May 14, 2006

Must-have Mac software

In the past, I've read a few articles of this nature in other places, and they always have one item in common: Quicksilver. I must admit, I don't get it.

I tried it once, and I've found that the one thing it would be useful to me for would be launching apps, but for that I have either my dock for apps I use regularly, or I dig into my applications folder (which you can bring up right quick in the Finder by hitting cmd-shift-A). For apps I use daily, I use Xkeys.

So I got to thinking, what would I call must-have apps for OSX? I'm a big fan of the open-source mentality, so a lot of these are free (as in freedom), open-source software. The rest are just free (as in beer).

1. Xkeys
I don't notice this app any more. Its so essential to the way I use my Mac, that I forget that its not actually part of the OS sometimes. It launches Safari, Adium, iTunes, my RSS reader, Terminal, Mail, and iCal for me at the touch of a button. You get to set function keys as application launchers, and since so few apps I use take advantage of the function keys anyway, it works great for me.

2. NeoOffice
NeoOffice is an implementation of OpenOffice for OSX that doesn't require the use of Apple's X11. In stead, it uses a combination of Cocoa and Java, so that it is all but seamless in how it works, even though it certainly isn't in how it looks.

It might not look great, but I really hate Steve Ballmer, so I won't even steal his company's software. For word processing, I've been looking at switching to AbiWord, since it looks nicer and loads faster, and sticking to NeoOffice for spreadsheets and that kind of thing.

3. StuffIt
Perhaps this should be higher on the list, since you need it to unarchive a lot of other downloads, but here it is. Again, you kind of forget that its not part of the OS - partly because OSX already handles certain kinds of archived files, and partly because OSX used to ship with it included, but no longer with Tiger.

Not something you love to use, but you need it, and you end up using it a lot.

4. Flip4Mac
Once its installed, you might forget its there, if you didn't always remember what a pain it used to be to open WMVs. Now this plug-in for Quicktime allows you to play most WMVs with no problem. And for stubborn ones, I keep VLC around, as well as MPlayer, but I rarely need to use those.

5. Sizzling Keys
I love this, and I always miss it when I'm on a Mac without it. Global hotkeys for iTunes. Can't beat it.

6. Adium
Excellent multi-protocol messenger client. Supports AIM, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, ICQ, Samewise, Groupwise, Zepher, and Gadu-Gadu. I haven't heard of a couple of these. But, it works great, highly visually customizable, and it has good hotkeys (I hate having to reach for my mouse). A+ in my book.

7. Gimpshop
Now, I know its not Photoshop, but the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP is pretty damn good. But if you're used to using Photoshop, the menu layout is a bit weird to learn. So Gimpshop is a slightly hacked version that moves things around and makes it a little more familiar. You still need X11 to run it, and don't expect to hook up your Wacom and use it (those things ship with Photoshop Elements anyhow, or at least mine did), but it works well for most anything, and I love free software.

8. NVU
Now, this won't be of any use to you if you don't do any web development, but if you do, its a great, open-source WYSIWYG editor, that also features an excellent source view. It color-codes your tags, so your source is easier to dig around it. Perfect if a plain text editor might seem a bit TOO lite for you, but Dreamweaver would be overkill.

That's basically all the must-have free software I keep lying around. Useful stuff, and you can't beat the price.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home