• Editor Rating

  • Rated 1.5 stars
  • Bad

  • Unclutter
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: Nov 9, 2013

Review Summary:

PROS: Interesting idea.

CONS: Annoying interface. Very limited functionality. Trying to offer time saving features, which are poorly executed and implemented into Mac OS X.

Unclutter 2I’ve been a Mac user for many years know, so I believe that I know most of its tricks and secrets. Mac OS X is highly usable and productive right out of the box, since workflow is very smooth and interface is user friendly and logical. Just like with any other system, you probably need some small applications which enhance native user experience of an operating system, and which make your everyday computing a bit easier.

Unclutter, created by Software Ambience Corp, is trying to offer some enhancements to a native Mac OS X desktop by creating easily accessible features like note taking, clipboard, and file storage. These three features are located within three independent floating windows which are actually being pulled out from their status bar. As a default setting, you will see these three windows on top on your desktop, where all three have the same dimensions. As you use them, you can change their dimensions in vertical and horizontal manner, so you can give primary role to the one you use the most. I was surprised, as many other reviewers and users as well, that you can pull these windows (or open them from their status bar) by using scroll button on a mouse, not by clicking on them, double-clicking, or even dragging. If you don’t read this information somewhere, before trying out Unclutter for yourself, you will surely believe that your application is frozen and non-functional. Scrolling is a nice addition, but shouldn’t be implemented in such manner. Also, you should be able to choose which gesture you’d like to use to perform this action, but Unclutter doesn’t offer that choice.

Unclutter 1

Now a few words on how Unclutter works. As we said earlier, you’ll get to use three features located within three independent windows: clipboard, file storage, and notes. Clipboard previews whatever you’ve copied to the system pasteboard. Maybe someone will think differently, but I don’t see a reason why this feature even exists. It doesn’t offer another helpful or innovative information, and it doesn’t really enhance system pasteboard in any way. File storage behaves like you’ve got USB stick plugged in, so you can drag and drop files onto it. Unclutter’s file storage keeps files deep within system library folder, which also seems strange. This means that data stored by Unclutter won’t and can’t be indexed by Spotlight, which is a serious shortcoming. Finally, Notes act like you would expect, and you can enter or paste any text. This also seems obsolete, since you can use Apple’s Notes app, which is much more powerful than Unclutter’s Notes. Also, its skeuomorphic design doesn’t fit my taste, especially within beautiful and elegant Mac OS X’s aesthetics.

Unclutter seems like a good idea, which wasn’t developed properly. It doesn’t offer anything new, innovative or original, and it surely doesn’t enhance any system-built features like taking notes, or using clipboard. Someone may find it helpful, but the truth is that you can do much better with those small applications which already come with Mac OS X. For $2.99, you can surely find some other application of this kind within Mac App Store, which will be worth the money.


  1. Hi, here’s Oleg from the Unclutter team. Thanks for the review, but let me follow up a bit, because while some of your criticism is justified, other seems not well thought through or even plain wrong.

    We admit that Unclutter is a very young product and there is a lot of room for improvement and perhaps some bugs, but we’d never ship a “half-ass” product. It’s already quite usable, and we use it a lot ourselves. And of course, many improvements and new features are coming.

    From reading the review I’ve got the impression that you didn’t quite get the idea of our app. Maybe you haven’t used it for a while, just launched it once to write the review. However, that’s not the way the app can be appreciated. It may seem trivial at first glance, but when you give it a real chance, you soon find yourself dependent on its convenience and wonder how you actually lived without it before 🙂

    The purpose of Unclutter is to allow you manage temporary items – like links, notes or files – popping up from everywhere as you work, without losing the focus on your workflow. It’s an instant pocket for various stuff, that you need to put somewhere quickly, then later process, and delete. You don’t want to launch other heavy-weight apps or create new files for short-term stuff, or think were to save those files and how to not forget to delete them afterwards. Haven’t you found yourself in this situation way too often? We have! 🙂 And now Unclutter is always there, just one swipe away, to eliminate all those grieves.

    We’ve invested a great deal of effort to make Unclutter as much convenient to use as possible, because that’s its main point after all. From lots of experiments and testing we’ve discovered that the scrolling gesture at the top of screen to open the panel is a brilliant idea that works best. We’ve tried all other interactions like clicking, dragging, hovering etc. and they all failed – kept getting in your way as you worked. So I’m sure to say that your statement that it “shouldn’t be implemented in such manner” is wrong, based on hard cold data 🙂 A tiny percentage of users may indeed not get it readily, but after they do, it’s perfect for everyone. Actually, the idea is so good that we expect it become common as other developers will borrow it 🙂

    The Notes panel of Unclutter is more convenient than Apple’s Notes app, because it has a simpler interface and you don’t have to keep the app around in your Dock or on your Desktop. It makes note-taking with Unclutter a no-brainer.

    The Files Storage panel is like Notes but for files. One of the points of the Files panel is that you don’t care where those files are stored. That’s what makes it a quick and more convenient choice. That said, you are correct that the files in Unclutter’s File Storage panel are physically stored in a sandboxed container, whose path is determined by OSX (to find out where exactly, right-click any file in File Storage and select “Show in Finder”). In the next update, we allow the user to change this path to any arbitrary folder. This will also solve the Spotlight problem you mentioned. (OSX Spotlight doesn’t index the ~/Library folder by default, unfortunately)

    The functionality of Clipboard panel is indeed somewhat limited in the current version. For now, you can simply use it to check what’s in your clipboard before pasting to a wrong IM window 🙂 Or well, when you are not sure if your previous clipping was already replaced by another one, and you need to go back and re-copy what you need. We added the Clipboard panel as an experiment to see if it was worth the deal at all, and to our surprise, this turns out to be the most feature-creeped piece in the feedbacks we receive from our customers! 🙂 So we are definitely planning some real features there, like clipboard history, editing clips etc.

    That’s it! Again, thanks for the review. We will continue our work on Unclutter, as the feedbacks we received from bloggers and reviewers are mostly great. Cheers!


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