The Now Utilities needs more work, and I suspect it will continue to evolve, especially when System 7.0 makes FinderKeys and MultiMaster less useful by including some of their abilities. Something which Now might think about is the problem of too many shortcuts. I use new INITs in a sink or swim method. If I notice them enough and consider them useful enough to memorize the shortcuts, fine, otherwise they sink into the depths of my hard disk. I had trouble with a lot of the functions in the Now Utilities because each separate module had its own shortcuts and modifier keys to hold down. The only one I remembered all that well, even though I don’t use it much, is the option-click on AlarmsClock to bring up its Control Panel. That’s easy to remember and intuitive, but I seldom remember to use the FinderKeys shortcut of command-clicking on files in inactive windows because there’s no real way that it sticks out as a reasonable command specifically for FinderKeys.
This review all comes down to a very simple question, I guess. Unless you are the sort who likes to know stuff because it’s fun (as I am), you want to know if you should buy this package. It’s a difficult question to answer, because my feeling is that you want to have Super Boomerang and MultiMaster and Now Menus and Startup Manager and DeskPicture and Print Previewer anyway, and there’s certainly nothing seriously wrong with AlarmsClock, Finder Keys, Customizer, Profiler, Screen Locker and WYSIWYG Menus. To be honest, (and I hope you are) you would have to pay $30 for Boomerang’s shareware fee. The free DeskPICT, Preview, DA menuz, init cdev, SuperClock, Layout, MacEnvy, and your choice of various screen savers are the way to get much of the rest of the Now Utilities. But there’s no shareware alternatives that I know of for MultiMaster or FinderKeys or WYSIWYG Menus. If you bought OnCue and Type Reunion, you might get more functionality, but at a much higher price. So my recommendation is to buy the package for $75 (that’s the real world price) if you plan on using more than one or two of the utilities. Sure, the free versions are free, but they aren’t as cleanly done and often have more bugs and incompatibilities than the Now Utilities.
Ignoring the shareware or freeware counterparts to the Now Utilities, I think that the collection fills a need in the Macintosh world for system enhancing utilities. There are at least four packages of disk utilities, and at least two frivolous (but fun) environment enhancing utilities, but little else that provide better methods of working with your Mac. I applaud Now’s commitment to this niche. They have committed to changing and enhancing the Now Utilities for System 7.0 and have demonstrated similar commitment to support with the free (though not terribly small at around 230K) updater program. The program should be available on all commercial services and many other non-commercial ones as well. The software industry and software users should not be happy with the system enhancements that come from Apple, since they are simply too few and far between. My best wishes to Now and my hopes for the continued evolution of the Now Utilities into the darkness of System 7.0.