The most important software you will run on your Mac is Mac OS X itself. It is critical that you update your OS (Operating System) on a regular basis using “Software Update”. Software updates released by Apple provide security fixes, application updates and miscellaneous Mac OS X improvements. These various updates are extremely important to the long-term health of your Mac and should be installed as they are released. This will protect your Mac from potential security threats and/or software vulnerabilities.
Keep in mind that in this article I am going to list, what I think is, the best Mac software for every occasion (with a personal bias towards open-source software). There are alternatives to each and every piece of Mac software that I talk about (some of which I will list) but none I would choose over these excellent software titles for Mac OS X.
On to the software …
Little Snitch is a security application for Mac users, developed and distributed by Objective Development. This software with a very unique name covers a specific need for your Mac. Little Sntich is to outgoing connections what a Firewall is to incoming connections. With a firewall and Little Snitch installed not only will you have full control of who is connecting externally to your system but also what local programs are trying to establish an outbound connection.
- Protect your privacy
- Define whom you trust
- Keep an eye on your traffic
$29.95 [1 Mac]
avast! Antivirus Mac Edition
avast! Mac Edition is an antivirus solution for Apple Macintosh machines running Mac OS X. It is based on a central virus-scanning daemon and includes a mail scanner, an on-demand scanner and an on-access scanner all controlled through a simple user interface. Although designed as a solution for individual desktops, and priced accordingly, the level of performance is closer to that normally delivered by server antivirus software.
- Full on-access scanning
- User friendly interface
- Automatic updates
- Integrated email protection
- Power PC and Intel supported
- Simple installation
$39.95 [1 Year subscription]
TrashME is a Mac Uninstaller developed and offered for free by JIBAPPS. TrashME does an excellent job of finding and removing any files or directories left behind by Mac software you no longer use. These files and directories, over time, can take up a significant amount of space on your Mac and are often overlooked by other Mac OS X uninstallers. TrashME is easy to use, locates and removes leftover files and offers you a full list of installed applications on your Mac.
- Easy to use
- Locates and removes leftover files
- Offers a full list of installed applications
SuperDuper is a backup program that allows you to create a bootable clone of any hard disk attached to your Mac. This clone can be used to boot your Mac if it was a clone of your boot drive or simply contain an exact byte by byte copy of another drive for backup.
While Time Machine by Apple is an excellent backup tool for your Mac, SuperDuper is an essential part of a complete backup plan for your Mac and compliments Time Machine perfectly.
Online Backup Tools
CrashPlan is an online backup solution and in this day and age online or cloud based backup of your Mac’s files should be a major step in your Mac backup scheme. Storing a copy of your most important files off-site protects your files should disaster strike locally. Many users make the mistake of storing all their backups at the same location, and should a disaster strike (like a fire), they lose every copy of their data. Multiple copies of your important files in the same location will protect you from file corruption or hardware failure only. Keep a copy of your files online using Crashplan and should the unthinkable happen, your Mac’s files are still protected.
$54/year [unlimited personal backup]
Other top-notch online backup providers include DropBox, Mozy and JungleDisk.
Chrome by Google is one of the fastest web browsers on the market today offering an extension database almost as impressive as Firefox. If you are an avid user of your Google account (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Bookmarks, etc) and want a browser that rivals Safari in speed, Google Chrome for Mac is the browser for you. Fans of open source software will love the open source version of the Google Chrome browser, Chromium. Chromium is basically Google Chrome without the Chrome branding and includes most options Chrome includes while keeping the software open source.
Alternative Mac web browsers include Safari, Firefox and Opera.
Instant Messenger Client
I personally stick to using iChat on my Mac because it meets all my personal needs and integrates perfectly with Mac OS X applications like Mail and iPhoto. iChat supports Google Talk, AIM, MobileME, Mac.com, any service that uses the Jabber protocol as well as video chats. If you need support for other protocols like ICQ and MSN a great alternative to Apple’s iChat is Pidgin.
