The least glamorous activities you perform on your computer are also the most time-consuming. Working with files? Ugh. Over the course of a day the dragging and dropping and double-clicking and deleting and opening and closing of windows can get to you. At least it gets to me. (I'm fragile.)
If you have the time and energy, learn Applescripts and Automator. I'm starting to, and its a lot of fun. Not as intimidating as you might think, and it's already streamlined my work quite a bit. I even installed the Developer Tools and am starting to play with those a little. (Hence our brand new widgets. They're not fancy, but they work!)
Here are a few apps I didn't know I needed but can't live without. Some are even free; all are free to try.
Dragster lets you attach a bunch of favorite folders to its dock icon. Then just drag files to it and off they go to their appropriate destinations. Very Brazil.
Windows has very few advantages over Macs, but the contextual (right click) menu is one of them. FileCutter gives Mac's contextual menu Cut and Paste, Move To and other functions. NuFile puts you one click away from a new text document, Word document, Powerpoint presentation, etc.
Renamer4Mac is the best batch-renamer out there, IMHO. Just awesome.
GrandPerspective (pictured above) lets you see a drive or folder as a Mondrian painting, with the bigger files as the bigger blocks. Very handy for spotting the space-wasters when you're doing spring cleaning.
I've tried every file backup software out there, and oddly enough, I've found the ones that are supposed to be simple are usually the hardest for me. Mac's Backup is completely confounding, at least IMHO. But I have found true happiness, and it's called SuperDuper. Get this plain-English software now, and never worry again. It is fantastic.
And I know it's not a file utility, and I know I've written about it before, but I never want to miss an opportunity to plug VisualHub. I could not do the video for this blog, or the video for my work or my life, without it. It is powerful and crazy-simple to use. It lets you take any video and translate it into any other video format. iPod, PSP, MP4, DV, Flash... Even TiVo!
Even the dialogs are funny. You get your choice of buttons like "Pride" or "Inadequacy." And you know a program is user-friendly when you click the Advanced Settings and it tells you "Don't! You'll Screw Everything Up!" (You can still tweak to your heart's content if you know what you're doing, of course)
Anyway, perhaps I haven't made this clear: VisualHub is great.