Mac OS X Applications You Can’t Live Without

Since we bought that dual PowerMac G4 last month, Mac OS X has been used a lot more than before in our home. However, I tend to try out stuff a lot for reviews and other reasons and so I re-install Mac OS X quite regularly on my test Macs (three installations throughout November). Everytime though, I hurry to VersionTracker to download these following apps that I can’t live without.


Browser Pack
I do some web development for OSNews from time to time and so I need to test out the results with all the browsers, and so these browsers are a must have for me: Mozilla, Camino, Opera, iCab, OmniWeb, Firebird. Get them at the VersionTracker web site.

Uploading the work mentioned above would require an FTP client. While command line FTP works fine it is faster dealing with a graphical client. My personal favorite is Transmit, but FTPeel and CaptainFTP are also good choices.

Surely you would also need the BitTorrent client if you are a lot into Torrent downloads. I am not too much, but there are times that it is very handy. This client is very good too.

I am always using 5 IM protocols at the same time so iChat doesn’t do the job for me. Fire does. Proteus has the same capabilities but it is full of bugs in my experience. My colleague David uses Proteus and says that most of the serious glitches have been addressed in the latest releases but in my experience I get 4 times the same AIM messages when my chatters don’t use the original AIM client.

The great all-arounder meta-browser. Instead of having to go to different service web sites you get the whole functionality in this meta-application, Watson, gathering the info you need, all in one place.

X-Chat Aqua
A good IRC client. There are others too, but they are mostly shareware, X-Chat is free.

Speed Download and iGetter
On WinXP I use GetRight and it does its job excellently to make sure I download non-corrupted files and with the ability of resuming. I can never decide which one I like best, Spped Download or iGetter.

An iApp that it wasn’t created by Apple. Attention to detail, nice looks, easy to the eye. Recommended if you are into blogging.

NetNewsWire Lite
This is the free version of NetNewsWire and I must say that I don’t need the full paid version. The Lite does the job in giving me the headlines I need via RSS/RDF.


Acquisition and Poisoned
Limewire sucks, sorry. For file transfer I would recommend either Acquisition or Poisoned, with Poisoned getting a bit more edge.

WireTap and Audacity
I don’t need to do audio work too much, but the times I do, WireTap will let me record everything I need (including sound from other apps) and the OSS Audacity will let me edit and manipulate the audio captured.

Media Player Pack
QuickTime is great, but it doesn’t give me access to all the video file formats I need. Downloading RealOne Player, MPlayer OS X, Windows Media Player and VLC (to play other zone DVDs πŸ˜‰ is a great addition to the OS. MPlayer OS X still has some bugs but it offers a great deal of file formats so it weighs positively too. Get them from VersionTracker too. Occasionally, people complain that they can’t view certain types of audio/video files on OS X, but they just don’t know where to look. When in doubt, try VLC.

MacAmp Lite X
iTunes is great, but I need something smaller. Something that is not as intrusive on the screen to play for me my favorite Radio station. The company went down under and so the MacAMP Lite player is now free to use.


A great OSS graphic app to do some basic photo editing (no 16bit support though (no, CinePaint doesn’t do what we need)). There was a free Mac version to download about 2 months ago but I don’t have the URL anymore, here is the main homepage of the Gimp for Mac.


AquaGrep or iPassepartout
Great to search on the context of text and other files. Aqua Grep is a GUI front end to the unix grep, while iPassepartout is a bit more involved with more features.

Sure, it can’t do all the latest DVD-+RW tricks yet, but then again I don’t have such a drive. The latest integration of Disc Copy on Panther to the DiscUtility left me wanting when I tried to burn CDs with more options. DiscBlaze is able to burn and create ISOs, dmgs, and even read .toast files! It still has some problems but the developer is responsive to requests and the price of the app is only $19.

CodeTek VirtualDesktop
I said it in the past and I will say it again: Expose and workspaces compliment eachother, but they don’t cancel each other out. Therefore, I need a virtual desktop utility and CodeTek’s does the job great (except the problems when using it with X11 apps)

Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection
While I use Mac more and more as times goes, I still need my XP as all my mail is there. I use this MS utility to remotely connect to my XP desktop and except the fact that it turns off my numlock and changes the keyboard to US layout (my default is GB) on my PC, it works great.

Path Finder
A good Finder alternative with two killer features: the Drop Stack and the Path Navigator. Some context menu cleanup is required though. Read more about it on my review a month ago.


iBook’s and 12″ Powerbook’s LCD screens are not of the same quality as the ones found on 15″/17″ Powerbooks. Try SuperCal and get back part of what you never had. It makes the screen look twice as good to your eyes by changing the gamma correction. They are your eyes. Take care of them.

I quite like the Mac keyboard, but my husband hates it. He only works with Keytronic keyboards so he plugged in his PC keyboard to the Mac, but the Option and Command keys are reversed when using PC keyboards on a Mac. The uControl kernel extension will allow you to reverse these keys again and let you use any PC USB keyboard with your Mac (tip: to eject the CDs with a PC keyboard press and hold F12).

USB Overdrive X
Ah, a really long story. When we got this new Mac last month and created an account for my husband, he hated the very-very slow mouse acceleration and speed. The Mac OS X algorithm makes all mice behave the exact same (see: slowly as the cheap mice), even if this mouse is a $50 Logitech 800 dpi. In order to move from one point of the screen to the other, we needed to move the mouse over the mousemat twice. Terrible. USB Overdrive X fixes this problem. Just put these values in its pref panel: dpi 120, Acceleration 50% and enjoy that $50 you spent for your mouse. He is now happy. πŸ™‚


RBrowser or Fugu
RBrowser and its free little brother Rbrowser Lite is a useful utility it does remote file system browsing using ssh/scp/ftp/sftp etc. The other alternative here is Fugu which is completely free.

Share *any* folder on your Mac via Samba or AFS easily and trouble-free.


Taco HTML Edit
I just need a basic HTML editor and BBEdit is way too powerful for what I really need. The free Taco HTML Edit editor does the job without promising more than it actually does.

A terminal alternative. Support for tabs and more advanced features.


Yum! holds my recipe collection. For people who love to cook. Because as they say in Greece, “Love goes through the stomach first”.

David here. I just had to add what is, in my opinion, the most important and useful OS X application. I think Eugenia’s crazy for not using it, since if I had to give it up it would be like losing my thumbs. The wonder app is Launchbar. It allows you to launch applications, initiate emails, go to web sites, and do other actions without taking the time to touch the mouse. Initiated with a command-spacebar, it then gives you a configurable command line-type interface. I type “sa” in, it launches safari. I type “eu” it composes an email to Eugenia. Ten minutes with it and you’ll never go back.


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