Tim Schroeder has created two similar, but slightly different, apps for getting your hands on stuff you’ve used recently on your Mac.
Both apps let you access recent files in an instant. A main list shows you everything, and sub-lists break down recent files into documents, apps, folders and so on. Clicking on a file will open it. Command-clicking will reveal its location a Finder window.
Both also provide a certain degree of filtering, so you can tell the app to ignore certain kinds of file.
Recent Redux has more features. It gives you more control over what’s considered “recent”, and displays file info in a tooltip when you mouseover something in the list (particularly useful for checking file sizes). It supports QuickLook, too, very handy for seeing which image file is which. You can drag and drop into and from it, making file management that little bit easier – now you only need to open one Finder window to drag that thing you saved to the Desktop into the appropriate folder.
Now, in theory you could replicate some functions of both apps by simply setting up a Smart Folder on your Mac. To do that, go to Finder, click on File, then New Smart Folder, and pick the criteria you’re after.
(I say “in theory” because, on my copy of Lion at least, this once-useful Finder feature has simply stopped working properly. It will find recent documents, but not applications, folders, or anything else. Your mileage may vary.)
For the vast majority of people, I’d suggest Recent Menu is the best choice. The primary function – finding recent files, folders and apps – works very nicely and is well suited to a spot in the Menu Bar.
Recent Redux has more to offer and is priced accordingly. For the vast majority of people, Recent Menu is probably sufficient, and very useful it is too. Recent Redux is worth splashing out on if you do a great deal of file management, creating and editing a large number of files every day. Its only flaw is a habit of showing itself at the top of the list all the time – it would be nice if there was a simple Preference control for telling it to ignore itself.
Pro: Clean, fast, functional utilities
Con: Needs “Ignore Thyself” command