My essential (Mac) software

I am always fascinated by the software that my friends and coworkers use to get things done on a daily basis.  I’m constantly wondering if there is a better tool out there to make my job easier or more efficient.

Below is a list of software I consider my “can’t live without” applications.  In order to qualify for this list, I have to use it routinely every day.

1. Adium (price = free) –

Adium is possibly the best chat client around today.  It supports a ridiculous number of services (including AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, etc.), OTR encryption, file transfer, etc.  The UI is extremely intuitive and contact management is a breeze.  I am shocked Adium is free.

2. Adobe Creative Suite (Price = $1,800) –

After getting over the fact that CS3 costs twice as much as my first car, it’s simply the best set of tools for design out there.  If you plan on designing websites or working with web designers, you should make the investment.  If you are a student (or know a student) you can purchase CS3 at a significant discount (around $500).

3. Coda (price = $99 [free 30-day trial]) –

Since the release of Coda 1.5 update last week, I can safely say that Coda is my web design tool of choice.  Coda combines several different applications necessary for web design into one user-friendly package.  Coda is a text editor, FTP client, SSH terminal, CSS editor, Subversion client and your new bicycle.  You can even kick the tires for free.

4. CyberDuck (price = free) –

Cyberduck is a free open source FTP client that supports FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3, remote editing, etc.  When I need to move a lot of files to or from a remote server I use Cyberduck.  It has Quicksilver hooks as well as Growl integration (so I am able to minimize Cyberduck and allow Growl to notify me when my transfers are completed).  Cyberduck also integrates Textmate for remote file editing live on the server (if you enjoy living dangerously).

5. DropBox (price = free for now) –

Dropbox is a remote backup service with version control.  I wrote about DropBox in a previous post and have been using it ever since.  I suspect there will eventually be tiered levels of service, but for now, I am using the free 2GB verion for free to back up this blog (as well as other important files).  Sign up for the beta release here.

6. Firefox (price = free) –

According to my blog stats, there is a 50% chance that you are using some version of FireFox to read this post right now.  If so, you already know how useful FireFox is.  The latest version of FireFox includes some new functionality for the address bar (dubbed the “awesome bar”) as well as a new user interface.  I would have a very difficult time doing my job without this browser and it’s 3rd party add-ons.  If this list were ordered by importance, FireFox would be very near the top.

7. Growl (price = free) –

Growl is a notification system that informs you when certain things happen on your computer.  For instance, you can configure Growl to alert you when you finish an upload or download, received mail, downloaded a podcast, etc.  There are numerous applications and system tools supported by Growl.  You’ll want to configure it to fit your needs.  When I first installed it, I got way too many notifications and almost uninstalled it.  However, after a quick configuration (reducing the number of alerts), I now really love it.

8. iStat Menus (price = free) –

iStat Menus is a monitoring application that lives in the menu bar at the top right corner of my screen. It allows me to monitor things like CPU action, RAM usage, temperature, fan speed, network usage, etc.  Great information at a glance.

9. iTerm (price = free) –

My use of he terminal is not nearly as thorough as my colleagues at  However, when I need to ping, trace route, perform a “whois” search or a quick MySQL database search, nothing is faster than the terminal.  iTerm adds useful things like a bookmark tray and the ability to use multiple tabs.

10. Mail (price = free [comes standard on all Macs]) –

Mail is simple.  Mail works.  Use Mail.  Nuff said.

11. Quicksilver (price = free) –

Saying Quicksilver is just an application launcher is like saying a Porsche is just a car.  Quicksilver can access a multitude of applications to perform some amazing feats (if you can remember the key combinations, which I usually don’t).  You can send mail, move files, take notes, delete things, play music, etc.  The list goes on.  By the way, Quicksilver is also a great application launcher.

12. Skitch (price = free) –

Skitch is the best screenshot application that I have found for the Mac.  Skitch allows you to capture an image of your screen and then crop, resize, create shapes and draw on top of the screenshot.  The most useful part of Skitch for me is the remote file sharing Skitch provides via your or Flickr account.  Great way to share a screenshot with friends and co-workers.

13. Superduper (price = $27.95) –

We all know how important backups are, right?  Apple has made good progress with Leopard’s native Time Machine for incremental backups.  However, if something bad happens to your startup disk, Time Machine’s backup won’t save you.  You need a bootable backup.  That’s where SuperDuper steps in and saves the day.  If you ever need it, it will pay for itself many times over.  It’s already saved me once.

14. Textmate – (price = $58) –

Textmate is the mother of all text editors that offers some unique tools for people who edit code for a living.  With Textmate, it’s all about the “bundles”.  Bundles are the terminology Textmate uses for small macros that specialize in making tedious jobs a little easier.  I keep all my blog ideas in a Textmate project and edit the posts in Textmate before I post them.

15. Twitterific (price = free w/ads or $14.95 w/o ads) –

Twitterific is a Mac OSX desktop application for Twitter.  It has a very simple user interface and (the free version I use) contains very unobtrusive ads.  I tried Twirl, but found the UI a little cluttered, so now I’m back to Twitterific.

16. iTunes (price = free [comes standard on all Macs]) –

iTunes is a pretty good music player but a lousy pod-catcher.  With the recent upgrade to iTunes 8.0 the Genius sidebar makes suggestions for you based upon music in your library. Very cool.  I still don’t think iTunes is a great podcatcher, but I haven’t found anything better yet.

Honorable mention

(A list of applications I use on a weekly basis, but didn’t make the daily cut).

CocoaMySQL – (price = free) –
Colloquy (price = free) –
Flickr Uploader (price = free) –
Google Earth (price = free, plus = $20, Pro = $400) –
iWork (Keynote, Pages, Numbers) – (price = $79) –
Voodoo Pad (price = $29.95) –
VMWare Fusion (price = $79.99) –
Minuteur (price = free) –
iPhoto (price = free [comes standard on all Macs]) –

What are your software tools of choice?  Let me know in the comments.

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4 Responses to My essential (Mac) software

  1. chris says:

    Wow. Everything I use on a daily basis is on your list, except for one….

    SSHKeychain (free)

    It’s an absolute must for SSH’ing into remote servers and tunneling past screwball firewall rules!

  2. Dave says:

    Good one, Chris. You are a SSH Jedi.

  3. Imelda says:

    Hi Dave

    Some of these apps are totally new to me. I needed a new FTP program as Transmit is sucking for me lately so going to try Cyberduck. I don’t like Quicksilver but maybe it was too many notifications like you said.

    I am really liking TweetDeck for twitter now and I of course can’t live with out Quicken and Adobe Lightroom.

    Bits on Wheels is also a useful torrent download, so I have heard 🙂

    I am working on a post about my most used web apps based on priority. I’ll let you know when its up. Are you also working on a web apps list? I’d love to see what you use on a regular basis and find important since there is SOO MUCH on the web, too much.

    See ya!

    PS: Loving your WP theme and may steal it! Beware!

  4. Shane says:

    A nice list – just one small thing. It’s Firefox.

    Just the one capital in that. 🙂

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