Top 20 Mac OS X apps/utilities (and why)
The other day I had one of those moments where I realized why I switched to Mac and why I love the platform so much. It is simply put, the nearly perfect apps that are developed for the platform. There are a lot of apps out there for all platforms that do one thing or another “pretty good”. It is however rare, to find an app that is simply perfect. Although after looking through my Applications folder, I find a number of apps that are just that, perfect. This is my chance to take a little time and share some of my favorites. I would also like to give you a little background as to why they are so perfect. I realize that nothing is perfect, and there will be plenty of forum / comment trolls to flame me, calling me a “fan boy” or ready to point out all the “flaws” and bugs these apps have. Well without wasting too much time, let me address those folks, screw off and go back to living your sad and pathetic little life behind your 1337 screen name. Anyhow, for the rest of you, let’s get onto the apps shall we? :)
1Password by: Agile Web Solutions. If you are looking for a state of the art password manager, this is your app. 1Password is not only a password vault, but has plugins for all your favorite browsers, and with the simple click of a button, it will recall your logon info and sign you into all your favorite sites. All of this is done safely and securely. A really nice app!
Adium by: Adium X. With all the IM services out there and all your friends and family all on different ones, you don’t want to have 3 or 4 different IM clients running. Not to mention, none of the “official” clients are very nice anyway. Well, Adium solves all of that. Adium is a multi client IM app. You can add all your IM accounts into this one app and Adium does the rest. Not to mention Adium is very customizable and has many plug-ins. The absolute best in class app on the mac!
Coda by: Panic Software. Whether you are just learning to code web pages or are a seasoned pro, Coda is the app for you. Dubbed “one window web development”, Coda is laid out brilliantly to ensure you are as productive as possible. They really looked at how the workflow should be, and molded this beautiful app around that. Worth every penny!
HandBrake by: HandBrake. Want to take your DVDs with you on the road but don’t want to lug them around? Want to have all your movies in MP4 format on your media server in your house? This is your app! Handbrake will take your DVDs and rip them into many different file formats and types of compression to fit your needs. I personally rip everything into H.264 MP4s for the Mac mini media center we have. Works like a charm every time and it is beyond simple. Oh and I almost forgot to mention it is open source and FREE!!
MarsEdit by: Red Sweater Software. This app is for anyone and everyone that has a blog. It is a great app that allows you to compose all your posts offline, save drafts, edit and then post them with the click of a button. I used this app to write this post in fact. It works with a multitude of blog engines; I am using it with WordPress. Clean layout, a must have if you want to blog from anywhere.
OmniFocus by: Omni Group. It’s all about GTD (getting things done) these days, and as far as I am concerned, this is the way to do it! If you are familiar with the GTD ideology or just want to stay organized, GET OMNIFOCUS! Get your tasks out of your head, organize them, and do them. Simple as that. This is truly brilliant software.
Quicksilver by: Blacktree. “Act without doing.” Quicksilver is a launcher that allows you to be more productive in launching apps than anyone really should be. To be fair, launching apps is about 1% of what Quicksilver is capable of. All I can say is, get this app and let the addiction begin. Once you start using Quicksilver, you will wonder how you ever managed without it!
Transmission by: Transmission Project. Transmission is by far my favorite BitTorrent client. It has a super clean UI, and is very easy to use. It has a good amount of preferences for setting up your BitTorrent workflow as well. One other feature it has that I love is that is has a webserver in it that will allow you to control your active torrents from any web browser. I find this to be very useful, and use it from my iPhone quite often; really slick.
Transmit by: Panic Software. Transmit is what you need if you do a lot of FTP transfers. Transmit is made by the same folks that make Coda, so right there you know it’s awesome. Transmit is a 2 pane style FTP client. It has “your stuff” on the left and “their stuff” on the right. It has a very simple and intuitive layout, making it easy to use. The layout also makes your FTP jobs much faster and more productive.
