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Utilities (Apple) Software

The Best Mac OS X Software Tools 213

An anonymous reader writes "Mac advocate John C. Welch weighs in with his list of the top 20 Mac OS X products (except Welch manages to list 22). The collection of software tools ranges from the obvious, such as Boot Camp, to the obscure but perhaps more useful — little-known apps like Peter Borg's Lingon, for creating launchd configuration files. What's on your personal list of indispensable Mac productivity aids and programming tools? Also, do you think Welch gives too much air time to built-in OS X tools at the expense of third-party products such as NetworkLocation?"
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The Best Mac OS X Software Tools

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  • The List (Score:3, Informative)

    by BarryJacobsen ( 526926 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @06:10AM (#18306596) Homepage



    Sync Services


    Missing Sync for Windows Mobile

    OmniGraffle Pro


    iChat AV


    Script Debugger

    Microsoft Entourage

    SketchFighter 4000 Alpha



    Apple Remote Desktop 3

    MacLink Plus Deluxe

    Parallels Desktop for Mac

    Remote Desktop Connection

    Snapz Pro X

    Boot Camp



    Workgroup Manager

  • Quicksilver (Score:5, Informative)

    by zaphod_es ( 613312 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @06:59AM (#18306648)
    What, 22 favourite apps and no Quicksilver? This is the one program I just could not live without, it is what makes my Mac usable. I hardly use the mouse anymore and access and/or run almost everything on my computer with two or three keystrokes. And it's free!
  • Re:Quicksilver (Score:5, Informative)

    by bismark.a ( 882874 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @08:04AM (#18306758)
    I don't own a Mac, but I swear that my next laptop will be a Leopard tera-core sexy machine. And one of the reason for that is beautiful apps like Quick Silver. []
  • Some of Mine: (Score:2, Informative)

    by sugapablo ( 600023 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @08:27AM (#18306862) Homepage
    Being a web developer who works from home, here's my short list of tools I like:

    Web Developer Ext. for Mozilla: []
    MailTags: []
    FTP/SFTP Client: []
    Text Editor: []
    OpenOffice: []
    Image Editor: []
  • Textmate! (Score:4, Informative)

    by thelamecamel ( 561865 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @09:00AM (#18307010)
    No textmate either! It certainly does everything the journo wants from BBEdit. And for LaTeX and Ruby it's utterly indispensable. I think it's the only shareware I've ever bought.
  • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2007 @10:16AM (#18307352)
    Linked version with condensed summary. I wanted to find out more about some of them. Others may benefit too.

    Ecto [] a blogging client (but the site seems to be down: try this for more info []). Shareware, $17.95.
    Transmit [] an FTP client. Shareware, $17.95
    Sync Services [] -- comes with 10.4
    BBedit [] text/html editor. $125, but worth it.
    Missing Synch for Windows Mobile [] - synchronize with PDA/smartphones. $49.95/$39.95
    OmniGraffle [] - diagramming / flowchart program. $79.95 / $149.95
    ConceptDraw [] - another diagramming / flowchart program. $299
    IChat AV [] - built-in to 10.4
    AppleScript, Scriptdebugger - also built-in. No link. I'm getting lazy.
    Microsoft Entourage [] -- part of MS Office.
    Sketchfigher 4000 Alpha [] -- a game from the great Ambrosia Software []. $19.00
    TypeIt4Me [] - keyboard macro expander. $27
    NetworkLocation [] - automatically trigger configuration changes depending upon where you are on the network (e.g., at home, work, etc.). $15
    Apple Remote Desktop 3 [] - control / configure Mac systems remotely. $499 / $299 (unlimited / 10 systems)
    MacLinkPlus [] - file conversion software (e.g., from WordPerfect documents to/from Word, and many others). $79
    Parallels Desktop for Mac [] - virtualization software (e.g., run Win XP simultaneously with OS X). $79.
    Remote Desktop Connection [] - connect remotely to a Windows desktop. FREE
    Snap X Pro [] - screen / movie capture. $29
    Boot Camp - dual boot Windows. I'm lazy.
    PDF - Portable Document Format from Adobe? What?
    Lingon [] - tool for making launchd scripts for 10.4.
    Workgroup Manager [] - manage local systems - part of 10.4 Server.

    Okay, a mildly interesting list. Here's a few more suggestions:

    Cyberduck [] - FTP and SFTP client. Donationware.
    VLC [] - cross-platform video viewer / transcoder.
    Blender 3D [] - cross-platform 3D modelling / rendering.
    Bookends [] - excellent bibliography software. $99
    Celestia [] - cross-platform real-time 3D astronomy simulator.
    Plot [] - a, uh, plotting / graphing program.
    proFit [] - another plotting / graphing program, non-free. $95
    WordService [] - adds a bunch of text reformatting tools to the Services menu, making them accessible in any program. The same page has a bunch of other useful and free services.

    The original article lists PDF, but no tools. While its true OS X native support makes PDF pretty easy to use, there's still some tasks that are awkward and some useful tools out there to do t
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:02PM (#18307934)
    Or, just:

    vi (built-in)
    screen (built in)
    apache (built-in)
    ssh (built-in)
    emacs (built-in)

    and the list goes on.

    It's my favorite *nix workstation. I don't wear an earring, drive a Jetta, or own a kayak, mountain bike or iPod.

