Ten favourite Mac applications

I tend to skip most memes since I’m not really a meme person. But (you knew there was going to be a but here) when I found 10 Mac Apps over at Mr. Hicks’ place I felt it to be closer to my interests than most other memes, so I can’t resist.

This meme was started by Om Malik. The task is to list your ten favourite Mac apps, while focusing on freeware and shareware applications that have helped you get the most out of your Mac.

The freeware/shareware requirement disqualifies a couple of my favourites, but as I scanned my Dock and my Applications folder for icons that I click (or used to click) more often than others I realised that most of the apps I use do belong in that category.

Here’s my list, in alphabetical order:

  • Adium - multi-protocol instant messaging client.
  • Camino - Gecko-based web browser.
  • DiskTracker - disk cataloguing and labeling system.
  • Firefox - Gecko-based web browser.
  • Ircle - IRC client. Not used that much these days, but I used to spend a lot of time chatting on IRC up until a few years ago.
  • MP3 Rage - MP3 tagging and organising tool. Has many features that are missing in iTunes.
  • NetNewsWire Lite - RSS and Atom newsreader.
  • Omniweb - web browser based on WebCore and JavaScriptCore. I don’t really use it, actually. I just like it.
  • RBrowser - FTP client.
  • RPG - random password generator.

So, I know there are plenty of Mac users reading this. What does your list look like? Remember, only shareware or freeware apps!

Posted on September 11, 2005 in Mac


  1. I think Quicksilver should really be on this list. It’s so good I wouldn’t even know how to express it’s value. While the Mac OS X gui is already very nice and Spotlight added great functionality this piece of sheer brilliance adds even more to it. Launching apps was never this fast and gone is the dock packed with shortcut icons because you don’t need that anymore if you use Quicksilver. It rocks so hard the neighbors will start complaining about the noise after you got the hang of it ;)

    And oh yeah it’s free of course.

    Check it out here

  2. September 11, 2005 by David Rieger

    Ok, here’s my top ten list:

    EasyFrame - A great little app that lets you enhance your pictures by adding beautiful frames around them

    Audacity - Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds, really handy if you want to alienate your voice or digitise old cassettes (including noise filtering, MP3 encoding etc.)

    Cabos - a nice spartanic client for the gnutella network without all that advertising clutter all the windows clients come with

    Chicken of the VNC - vnc client

    Cyberduck - ftp client, my favourite, supports secure ftp as well

    GIMPshop - port of The GIMP and twisted and manipulated to look, feel and behave a lot like Photoshop

    NicePlayer - my favourite video player based on QuickTime, supports Fullscreen, playlists and so on

    VLC and MPlayer OS X - the two must have cross-platform video players supporting almost all the video and audio codecs out there

    UnRarX - A little tool able to extract RAR files

  3. September 11, 2005 by Adrian Bengtson
    • Quicksilver - The one app that changed my mac behaviour most since OS X arrived. Can’t be praised enough.
    • Adium X - One of the best open source projects for mac ever, both good looking, works well and developes in the right direction.
    • Fetch - FTP program, goes way back, had a nice makeover recently.
    • MacJournal - Great app for storing various text information, available both as freeware and shareware.
    • SpamSieve - Micheal Tsai’s excellent spam filter (using it together with Eudora), making spam a no issue for me.
    • Firefox - Needs no presentation. Not my default browser, but invaluable for me as a web developer (mainly because of Web Developer extension).
    • NetNewsWire - Brent Simmons well-crafted RSS reader (the paid version).
    • File Buddy - No other utility can manipulate files like File Buddy, great for searching and removing duplicate files etc.
    • BookIt - Great for syncing and organising bookmarks when using multiple web browsers.
    • Eudora - Not the best looking email client, but we go way back and no other client has so far been able to switch me (running in sponsored mode which makes it freeware, or?)
  4. September 11, 2005 by Jimmy Nordlund

    Audium X
    Smultron - Of all the text-editors I’ve tried since I switched to Mac a couple of months ago Smultron is the one I like best. And it’s free. Can’t beat that.
    VLC - excellent media player.
    Quicksilver - awesome once you get in to it.
    Cocktail - a general purpose system modify/repair utility.
    GmailStatus - Gmail notifier for the OS X menubar. Looks better than Googles official notifier and has more functionality.
    UnRarX - allows you to expand rar archives.
    BitTorrent - This is the one thing I’m missing on Mac, a good BitTorrent client. Sure Azureus has all the functionality you could wish for, but it’s so ugly and doesn’t feel like an OS X app at all. So in lack of alternatives the official BitTorrent client makes it in to my top list.

