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I have a confession to make.  I thought it would be totally simple to select the best 5 free Apple products – and then I realized I was in way over my head!

Truth be told, I love my Mac, and all the free applications that go with it (well OK, I am not all that crazy about the new iMovie, but I sure did love the old one!).

It was really hard to pick just five free Apple products, and it was harder yet to figure out which ones were truly “free” and which come part of a pre-paid bundle and which ones have associated costs.  Here’s what I finally ended up with.

iPhoto

Some folks don’t like iPhoto and think it is really annoying, and I used to be one of them.  But, over time, I really have fallen in love with it.  As I learned how to use it, it really became one of the most useful tools on my machine. Organizing photos is super simple, and creating simple and creative projects is snappy!

free Apple products

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I like that iPhoto organizes by date because I often make projects that span a length of time.  For example, for holidays, I used the iPhoto calendar creator to make calendars to give out to family and friends.  Because the dates were included, I was able to pick a shot from each month FOR each month on the calendar.

free Apple products

I also love that you can train iPhoto to recognize faces Use Face Recognition to Organize Photos With iPhoto [Mac] Use Face Recognition to Organize Photos With iPhoto [Mac] Read More .  When my Mom passed away in June, I was able to go in and find all the pictures of her using the Face recognition program.  Since I was pressed for time and very sad, to boot, it made the task a lot easier and manageable.

free Apple products

One of the best features, of course, is the ability to load straight to Facebook and other social networking sites.  Since I communicate with my family and friends mostly through Facebook, the uploader saves tons of time and money.

best Apple products

I really could go on and on about how much I have come to love iPhoto.  I truly don’t know what I would do without it!

Here are some iPhoto articles that we have previously published on MUO:

Manage Your iPhoto With These Plugins Manage your iPhoto with these plugins Manage your iPhoto with these plugins Read More – Jackson
How To Create Essential Smart Albums For Your iPhoto Library How To Create Essential Smart Albums for Your iPhoto Library How To Create Essential Smart Albums for Your iPhoto Library Read More – Bakari
Use Geographical Info To Organize Photos in iPhoto Use Geographical Info To Organize Photos in iPhoto [Mac] Use Geographical Info To Organize Photos in iPhoto [Mac] Read More – Jeffry

iTunes

iTunes is one of Apple’s finest inventions.  The music database is excellent, and the app store is just dreamy beyond words.  But what makes it the best is that it is the first of its kind; it offers an amazing and seamless store integration and synchs smoothly with the iProducts.

best Apple products

As an iPhone junkie, I totally get lost in the App store, but, regardless of what my husband thinks, I DO actually download music and podcasts, too.  The iTunes University listing is incredible, and I get daily and weekly doses of some of the best lectures in the world.

best Apple products

There are other podcasts that I follow as well, and iTunes makes it so easy to subscribe to them and listen on my own time.  While iTunes apparently does not work as well on a PC, it really is a powerhouse of information that works seamlessly on a Mac.

top apple products

The entire iRevolution started with iTunes, and, truly, it is a spectacular application.

We have published lots of iTunes articles, including a manual The iTunes Guide [PDF Guide] The iTunes Guide [PDF Guide] Read More , but here are a selection to choose from:

How To Synch The iTunes Library With Your Music Folders How To Sync iTunes Library With Your Music Folders How To Sync iTunes Library With Your Music Folders Read More – Tobias
Download Free Music, Videos & Movies On iTunes Download Free Music, Videos & Movies On iTunes Download Free Music, Videos & Movies On iTunes Read More – Jeffry
Who Is Connected To My iTunes Library? How To Find Out Who Is Connected To My iTunes Library on Windows How To Find Out Who Is Connected To My iTunes Library on Windows Read More – Karl

Quicktime

QuickTime is a great product.  It is smoothly integrated into the Mac platform, and provides tools to create, edit, and display movies and audio clips. There is a simple trim tool for folks without a lot of editing experience.  It also allows the compression of video for use on an iPod, iPhone, and (soon!) iPad.

top apple products

In addition to simple videos, you can create easy audio files and screencasts (movies of what is happening on your screen). Everything can be loaded up to iTunes or YouTube.