Free, Included with Mac OS X
Apple’s mail app ships with Mac OS X and offers rules, mail filters and smart folders. This application integrates perfectly with other Apple software and is very easy to use.
Included with Mac OS X
A great alternative to Apple’s mail app is Mozilla Thunderbird. Have a look if the included mail app doesn’t meet your needs.
utorrent is a fantastic bittorrent client and my choice regardless of what OS (Operating System) I’m running, even Linux. I personally get the best speeds and the most features from using utorrent and its tiny memory footprint is a major plus.
Other fantastic Mac BitTorrent Clients include Transmission and Vuze.
Max is an application for creating high-quality audio files in various formats, from compact discs or files. I personally use this Mac audio tool to rip audio compact disks and convert .flac to Apple lossless. A must have audio tool for any Mac audiophile.
HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. Handbrake is the best open-source video converter you will find. Rip DVD’s with the help of VLC media player, convert video files to iPod, AppleTV or any number of other formats easily, Handbrake for Mac does it all.
Perian allows you to play almost any video format in Apple Quicktime. The self-proclaimed “Swiss Army Knife for Quicktime” is a must have for any Mac system. Once installed you will be able to play AVI, DIVX, FLV, MKV, GVI, VP6, and VFW files on your Mac.
Flip4Mac is a must have for any recent convert from Windows or Mac user who still needs to be able to play Windows media files (audio and video). Flip4Mac once installed allows Quicktime to import, export and play any audio or video file encoded with the Windows media codecs.
As a Mac user your multimedia player of choice is probably iTunes. iTunes (on Mac) is an excellent media player and with the above codecs installed (perian and flip4mac) you will be able to import and play many popular file formats. Combine this with the fact that iTunes is an essential tool if you own an iPod, iPod touch, iPhone or iPad and the choice of the best multimedia player on the Mac platform is a no brainer.
Included with Mac OS X
Photo Managers and Editors
iPhoto, and its big brother Aperture, are the premier photo management applications on Mac OS X. Included in the iLife package, iPhoto will meet the needs of most amateur photographers. For professional photographers who need a little more power, Aperture is the way to go.
Included with the iLife package
A top-notch alternative to iPhoto is Google Picasa. If for some reason you are unable to obtain a copy of iPhoto or just don’t like it you really can’t go wrong with the Mac version of Picasa.
iWork is the perfect office suite for any Mac user. iWork is by far the easiest way to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations on a Mac. Pages, numbers and keynote are well designed programs that integrate seamlessly with the Mac OS X OS (Operating System) while still maintaining compatibility with the Microsoft Office suite of programs.
Included with the iWork package
Other Must-Have Mac Software
A Better Finder Rename
A Better Finder Rename is a batch file rename application for Mac. Simple, easy to use and does exactly what it was designed to do. Simple software that does exactly what it was designed to do. My kind of Mac software.
$19.95 (Single User)
Android smartphone user on Mac? This is the program for you. iTuneMyWalkman is an open source application that will help you synchronize the contents of iTunes playlists to your mobile phone or other portable device.
CandyBar is used to customize the Mac OS X dock and icons. CandyBar makes this process as simple as possible and the program works well. Add a personal touch to your Mac OS X desktop with CandyBar from Panic.
Google Notifier is a simple application released by Google that allows you to keep track of incoming mail and upcoming calendar events from your Google account. Google Notifier for Mac sits in your menu bar and does what it was designed to do with no fuss.
Spanning Sync will sync your iCal with Google Calendar and Address Book with Google Contacts. Great for the Mac user who uses an Android phone. A must have for users of any non-Apple smartphone.
Evernote is the best note taking application available for the Mac (and all other platforms). I use this software everyday and it has become an important part of my workflow. I take notes, make grocery lists, clip interesting websites and much more with Evernote for Mac. Give it a try, you won’t regret it!
There you have it folks. My personal list of top Mac Software from beginning to end. I hope you’ve found at least one new Mac program to make your life easier. Have your own list of top software for Mac OS X? Let us know in the comments section below!
- Author’s own experience.
- [Information] Taken from the official websites of the applications listed.