There are one-trick-pony apps for the Mac. They do one or two things and that’s it. And there’s Butler, which bills itself as the original many tricks pony. The app developer behind Butler is called Many Tricks. So, what does a real life butler do? Many things. What does a Mac butler app do? Same thing. But it’s still difficult to explain what it does and why you need one.
The Butler of Many Tricks
What does a spreadsheet app do? Though the features may number into the hundreds, we have a quick, general idea of what it does. It’s a spreadsheet. Ditto for a word processor. Or an email app. Features may be extensive, and vary app to app, but we have an idea of what’s going on with each app.
Butler, the app, is different. It’s a different way of thinking about how a utility app should behave.
It starts with Butler’s triggers, which can be combined to specific tasks. For example, a hot corner is a trigger. Configure the hot corner trigger to perform a task. Launch apps, open files, do something.
Butler’s abbreviations work the same way. It’s a trigger. Enter the right abbreviation, and Butler will perform a task; it types something, it runs an AppleScript, it controls iTunes, or whatever is on the Butler task list.
Butler comes with six basic triggers and many tasks. Each can be rearranged to match a need. Each is customizable. And, you can assign multiple triggers to a single task.
See what I mean? That took too long to explain, therefore, it can’t be a good idea to use Butler, right?
I’m a geek and I’ll be the first to admit that Butler’s geek factor is simply too high for most Mac users, yet Butler can be downright useful as a launcher, controller, browser, and keystroke abbreviator.
There are plugins and helpers, but they merely complicate what Butler does. The Butler Quick Tour is a video. Why? Because Butler isn’t easily explained; you need to see it in action to get an idea of what’s possible.
That’s the problem. If you start slowly, try a few simple features, then Butler grows on you (remember Google Wave?). But it’s a slow growth. In real life, if you don’t know or can’t figure out why you’d want or need a butler, you’re probably not a good candidate to have a butler.
That’s Butler. Try it. Because it’s useful. But you’ll have to figure out how it can be useful to you, because it takes too long to explain otherwise.