Useful Mac Apps

I have a friend who recently made the switch to a Mac, and so a few weeks ago I compiled this list of useful Mac apps that I use and thought he might. The list wasn’t really specific to him, though, so it seemed reasonable to pass this on to anyone who intends to make the jump. I’m not mentioning Firefox or Skype or other stuff that is pretty crossplatform. One thing that I think is really telling about Mac software is that there are a total of two pieces of Mac software I list that are pay-for versions (NetNewsWire comes in a great full version, and OmniGraffle is pretty limited until you pay for it.

  • Adium: Chat program that uses libgaim to do it's dirty work. Heck of a lot better looking than Gaim, and I don’t mean that as a knock necessarily on Gaim, more how great Adium is.
  • BibDesk: A BibTeX front end. Having tried to write these files manually for my references in TeX papers, this is so much better.
  • Camino: Uses Gecko, but is much more of a Mac app than Firefox is. It can’t use Firefox extensions though, but there are still addons for Camino at PimpMyCamino.
  • coconutBattery: You can monitor your laptop battery with this. I might be the only one who likes to do that. That, and the guy who wrote it, of course.
  • Colloquy: I don’t use IRC much, but everyone seems to agree that it’s the best Mac IRC client out there.
  • Cyberduck: FTP/SFTP client. Actually, lately I’ve been using MacFUSE and sshfs instead.
  • Fink: Uses Debian’s package manager to handle dependencies and what-not. It’s how I installed FUSE and practically anything else. For example, I just typed fink install openmpi.
  • FinkCommander: GUI front-end for Fink. I don't use this much, really.
  • Flip4Mac: Microsoft stopped making the Mac version of Windows Media Player (a blessing, considering how bad it was when they made it.) This is the “official” substitute, which basically lets you open WMV files in QuickTime.
  • Gmail+Growl: Combines the next two together. I like it, but it’s not like it’s really necessary or anything.
  • Google Notifier: Google's Gmail Notifier for the Mac. I actually like this better than the Windows version, because it also connects to Google Calendar, and can actually give you a count.
  • Growl: It displays notifications. I have pretty much everything Growl at me.
  • HardwareGrowler: Uses Growl to tell you when hardware, network stuff happens.
  • LaTeXiT: Let’s you make PDF clippings out of LaTeX with transparent backgrounds, that you can then past in other applications. Also uses LinkBack, so if another application uses LinkBack, you can edit the formula again.
  • NetNewsWire: An RSS feed reader. I use the full version, but liked the lite version when I used it.
  • OmniGraffle: You have to pay for it to do anything really useful, but it is quite simply one of the best pieces of software that I have.
  • ProVoc: Great for studying vocabulary. I like their widget.
  • Quicksilver:This is kind of hard to describe, but at its most basic, it is a program launcher. It's a heck of a lot more than that. You’ll probably get a better description from the “What is Quicksilver?” page.
  • sshfs.app: Front-end for sshfs with MacFUSE.
  • TeXShop: Great front-end for LaTeX. I actually just install it through fink.
  • Unplugged: Growls at you when you unplug your computer (say by accident), and can tell you as you use up each 10% of your battery.
  • VirtueDesktops: Workspaces. There were originally some issues with Intel machines, but I think that's ironed out. Also, it’ll be much less useful after 10.5 comes out.

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