Mac Apps

Alright, while I love my Mac and all I have noticed a relative unstableness in the apps I regularly use, probably caused by the two major switches of OS 9 to OS X and from PPC to Intel recently. I think the only Mac app I’m using from the very beginning of being a Mac user (which is since about 1999) is the fabulous MacSOUP. So when I need an app for a task I do less often (like an FTP-client) I’m lost and can’t remember what that app to use is. So I decided to compile this list, mainly as a note to myself, it may act as a check list for setting up a fresh system… I’ve added a [commercial]-tag on the apps that are commercial, the rest is either FOSS or Freeware. First section is internet-related stuff:

  • MacSOUP for news, a very effective, nicely key-controllable offline newsreader [commercial]
  • Firefox for the Web; I used to hesitate using Firefox over Safari but since I discovered the Firefox delicious extension the only reason to stick to Safari — which was the command-number commands to post a link to delicious — is gone… well Safari renders more nicely and has build-in RSS support but crashes and is slow too often on the other hand
  • Webkit actually makes Safari the way it should be: really fast and supporting all the sites that trouble standard Safari
  • Colloquy is a great IRC client, but the constant notices and bouncing in the dock (which couldn’t be turned off completely even with using hidden options) are just too annoying for me, so I switched to XChat Aqua, which is a lot less Mac-like but quiet at least, and seems very stable
  • Transmission is a great BitTorrent-Client, looks just like the download window in Safari, very nice and Mac-like
  • Cyberduck is my favorite FTP/SCP client
  • Adium is a nice multi-protocol IM client, and Skype is there, too
  • OSXvnc seems to be my choice for a VNC server, I don’t seem to have a client installed currently, but I remember there was one with a funny name… I remember: Chicken of the VNC (almost as weird as MacSOUP)
  • I used to like Carracho, and sometimes I liked KDX too…
  • Apple Mail only very rarely gave me reasons to complain

Next, something like an office-section, nothing complete again, just my personal collection, as stated above:

  • TeTeX (‘tetex’) from MacPorts with TeXShop as an editor for Word Processing
  • BibDesk seems like a nice desktop Bibtex app, but I usually use CiteULike; same goes for Cocoalicious and Delicious
  • The Mac OS port (with awesome anti-aliasing through Apple’s Quartz) of GraphViz for auto-generated graphs
  • OmniGraffle for manually created diagrams, also great for handouts and posters [commercial]
  • Seashore (kind of a Gimp port) for image processing, I sometimes still use GraphicConverter, but less and less; and Inkscape for SVG
  • NeoOffice (an OpenOffice port) for opening OpenOffice/Word-files and for spreadsheets and presentations
  • Eclipse as an IDE for anything and nothing in particular, well for Java and Ruby mostly, and as a general-purpose text editor, which it become with installed line wrap plugin (see plugins note). Eclipse is surprisingly annoying on the Mac if you are working with the Windows version from time to time; it’s slow and crashes, — certainly, most of the times it just works and rocks, but it could do better. An interesting development is SWT on Swing, used in the Eclipse on Swing project. It’s still buggy on the Mac, but that infamous occasional seconds-lasting pause for popup menus in the Mac version of Eclipse (with the Carbon-SWT) isn’t there with the Swing version. Same goes for running under GTK with X11 (both for increased performance and bugs). The eclipse.ini need some additional stuff like: -Xms40m -Xmx1024m -XX:MaxPermSize=128m
  • TextWrangler for the occasional look into some weird large file etc, most people seem to prefer TextMate as a small stand-alone editor [commercial]
  • iTerm as a tabbed terminal app
  • pgAdmin is a nice frontend for Postgres (which I usually compile), which never ever misbehaved
  • MAMP is my choice for an all-in-one web-dev package, it worked better for me with the new Intel machines than XAMPP (which wouldn’t work with mod_rewrite support)

Then, lets call it media-related apps:

  • iTunes rocked ever since it was introduced (except for when it deleted your entire music collection)
  • Audio Hijack Pro is a great tool for capturing the output of a particular app, like for recording streamed audio [commercial]
  • EyeTV is a great app for watching DVB-T and for editing and exporting, eg. for burning with Toast [both commercial]
  • HandBrake is a DVD-Ripper (with one of those nice names again, a propos: an option here is MacTheRipper)
  • Google Earth and Google Maps for maps and satellite images

And finally system utils and stuff like that:

  • Witch is the missing functionality for switching windows of an app, and is much more useful than Expose, IMO
  • For the times I’m annoyed by the Finder, I use XFolders (GUI) or MC (‘mc’) via MacPorts (Terminal)
  • Parallels, using the Bootcamp-Partition gives a nice, flexible multi-OS system
  • Disk Inventory X shows disk usage, not sure how useful the app is yet, seems like I’ve settled with Finder+du/df in the terminal
  • The most useful backup app seems to be Carbon Copy Cloner for bootable backups (with installed psync also supports incremental backups); I also used rsyncbackup sometimes
  • Cocktail is my choice as a frontend for admin tasks; DesInstaller lets you pick installed OS X installer packages to uninstall;
  • Damage Isolation lets you mount iso-image-files; CHMox lets you open Windows help system files on your Mac
  • Data Rescue was the most useful of its kind when I needed a tool for restoring data from a broken drive
  • SharePoints lets you share locations outside of home like other drives etc. via AppleShare (like you could before)
  • Quicksilver is an interesting and useful app to access the content of your Mac; I never really got into it, but I suspect I should, so I list it here
  • Rouser is a small alarm clock, something I needed often when I didn’t have it and never needed since I’ve got it…
  • TextExtras add stuff like Subscript to all Cocoa apps
  • ClearDock clears or modifies the dock in other ways
  • ShapeShifter allows for twaeing the entire UI, e.g. to make OS X look the way it should have with Gershwix

That should be it, I guess I’ll keep this note updated to have an up-to-date resource for my personal choice of essential Mac apps.

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