The juicy goodness of OS X applications


Snow Leopard is fast approaching (well I hope it is) and I’m actually thinking that it might be an opportune moment to rebuild my Mac Pro from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried hundreds of applications since Feb 2008 when I first got my Mac and despite this, OS X is still stable and running sweetly. No it’s just the tinkerer in me that thinks if I install Snow Leopard from scratch rather than upgrading from Leopard, then I’ll end up with an even better system. There’s also the fact that if I do a rebuild I’d sooner be giving it a go when I’m well prepared and not under pressure, rather than in a panic after something blows up!

So in preparation for this big event I’m doing three things. Firstly I’m making sure all my backups are up to date so that I can retrieve every scrap of personal data. Secondly I’m building a list of the applications I really want to keep, together with their licenses and configuration data where necessary. The second bit is the interesting one because of all the apps I’ve tried, it really only boils down to a limited number that I’ll be installing straight away on my fresh build. So what has made it on to my short list…?  (In alphabetical order)

1Password1Password – there is no handier way to store all your logins and a few secure notes like license details besides. Sync’ing with the iPhone is an added bonus! I have been playing with the LastPass Firefox extension and it’s pretty cool, but to guarantee my logins etc. are safe, 1Password takes some beating.

A Better Finder RenameA Better Finder Rename – with my backup paranoia I not only import my photos to iPhoto but also copy them into a separate folder structure which I backup manually. This tool is great for renaming hundreds of photos at a time given the pretty useless names my camera gives them. There’s a gotcha if you’re using a Logitech keyboard mapping, but that would appear to be entirely Logitech’s fault.

Calgoo Connect – still the most controllable way to keep my iCal in sync with my gCal!

CleanAppCleanApp – yes I know it can be prone to hosing files you want and I’ve blogged about that in the past, but with a bit of care and caution it still seems to be the most thorough uninstaller available. Plus you can archive apps instead of deleting them in case you change your mind. Perfect!

Connect360 – if you have an XBox 360 and you don’t have Connect360 then you’re missing out big time! By far the easiest way to get at media on your Mac from your XBox, and rock solid – it does what it says on the tin.

CoolIris – Ok some call it eye candy but the immersive way it lets you stroll around media on your Mac and on the web is just beautiful. Bye bye productivity!

DropBoxDropBox – No round up of Mac software would be complete without it. In fact it’s a bit like the mobile phone, how did I manage without it before? If you work with multiple computers then this is the best way to keep your important stuff safe and to hand. If you want to share a few things with friends then DropBox makes that easy as well.

Email Backup Pro – great because I know that every day at 9am my Apple and Entourage mail is safely backed up and can be recovered at the click of a button.

EvernoteEverNote – gone are the reams of post-it notes and scraps of paper. Now all that info that had no other home to go to is safely stored in Evernote. Plus I can get at it on the iPhone plus whatever other computer I’m on. Sure beats writing on your arm with a biro!

EyeTV – despite the 32″ LCD sitting in the lounge, there’s something about watching and recording TV on your Mac. Ok, so Freeview gives you endless channels of pulp TV (not a fan of soaps and reality shows), but what there is that’s worth watching is faithfully thrown at me courtesy of this and my EyeTV Hybrid stick thing.

FirefoxFirefox – I wouldn’t be without it. Safari is cool, and I’m liking the look of Safari 4 beta, but it’s the extensions that make Firefox so useful. Gmail and gCal look terrific with Google Redesigned installed.

Flickery – at last, a Flickr desktop client for the Mac that works! I’ve never been a fan of the sometime quirky Flickr interface, and with Flickery I rarely need to set foot inside the Flickr web interface to upload. manage or browse photos.

goSecure – it’s simpe and safe. 256-bit AES encryption for individual files or whole folders. Drag and drop, enter a password and your done. Ain’t no crim gonna get in to my secret stuff!

LittleSnitchLittleSnitch – OS X has a pretty good firewall built in, but like a lot of Apple software it assumes you don’t really want to know what’s going on under the covers or to take fine control over it. Little Snitch protects inbound and outbound connections for you and makes it easy to manage.

MS Office 2008 – a necessary evil perhaps, and I’d happily stick with iWork ’09 if I had to. But for the best compatibility with the people who insist on sending me Word & Excel documents, this is the best compromise. Just a shame that when I think of Microsoft these days the image I see is of Steve Ballmer’s grinning face. Eeek!!

Mozy – more backup paranoia, but I know that even if my house burns down then so long as I wasn’t engulfed in the flames, I’ll be able to get my important data back.

Nambu – My Twitter life began in October 2008 so I’m still a tweeting newbie. As such I’m still searching for the best Twitter client for my purposes, but I keep coming back to Nambu. It just seems to tick the most boxes for what I want. The iPhone client is pretty cool too, although Twitterific and Tweetie are also good contenders.

OnyxOnyx – I trust my Mac to keep itself ticking over nicely, but if I ever feel the need to do a little tidying or tweaking, then Onyx gives me that extra control and ease of use that I need. What’s more, it’s been around long enough to give me confidence there aren’t nasty bugs waiting to trash my precious data.

Skype – I drown in a sea of IM clients but Skype seems the best for video chat, given that most of the people I know don’t (unfortunately) own a Mac. iChat is great for video chat with Mac friends, and Adium is cool for chat but doesn’t yet support audio/video (properly).

Spotify – free and legal music, unobtrusive adverts and a pleasing interface. What more could you want?

SuperFlexibleFileSynchronizer – gives me minute control over exactly what data is backed up, where and how often. Superb flexibility, hmmm…. as the name says.

Super DuperSuper Duper – they call it “heroic system recovery for mere mortals” and they’re right. It’s the the belt and braces and it clones my boot partition every other day so that in the event of a disaster, I can almost instantly reboot off my cloned boot disk to how the Mac was a couple of days ago if I need to. Two things – 1) I’ve tried it and it works, booted off the cloned boot disk, no problem! 2) The interface makes it dead easy to use.

TrueCrypt – while goSecure is great for individual files and a few folders, everything is much more easily managed if you have a couple of TrueCrypt volumes. If you have a few gigs of data you’d like to protect, then TrueCrypt is ideal.

VLC – I don’t always want to fire up iTunes, especially if I’m listening to something I don’t necessarily want appearing in my library. VLC lets me play stuff without Apple’s behemoth jumping all over it.

VMware – and finally, what better way to run multiple virtual Windows machines, and even the odd Windows server or Linux machine? The Unity mode even lets you forget you’re running a whole virtual machine! Can’t wait to see what we get when VMware 3 arrives…

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2 Responses

  1. Add to that:

    – xmind, for mind maps (free)
    – KeePassX, free and OSS alternative to 1Password (free)
    – Musorg, ID3 tag editor (free)
    – ArgoUML, UML editor (free)
    – Handbrake, for all your DVD ripping needs (free)

    Great post! Thanks

  2. Thank you so much for this list — A list like this makes it so very nice for a newly converted mac guy to ease into the new world. What makes this list so special, is that it’s a list of applications you actually use, daily (or often enough) — vs some random top 10 ‘new apps’.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this. Yes — I’ve waisted the past 2 hours on CoolIris … thanks. 🙂

    — matt

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