Twitterrific by: The Icon Factory. If you use Twitter then check out this little app. There are a ton of Twitter apps out there, but so far on the mac desktop this is the one I like the best. It is very un-intrusive and sits up in your menu bar. It has a ton of ways to customize alerts. The free version works exactly the same as the paid version with the exception of an ad every once in a while, which isn’t bad at all. They also have an iPhone version which works equally well! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me ;)
Aperture by: Apple. If you are an avid photographer or a new amateur photographer (like me), this is the app you need for photo manipulation and management, everything from color management to rating images. It also adds the ability to add rich detailed meta data to your images. There is a tethered shooting option as well, to shoot and add pictures to your projects automatically. It is a little pricey for the amateur at $199, but once you use it and see its power, you will find it to be totally worth it.
AppZapper by: AppZapper. Need to un-install apps that you don’t need anymore? This is what you want. AppZapper does one thing and it does it very well. Open AppZapper, drag your unwanted apps onto it, and it will find all associated files with that app. At this point you ZAP it, and the app and all associated files will be gone!
Cha-Ching by: Midnight Apps. Managing your finances is not always the easiest thing. But it can become a little more friendly with the help of Cha-Ching. This little financial app is the easy to use alternative to Quicken and the likes. It’s very easy to use and intuitive. If you want something simple to use or want to replace your current software that has too many “features,” check out this little piggy.
Evernote by: Evernote Corporation. This is by far the best application for note taking and storing. It is the most cross platform app I use by far. It works with Mac, Windows, iPhone, Web browser, and Windows Mobile! With this app you can take your notes on anyone of those clients and all your notes are stored in the cloud and synced everywhere, making your notes accessible anywhere, anytime. You can tag your notes, and even add voice and pictures. One of the coolest features is the ability to OCR text from pictures! You have to check this app out for your note taking needs.
Growl by: Growl Team. Growl is a notification system for OS X. Quite simply, Growl lets Mac OS X applications non intrusively tell you when things happen. It is a must have for everyone using OS X. It is free and beyond useful!
Overflow by: Stunt Software. If you are like me then you hate when you have too many things in your dock! Although it would be handy to be able to have more apps in reach like they are in the dock. Enter Overflow: with overflow you have a single icon in your dock, that when clicked, will present you with a fully customizable grid of all your apps. You can set them up in categories or how ever you like. It is a fantastic companion to Quicksilver, when you know what you want but the name isn’t coming to mind to type it. Click the Overflow icon and you are launching your app in 2 clicks!
Perian by: Perian Project. Perian, dubbed “the swiss-army knife for quicktime” is a Quicktime component that adds support for many video file formats. If you have a video file that won’t play because you don’t have the correct codec, install Perian, and chances are you will be good to go.
Simplify Media by: Simplify Media. This app lets you listen to your music from practically anywhere! Simplify Media lets you listen to your home music collection in iTunes over the internet from almost anywhere. I use it to listen to my home iTunes collection while I am at work. It all streams seamlessly through iTunes, it’s like the music is on that computer. There is also an iPhone client that lets you listen on the go. One other really cool feature is the ability to add up to 30 friends libraries, so you can listen to their music in the same way. This gives you practically an infinite song library! Breakthrough app.
Visual Hub by: Techspansion. I was a little hesitant to put this one on the list because the developer has stopped work on it and the app is effectively dead :( But because this app is SO great, I am putting it on the list anyway. This app, plain and simple, is THE video transcoder for the mac. It can transcode practically anything into anything else. If there is any way for you to still get a copy of this app, do it, you won’t be disappointed!
Connect360 by: Nullriver. Ok, since you can’t actually get that last pick anymore, here is a bonus pick! This one is for all the Xbox360 owners out there. This little app allows you to use your mac as a media center extension so you can stream music, videos, and photos to your Xbox360 from your mac. It does exactly what it says and does it well.
There you have it, I hope you enjoyed the list and got some good info on what software to get for your mac. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Also, if you have picks that you like better than any of the ones I have listed here, send those along as well!