My Mac Software Kit

“What do you use for doing [task] on your Mac?”

It’s a question that comes up, if not often, then with some degree of regularity. It’s also a question I ask fellow Mac users, in the hopes of either a) confirming I’m using the best tool for the job, or b) learning about something new I should try.

Under the assumption there are others out there who do the same, I humbly present the list of applications I find most useful (excluding those every Mac ships with):


XMarks: Keeps bookmarks synced across platforms and browsers. I can bookmark something in Webkit on my iMac and it’ll show up in my favorites in IE8 on my MacBook’s Win7.

Dropbox: The best cloud storage/file sharing tool ever. Totally seamless with different OSes. Works great for everything from design files to 1Password’s keychain.

1Password: Stores usernames, passwords, personal info, and credit card details for near every webform out there, including multiple accounts on the same site. Only wish is that it were cross-platform.

Webkit: It’s the guts underlying Safari, but more open source and current (updated nightly). I use it strictly because I’ve found its Web Inspector to be superior to Safari’s, or Firebug, or anything else for reverse engineering html/css.

Adium: I hate the default UI and so have installed various Xtras to make it more like iChat. But it has better support for multiple accounts and services (including Facebook).

Transmit: Got to be the best FTP client for the Mac.

Twitterrific: I’m not convinced this is the best desktop Twitter client out there (in fact I strongly suspect it’s not), but it’s what I use  — despite never knowing how to spell it.

Design/Web Development

Coda: A nice, lean integrated development environment for web developers. Nicely integrates FTP, SVN, browser previews, etc.

BBEdit: I spend almost all my time in Coda nowadays, but BBEdit does a few things Coda doesn’t that I sometimes need: code folding, formatting/indenting, and superior grep interface.

Adobe CS4: Expensive bloatware (nearly rivalling Microsoft Office in that regard), but vital for my line of work. Mostly I use Photoshop for web design, and InDesign for print. Keep meaning to learn Flash.

FontExplorer X Pro: Lame name, but when you have around 3000 fonts floating around, Apple’s Font Book just won’t cut it. FEPX makes dealing with so many fonts more manageable.

Aperture: iPhoto is actually fabulous software for photo organizing and editing, but I’m serious enough that I need a bit more power. Aperture competes directly with Adobe’s Lightroom and is probably losing that competition, but it’s the horse I picked so I’m not about to switch. I run the FlickrExport plugin to facilitate uploading.

OmniGraffle: Illustrator is great for artwork, but it’s bad for rapidly developing outlines, sitemaps, wireframes, flow charts, etc. For that, OmniGraffle is the way to go.

General Productivity

MS Office: I know there are free altenatives out there, but last time I tried, none of them quite did it for me. Fortunately I don’t need Word or Excel all that often. (Note that I don’t have Apple’s iWork suite.)

Quicksilver: I use it most for app launching, though it can be useful for about a zillion things. This is the single piece of software I most miss when trying to use someone else’s machine.

MenuCalendarClock (for iCal): Replaces Apple’s menubar day/time display with a more useful dropdown calendar that shows what’s on your iCal calendar(s) at just a glance. Even understands shared Exchange calendars iCal loads.

Meteorologist: Handy utility for showing the weather in the menubar, with support for tracking multiple locations. At least, it was handy until it stopped fetching data about a month ago (which I suspect is’s fault).

VMWare Fusion: I’ve used both this and Parallels in the last few years, and I have a slight preference for Fusion because of the way it handles cross-OS app stuff (read: I can send a URL from Coda straight to PC browser).

OfficeTime: There’s a pretty competitive marketplace out there for invoicing/time tracking software for freelancers. OfficeTime does a a number of fancy things but mainly I just use the menubar stopwatch for time tracking.

Misc. Utilities

OnyX and TechTool Pro: Very different apps, but both are handy for keeping things running smoothly.

Snapz Pro X: A nice screen capture tool. There are quite likely better ones out there these days, but I bought this years ago and haven’t felt a need to change.

SpamSieve: Better junk mail filter than what comes with. At least, it sure seems that way to me. Works with nearly every MacOS email client.

Perian and Flip4Mac player: Tools for getting codecs not natively supported by QT/MacOS to play without needed to run VLC, Wndows Media Player, etc. Don’t really need ‘em that often, but when I do…

Growl: Unobtrusive system notifier; best way to know what’s happening. Really ought to be a part of the OS, would encourage more developers (including Apple and Adobe) to utilize it.

PandoraJam: If you spend time listening to Pandora on your Mac, you need to get PandoraJam so that the music stream isn’t handled by the same process as your other web browsing. That’s all PandoraJam is.

That’s it for the major non-Apple stuff. I have a few other tools I like (SlimBatteryMonitor, Synergy, MP3 Trimmer, GrandPerspective, Handbrake, Sequel Pro, Secrets, Airfoil) but I use them rarely or find them handy but not particularly essential.

So, Mac folk… what do you use? Any glaring omissions from my list? Better alternatives?

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