Use Quicktime X In Mac Snow Leopard For Easy Screencasting Use Quicktime X in Mac Snow Leopard for Easy Screencasting Use Quicktime X in Mac Snow Leopard for Easy Screencasting Read More – Jackson
Clip & Convert Your Video Faster With Quicktime X & The New Handbrake 64-Bit Clip & Convert Your Video Faster With Quicktime X & The New Handbrake 64-bit [Mac] Clip & Convert Your Video Faster With Quicktime X & The New Handbrake 64-bit [Mac] Read More – Jeffry

Safari

Safari is another great Apple invention.  For me, it renders webpages faster and more efficiently than Mozilla or Internet Explorer.  I use it and Chrome for different things, but it is definitely one of Apple’s best programs!

top apple products

The Top Sites button is also incredibly handy for those of us who use the same sites often.  And, again, Apple’s Safari created a paradigm shift on how we do things in the computing world.

Safari is just simple to use and offers all the features you want if you aren’t into all the add ons that Firefox showcases.

10 Best Safari Browser Plugins 10 Best Safari Browser Plugins (Mac) 10 Best Safari Browser Plugins (Mac) Read More – Jeffry
Safari Search Plugins Showdown : Glims Vs. Inquisitor Safari Search Plugins Showdown: Glims vs Inquisitor [Mac Only] Safari Search Plugins Showdown: Glims vs Inquisitor [Mac Only] Read More – Jackson
Downloading Difficult Multimedia Files Using The Safari Browser Downloading Difficult Multimedia Files Using The Safari Browser Downloading Difficult Multimedia Files Using The Safari Browser Read More – Jeffry

Time Machine

Time Machine is “sort of” free if you have the right hardware to go with it (a back up drive), but the program comes with the Mac.  So much time and tears are saved when you need Time Machine to do its thing to save the day!

There are a lot of great Mac products out there, and it is completely impossible to pick the definitive five best.  So what are your top Mac products?  What would you add or delete from my list?

Image Credit: arquera

  1. Daisy
    May 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I am not that crazy about Quicktime, and tend to prefer VLC over it, and I'm also not a Safari fan (it just frustrates me) so I use Firefox. That said, I do think that Dictionary (I'm a writer, plus it links to Wikipedia) and Front Row (talk about wow-factor) are just absolutely amazing -- and GarageBand rocks in all ways possible! Along with iTunes and iPhoto, I guess those are my top 5, with an honorable mention to Font Book for being the best free fonts organizer I've ever used (PC apps included).

  2. Jenn
    April 28, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I feel they are great programs, however, I would have to say: itunes, gargeband, imovie, iphoto and quicktime. To each their own :) - Apple has many great free products. Side note: Its too bad that out of the box, quicktime will not play as many files as vlc (but oh well). :)

  3. Bud
    April 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    RE: Great Mac Apps. Had a PC w/WinXP. A lot of problems and constant security update bloat. Bought an iMac, learning curve was difficult at first and missed Windows. Bought Parallel software to have XP on my Mac....a waist of money! Then "discovered" I had BootCamp on my iMac. Have it loaded to use XP, but find it to be very slooooooow and momentarily unresponsive! I'd love to see more OS compatibilty, unfortunately that is NOT the 'nature of all the beast(s)!' MakeUseOf does provide me tho' with a good "edumication" on all things about these "new-fangled" typewriters with a 'TV monitor' attached. It really helps me to "waste-away" my retirement years...............
    (just wanted to add a little tongue-in-cheek humor from "across the pond...."

  4. Bud
    April 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    RE: Great Mac Apps. Had a PC w/WinXP. A lot of problems and constant security update bloat. Bought an iMac, learning curve was difficult at first and missed Windows. Bought Parallel software to have XP on my Mac....a waist of money! Then "discovered" I had BootCamp on my iMac. Have it loaded to use XP, but find it to be very slooooooow and momentarily unresponsive! I'd love to see more OS compatibilty, unfortunately that is NOT the 'nature of all the beast(s)!' MakeUseOf does provide me tho' with a good "edumication" on all things about these "new-fangled" typewriters with a 'TV monitor' attached. It really helps me to "waste-away" my retirement years...............
    (just wanted to add a little tongue-in-cheek humor from "across the pond...."

    • Aibek
      April 24, 2010 at 4:32 am

      Bud, thanks for the input!

