Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, clearly looking for a new direction after last year's release of Office v.X, today announced AutoGadget, a Mac OS X-only utility that brings a bevy of Microsoft's automatic editing and formatting tools to the Finder. In their press release, Microsoft said, "Experts in our usability labs have found that Office users actually have a measurable increase in certain stress hormones when Office's automatic tools aren't available." AutoGadget comes on the heels of a recent directive from Bill Gates that Microsoft should explore ways to make the computing environment less stressful. Intriguing features of AutoGadget include:
Underlining of misspelled text in Finder windows - no more embarrassing typos in file names.
AutoFiltering options for quickly changing which files are visible in a Finder folder. For instance, you might want to see only files older than five days, or only files that contain certain text strings. (The latter only operates if Sherlock's content indexing enabled for the vollume.)
Filename AutoCorrect that corrects common typos as you type and automatically ensures that filenames don't contain characters illegal in other operating systems.
17 different AutoFormat designs that let you set individual Finder windows to different themes - our favorites include ledger, cyberpunk, beach, universe, and - for very occasional use - spinning pom-poms.
The capability to convert any Finder folder into a floating list, along the lines of Excel's List Manager. In essence, the folder becomes a mini-database where you can easily add new, blank files or folders, which could be a good way to map out a Web site or set up a folder for a new project. Once the folder is a list, you can add a bottom row and a left-most column whose contents are calculated using Excel's arithmetic or time functions, potentially helpful in time and project tracking.
Microsoft isn't known as a player in the Macintosh utility field, and it's uncertain how the overall Mac community will receive AutoGadget, especially given the level to which Office's automatic tools have engendered love/hate reactions. Still, each AutoGadget feature can be turned on or off independently of the others, so if you generally like Office's helping hand, give AutoGadget a try.
AutoGadget 1.0 will ship with the next service release of Office v.X (which is required for AutoGadget to work), and - in an effort to acquaint all Office v.X users with Microsoft's new emphasis on relaxation - is also available now as a free download from Microsoft's Mactopia Web site.