Recently made the switch to a Mac but have no clue what applications to install? Thanks to The Mac App Store, it is easier now to discover the coolest apps around, eliminating the need to search painstakingly through the interwebs for that “killer” app. Whether you consider yourself a power user or just a mere mortal, I’m sure you’ll find something on this list that will meet your needs.
Alfred – Productivity for the rest of us
Alfred makes it incredibly easy to locate and open files, folders, applications on your computer. Sounds a bit like Spotlight right? Alfred is different. You can trigger the app using a global shortcut key and search for practically anything with just a few simple keystrokes, saving you time and making you more productive. Alfred does far more than let you search for stuff on your computer. You can also perform quick web searches on sites like Google, Amazon, and Twitter and even create your own custom search options.
Alfred can be downloaded for free from the Mac App Store, but also includes a Power Pack for about $20 which offers far more functionality including a file managing system, clipboard history, and iTunes player.
Adium – A versatile instant messaging client
Apple’s built-in iChat is sufficient for most users, but Adium is also worth looking into. Adium is an instant messaging client that supports numerous services including from AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Jabber, and even Facebook chat. In addition, you can also engage in multiple IM conversations effortlessly thanks to a tabbed interface which makes it easy to quickly switch to different sessions. Adium also has extensive customization options with Xtras, where you can add new sounds, icons, and themes.
1Password – Password Manager
If you’ve ever reused a password before, you’re not alone. Despite the benefit of easy recall, reusing passwords is a terrible idea. I don’t need to explain why; it’s like telling a cigarette addict that smoking is deadly. If you ask ten different people for advice on how to manage your passwords, you’ll likely receive ten different answers. Password protection is a flawed system but it can work for the most part. I believe that the most secure password is the one you don’t know. This seemingly outrageous advice is made possible thanks to 1Password.
1Password is a password manager that lets you save all of your login credentials for user accounts, which can be unlocked via a single master password which you have to remember. I currently have over 200 passwords being stored in the app, any of which I can retrieve by entering my master password. Because memorizing them isn’t necessary, my passwords are at least 30 characters long, a combination of numbers, random characters, and upper/lower-case letters.
1Password offers extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, where a simple global hotkey gives you immediate access to your entire password collection. 1Password Pro is one of the few apps worth paying for. Who likes clicking the “Forgot your password?” link? Not me.
Clipmenu – Clipboard manager
Imagine you are writing a blog post (hey, that’s me!) and want to link to several articles in your post. After copying the link to one news article, you switch back to your blog post, and paste the link. You repeat the process until you’ve finished. The constant tab switching consumes lots of time as you’re stuck with only one item in your clipboard.
Clipmenu solves that problem, allowing you to easily access your clipboard history using a simple shortcut key. So, instead of switching back to your tab to copy that link, you can just call up Clipmenu and paste in any previously saved items to your clipboard. Clipmenu also has a snippet repository where you can store and easily retrieve frequently used text like your email address, website, or email signature.
Cinch – Take control of your screen’s real estate
If there’s one app on this list that I truly can’t live without, Cinch is it(Read my full review here). Cinch lets you manage your windows to take advantage of the maximum amount of space on your screen.
Do you find yourself often clicking that green plus icon on the top left of their windows to maximize the screen? With Cinch, the app take a more intuitive approach by using your mouse to drag windows to any edge of your screen to occupy a particular region of your screen. So for instance, if you want Chrome and Finder sitting side-by-side on the same screen, just drag one to the right edge and the other the left edge. Release your mouse, and the window will resize itself and fill up one side of the screen. Sounds simple, but for those with 11 or 13-inch Mac’s, you got to try Cinch.
Prey – Track your lost/stolen Mac
It’s true that Apple computers are expensive, thus, making it a prime target for many thieves. An open-source application called Prey has made headlines with stories of victims who were able to recover their lost computer using the app. With Prey, you can track your Mac if it is ever stolen or lost. Prey records an array of information of your lost laptop, including:
- a picture of the thief using the computer’s webcam
- desktop screenshots
- a history of modified files
- a list of running programs
Did I mention that Prey is open-source software and thus free to download?
A warning to those expecting Prey to completely prevent your Mac from being stolen: Prey can only work its magic if the thief has logged onto your computer and is connected to the Internet. What’s worse, if your thief is smart enough to format your hard drive before daring to use your beloved Mac, Prey can’t save your day.
Growl – Notifications done right
Growl is a notifications system for your Mac that provides useful information from applications you are running. Many apps like Adium and Firefox integrate with Growl to notify you when a certain task has been completed. For example, Adium displays a Growl notification when you receive a new message. That way, you never have to constantly check back and forth waiting for a response. Just check when something changes. Many Mac applications support Growl, including Hazel, Firefox, VLC, and even apps on this list. Check out the complete list here.
Yes, Growl doesn’t exactly fit the traditional definition of an app since it’s installed as a preference pane. According to the developer, Growl will soon going to make its way to the Mac App Store as an app.
Spotify – Any song straight to your computer
Spotify finally arrived in the United States recently, and the wait has been worth it. The app gives you access to practically any song you can think of, and lets you stream it to your computer for free. Of course, you will have to listen to the occasional advertisement, but forking over $4.99 a month can remove them entirely. For twice that amount, you can access the entire music library offline.
Skitch – Screen capture utility
Skitch is my screen capture utility of choice primarily because of its annotation capabilities. IF you’re like me and often share screenshots, Skitch is definitely for you. The app also lets you easily perform basic image editing like resizing and cropping on the fly. Furthermore, you can share your screenshots with just one-click, to Skitch.com or even Twitter.
If you’re no longer satisfied with CMD+Shift+3, Skitch is your next best option. Thanks to its recent acquisition by Evernote, Skitch carries the sexiest price tag on the Internet: free.
Flux – Save your eyes
I was skeptical at first when I heard about Flux, which is an app that adjusts the color of your screen based on the time of the day. During the day, your computer’s screen mimics the sunlight, but at night it should adapt to your room’s lighting. The result is something that turns your screen into this:
I’ve been using Flux for several months now, and while it certainly has miraculously bestowed upon me perfect vision, I experience less eye fatigue late at night when I’m on my computer. For the night owls out there, try out Flux for yourself.
Find anything useful? I certainly hope so. Let me know what your favorite Mac apps are in the comments section below!