  • by davebarnes ( 158106 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:08PM (#18307976)
    I use Path Finder ( every day, all during the day.
    Can't imagine only having the Finder to use.
  • Missing Program (Score:3, Informative)

    by maytagman ( 971263 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:03PM (#18308306)
    How on earth did he not include Onyx? I'd probably say its top 5... [] from the site: It allows you to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure certain hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Exposé, Safari, Login window and many Apple's applications, to delete cache, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome, to see the detailed info of your configuration, to preview the different logs and CrashReporter reports, to check the Preferences files and more. I would even go so far as to say it deserved to be number one...
  • Re:The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @01:41PM (#18308536)

    I find it quite telling that one of the most popular applications for the MAC is a program that lets you run a different OS.

    If you've been paying attention here for the last year, most of the commentary surrounding virtualization on the Mac has revolved around people finally able to dump their infernal Windows machine and do everything on a Mac instead. Parallels [], along with Boot Camp, is quite possibly the largest driver of Mac sales in the last year. There are a few functions not available on the Mac [yet] and Parallels lets people run those few apps they'd miss from Windows. Yes, Paralleles does run Linux. I currently know more people who dumped their Windows machines in the last year than I know remaining Windows owners - and those aren't far behind.

  • Menumeters (Score:3, Informative)

    by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @03:22PM (#18309194) Journal
    Come on, who doesn't have menumeters? It's even free. Handy little tool to know the transfer rate of your network card.
  • What about Growl? (Score:3, Informative)

    by libwolf ( 1074434 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @05:32PM (#18310194)
    Don't forget [] - just need to know a tiny bit of scripting and it's amazingly useful
  • by llscotts ( 1056308 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @08:48PM (#18311466) Homepage
    First, there are far too many criticial/essential Mac OS X apps to narrow down to 20. This is a silly, arbitrary number because people seem to like lists, and have very short attention spans. Any list of 20 is easily criticized because it leaves out too many goodies. Go beyond critical/essential to the merely excellent/marvelous, and the list will quickly quadruple, at least. Second, this list reflects the opinion of someone who tried the first app he liked in a given category and hasn't researched the alternatives. There are too many selections here that are leaders in sales in their category but are way behind in functionality and value. Welch may be an expert or whatever (I have no idea what distinguished background he comes from), and he gets some useful tools right, but he's obviously not nearly expert enough to be getting this kind of attention for his list of 20. Some examples of his cockeyed perspective:
    1. Snapz Pro X. This is every "expert"'s favorite, because it's been around so long and was leader for many years. But it's over-priced for what it does, and the way it works is outdated. Snapz Pro X hasn't been updated in years, because the developer is too busy laughing at how much money he's making without doing anything. Especially in the realm of movie making, Snapz is way behind tools like iShowU, which can be had for a fraction of the cost and are much faster and easier to use. For plain old screenshots, I've found the $10 Constrictor to be a satisfactory replacement. Constrictor isn't perfect, but it has a few very cool bells & whistles that Snapz doesn't, which make the problem of "cleaning up your desktop" and "replacing your background picture" a thing of the past.
    2. BBEdit. BBEdit is a great program, no question about it. However, it's also bloated and outdated from a user interface perspective, and for programmers there are newer alternatives that might work better and don't rely on the older Carbon framework (no that's not the only thing I don't like about BBEdit). For example, TextMate is what all the younger Mac programmers are using, and there's a good reason for it. TextMate is a programmer's dream come true, including HTML tools. I've been using the open-source Smultron for over a year and really like the way it's developing. It's not perfect, but for zero bucks it's a pretty great option. Smultron, by the way, is one of the brainchildren of Peter Borg, who developed Lingon, one of the actually cool choices on Welch's list. Putting BBEdit on the list is such a cliche, and certainly doesn't belong in a list of essentials. Heck, even the lowly TextEdit that comes with Mac OS X has cool features that are unknown to most Mac users. For example, it's a terrific HTML editor and has options for controlling the way HTML is output that make it much better for ensuring gunk-free code than any of the WYSIWYG tools. Yet you can format your HTML in TextEdit while in RTF mode (as long as you don't try to include images). Great for text tables, lists, etc.
    3. Transmit. Yawn. Everybody loves Transmit... I'm a license holder, and I used to love Transmit, too. Until I tried Yummy FTP, that is. Yummy FTP has so many great features that Transmit lacks, and most important it's a speed demon. I got so tired of Transmit's poky behavior that I went around trying all the Mac FTP clients out there. When I got to Yummy FTP, I couldn't believe how great it was. Yummy can get files to the server while Transmit is still thinking about what you asked it to do. :-) Don't fall for Transmit without trying Yummy FTP. Transmit is very good software... heck, it's Mac software, right? ... but Yummy is the one to get if you do a lot of moving files around. Like Transmit, it can integrate with the Finder and Dock, so moving 20 files is just a drag-and-drop operation in the Finder if you want it to be. But wait! I don't have time to go into all of Yummy's virtues. I wrote them all up in a
  • by 10sball ( 80009 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @10:16PM (#18311920) Homepage
    A few things I personally couldn't live without that are missing from this list

    * VoodooPad [] - for general note taking, todo lists, etc
    * TextMate [] - self explanatory
    * Camino [] - for web surfing
    * Paparazzi! [] - for taking quick screenshots or thumbnails of web pages
    * Colloquy [] - irc client
    * twitterific [] - interface for twitter
    * NetNewsWire [] - Feed reader

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury