The very first Mac article ever published by MakeUseOf was about Things. That was about 2 years ago. Since then we’ve continued to serve the Mac community well, publishing over 300 articles. While reviewing apps, part of the job description is testing them out.
After we’re done, we ask ourselves the golden question, “Is this app a keeper?” That’s what this list is all about — those apps that eventually find a permanent place on our Macs to call Home. Everyone should have these installed, regardless of what you use your Mac for.
Everyone knows Dropbox for their amazing file-sharing service. Drag any file into the Dropbox folder and it automatically gets shared.
Need mobile access to your files? There’s an iPhone app just for that.
Surely you must know how it feels to load an app, just to have it inform you that it’s outdated and there’s a newer version available? Don’t we always need the latest and greatest?
AppFresh is what you want. It will scan through all of your installed apps, plugins, preference panes, widgets and spew up the results in a matter of seconds. All the information you need to see will be laid out in front of you: latest version number, currently installed version, release date, release notes. It’s a geek’s all-you-can-eat buffet.
Adium is probably the most widely-used multi-protocol chat app on Macs. It’s oddly strange that it’s never been featured exclusively on MakeUseOf.
Adium supports a wide range of chat protocols from MSN to Facebook to ICQ to Gadu Gadu. If you use it, Adium supports it.
Adding to its list of features, Adium is also hugely customisable in both its theme and functionality. Check out the addons that the Adium community has to offer.
Emphasis on the “The”. This little app – that comes without a user interface – can probably unpack just about any file you throw at it. Once installed, it will replace Mac’s native unarchiving utility, BOMArchiveHelper.
To mention a few, it supports and unarchives RAR, ZIP, Tar, 7-Zip, Stuffit, CAB, MSI and even EXE files. The only format it cannot unpack is ACE. But that’s hardly a worry.
Besides being clever, The Unarchiver is also efficient. You can click on as many RAR or ZIP files for it to unpack but it will never overwork your system. Instead, it will queue the files and unpacks them individually.
It will be a long time before I part with this trusty app.
Macs have always boasted simple installation and uninstallation procedures. To install most Mac apps, all you need to do is drag it over to the Applications folder. To uninstall, drag the app to Trash. But the story doesn’t quite end there.
There will be a couple of mystery files left on your Mac. They won’t do much harm but since you’re uninstalling an app, chances are, you won’t need these files lingering on your Mac. AppCleaner solves this debacle.
Drag any file you want to uninstall into AppCleaner and it will display all the related files. Make sure that you agree and click Delete. Goodbye, remnants!
Skitch is one of the most basic yet impressive image editors for Mac. It is capable of saving images to JPG, PNG, PDF, BMP, TIF, GIF and SVG. That should cover most of your image-saving needs.
I mainly use Skitch for simple image manipulations like resizing, cropping, converting to other formats and annotations.
It’s quick and I love the fact that I know the output file size even before saving the file. Skitch also keeps a history of every file every edited. It may not sound like much but that’s what I love it for. I can turn the History viewer on and conveniently grab a file which I modified a week ago.
I find it awfully weird that Quicktime still doesn’t support Divx out of the box. Like every good marketing strategy — when there’s demand, there’s supply. Failing every good marketing strategy — Perian is free. Still, it’s considered the swiss-army knife of video codecs for Quicktime (why does that sound so familiar?).
I would probably be at the wrath of the Guillotine of Tech if I used the word “video” and didn’t follow it quickly with “VLC”. For years, VLC has reigned cross-platform champion as the most capable video player. Macs are no exception.
Keeping with the minimalistic mindset, Apple maintains that, “The less you know, the better.” That’s why Activity Monitor is buried deep within the Utilities folder. Generally, a Mac user should focus on the task at hand and not worry about how much free memory is available.
iStat Menus makes this information easily attainable — on your menubar. At the cost of some menubar-estate, this preference pane will add vital information like CPU usage, temperature, memory usage, network activity and other goodies to the top of your screen where it’s visible at all times.
Sure, this may go against Apple’s teachings but hey, we’re geeks — we need to know everything that’s going on, all the time.
