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Great OSX Apps '08


On my Dock

  • Firefox (Finally replacing Camino) - I have long been a Camino fan.  With version 3.0, Firefox is finally close enough to Mac native for me to make the extensions more valuable to me than Camino's outstanding UI.  Firefox still isn't quite as pretty as Camino, but 3.0 is compelling.  The memory and performance improvements with this version are outstanding
  • Thunderbird - Mozilla's now famous mail client. It's still my favourite mail program on any platform.  Apple's Mail.app in Leopard is pretty good, but Thunderbird's IMAP implementation is second to none.  Look for better calendar integration and tabs in Thunderbird 3.0.
  • iTerm - A terminal emulator that is _far_ better than Apple's Terminal.app. Tabs and more set iTerm apart as the best terminal emulator for the platform.  Yes, Leopard's Terminal.app now has tabs and is less-bad than before, but iTerm still takes the cake.
  • iTunes - Apple's famous music program. Yes, it's that good.  (Even with the UI oddities and bulk.)
  • TextEdit - Apple's lightweight word processor/text editor that is bundled with Mac OSX. Don't dismiss it as a Notepad/Wordpad mix. It's actually a surprisingly capable application. Source code is included with Xcode.  The version in Leopard even understands .ODT files.
  • Coda - The best web development tool I've ever used.  It's $80 and is worth every penny if you maintain multiple sites and like to edit live.  It is fantastic.  It is the number one Mac application for me.  I wish there was a Linux version.  I can't say enough about Coda.  It works the way I do.
  • NeoOffice - A Mac-native version of OpenOffice.org. This full-featured office suite offers most of the features found in Microsoft Office along with many bonuses, such as a very capable drawing program. Now at version 2.24, NeoOffice uses the OpenDocument file format and is now an Aqua application, with native file dialogs and all. A great, free, Open Source office suite.  OpenOffice.org 3.0, currently in Beta, will be Mac-native.  This may eventually mean that people stop using NeoOffice.  However, I used Camino for years after Firefox was ported to the Mac.  I expect that NeoOffice will have a similar lifespan.  Sun has made great progress with OOo and I welcome their upcoming native version, but for now, NeoOffice is still the undisputed king of Open Source Mac office suites
  • Bean - What AbiWord for the Mac should be.  A very small, light and capable word processor for Mac based originally on TextEdit.  It's Open Source, is being aggressively developed, and uses .rtf as a file format, so files are very compatible with other word processors.
  • VNC Dimension - A VNC viewer that works properly with Apple's Remote Desktop protocol.
  • HandBrake - Easy to use video transcoder (originally written for BeOS!)
  • NX Client - Very compressed X11 sessions
  • iCal/Address Book - Apple's calendar and address book programs.  I like Sunbird/Lightning/Thunderbird better, but the system integration of these built-in applications is tough to beat.
  • VMWare Fusion - Run other OSs at near native speed.  I've been using VMWare since before 1.0.  Fusion is the most usable release and is the only compelling Intel-only app I've found.  It's pretty mush the only reason I haven't traded my MacBook back for my old PowerBook.  (Well, that and the fantastic HP Mini-note that is my main laptop these days.)

Login Items

  • Between Spaces and the improved Spotlight in Leopard, I'm down to just Missing Sync for the BlackBerry!

Great Applications

  • OmniGraffle - A fantastic drawing tool.  Very versatile.  It was the first Mac-only app that I started to count on.  It's fantastic and is unparalleled.
  • TimeMachine - Part of Leopard.  Finally, backups done right.  (And simply, too!)
  • Spaces - Part of Leopard.  It's just virtual desktops but I admit that I miss the F8 key when working with other operating systems.
  • CyberDuck - The best SFTP/FTP/SSH client. After Konqueror.
  • Frozen Bubble - Very addictive Open Source game
  • NX Client - Very compressed X11 sessions
  • Gimp.app - The best port of The Gimp for OSX. Requires X11
  • HandBrake - Easy to use video transcoder (originally written for BeOS!)
  • Audacity - A great cross-platform multi-track sound editor
  • VLC - Videolan Client is the best audio/video player for any platform
  • Democracy TV - Hailed as the "free and open source internet TV platform," Democracy TV is a bit like iTunes for video that only focuses on the fringe rather than mainstream media. Video blogs, RSS feeds, Torrents, you name it. Democracy TV can find and play almost anything.

Things to watch for in 2009

  • Songbird - A Mozilla-view of music. A bit like Democracy TV for sound files and potentially a strong iTunes rival.
  • Sunbird - Mozilla's view of calendering. (Also available as a Thunderbird plug-in called Lightning.)
  • MacFuse and MacFusion - A Google-sponsored port from Linux that allows users to mount SSH/FTP/NTFS etc. filesystems as though they were native. Maybe FUSE and SSH will finally bring *nix users a viable alternative to NFS.  Now used in VMWare Fusion.