  5. September 11, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    About Quicksilver:

    I have tried it several times. But I just don’t get it. I end up forgetting to use it. It’s the same for me with most launchers, calendar apps, and other “productivity enhancers”. They just collect virtual dust on my hard drive. Maybe I’m thick or something ;-p.

  6. I’m a big Quicksilver fan. I found that the way to from “gosh, that looks cool,” to “I can’t use a machine unless Quicksilver is installed” was to remove everything from my dock. No more one-click access = learn to use the launcher in a day.

    I’ll also put in a word for TextWrangler and Markdown while I’m here.

  7. Regarding Quicksilver: I think everyone uses Quicksilver in their own way. I personally only really use it as a app launcher. What I LOVE about it, is that I can now completely clear my dock of clutter. I have NOTHING permanently on dock. This means only running applications are on there, which makes switching between them much easier, I don’t have any wasted space, and when it comes to dragging things onto dock icons (Transmit for example) there’s no searching for the right icon.

    LOVE IT.

  8. Roger, at first I didn’t quite ‘get it’ with Quicksilver either but after a while I became so addicted to it that I have exactly the same feeling that Steve has. When I have to work on a Mac that doesn’t have it installed it feels like the machine is completely crippled. It almost feels unusable.

    Now of course Spotlight was introduced with Tiger with which you can also launch apps but it feels very sluggish compared to the insane speed of Quicksilver. Spotlight and Quicksilver are great companions that fill eachothers gaps in terms of functionality very well.

  9. BBEdit
    Carbon Copy Cloner
    Chicken of the VNC + OSXvnc combo
    WindowShade - I have always rejected the UI of minimizing.

    Those I hang onto that are no longer being developed, not finding any that beat them:

    PTHPasteboard - Future developement promised, use keyboard shortcut (command-comma) to access preferences.
    Notes - Always checking out alternatives, still my favorite.

  10. September 12, 2005 by Adrian Bengtson

    Does BBEdit count as shareware? Then it should be on my list, of course. An app I’d like to have on my list is Personal Organizer if Chronos ever were to update it.

    About Quicksilver: I’ve used mac since System 6 days and I’ve tried a lot of launchers and apps like that and no one ever got to me - until Quicksilver. As Adam Thody wrote it nice to have a clean Dock. But what I like most about it is the ability to easy launch those seldom used apps, like those from Apple. Like Bluetooth File Exchange or AirPort Setup Assistance. Those apps would never be on my Dock anyway. And now they’re just a few characters away.

    I also like how Quicksilver learns my needs. If I want to launch VLC I just have to type “v” and VLC would be the first choice since that was what I chose the last time I wrote “v”.

  11. Adam Thody hits it right on - everyone uses quicksilver to their own level. I know people that write entire emails in quicksilver (granted, they’re pretty short emails, but still…). I use Quicksilver as a quick way of accessing applications - I try to keep the dock uncluttered and quicksilver helps with that.

    Also, re: how it’s hard to get used to using a launcher : I think it’s easier for people with laptops (that aren’t in a position to use an external keyboard and mouse ) to get hooked on launchers because that darn trackpad is a pain to mouse around on, so if you can keep your hands on the keyboard instead of having to go between the trackpad and the keyboard, quicksilver helps so much that you get addicted to it. - Or at least that was my situation. (do note that I’m now happily with a laser mouse and a bluetooth keyboard, but I still am addicted to Quicksilver.

  12. September 12, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Ok, ok, I’ll give Quicksilver another try :-).

  13. Roger, You should try catalog because it looks so much nicer then DiskTracker. It may not have all the features yet but for 1.0 version it is a great start. It is a real cocoa app btw.

