A colleague recently bought a MacBook Pro. As a switcher, I figured he would need some recommendations on applications to use on his new Mac, and I know it had been quite some time (3 years!) since I’d discussed what Mac applications I use on a day-to-day basis. To kill two birds with one stone, I figured I would post a quick list about some of my recommended Macintosh applications.
Free or Open Source Applications
We’ll start with free and/or open source applications. (I break out “free” and “open source” because there are applications that may be available at no charge, but whose source is not available.)
Adium: This multi-service IM client is, in my opinion, the best Mac OS X IM client available, hands down. Aside from not supporting video chat—the only reason I can come up with to use iChat instead of Adium—this client does pretty much everything you need. Adium supports AppleScript and Growl notifications. Support for OTR (Off The Record) chat encryption is built in. Adium is available for download from the Adium web site.
Camino: Camino is a Mac OS X-native web browser from Mozilla. Unlike Firefox, Camino was built from the ground up to be a Mac application. It uses the same rendering engine as Firefox, but doesn’t support Firefox extensions. If you’re big on Firefox extensions, stick with the Mac build of Firefox. Visit the Camino web site for more information. If I had one complaint about Camino, it would be the fairly limited AppleScript support in the current release.
Colloquy: Into IRC? This is an excellent IRC application for Mac OS X. It supports AppleScript, Growl notifications, and can connect to multiple servers. I especially like Colloquy’s Smart Transcripts feature, which let me filter out conversations in busy chat rooms so that I can see the ones I’m most interested in joining. That’s pretty handy at times. Colloquy’s web site has more information.
Cyberduck: Cyberduck is an FTP/SFTP application. It supports AppleScript and Spotlight, Growl notifications, and Bonjour. It’s not the fastest FTP/SFTP application out there (last time I checked, that honor went to Interarchy), but it’s pretty slick. Visit the Cyberduck web site for downloads.
Growl: Growl isn’t an application per se; it’s a way for applications to supply notifications to the user in a consistent yet highly customizable fashion. Growl support is quickly becoming a “must have” for Mac applications, and you’ll see that almost all the applications I use support Growl. Surf on over to the Growl web site to download the latest version.
NetNewsWire: I’m into RSS feeds, and my RSS reader of choice is NetNewsWire. NetNewsWire offers integration with various del.icio.us clients (like Pukka) , weblog editors (like ecto), and supports AppleScript and Growl notifications. You can get NetNewsWire from the Newsgator web site. NetNewsWire is free, but not open source (at least, not to my knowledge).
Quicksilver: How does one describe Quicksilver? To call it an application launcher doesn’t really do it justice. Yes, you can use it to quickly launch applications, but you can also use it to build ad-hoc workflows like finding a contact in Address Book and creating a new e-mail message to that contact. Or finding a document and attaching it to a new e-mail message. Or quickly opening a URL in your default web browser. Or initiating a Google search. Or…well, you get the idea. I believe you can still get Quicksilver from the Blacktree web site, as well as from a Google Code site. (Some people have reported problems getting Quicksilver to run, but it’s been rock solid for me.)
There are a number of paid applications that I use on a daily basis as well.
ecto: This weblog editor allows me to compose all my blog entries offline and then post them later. It works with a number of different weblog systems. I’ve been using ecto since the very first days of this site and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. More information on ecto is available from their web site.
Microsoft Office 2008: Like it or not, compatibility with the rest of the professional world still remains a critical issue, so I use Microsoft Office 2008. Yes, I know that OpenOffice exists (and has a native Aqua port), and I know that iWork supports Office formats, but it’s easier for me to just use Office and not have to worry about it. At least in this version Microsoft has added Automator support for building workflows using Office applications.
OmniFocus: If you are a GTD fan, you’ll like OmniFocus. (You may also like OmniFocus for iPhone as well, which has the ability to synchronize with the Mac version.) Projects, contexts, next actions—it’s all there. And it supports AppleScript, comes with a plug-in of sorts for Apple Mail, and leverages Growl notifications. See the OmniGroup web site for information.
OmniGraffle Professional: Also by the same folks that make OmniFocus (as if you couldn’t tell by the name of the application) comes OmniGraffle. It’s the closest you’ll come to Visio on the Mac, and in fact has the ability to read Visio binary (.VSD) files. It can also export Visio XML (.VDX) files. The OmniGroup web site has more details.
TextMate: There are numerous free text editors out there, but something about TextMate makes me like it. UNIX die-hards like it, Mac fans like it, and it offers great integration with other applications (like your FTP/SFTP client, so that you can edit files directly on remote servers). Visit the Macromates web site for information on TextMate.
Well, that’s not all the applications I use, but these are the ones that I find myself using on a daily basis. I can’t think of a day that goes by that I’m not running Adium, Camino, NetNewsWire, OmniFocus, TextMate, and Office—typically all at the same time.
Some other applications that I also use include:
- Chicken of the VNC (VNC client)
- CrossOver for Mac (Mac version of WINE)
- GraphicConverter (all-in-one graphics application)
- Interarchy (super-fast FTP/SFTP client)
- Little Snitch (application-level firewall)
- OmniOutliner Professional (outlining/note taking application)
- Pukka (del.icio.us client for posting URLs)
- Remote Desktop Connection (RDP client)
- Transmission (BitTorrent client)
- Unison (Usenet/NNTP client)
- Viscosity (OpenVPN client)
- VLC (open source media player)
- VMware Fusion (to run Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc.)
So there it is—my list of most commonly-used Macintosh applications. I hope it’s helpful to some of you switchers out there!
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