Smart Mac users know that taking a little time to figure out a faster way to do something pays off in the long run. That's why they take advantage of tools like Automator, AppleScript, Keyboard Maestro, TextExpander, Hazel, If This Then That, and others--tools that let you automate little tasks you perform frequently, so you make them happen with single keystrokes (or other quick triggers) instead of running through each step every time.

We're always looking for ways to save time ourselves, so we asked some of our friends and colleagues for their favorite time-saving tricks--the most useful, cleverest systems they've set up to automate everyday tasks. We were stunned by the quantity and quality replies. They had ideas for automating file-management, email, iTunes, and more. You might not be using things like Keyboard Maestro or TextExpander now. But we'll be that, after reading through the kinds of problems they can solve, you'll take the time to download them and set them up real soon.