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Essential Mac applications

This post presents a collection of Mac applications that I consider essential.
Included with Mac OS X. A lot of software already comes packaged with it, just check for it via the shell.
  • Examples: Apache, Python, Ruby, Perl.
  • Developer Tools (see “Optional Installs” on the Mac OS X DVD): CVS, gcc, etc.
Unix Software
  • Fink and MacPorts are package managers that give you even more Unix software. Both are comparable and even work together on package definitions, but MacPorts will always compile from source,  while Fink has binary install.
Office Software
  • OpenOffice: Somewhat alleviates the need for Microsoft Office. The Mac version has come a long way. In fact so far, that I now prefer it to the slightly more Mac-compatible NeoOffice.
  • Firefox, Thunderbird, Chrome, Skype, Google Earth: are cross-platform.
  • TV-Browser: Excellent program for displaying the German TV schedule.
  • Audacity: Not the greatest of all user interfaces, but suffices for simple audio editing tasks.
  • Audio Recorder: If all you want is record audio from the mic.
  • VLC: Plays many movie formats (divx, avi etc.), including some that QuickTime cannot handle.
  • Handbrake: Great program for transcoding movies (e.g. from VOB to AVI).
    • New: Now transcodes many movie formats (and not just DVDs). This is great for converting movies to be watched on an iPod or iPhone.
  • Flip4Mac: Makes QuickTime play WMV (even if streamed on the web!), free.
  • Perian: QuickTime components for playing files such as .flv.
  • Gimp: A well-known open source raster graphics program. Tips for using the Mac version.
  • OmniGraffle [commercial]: Indispensible program for drawing all kinds of diagrams, not too expensive!
  • GraphViz: The Mac version is awesome! More information on GraphViz.
  • Skim: PDF viewer and annotater. Apple Preview has worked really well for annotating PDFs since 10.5 Leopard. But Skim is still indispensable for LaTeX editing, because it watches PDF files and auto-updates their display if they change.
  • SeaMonkey: The old all-in-one Mozilla internet suite. Only interesting, because it still has a good HTML WYSIWYG editor.
  • TextWrangler: Great text editor, free (light) version of the classic BBedit.
  • Aquamacs: Great for LaTeX editing (for which this Mac version has extra customizations).
Device Support
  • Remote Buddy [shareware]: I don't like FrontRow completely taking over my computer. Thus, Remote Buddy is like FrontRow, but with normal Mac applications. An on-screen menu lets one change many settings with the Apple Remote.
  • Alarm Clock 2: Turn your Mac into an alarm clock. Works very well, because it also can wake the Mac up for an alarm. Furthermore, it can play any iTunes song or playlist of your choice instead of a simple beep.
Backup, File System, Synchronization, Configuration
  • Unison: Brilliant program for synchronizing the files between two accounts. I use it to keep my (Linux-based) account at work in sync with my iMac at home.
  • The Unarchiver: Decompresses many more file formats than the standard Apple unpacker.
  • TinkerTool: Lets you play with more options. I use it for two things:
    • Displaying the Dock in the upper right corner (as opposed to centered on the right)
    • Completely hiding everything on the Desktop (when recording screencasts)

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