  5. iRewardChart
    April 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Great listing Beth, what about iChat? Though I use Adium (free too) for IM, but with iChat you can do a 3-way video conference very easily. And the video conf could include a screenshare too. very useful at times. Most of other solutions around desktop/screen sharing are quite heavy and needs extra installation. With Mac, it comes all free!

  6. Dan
    April 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I can't believe this made the Make Use Of weekly list. The article is not useful, helpful or original. It may or may not be all true, but that is beside the point. Windows people have no use for this - which was clearly noted, btw - and Mac people already know about and are probably use these programs. No new or interesting uses were mentioned and among the positives were things like:

    'It integrates well with the Mac platform' - Of course it does - it's a Mac product made for a Mac OS.

    or

    "Safari is just simple to use and offers all the features you want if you aren’t into all the add ons that Firefox showcases" - which basically amounts to , "if you like Safari and it does everything you want, then Safari is great, you will like it and it will do everything you want."

    So, nothing in the article is very helpful or original. The topic for the article pretty much means that all the author has to do is make a list of free Mac apps that she likes which means that the result could have been little more than to get people to talk about it and we can all see how insightful and "useful" the comments have been: half the people crying about the fact that the list is not helpful for Windows users - which it was not intended to be - and most of the others basically trying to get Garage Band on the list. Since limiting the list to five does little more than make garageband users mad arbitrarily while adding no other significant value, we might as well change the title to Top 6 and be done with it.

    How about an article talking about how the top five Mac applications stack up against the top third party similar Mac applications? It's not as if I can suggest a different free Apple Browser, or a different free Apple Music manager.

    Seems that someone had a deadline and no good ideas. Might as well write on the top seven operating systems or the the top 28 major league baseball teams.

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      April 2, 2010 at 11:26 am

      Hi Dan -

      Thank you for the comment. I am sorry that you felt the article wasn't useful and my ideas aren't good enough. I wasn't under any deadline, and I am happy to compliment Apple on what they do well.

      Best,

      Beth

  7. JD Howard
    March 31, 2010 at 7:26 am

    This has been an interesting discussion. As for the top 5 free programs, they're all solid on my Mac. Why would I want to run them on my PC? There are hundreds or more like thousands of apps that run on my PC that don't and will never run natively on my Mac (unless I use bootcamp [which is free] or VM software, which to my knowledge doesn't even exist on the PC side for Apple software). So, what I mean is, use which ever you like. The right tool for the right job, whatever it may be. You can try to use that metrics wrench on that standard bolt, but it wont fit perfectly, and you should never expect it to.

  8. Jonathan Bennett
    March 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    This is a great list, Beth. GarageBand is a lot of fun to play with too.

    • Jeffry Thurana
      March 30, 2010 at 3:50 am

      Yes! Garageband! This is the one Apple app that I think should also be available for Windows. All of my Windows-user friends always look at me with envy every time I show them how easily and fun I make music on my Mac.

      We've published the PDF Manual of creating music using GarageBand. Be sure to check it out! :)

      • Beth Ritter-Guth
        March 30, 2010 at 10:30 am

        Thank you Jeffry and Jonathan! I will definitely reconsider Garage Band's Placement on this list!

  9. Imee
    March 27, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I agree on the whole "Mac programs don't do so well on Windows" thing. Safari and iTunes are a pain on Windows, but on my Mac they are AMAZINGLY QUICK. "Lightweight," shall we dub them? I still think one of the best software bundled with a Mac would be GarageBand. I love it to bits. :]

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 30, 2010 at 10:31 am

      I am not sure that I like Garage Band more than any of the ones I listed here, but I do like it. Maybe I can get permission to add a 6th program :-)

  10. Ian Gay
    March 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    These tools are NOT free except for Safari and iTunes. iPhoto and TimeVault only come with the purchase of a Mac or the iLife suite and the free version of Quicktime is only a player. Quicktime Pro (which costs) is needed to do the things you describe.

    • Eloise Pasteur
      March 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm

      So out of date: since 10.6 came along there is no player/pro divide, the player does it all.

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

      Thanks for your comment, Ian. Since the release of 10.6, there is no longer a difference between QT Player and QT Pro.

