The 9 best and must have applications for Mac

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OS X Mac’s operating system is purely wonderful. It’s actually even better when you know what the concurrence proposes. But like every wonderful thing, there is always a way to make it better.

Version used of OS X: 10.8.3 Mountain Lion (this list was written in Mid 2013 and thus might not make sense at the time you read it)

In 2008 before I switched to Mac I would have liked to write the post „The 50 programs for Windows which makes it usable“ but unfortunately it’s not gonna happen ;)

The table below sums up the important data of my Top 9 apps for mac.

Nr App Price Platform Type Frequency of use
1 Pages 20$ Os X Word processing 2/day
2 Evernote 0 Cross-platform Productivity 3/day
3 Omnigraffle 100$ OS X Creation 2/wk
4 Twitter 0 OS X News 30/day
5 Menumeters 0 Os X Utility Continuously
6 Dropbox 0 Cross-platform Utility 5/day
7 Aperture 80$ OS X Picture Manager 2/wk
8 Skype 0 Cross-platform Videoconferencing 4/wk
9 Perian 0 OS X Codec  Continuously

 

So now, here is the vital third party applications list more or less ordered by importance

Pages

Not very original, a word processor, but one have to say that without pages I have no idea how I would manage my documents. I also have Microsoft Word 10 for Mac, which I eventually use once a year for administrative awkward documents. Speaking of ergonomic and ease to use, Pages is way better than Ms. Word 2010 for Mac which it self I consider better than Ms. Word 2011 for Windows.

Note that on a Mac without Pages or Word, you will be able to open and edit simple .doc and .docx documents, you just wont have all features.

Apple Pages

Evernote

Already much more original, Evernote is a note management software. I note there everything in relation to productivity: to-do lists, ongoing Nanofeeling.com’s posts, vocabulary, tech summaries (like C memo, aso). It is also a place to store useful but rarely used information like: opening hours (take a picture of the timetable with your smartphone and add it directly to Evernote), small manuals (for example a steps list for administrative annual procedure), recepies, … The whole thing is transparently synchronized on almost all possible devices.

Evernote

Omnigraffle

Speaking of productivity we have Pages for text documents, Evernote for notes, it’s only missing Omnigraffle for visual creation documents. Omnigraffle is used in the following situations:

  • Place images, text, arrows, figures, aso all freely on a page.
  • Create a poster with a timetable, a promotion, or just a direction to follow, …
  • Sketch a plan in perspective, an idea or a project.
  • Create a colleague organization chart or family tree.

One could do all this with Pages but it isn’t made for this and you will notice the lack of ergonomic. Omnigraffle goes for example a step further than Pages with layers, a lot a shapes, a much easier way to select elements and a very good placement/alignment helper. One could think about InDesign and Illustrator, which are also made for these tasks. It has to be said, InDesign and Illustrator are very powerful tools but not that well finished and thus not ergonomic at all. On the contrary Omnigraffle is very easy to learn and in very short time one realize impressive documents for which one would need an Illustrator PHD.

Omnigraffle

Twitter

My use of Twitter is purely passive (see article: Twitter as news reader). It’s for me an excellent newsreader software. Once placed in menus bar, with one clic I access to the last news automatically filtered by what accounts I follow.

Twitter

Menumeters

What better feeling to know exactly what is happening around you? It’s in this direction that Menumeters goes. It shows permanently the technical status of the mac (usage of: Processors, memories, hard drives and network interfaces). When you start a heavy application and would you like to know if you still have enough free memory? A quick look at Menumeters in the upper right corner gives what you want. For more details, see: MenuMeters, usefulness and parameters

MenuMeters

Dropbox

World wide known now, Dropbox maid him self an excellent reputation in the world of file synchronization on the cloud. This success is obviously due to the total transparency of the software in the user’s eyes. Install Dropbox and you will barely notice it’s presence, on the other hand every file modification or creation will be directly and automatically synchronized on all your computers (mac and pc), tablets and smartphones.

In praxis, it allows you to start a new document (Omnigraffle for exemple) on you iMac, then to continue to edit it later on your Macbook and finally print it in PDF so that you can show it on your iPhone. Doing all this without thinking if you have copied the file on your different devices, if a file is in Dropbox then it’s available everywhere.

Dropbox

Aperture

I’m not a photography professional however after having tried Aperture, I could never come back to iPhoto. The concept is the same: import, organize, and use your pictures directly inside the software without taking care about where they “physically“ are on the hard drive. The presentation concept is the same as iPhoto too; pictures are grouped in events that are presented chronologically. Nonetheless Aperture goes way further in the available functions. Those options ask the user much more time and precision to finally offer a working environment much more personalized and a professional ergonomy.

Direct competitors are for example Adobe Lightroom which files organization particularly disturbs me.

We also will have a no-comment-thought about the people who still organize their pictures via folders in the finder (or the explorer on Windows)!!

Aperture

Skype

For those who travel a lot or live abroad, Skype is almost indispensable. Be aware however that the communication is never as good as a pay tel line like Cellphone or hard line. For video one should think about ordering a quite fast Internet connection. Actually the connection should be fast on both side of the communication to avoid any lag problem.

Notice: In 2012 Microsoft bought Skype, since then the software seems to be less stable, in the short term I probably will have to switch to a better quality piece of software ( like Facetime ?).

Skype

Perian

Perian is so transparent to the user that I can’t actually tell when and how much I use it. Nevertheless there is a simple fact, 99% of the media I open with Quicktime X will be read issueless. About the remaining 1 % for which Perian would not have the corresponding codec, there is always VLC to rescue us.

Perian

Conclusion

Other application are also important but they do just not enter the Top 9:

  • MPEG StreamClip
  • NTFS for mac
  • Quickeys
  • Totalfinder

One might be surprise by the absence of:

  • Google Chrome, that according to me brings nothing more than Safari.
  • Parallels Desktops, useful sometimes but far to be vital
  • An antivirus, even tough it’s a fashion to have one, it is it totally useless


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