  14. Jimmy, a great new Bittorrent client for mac is Bits on Wheels. It’s a full featured client with all the bells and whistles you’d want. You can get it here http://www.bitsonwheels.com/

  15. Being fairly new to macs and being a Windows only developer in the past, definately makes my list a “Beta list” but I do get a chance to really test out my apps and see what works best. My list:

    1. Audium: I wished windoz had something as good.

    2. Sidenote: I like VoodooPad, but I have found sidenote to be easier for me to just slap my ideas down on and go on with life/work. Very intuitive for an ex-win user.

    3. skEdit: (Dev Editor)There is nothing like this in the windows society. nothing even close. I love this app and I really love that it is actively updated.

    4. CyberDuck FTP. I have found this app to be very easy to use and has some really core things that make me happy…. for example: The transfer queue allows you to re-transfer the same files with one click of the button. So when I want to transfer selected files alot (development) then I can without selecting them all again. Almost like making your own FTP snippet.

    5. Font Sampler: I did a side-by side comparison of most freeware font viewers out there and this one came out on top by far. Viewing is instantaneous, which is great consideriing I dont want to wait to see my fonts. It has all the options within plain view and they are intuitive. One of my Favs.

    6. Kronos: (meeting/time management util) This is good for contractors that keep hourly rates of their time. Works great and can be used for many meetings at one time. When U hide it.. there is a small control panel on the top toolbar of OSX

    7. X-shelf (File Manager util) I am still not used to the windows way of doing things.. so this app makes life a bit easier on me for now. I can move files to it for holding and then move them to a new location very easliy. Good app.

    I guess there are others that I could put on my list, but I dont think I have tried them long enough to really say if they are good or not yet. Some of the apps I am checking out. Chicken of the vnc, audio hijack, macTheRipper, MenuCalendarClockiCal, OnyX

  16. Not having spent much time on a Mac in a while I can’t name 10 current favourite app’s, but I’m surprised not to see Graphic Converter on someone’s list. The power & versatility you get for the shareware price are unmatched by anything in the PC world unless your paying at least several times as much.

    1. Safari
    2. Firefox
    3. Mail
    4. TextWrangler
    5. Transmit
    6. Photoshop CS2
    7. iPhoto
    8. iTunes
    9. iCal
    10. BitTorrent (oopz I shouldn’t said that one..)
  17. September 14, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Chantal: Most of the apps you mention are either commercial or bundled with new Macs ;-).

    My list would have looked quite different if I could have included applications in those categories. Safari, iTunes and Apple Mail would have been on it for sure.

  18. could anyone tell me where i can find “kronos” that Dave Gregory has mentioned?


  19. SubEthaEdit. Great text editor I use for all my coding.

    Bookit. Bookmark manager

    Transmit. FTP

    Hogbay Note Book. Crap name Great app.

    NetNewsWire. News thingy.

    FireFox. For web dev only. (developer tool bar plugin is great)




    And all the things beginning with “i”

    1. Firefox
    2. SubEthaEdit (http://www.codingmonkeys.de/subethaedit/)
    3. Cyberduck (http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/internet_utilities/cyberduck.html)
    4. SnapNDrag (http://www.yellowmug.com/snapndrag/)
    5. GraphicConverter (http://www.lemkesoft.com/en/graphcon.htm)
    6. NeoOffice/J (http://www.planamesa.com/neojava/en/index.php)
    7. Gimp (http://www.macgimp.org/)
    8. Eclipse (http://developer.apple.com/tools/eclipse.html)
    9. OtherTime (http://www.pixture.com/macosx.php)
    10. iTerm (http://iterm.sourceforge.net/)
    1. LaunchBar
    2. DevonThink
    3. YummyFTP
    4. NetNewsWire
    5. Opera 8.5
    6. Unison
    7. Web Confidential
    8. VLC
    9. CD Finder
    10. File Buddy
    • jEdit blows bbedit out of the water. Java-based but fast and stable, with great plug-in architecture.
    • Safari Stand and Saft if you count plug-ins as shareware (available at pimp my safari)
  20. For you kids that mention CyberDuck and other FTP clients, have you tried Transmit? I am old school, and have always used Fetch or, on win32, WS_FTP or CuteFTP. I stuck by Fetch for a while since I, well, don’t like to pay for anything… but I shelled out the $30 for Transmit because it is, in my opinion, the best GUI-based FTP client ever created on any platform. The UI cues and other features make Transmit a joy to use.

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