  11. jamie lee beals
    March 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    i don't think iphoto is free....it's a part of the ilife suite which is something like $80. although it does come pre-installed on mac computers....but that is just a part of what you pay for when you buy a mac. not free.

    • mystery tramp
      March 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm

      Every Mac sold comes with iLife at no extra charge, so in essence it's free.

      • jamie lee beals
        March 28, 2010 at 5:04 am

        in essence, you are paying for it when you pay for your mac. it's like saying you get os x at no extra charge. you are paying for it none the less. free is when they throw in an ipod or a printer, PERHAPS, but all in all, you pay for everything you get. and aside from that, these are still not free to anyone else. i would consider that an important fact.

        • Beth Ritter-Guth
          March 30, 2010 at 10:28 am

          Hi Jamie! Thanks for leaving a comment. You are exactly right about it being a "sticky" issue. The software comes bundled with a new Mac, but the metric I used was whether or not you could remove it from the machine without harming the operating system. I hope that helps clarify how I determined, finally, whether it was "free."

  12. crescentdave
    March 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    iPhoto gives me indigestion. I don't like the organization of the "folders." It's a hassle to name thing intelligently and combine/organize stuff. If you want to use a time-based organizer, try a true visual program ... Picasa. iPhoto has some nice tools ... but it really shines because there's preciousl else available for a reasonable price on the platform.

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      I also like Picasa :-) But, I do think that iPhoto is one of the best free Apple tools (but I didn't weigh it against other tools made by other companies :-)

  13. Jonathan
    March 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I believe iTunes, Safari and Quicktime are pretty lousy.

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      I am sorry that you feel that way, Jonathan. What would you replace them with on the list?

      • Jonathan
        March 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

        Well, I bet iTunes and Safari feel great on a Mac OS environment, but I'd still replace them with Songbird and Firefox.

        Quicktime just lacks a lot of codecs, I love VLC because it plays almost everything.

        But hey! Time Machine is great software.

        • abhi
          March 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

          just try Perian codec pack with QT,
          Then leave a comment

  14. Locutus
    March 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    All of those products either are garbage on Windows (Safari, iTunes) or simply don't exist on Windows. The problem with Apple is that it ignores its Windows software until 30 seconds before a major upgrade and slaps in some code- for instance, slow and annoying Safari. It has a Mac-native look... in Windows 7. It's unresponsive and just a pain to use on my great Windows 7 machine which can run just about anything fine. Only programs I've ever had troubles with are iTunes and Safari on it. iTunes is also slow and annoying, with the same Mac look. I know they're trying to covert us all to Macs, but please, Apple, start by making good Windows software! Once I know you program for 90% of the public I may make the move to the other 10%!

    However I must say, on Macs all these apps are amazing! I just hate Apple's Windows division. Their apps on their OS are great.

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. You are right; these apps are designed for Macs and work best on a Mac. I didn't really evaluate them in terms of PC or Linux usage because I only use these tools on a Mac. I tend to use a PC more for gaming, and the Mac for designing and writing.

      I do share your hope that Apple will pay more attention to PC and Linux users, but I think they make their money mostly off of dedicated Mac OS users.

  15. frank shaffer
    March 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Glad to be a member

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      I am glad you are a member, too?

  16. Paul Schaefer
    March 27, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Out of all of those, Apple has released only 2 of those for Windows, and none for Linux.

    Also, what about GarageBand?

    • Beth Ritter-Guth
      March 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. While I do use Garage Band, it doesn't rank in my top five. What would you remove from the list to place Garage Band on it?

    • Doc
      March 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

      iTunes, QuickTime, and Safari all have Windows versions...and they are all the "worst-of-breed" Windows apps. I use Quicktime Alternative, Firefox, and Winamp as alternatives that are lighter, better and faster.

      • Eloise Pasteur
        March 28, 2010 at 5:42 pm

        So?

        It's not the top 5 Free Apple products on all platforms list. Or did the big [Mac] tag in the title elude you?

      • Beth Ritter-Guth
        March 30, 2010 at 10:26 am

        Thanks, Doc, for the comment! Eloise is right, I am afraid, the article wasn't written for all platforms, but was written just for Mac users. The products you describe are, indeed, awesome! Thanks for sharing them with us.

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