Outstanding Software for my Mac

“I love my Mac!” Yes, it looks good on my desk, and it’s less of a hacker target than a Windows PC, but that’s not why I love my Mac… MacOSX and Apple applications are stable and unobtrusive, preferences and settings are always logically organized, and features are intuitive to use. MacOSX “plug and play” accommodation of peripheral devices of all kind is instant and reliable. MacOSX runs the best software around in my opinion, and the Mac user interface that these applications implement is remarkably consistent from application to application – and that’s not true of Microsoft Windows and many popular Windows applications. That’s my “humble opinion”.

The last time my Mac froze was – well, let me see – was months ago – maybe even last year… I don’t have to struggle with my Mac to do what I am setting out to do – I just “do it”, and my Mac always “just works” – my work is in the foreground, and my Mac is in the background, and that’s the way it should be. It’s that simple.

Oh, and one other thing, some of the best software that my Mac runs are Open Source UNIX applications – Open Source is free. You can’t beat that!

I’m a “one-man-band”, and I have a lot of varied tasks to do. Consequently, I use a lot of software, and I am always looking for something better to save me time when what I currently use doesn’t quite “cut the mustard”. So, here is a list of the outstanding software that I use:

  • Apple Safari, Mail, Quicktime, iChat, Preview, TextEdit, Dictionary, Time Machine, Exposé, Spaces, Spotlight (all components of MacOSX), and Safari and Quicktime are available for Windows users, too
  • Apple iLife – iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand
  • Apple iWork – Keynote, Pages and Numbers – another release cycle, and I may not even need Microsoft Office anymore
  • OmniGraffle (OmniGroup) – so much better than Visio… and Visio compatible across platforms!
  • ViaCAD 3D (Punch Software) – elegant 3D drawing and rendering
  • Google Earth – just “wow” – still… and free
  • Gimp – friendlier UI than Photoshop’s and just as feature-rich – and open source (free)
  • GraphicConverter (Thorstem Lemke) – the Swiss army knife of image utilities
  • Vuescan (Hamrick) – the Swiss army knife for scanners from virtually all manufacturers manufactured from the days of antiquity to the present and able to expose all the scanner features the hardware supports (even features that the manufacturer’s own software doesn’t support!)
  • Expression Media (Microsoft) – a media file cataloger and metadata editor – Apple Aperture could learn a thing or two from this application
  • Aperture (Apple) – photo “light table” with tremendous nondestructive editing features – combined with VueScan, GraphicConverter, Gimp and Expression Media, I have a complete image solution – my point is that there is room for fewer and fuller-featured applications here – no one application does it all…
  • Perian – an Open Source Swiss army knife for Quicktime compatibility for a huge variety of otherwise unsupported media formats – works automatically when it needs to – no fuss, no muss…
  • MacFuse and NTFS 3G – open source file system extensions provide seamless automatic compatibility with file systems of all kind including Sun and WindowsNT – no fuss, no muss on a networked shared server volume anywhere…
  • Letter Opener – a Mail plugin to automatically and seamlessly display Windows Exchange DAT file attachments – no fuss, no muss…
  • iStat Pro – a really nifty system status widget for Dashboard
  • DevonAgent (Devon Software) – web crawler and search tool
  • EasyFind (Devon Software) – file cataloger – Spotlight-like, but different – and free
  • DiskWarrior (Alsoft) – flawless drive directory recovery has rescued my crashed drives several times over the years…
  • CarbonCopyCloner or CCC (Bombich Software)- drive duplication utility “must have”, and it’s “donationware” from a generous developer
  • FileSalvage (SubRosaSoft) – file recovery and “uneraser”
  • Little Snitch – an super outgoing stateful firewall
  • ClamXAV – a simple open source antivirus application

I use a lot of excellent software, too – not quite in the outstanding “class” in my opinion, but still excellent applications that I don’t struggle with to use:

  • Apple’s MobileMe – a suite of web-based services and applications – still room for improvement, but this Apple product finally works reliably and with some “polish”
  • Microsoft Office – yes, I know, Microsoft and bloated to “beat the band”, but it works very well and is almost universally compatible with the rest of the world without any extra effort
  • NeoOffice – MacOSX-native and “tweaked” OpenOffice port can easily and completely replace Apple’s iWork and also Microsoft Office and even does more to boot – NeoOffice feels “Mac-like” unlike OpenOffice
  • Acrobat Pro (Adobe) – does everything “pdf” that I need…
  • Firefox – open source browser can easily and completely replace Safari – prefer and use Safari, but Firefox works with every ISP when there is a browsing problem with Safari – it’s my “back-up”
  • Thunderbird – open source e-mail client can easily and completely replace Mail – I prefer and use Mail, but Thunderbird works with every ISP when there is a mail problem with Mail – it’s my “back-up”
  • Toast Titanium (Roxio) – DVD burning for anything for anyone on any platform
  • MYOB (aclivity, was Best) – simple and capable financial accounting software
  • GnuGP – open source PGP replacement – I used to use it – excellent
  • PGP (PGP Corp) – the real thing, and they host my credentials, and my clients may insist that I use PGP instead of GnuPG
  • Miro – open source “iTunes” for video podcasts
  • DevonThinkPro (Devon Software) – project vault and database for documents, media, mail messages, URL’s, search results, thoughts and snippets from anywhere…
  • CopyCatX (SubRosaSoft)- drive duplication software like CCC but a little different…
  • MAMP – current open source Apache, MySQL and PHP server apps for MacOSX adds missing pieces to turn my MacOSX client computer into a MacOSX server for these common applications
  • PersonalBrain Free (theBrain) – this is mind mapping software that I am still learning to use – very clever software – maybe even indispensable if I ever have the time to master it
  • Leopard Cache Cleaner (Northern Softworks) – when my Mac is “cranky” and needs a system-level tuneup
  • IPNetMonitorX (Sustainable Softworks) – this nifty network detective tool is far better than Apple’s Network Utility
  • McAfee VirusScan – yes, I groan, too, but I can take my computer into a client location and satisfy their virus concerns, and it does work heuristically, and it is pretty much invisible and as unobtrusive as an antivirus application can be

I am confident that there is a lot of outstanding Mac software that I am unacquainted with or that I have no need for – Intego security products like VirusBarrier and FileMaker database products like Bento or their flagship product by their own name come to my brain, for example. And I am sure that many would disagree with my assessments or with my distinction between outstanding and excellent – that’s OK – I have my humble opinions, and it is quite alright for you to have yours as well! I won’t argue… My point is that there is really well polished and reliable software for me no matter what I need to do, and a lot of it is free, and this software keeps my brain focused on my work instead of on my Mac!

I guess that I love my Mac software – it makes my Mac almost invisible – and that’s the way a computer should be.

Poster’s note – lots of trademarks here, Microsoft, Adobe and Apple in particular… Also, every application I use conforms to the license and is supported by a valid and payed-for license or an appropriate paid shareware fee.

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