OnyX was featured just once on MakeUseOf in the article Ten Tools To Keep Your Mac In Tip-Top Shape. But you know what? Once is more than enough to convince anyone that OnyX is a keeper.
Think of OnyX as a strict physician. It inspects and examines your Mac for anything that might seem wonky and straightens out all the kinks.
It can also clean out old log files and performs a series of automated maintenance to keep your Mac healthy.
C’mon. This app doesn’t need an introduction!
Teamviewer is one of the best zero-configuration remote-support applications that’s available. Period. And since it’s also available for Mac, why not take advantage of it?
Even if you’re not on the receiving end, having Teamviewer installed is really convenient if you are your family’s tech-support team.
Highly regarded by productivists as the definitive must-have application, Quicksilver has finally won me over. Sure, its highlight may have been the Tiger-Leopard era but it still has its place in Snow Leopard.
With a couple of quick keystrokes, sending an email or transferring files can be as simple as launching an application. But don’t be fooled, it’s not a simple app launcher. It can do so much more!
It definitely takes a bit of getting used to but it’s highly rewarding once you’ve honed the skill. In fact, you may feel slightly disabled if you’re on a Mac without Quicksilver.
I bunched these 2 apps together, not only because they’re both text editors or because they’re free. Rather, it’s because I simply couldn’t make up my mind.
Bean is has slightly more features, supporting Word documents. Aside from that, it also launch amazingly fast!
Bean is an alternative to using Microsoft Word on my Mac. Since I don’t work with Word documents that often, there’s no point in forking the money over to buy a copy.
I use TextWrangler for different purposes, mainly for what lacks in TextEdit — a word counter. It also supports coding and HTML, which is helpful on occasion.
With all the reports of Time Capsules crapping out after a year of use, I refused to take any chances and decided back up my data manually. Carbon Copy Cloner was such a helpful application that I just had to find a spot for it on my Mac.
With features like scheduled tasks and incremental backups, it’s almost a good as Time Machine (without the fancy interface). It allows you to make complete or selective backups of your Mac, backup to a networked Mac, backup to a disk image and even restore from one.
Using Carbon Copy Cloner means freeing yourself from the backup schedules of Time Machine and having complete control over your backups.
Not that I’m complaining but my fancy Mac does not allow me to burn DVD videos outside of iDVD. There’s just no native support outside of the iLife app suite. Want to burn a music CD but not with iTunes? Tough.
Burn is a simple application that slips right into place. In fact, it’s so simple, it’s crazy. I messed around with it a bit by dragging an AVI and told it to burn a video DVD. I thought it would produce an error of some kind because only MPG files can be used. You know what Burn returned? “Would you like me to convert it for you?” I can’t believe this app is free.
So there you go. 15 apps worth having on every Mac. Have a favourite app that’s not on the list? Share it with us in the comments.
Now on to some serious giveaway business.
MakeUseOf 11-Day Must-Have Commercial Mac Apps Giveaway
Not all apps that we feature here must be free. In fact, some of the very best apps are commercial. The amount of effort put into them really makes them shine and so developers charge a small fee (and rightly so). We’ve managed to find 11 great must-have commercial Mac apps and decided to share them with you.
Starting tomorrow, we will be offering one app to be given away daily for the next 11 days. We have an average of 15 licenses available for each individual application, so you’re well covered. The giveaways will operate almost like every other giveaway we’ve organised on MakeUseOf but with a few casual differences.
For one, we will be unlocking 1 application giveaway every day. Winners will be announced as soon as the next giveaway begins. Secondly, you have to manually enter the giveaway to be eligible to win (aside from joining our Facebook fan page, that goes without saying) — we cannot pick winners from our Facebook fan pool, not everyone has a Mac.
The rest of the rules are about the same.
So, what do we have to offer? Can you guess what they are? Click on the unlocked images to be forwarded to the app’s giveaway page.
That’s right. The first app we’re giving away is Intego’s VirusBarrier x6. A standard license is worth £48 and offers protection on 2 Macs. We’ve got 10 licenses to give away. How do you get one? Tune in tomorrow.