Best Freeware Apps for Mac Users
Below are essential free applications for
OS X. Keep these apps handy on a CD or DVD for the next time you do a clean
installótheyíre that good. Where possible, weíve checked for Leopard
compliance. For more resources, make sure to check out the Mac
This single key launch application creates a
catalog of frequently performed searches and tasks. Assign shortcut keys to
frequently performed actions and frequently opened files, folders and
applications. Itís more than Spotlight (the live search feature built into OS X
since 10.4) on steroids. Itís like a mini-Finder and Spotlight in one.
Some users even report that it works faster than Spotlight. A December
2007 Lifehacker interview revealed that the current developer does not have
plans to take Quicksilver much further, but since the program is open source,
anyone can ride to the rescue. For now though, you can head to Blacktree, and download the latest
iChat is a great way for Mac users to use
AIM, but iChat gets a little hairier to use with Google Talk, MSN Messenger or
other chat networks. Adium is the best IM
tool available. Enabling iChat for non-AIM protocols generally requires
registering for a free account at open source chat provider Jabber.org. Adium connects to
AIM as well as Google Talk, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber and many other
protocols. Its all-in-one interface allows for tabbed chats in one window,
smooth screename switching capabilities and skinned chatting. Currently,
iChatís primary advantage over Adium is its well-integrated video chatting, but
chatting plug-in has recently been introduced for Adium as well. If you're
not convinced, check the instant
messaging category - you are sure to find one that suits your needs.
Flip4Mac WMV Player (Quicktime Codec)
Plenty of thoughtless, backward media
creators still build their content in Windows-only formats like WMV and WMA. Officially
supported by Microsoft, Flip4Mac
WMV Player lets Apple QuickTime play those formats. However, if you want to
convert from those file formats to something more Mac-friendly, youíll need to
spring for Flip4Mac Player Pro ($29) or Studio ($49). Player Pro allows WMAs
and WMVs to be imported into QuickTime so that they can be converted, while
Studio has a built-in converter.
If you ever do any coding of any kind, check
The baby brother of pro text editor BBEdit, TextWrangler checks your code as
you type in languages including ANSI C, C++, HTML/XHTML, Fortran, Java,
shell scripts, and XML.
The open source app Gimp allows both single image retouching a la
Photoshop and batch image processing a la Photoshop Elements. The full-featured
interface, which supports tablet input devices and saves in a variety of
formats, offers a compelling alternative to the Adobe products. Plug-ins
abound, and the user community is active and vocal.
Sorry Firefox, but Opera is the best browser out there. If you want an alterative to 64-bit Safari then Opera is the way to go. Safari is now in 64-bit mode, but it still feels awkward. The new Opera runs circles around Firefox...it is that fast...and now has a spell checker. Opera has always been the primary innovator in the browser wars and now it may be the king of the browser speed tests.
offers the greatest versatility for Mac users. Azureusís documentation offers
in-depth info on maximizing connection speed, and its advanced settings allow
users to customize their network settings. With a rich Wiki and active user
community, Azureus beats the BitTorrent application hands down. And of course,
youíre only trading legal P2P materials, right? Right!
StuffIt Expander is often pre-installed on new Macs, so itís easy to forget that itís not
actually part of OS X. The Mac equivalent of WinZip, StuffIt Expander extracts
.zip, .rar, and .sit files. The app is essential for opening downloaded files,
which are usually compressed.
Convert video files into an iPod or
TV-friendly format with iSquint, a free
alternative to QuickTime Pro. This drag-and-drop mini-app works with various
video formats including .mov, .mp4, .avi, .mpg, .wmv, .flv, and .m4v. Help
documentation is nonexistent, but the simple application is unlikely to
Carbon Copy Cloner
Before Time Machine, there was Carbon Copy Cloner, a
donation-ware backup utility. For creating bootable backups, Carbon Copy Cloner
still rules; Time Machine lacks that crucial ability. Time Machine may someday
get the bootable backup feature, but for now, take the advice of
user First Magus in the Apple Support forums: ďI still use CCC to make a
main back up once a month that is stored off site. For day to day I use Time
GeekTool embeds file
content, web text and web images in the desktop. To select content, open the
GeekTool pane in System Preferences, and specify update frequency. GeekTool
also embeds shell-command output in the desktop; For n00bs out there, that
means that you can keep Terminal commands running in the background at all
times directly on the desktop wallpaper. As Macworld explains, ďAs events occur
on your Mac, the system log will update live on your desktop.Ē The screenshot
below demonstrates live updating of web traffic stats embedded on the desktop.
MenuMeters keeps system stats like CPU,
memory, network and disk activity in the upper-righthand system menu. Click the
menu bar stats for a fuller report in a drop-down menu. Below is a sample of a
fully loaded MenuMeters bar. Grab a copy here.
OS Xís built-in disk burning utility does the
trick for basic system files, and iTunes handles mp3 and audio CDs. For fancier
options, like VCD, SVCD, DVD and DivX disks, try Burn. With its simple drag-and-drop
interface, Burn is a great freeware alternative to Roxio Toast. Note: Burnís
release notes say, ďfor 10.3.9 or later.Ē We had no trouble encoding and burning
a DVD in Leopard.
Use Neo Office if you donít want to shell out
for word processing
software, or if youíre inclined to think of Microsoft as an evil empire.
Neo Office incorporates native OS X features like the spell-checking dictionary
to enhance the open source Open Office software that itís built on. Neo Office Opens Microsoft Word, Excel and
PowerPoint files, and runs Excel macros, just to name a few features.
What can you play with cross-platform
multimedia player VLC? What CANíT
you play is the better question. Long popular as a choice for video geeks due
to its versatility, VLC wonít play RealAudio or Video files on any of its six
(six!) platforms, and wonít accept DVB input in any system but Linux. With few exceptions,
if it exists, VLC will play it.
You can find all of these and more Mac resources at BOTW's Mac OS category. In addition, you can find a vast collection of programming, software, hardware and internet resources. If
you're looking for it, we've got you covered.
16. Leopard CacheCleaner
Maintainenance: Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner is a one stop solution for all of your OS X maintenance needs. Intel or PPC, Panther or Snow Leopard, sLCC has the tools to keep your system running at its best. sLCC Documents and the sLCC Engine maintain system health by providing full automation of common maintenance chores including virus scanning of internet downloads. The sLCC Engine can even repair permissions automatically after software installations. With the sLCC Engine, powerful system maintenance and antivirus can be completely transparent or as close as your menu bar. Many more features.