Top 10 useful apps for Mac newbies

A week ago, Leopard, the latest version of OS X, the Apple Mac operating system, was released. I already thought that the rate at which my friends and acquaintances were deserting Windows for Mac was high back when Vista came out, warts and all. I knew nothing. It’s less of a trickle nowadays, and more of a thundering tsunami wave heading Mac’s way!

Since I haven’t had the opportunity to really sit down with these friends lately, I thought the least I could do as a faithful disciple of Apple was to share my list of top 10 useful applications, which I consider to be must-haves when using a Mac. They vary between productivity apps, cool alternatives to overpriced professional products like Adobe’s and just outright fun stuff.

  1. Quicksilver: No Mac is complete without Quicksilver, in my opinion. The main feature I use is the quick launcher – create your own keyboard shortcut from which you can call up any application or file without going into the app folder. Leopard’s Spotlight can now do that, but if you’re patient with Quicksilver, you’ll realise it does a whole lot more than just quicklaunch…
  2. Skitch: Hands down THE best quick-fix image resizer, editor and uploader. Completely intuitive to use, you’ll get from zero to LOLCat in 4 seconds!
  3. Pixelmator: For slightly fancier image editing than what Skitch allows, Pixelmator might be the perfect solution for those of us who get a rash from using Photoshop. It’s $59 for a license but it’ll probably do everything you and I need.
  4. Adium: Stick MSN Messenger, GTalk, ICQ, Yahoo! Chat and whatever else tickles your fancy from a single client. Less clutter is good.
  5. Flickr uploader: Pretty straightforward app – put pictures in, tag images, upload to Flickr. Simple, quick, fuss-free. Oh and free too.
  6. Parallels: This is a necessity more than anything, but Parallels allows those new to Mac to still access their Windows apps, and gives web designers/developers a way to check their sites in Internet Exploder.
  7. TaskPaper, OmniOutliner Pro, OmniFocus: I know I’m cheating here, but I didn’t want to drag on too much about GTD and productivity apps, because they’re not to everyone’s taste. However, if you’re looking for a friendly OS X GTD app, try one of the above, ranging from utterly simple – TaskPaper – to complex and complete with OmniOutliner and OmniFocus. TaskPaper certainly does the job for me, with contexts, projects and archiving of done items. Simple and practical. Have a play and let me know what you think!
  8. Unison: If you need a Usenet reader, Unison does the job wonderfully well. Produced by the great team at Panic, it’s priced at $24.95, but comes with a 15 day trial.
  9. Coda: I don’t personally use this one, but seems to come as a consensus from most web developers I know who are Mac users. Another Panic app, it’s priced at $79 and probably also comes with a trial period.
  10. iStat Menus: If you’re keen to know how much memory is being used, how much network activity you’re racking up, etc, you’ll like this app. You can put the most essential pieces of info directly in your toolbar, editing settings from within the Systems Preferences. iStat Menus is donationware.
  11. Bonus! Activity Monitor: Now this one might seem strange, seeing as it’s a utility that is already part of OS X, as opposed to a 3rd party download. However, too few people are aware that the tool is there. When your machine whirs itself into a frenzy and you can’t work out why, open Activity Monitor – or leave it running in the background as I often do – and find out which application is guilty. If you use Firefox, it’ll often be the guilty party, I warn you.

Right well, this should get Tom and Darla started, shouldn’t it? 🙂

[Update 07/11/07: Andrew pointed out that Chris Pirillo totally outdid me with his post of Top 100 mac apps.]

9 thoughts on “Top 10 useful apps for Mac newbies

  1. Aranil

    You know, I’ve been wanting to buy a mac for a LONG time now and reading about all the new features just wants me to get one even more. Thanks a lot, haha.
    Yeah… yay for being a poor college student!

  2. pa

    ouin..j’aurais du garder mes 60 actions à 40$ en 2000, vendu à 30$ pendant le crash, mais qui ont tombés à 12$…
    Gpapa Raymond serait très confus avec tout le changement de Apple..continue et peut-être Steve Job va remarquer tes bons commentaires..sourire..

  3. Tom

    Thank you!! Brilliant 🙂
    I also have one to add: Yojimbo, it has a cool name and is brilliant for keeping me and random notes organised by tagging them.

  4. liz

    Thanks for the tips 🙂

    I’m still loving my Mac and as a recent convert and full time Windows Tech Support I can honestly say my Mac kicks the butt of my Dell Laptop. I just love the fact I come home after a *long* day fixing PC’s and come home to my lovely Mac which just works when I turn it on 🙂

    The only thing I can moan about is Firefox being crap of late, but I’m hoping they fix the bugs soon or I’m going back to Safari.

  5. Graham

    Here’s a couple for the web type people out there: TextMate is like TextEdit on steroids. It makes coding in virtually any language so much more pleasant.

    Number two is CSSEdit. It’s a visual CSS editor. You’ll see what I mean if you try it out, but I have it open virtually every working day.

  6. Will

    I got my own kitten a couple of weeks ago and I’m really thrilled to bits with it.

    At the age of 10.5, I don’t suppose it’s quite accurate to call it a kitten but, nevertheless, I find it a very playful and cuddly cat indeed.

    I’ve had cats since 2002, and this is the first one I’ve been able to accept just as it is, despite the slightly unfavourable things some reviewers have said about this one. Previously, I have had to use ShapeShifter to help reduce some of Steve’s pets rather excessively colourful ways, but I find this cat’s personality just right.

    By the way, i enjoyed your video of your own kittens.

  7. Pingback: that canadian girl » My new pal Alfred: Mac quicklaunch application

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