Essential MAC Utilities for the Road Warrior

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I own my own training and consulting company and have changed over to a Mac from a PC just a few years ago. I conduct a lot of presentations and write a lot of plans. (You can see more about what I do here: I also do subcontract work for the DoD and DHS, both of which are intrinsically Windows operations. Many people have wanted to know how I can stay in sync with these computers and what it is like to be a Mac user in a very Windows-dominated field.

First, I let people know that the Mac is so much more compatible then it used to be with Windows. Also, everything I need to work on documents or a PDF file comes with the computer already! I used Office for awhile but had so much trouble with it I decided to go with iWork And this has made all the difference in the world!

First let me tell you what I am packing. I use an 80 Gig MackBook Air. I am running the latest version of Leopard. The MBAir is so great for traveling, I protect it with a SPECK clear hard shell, but I am considering an invisible shield for it. (I have one on my iPhone and love it) The MBAir weighs just over 3 lbs. so lugging it around is a breeze. In fact I forget I have it at times and have to stop to check if it is still with me!

Since I have limited hard drive space, programs are a premium commodity for me. As I have already said I don’t use Office anymore since it is a big and clunky program suite. I use and LOVE iWork! Pages is, for me, a great word processor. I use it for all of my writing, proposals, fliers, white papers, even my business cards. I am not a power spreadsheet user, but I do have to use them quite a lot. Numbers has been fantastic for me. I use it for my billing and for other projects as well. But the program that gets the most use from me is Keynote. I have been using Powerpoint for some time now and wow, Keynote is such a breath of fresh air! It is so easy to use and has really helped me to stake a claim and presentations. What is really nice about iWork is that it natively opens Office documents and presentations without any trouble. Also I can export a Keynote presentation or Pages paper to a Powerpoint or Word document respectively. And the receiving party has no idea it was not done with MS Office….well, except it looks a lot better!

I use Mail for my email and the iLife suite for all it is used for. I also have an iPhone, (I told you I am an all Mac shop now!)

Other programs I use consist of Lojack for Laptop, which is an invisible program that can help you find a lost or stolen lap top. I use Cocktail to help with some house cleaning, I am trying out a few other programs for this as well. I have Pixelmator for any image editing I need to do, which is not a lot. Cyberduck is for my FTP use. Efax messenger for receiving my faxes. Handbreak for converting DVDs for the iPhone. I use Skype and Tweet deck for staying connected with Twitter.

Two other programs I use as of just a few weeks ago are Things and Quicksilver. Things is a GTD program that is really easy to use and incredible! I highly recommend this program for your to-do and GTD (Getting Things Done) needs.

The last piece of software I have started to use that has had a really powerful impact on me is Quicksilver from Quicksilver is a launcher, but on super steroids! It does more then launch programs–it also can move files, browse for single contacts in Address Book, or a picture in iTunes without opening it. I can even append a document with out opening it! Quicksilver is an amazing little program and has really sped up my work. In fact I have hidden my dock and dont use it anymore! Quicksilver does so much I highly recommend downloading it and trying it out. The best thing is that it is free! I also use a few menu bar programs, Like Mail Unread menu to tell me how many unread messages I have, Weather dock and Menu Calendar Clock iCal, a small plug-in that shows the date and other items on the menu. I also use Ejector to eject drives form the menu bar instead of dragging them to the trash which is hidden.

I will write up something very soon on Quicksilver and go more in depth about it then. So there you have it–that is my operating system and what I use to perform all of my work for a Windows dominated world.