Favorite Mac apps

My friend and colleague Lori Stevens is in the process of moving from PC to Mac, and she asked me what apps she should have on her Mac. While there are plenty of lists out there of best Mac apps, here, in no particular order, are some of those I can’t live without:

Of course I use the iLife apps that come with the Mac – iTunes, iChat, iPhoto, iMovie, et al. They’re not professional tools, but they’re really good for us commoners.

Adium – my multiprotocol instant messaging client of choice.

Ecto – my blog posting editor of choice. While each successive release seems to get more feature-full and less easy to use, I haven’t found anything I like better.

Firefox – I mostly use Safari these days, but there are lots of things Firefox does better (like have cool add-ons that can be very useful – but that’s a separate list). Good to have choice!

iWork – I like Keynote better than Powerpoint for presentations (and it allows easy save as PDF). I don’t often need a dedicated word processor other than to read other people’s attachments (and Quick Look usually lets me do that, but it sometimes gets confused by fancy formatting), but Pages seems to work fine. Numbers doesn’t begin to have the power of Excel, though. But it’s rare that I need that, and usually Google Spreadsheets work fine for my purposes.

Logic Express – Everything I need in a digital audio workstation. Really deep. When I start working with it I usually end up staying up wayyyy too late and wishing I didn’t have to work for a living. If you constantly find yourself wishing for features GarageBand doesn’t have, Logic probably has ’em.

NovaMind – Last year I was heavily into mind mapping for trying to organize my thoughts, and NovaMind was my app of choice for that. This year I haven’t been working that way – I’m not quite sure why.

OmniGraffle – I loved Visio when it was first released – it was a great lightweight graphics tool for those of us who are graphically challenged. Then Microsoft bought it and it became progressively more loaded down with baggage that made it slow and cumbersome. OmniGraffle reminds me of what I loved about the original Visio and it’s even better – a great drawing and graphics tool. I use the Pro version – I know there was a reason for that, but I can’t remember what it was. Oh – and the latest versions can read Visio files too.

OmniOutliner – another great tool from our local software development house (on *this* side of the lake :). A really good outliner, and everyone’s got times when they need that.

PodWorks – For some inexplicable reason, Apple doesn’t provide a way to transfer songs off an iPod (or iPhone) to a computer. Probably a sop to the content industry. There are lots of tools that make up for that absence. I ended up with PodWorks after a recommendation from Ted Leung, and it’s worked great for me ever since. I wrote once to the developer and got back a very quick response (though he hasn’t implemented the feature I want, which is a true Finder-like file system interface to the iPhone).

Skype – You know about Skype, right? I don’t use it a lot, but it’s good for when you want to have a phone call or video chat with folks that don’t have a Mac and can’t do iChat.

Snap’n’Drag – While there are easy built-in keys for taking PDF screenshots in OS X, I use this handy little program a lot because I can save screenshots to r formats like PNG that I can insert into web pages.

TextMate – If you just want to do some plain-text editing, TextEdit, which comes with the Mac, is ok (and it will also do RTF). But if you need to do any code editing, whether it’s HTML, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, what-have-you, TextMate is what you want.

Transmit – While it’s easy enough to fire up the terminal and use command line sftp, I find myself usually wanting to do secure file transfers in a more Mac-like graphical way, and Transmit is my client of choice for that.

Twitterific – For those of us addictedhabituated to Twitter, Twitterific is a great little client – unobtrusive but reliable. You can pay for the add-free version, but this is one case where I actually find the ads, which come from TheDeck (which bills itself as “the ad network of creative, web, and design culture”) informative and useful.

What am I missing here that you would champion for a new Mac user?


One thought on “Favorite Mac apps”

  1. Let’s see. In addition to your list…

    Adium if you’re a user of Yahoo or MSN IM services. Adium’s a great multi-protocol IM client. If an ex-Windows user asks, “Where’s Trillian for the Mac?”, this is the answer.

    Automator is built into MacOS, but it’s something people tend to forget. Almost any repetitive task – from renaming files to resizing images – can be done here.

    flip4mac to read those WMV files you may have laying about.

    GrandPerspective and/or JDiskReport (Java app) for figuring out where your disk space went.

    NetNewsWire for your RSS feeds. (now free, and the author lives in Ballard).


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