can customize your toolbar, add smart folders and customize the columns view options. You can keep a list of serves you use often. There are a few smart keyboard shortcuts built in to toggle the windows. You can also view the your bandwidth or the download logs, as well as the server activity. This could help you troubleshoot problematic downloads. you can set priorities for different files to allocate your bandwidth the way you need to within multiple downloads. SD offers integration with Safari and iTunes. SD can also be run by a command line from the terminal. Although there is no help menu, there is a manual for download on the Yazsoft website. I also find myself hoping that the next version will have a schedule feature for uploading. How great would it be to schedule my files to automatically back up to my on-line storage? Conclusion: This is a great program. I can't think of any reason it wouldn't be useful, unless you have no download, uploading or transfer needs. But well, computers are all about that; since the tape drive to the internet- being able to share data is what it's all about.
Price - $29 USD