essential apps for a new Mac


we got a message which came from google voice that read:

what the hell is an America Pro? it certainly isn’t anything running in DC (or AC)! meaning the robo knows something we don’t or it completely lost the translation. fortunately the robot captured the voice allowing everyone to understand the question.

as the caller stated, there are hundreds of “essential” lists of software that you should run on your Mac. but before I get to the list I want to suggest that you just use the Mac like it came out of the box. don’t add this or that and the other thing until you know what it does by default. it turns out that you can do lots with a Mac without adding a single application, do-dad, hack, or enhancer.

below is the list of stuff that we have to have on a Mac otherwise it feels like we’re missing an arm. keep in mind that this isn’t really a list of everyone’s essential. while Craig and Kenji like password managers John doesn’t. Kenji uses TextMate while John prefers Text Wrangler. so have a listen to the audio and follow the links below as they are in the order of the show.

turn on spaces then install hyperspace to make it even better.

move the dock from the bottom to the right or left. of you like the screen bottom get rid of the shiny dock using this command:
defaults write no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock

some people like Craig have a hard time with the Finder either because it’s clunky, it’s weird or it’s missing functionality. pathfinder is an alternative that overcomes many of Finder shortcomings.

if you squint you can see that the three programs that make up iWork ’09 are actually the same program just retooled to do specific tasks. which the trio does very well. if you have a hate affair with Power Point than Keynote will be your new best friend. Numbers will roll very nice looking things that won’t much resemble spreadsheets at all even though it’s the way it works. and Pages does layout for ink on paper documents.

find out what app is phoning home with little snitch
who’s hogging the CPU? istatmenu will tell you.
get backed with cronosync, super duper, backblaze, and dropbox
Wacom Tablet
Shuttle Pro 2 Black
text mate
text wrangler
css edit
cyberduck or transmit

type and creator utility for Snow Leopard. there are two: LaunchCodes and Magic Launch

flux looks like something we will have to talk about in the future.

a batch renaming tool is better handy to have around. these can help organize your pictures, help you with animations, hard code dates or times to file names and other things you might need to rename. there are lots of renamer programs: renamer4mac, renamer, ABetterFinderRename, namemangler.

don’t forget that automator can do lots of renaming for you and it works well. it does most of the common renaming tasks. you can even stack renames to get more complicated renames. an example using it is to the right.

QuickTime 7 (for OS X 10.6) or update to Pro for other places

password managers like Password Wallet or 1Password can help your brain get around having to remember very secure passwords.

hashapass helps you make master passwords.

snap and drag is a screen shot tool that Kenji likes.
or upgrade the default Command Option 4 by setting a specific folder for screen shots to go to using this Command Line incantation:
defaults write location /Full/Path/To/Folder

xscope is a “tape measure” for the screen.
layers is a screen shot tool that captures every element putting each into a distinct Photoshop layer.

ROT13 use to translate:

guvf vf na rknzcyr bs EBG13 va npgvba.

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7 Replies

  • Two shout outs for related apps that might aid web development:
    Acorn from Flying Meat as an excellent image editor which integrates all the screengrab functionality of Layers, capturing each element on a layer. It’s a good image editor with a nice web export tool which can trim unused white space from images.

    LittleSnapper from Realmac is another screengrab tool which comes with a service, Ember, kind of like a Flickr for screengrabs. You can annotate and do basic editing and embed your Ember images.

  • Thanks for the great show. One app I can’t live without on my macs is Caffeine. It’s just a little coffee cup that sits up in the top right. When you click it, it prevents your mac from sleeping or the screen dimming or the screensaver from kicking in for a certain amount of time (default is 1 hour). I think I’d go crazy without this app.
    It’s free (as in beer) but not free (as in speech) at

  • Not only do I put the dock on the side, I use Onyx (free) to “pin” the dock tongue top of the screen and make is as small as possible. I remove all apps and use Quicksilver to launch ’em. A Windows user saw me launch Safari that way and said I looked like a hacker in a movie. Quicksilver FTW.

    I agree that iStatmenu is awesome and habit forming. PathFinder is too, but will it kill your productivity on other machines (like a computer lab) if they aren’t there? If so perhaps you shouldn’t use ’em.

    Espresso was mentioned, but Coda from Panic ( is much better. Single pane app does CSS, FTP, HTML, Preview and validation. Just use the keyboard commands to switch tabs. It also does site managent. It also can try to complete code for you when you type it (spooky, and cool). Free demo for 30 days. In short, Awsomesauce!

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