Mac Applications I Use Frequently

When I installed my 12-inch PowerBook, I made a list of the apps I installed. Ever since, I’ve kept this list up to date, adding new apps I’ve found and come to depend upon. Here it is:

  • QuickSilver (free), that app launcher that’s so much more than an app launcher. Besides launching apps, I use it to do web searches on Google, the Swedish National Encyclopedia, IMDb, and others; I use it to run snippets of AppleScript, do quick calculations, look up phone numbers in my address book, control iTunes, and many other things. I truly can’t imagine living without it.
  • Acquisition (free, but bugs you about donating, which I think you should do), a Gnutella client with an UI that I bet the UI people at Apple’s will be stealing ideas from. David Watanabe does things with the UI that I haven’t seen anywhere else, but yet they feel so native, like obvious additions to the Aqua vocabulary. This app is great for finding songs none of my friends have in their record collections. (I allow myself three evaluative listens before I have to kick them out of my iTunes library.)
  • PulpFiction (shareware, but there’s a free lite version), a feed reader, news reader, aggregator, or whatever you like to call it. It’s not perfect, but it’s the one that most closely matches my needs. I don’t care about the number of unread items I have; I don’t want to read everything in every feed. What I want is to read a little in spare moments – and at those times, I want to read stuff from my favorite weblogs, with a few random items sprinkled in for diversity. I achieve this with the help of PulpFiction’s filters and a little extra work. Some day I’ll write my own.
  • Audio Hijack Pro (shareware), an app I use for ripping audio from streams, so I can listen to them in my iPod. Up until yesterday, I used the non-Pro version, which rips to AIFF and then invokes iTunes to convert to MP3. This works fine, but requires a lot of disk space when ripping longer things. What’s great is that the price for upgrading is just USD 1.95 short of the price for the non-Pro version, so you can try the cheaper version to see if it suits your needs.
  • Tofu (free), a simple app that displays text in narrow columns, much like in a newspaper, which is great for reading longer pieces on-screen.
  • OmniGraffle Pro (commercial), a stunning diagramming app. Alongside David Watanabe, these guys are the best at UI design. Very innovative UI - a model Aqua citizen. I wish I got to draw more diagrams.
  • SubEthaEdit (free for non-commercial use), a collaborative text editor. I’ve never been a fan of text editors with lots of in-your-face functionality. I love Emacs because it’s simple in appearance, until you need to do more complicated things. I don’t like BBEdit, and I’m yet skeptic about TextMate. SubEthaEdit does what I expect. I don’t use the collaborative stuff that much, though.
  • Free Ruler (free), a screen ruler. Once in a while I need to measure things, and this app does the job brilliantly.
  • DVDBackup (free), a DVD backup utility. Once in a while, I rent a couple of DVDs and end up not watching some of them, so I copy them and watch them later. This app does the trick, and it can also remove the region restriction, so I won’t have to void the warranty of my PowerBook by flashing the DVD drive with a region-free firmware.
  • Azureus (free), a BitTorrent client. For downloading old Sopranos episodes. I’m not that happy about the look and feel, as this is a Java app, but it does the job and allows for per-file prioritization, and other nice things.
  • SideTrack (beta; will be shareware when it is released), enables unused functionality in the trackpad on PowerBooks. I have configured it to do vertical scroll in the right edge, horizontal scroll in the top edge; if I tap in the upper right corner, it activates the Exposé “All Windows” mode; lower right tap is mapped to right-click, so I easily can bring up context menus. Another app I’ve come to depend upon, and I’ll definitely pay for it when the beta period ends.
  • iPulse (shareware), a small monitor app that displays things such as battery charge, Airport signal, overall system load, network transfers, swaps, etc. The display might look cryptic at first, but it’s really intuitive and by just glancing at it you get an immediate picture of the state of your system.
  • OmniOutliner (commercial), an outline editor. Whenever I need to plan things, I like to do it in outline form. In the early stages of a project, I keep random notes in an outline, so I can shuffle things around, group them, and so on. I just wish I could paste images into it; I’m kind of surprised it doesn’t work.
  • Logorrhea (free), a search engine for archived iChat sessions. I store all my sessions, and frequently search the archives for things from past conversations. This app isn’t perfect, but fulfills my needs. Perhaps Spotlight will take care of this when Tiger comes.
  • VideoLAN Client (free), media viewer. Plays most video formats.
  • QuickTime codecs for DivX and 3ivx (free), for whenever I don’t want to bring up VLC.
  • Photoshop Elements (commercial), image editor. It came bundled with my Nikon digital camera. It does far more than my humble photo editing needs; I mostly do color correction, and scale down large images.
  • iScrobbler (free), for updating my AudioScrobbler page.
  • Growl (free), a notifier add-on. This small app can be invoked from other apps to display small notifications. PulpFiction supports it, for instance, so a few filters alert me aboute new items in a non-obtrusive way. Also, I’ve written an AppleScript that is invoked by a rule in Mail.app whenever I receive mail from people in my address book or in my list of previous recipients. I look forward to more apps supporting this.
  • iStumbler (free), WiFi scanning tool. In Stockholm where I live, almost every café have open WiFi hotspots within reach – not commercial ones, but hotspots at small companies and in people’s apartments. This tool is essential to quickly detect nearby hotspots – even ones that are too faint for OS X to discover. Start this tool, then move do a qi-gong-like dance with the PowerBook to home in on a strong enough signal. It would be great if the UI was just a list of hotspots with sparkline= like readings for each.
  • AirPort Client Monitor, part of Apple’s AirPort Management Tools (free), great for homing in on a stronger signal once you’ve decided on a hotspot using iStumbler.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on October 19, 2004. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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