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Friday, March 18, 2005

Quality Mac Shareware/Freeware or Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

One of the biggest fallacies about Macs is that there is not as much software available as for the PC. My only response to that is quantity is not quality. While it may be true, "Professor Howdy's EZ Web Page Creator" just doesn't cut it. The truth is, there is very little that you can do on a PC that you can't do on a Mac just as well, if not better. So, with that in mind, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite applications that may be useful to those new to Mac OS X, whether you are a switcher or a System 9 user.
  • System Utilities - as stable as the UNIX based Mac OS X is, there are still things that can help your system run better.
  • TinkerTool - a utility that gives you access to additional preferences which Apple built into the system, but did not provide a way change.
  • Onyx - provides a means of maintaining and optimizing your system, as well as setting some preferences.
  • MacJanitor - a utility provided primarily for users who don't leave their systems on 24/7. Unix runs all sorts of maintenance jobs at night, when a typical user is asleep, but for owners of laptops, or the more energy conscious user who sleeps or turns off their machine at night, these jobs never run.
  • Macaroni - similar to MacJanitor, but automated to run when the system is active.
  • DesktopManager - a great utility for laptop owners, this application give you multiple desktop spaces with some cool activation animations.
  • Unsanity - Unsanity makes several system additions which bring back some of the better parts of System 9 as well as other functionality - FruitMenu, Shapeshifter, WindowShade, MightyMouse, give them a try!
  • System Monitors - Some of the more technically inclined like to keep an eye on what's happening on their systems, these applications do exactly that.

  • iPulse - iPulse offers a very graphical view of what's going on with your system. It's customizable interface can be as simple or cluttered as you need it to be.
  • GeekTool - a little more technical, but still very cool, the developer's site include a lot of example of how this preference pane can be used.
  • Konfabulator - Konfabulator is a framework for running widgets that can do just about anything, from monitoring stocks to providing a prettier interface to iTunes.
  • Launchers/File Navigation - although the Finder and the Dock are great tools for accessing your applications and docs, these applications help you find your stuff even quicker.
  • Dragthing - Apple's Dock on steroids, this highly customizable launcher can leap tall buildings in a single bound, run faster than a locomotive, and even make you a PB&J for lunch. Well, okay, maybe that was an exaggeration, but it is very powerful.
  • QuickSilver - "An evolving framework for accessing and manipulating many forms of personal data." QuickSilver has to be used to be appreciated, I too was a non-believer, but once I started using it, I was addicted. Simply put, QuickSilver provides a means of opening documents and applications without having move your hands from the keyboard, by hitting a key combo and then typing in the first few letters of the item that you want.
  • Internet - Who isn't using the internet these days? While Apple's Safari is a great browser, sometimes it's nice to have alternatives.
  • Sogudi - an addon to Safari, Sogudi allows you to set up shortcuts for the address bar, particularly useful for searching sites - typing "vt Sogudi" searches Version Tracker for Sogudi You can set it up to search just about any site.
  • Camino - based on Mozilla's open source Gecko rendering engine, Camino is a great alternative to Safari.
  • OmniWeb - the most innovative web browser, the Omni Group takes accessing the web to the next level.
  • NetNewsWire (Lite) - many sites offer RSS feeds these days, and in order to keep up to date on everything happening around the world, rather than visiting every single news site, whether it be world news or Mac news, etc, NetNewsWire Lite goes out and grabs the news you are interested in and brings it to you, to read when you are ready. Just try it, you'll soon be asking if all your favorite sites have an RSS feed!
  • Transmit - the best ftp application for Mac. Not free, but very worth the small shareware fee.
  • Unison - a very user friendly way to access usenet - yes it's still out there.
  • Adium - easy to use multi-protocol instant messaging application, it lets you sign on to a every conceivable IM system, using every username you have, all at once.
  • Ticker - keep track of your stock portfolio in realtime.
  • Graphics - a picture is worth a thousand words, but only if you can see it...
  • GraphicConverter - a shareware application which is included with most new Macs, it is a nice image manipulation program for people who don't need the complexity of photoshop, and it can translate just about any image format to any other.
  • Text - for the aspiring writer in us all, there are a ton of options for those who find Apple's TextEdit just a little too slim for their needs.
  • DevonNote - a notepad and so much more, Devon Technologies make several useful applications, DevonNote being the littlest brother to them all, I'm using it right now to write this article! I use it mostly to store the bits and clip of things I write or articles that I find on the web that I want to save or read later.
  • TextWrangler - Bare Bones' modern replacement for BBEdit lite, is great for those who like to hand code their sites, it's also useful for general text editing.
  • SubEthaEdit - SubEthaEdit's claim to fame is it's collaborative capabilities - everyone involved in a project can have access to the same document at the same time, in realtime, great for co-authoring websites, or just doing collaborative note-taking at a conference or meeting.
  • Media - from movie previews to short animated films and video captures from your brother-in-law's camera, there are a lot of different video formats out there.
  • VLC - for all those video formats that quicktime can't handle, saves you from having to install Windows Media Player and Real Player.
  • Games - there are a lot of great, free, old school games for the Mac. I prefer to leave more hardcore gaming to my dedicated gaming platform of choice (although I have a certain respect for the Xbox, I wouldn't be a true Mac-head if I actually owned one...)
  • Quinn - an aquafied Tetris clone.
  • Pac The Man - all the fun of Pac Man, with a better soundtrack.
  • SuperTux - with gameplay very similar to Super Mario Bros., this Linux port is very addictive.
Although this list is far from complete, hopefully it will get you started. Mac Shareware/Freeware developers tend to be as passionate about their applications as they are about their Macs, and you can tell, most of these applications are a pleasure to learn and use. For more application fun, visit Mac Update or Version Tracker.

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