On my Mac

Well I’ve had it for a while now so here are some of the goodies I have installed on my MacBook. I’ve tried a lot of apps over the past few months, the following are the ones I’ve settled on.

One thing to note is that there does seem to be a different kind of software community built up around Macs, and I guess it is because the audience (whilst growing rapidly) is still small in comparison to the Windows community. There also seems to be more of an emphasis of home/fun usage, something Apple have concentrated on in the PC vs Mac adverts. I’m still not yet using the Mac as my main computer, largely because I can’t get my wife off the damn thing.

I am using a lot of the Apple supplied applications, Address Book, iCal and things like that, so most of the applications I have downloaded are either specialist or fit with the way I use a computer.

Anyway, at the moment, I am using:

  • Adium – instant messaging client that supports all the major IM channels.
  • AppDelete – which provides an easy way to delete installed applications. Installation on a Mac is, mostly, very simple. Removal less so, hence the thinking behind this application.
  • Aurora – an MP3/iTunes aware alarm clock. Ideal when travelling, can wake the Mac from its ‘sleep’.
  • Bean – for basic word processing requirements
  • Cyberduck – FTP client
  • FuzzyClock – rather than 13:45, displays “quarter to two”.
  • Growl – a wonderful little app which provides subtle (skinnable) notifications for various system events. Extendible using plugins, and feels like it is part of the OS
  • iConiCal – sets the dock icon for iCal to the correct date. Normally it’s a static icon until you open iCal, this app runs at login to change the icon. WHY this doesn’t happen this way within the OS I have no idea.
  • iStumbler – a better way to discover what wireless connections your MacBook can ‘see’. Includes Wifi, Bluetooth and Bonjour connections.
  • MagiCal – a replacement clock and drop-down calendar. Ideal for a quick check on a date.
  • MarcoPolo – automatically runs scripts to change settings when you change your wireless connection. Handy for me as I take my MacBook into work on occasion, when it picks up the wireless connection at work, it mutes the sound.
  • QuikSilver – at one level a keyboard application launcher, on another level (which I’m not at yet) a hugely powerful tool to help automate and quicken basic tasks and file manipulation.
  • Seashore – a handy graphics app, good for quick edits.
  • Skim – a PDF reader.
  • TextWrangler – handy text editor with support for most text based filetypes, good for quick code hacks.
  • VLC – an excellent video player with support for, well, every type of video I’ve tried.

All of the above are free, as in beer (where DID that phrase come from?). I have donated to some, and have bought other apps, most notably Adobe PhotoShop, but those are the ‘finds’, the none obvious stuff which I highly recommend you check out.

One type of app I’ve yet to settle on is which web browser to use. I immediately installed Firefox to give me something familiar, and coupled with my use of Google apps and Google sync, it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon. Oddly though, I have far fewer extensions installed on my MacBook than I do on my PC.

There are three other items that I’ve purchased for my MacBook which I’d like to point out. One is a Radtech screen protector, a simple cloth would do to be honest, but this doubles up as a screen cloth for the shiny glass effect MacBook screen. The other is a set of Cool Feet, which sucker onto the base of the MacBook, helping circulation and cooling, and providing a nice typing elevation. Finally, my Wrapper, a customised sleeve for when my MacBook is fast asleep. Provides a little bit of protection and keeps it clean!

There are a myriad of other tweaks (check out the Kinkless Desktop and an application called ‘Hazel’ for a key part of my desktop workflow) but those are for another post. For now, the applications listed above should give you a good starting point, and none of them will cost you a penny.

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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Great list. I use a lot of the same software, though for some things I stick with what the system gives me (Preview is enough for my PDF/image viewing needs).

One that I might add myself is SubEthaEdit for general text editing goodness (I use it to keep a notebook for work stuff/blogging/general guff as a LaTeX plain text file) though I gather it’s since become a paid-for app even for non-commercial use.

I also second the Radtech ScreenSaver cloth. I used one on my iBook too, kept the screen nicely free of acid/grease from the keyboard. And it usually only takes a quick buff to clean off any small marks from the display.

Browser-wise, I switched from Safari to Camino quite a while ago; it was a bit of a pain on my Panther iBook (always crashed trying to play YouTube videos for some reason) but on my Tiger MacBook it’s pretty much perfect. And for RSS feeds I use NetNewsWire Lite, which I have no complaints about.

wee David says:

Thansk for a great list. Got a few new goodies from it. An alternative to MagiCal I use is MenuCalendarClock from Objectpark.

I love those Coolfeet (buying some now) and am going to check out Cyberduck. Need a good FTP client… great post!

Great list Gordon, thanks. Lots of applications I was unfamiliar with.

Cyberduck is brilliant, isn’t it?

As the other half of the Mac mailing list that Adrian mails MAc stuff to, I would also like to bring to your attention the excellent Xtorrent. It rocks.

Oh and I just discovered WiiTransfer, for streaming your iTunes, not just to your Wii either, but pretty much anywhere.

Skitch is awesome. I won’t link to it as you need an invite, and I ain’t got none left.

And if you really want to use your Apple remote for something useful, have a look at iRed Lite. It’s brilliantly brilliant, if a bit of a bugger to get working initially.

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