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Feb 26, 2010

10 Essential Apps To Install On A New Mac

by iCreate Team

10 useful apps that no Mac user should be without, especially when setting up a new Mac

So, as you may have seen from my Tweets and will doubtless hear on the podcast this month, I bought myself a new 27-inch Core i5 iMac which arrived yesterday. As the day went on and my excitement grew, I began building a list of the apps I was planning to install first and, as I promised the Twitter faithful, I am now publishing them here.
This is by no means a definitive list of apps to install on a new Mac (some aren’t in fact apps at all), just those that I felt were essential enough to be picked first and some that just suited my new 16:9 screen.
If you’re interested, beyond these utilities I also installed Aperture 3, Logic Studio, iWork, Civilization and Reason and transferred an obscenely large iTunes library of movies and TV Shows (that I’ll now need to buy again in HD) and music.
In no particular order (other than maybe AppleJack) here they are, my first 10 apps.
AppleJack
A product you hope you’ll never need but could be a lifesaver. AppleJack is a text-based trouble shooting tool that can be invoked any time your Mac wont launch into its GUI (Graphical User Interface). The best part about AppleJack is that you don’t even need a system disc to boot from in order to repair permissions and cache files which could be causing your boot problems. An essential tool to install and forget until you need it.
http://applejack.sourceforge.net/
Adium
This all-in-one chat tool brings the instant messaging tools you use most often into one app. The interface is customisable in numerous ways and you can group your contacts by friends, family, co-workers etc. Supports all the favourites including; iChat, AIM, MSN and Yahoo
http://adium.im/
Tweetdeck
I’m normally a fan of Atebits’ Tweetie as a Twitter client but, with so much screen real estate at my disposal, I decided to give this widescreen Adobe Air app a try. I’m excited to see Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace integration is included and the organisation of direct messages, tweets and replies into different columns makes the whole Twitter process a great deal easier.
http://www.tweetdeck.com/
Skype
You know what it does, it’s clean simple and easy. Perfect for saving money on international calls and even better for video and audio podcasts when you can’t be in the same place as your co-hosts or guests.
www.skype.com
VLC
A free and very obliging media player that will play just about any media file you throw at it. It’s open source which means it’s updated regularly. I had a quick blast of The Hangover in HD using VLC and it worked flawlessly.
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
Perian
If you can’t handle using a video player outside of Apple’s default QuickTime, you should investigate Perian. I downloaded this in seconds and within a couple of clicks I was playing an AVI inside the beautiful new QuickTime X interface. Mac purists rejoice.
http://perian.org/
Cooliris
With such a massive screen, browsing Google Images just got a whole lot more entertaining. Cooliris is a plugin for Safari and Firefox that displays your searches as a wall of images that you can scroll through smoothly until you find what you’re looking for. It’s a bit flashy but then who cares if it looks great, huh?
http://www.cooliris.com/
Flip4Mac
Back to the video department, this is another set and forget tool that simply allows QuickTime (and Quick Look) to play those annoying WMV (Windows Media Video) files that you see from time to time.
www.flip4mac.com
Fusion 3
Following Flip4Mac, there’s a slightly more expensive alternative for using Windows file formats and that’s by running Windows itself. With a copy of Windows (XP upward) and Fusion 3 you can run Mac OS X and Windows side by side, even seamlessly using Windows apps and native Mac software alongside one another. It was a little unnerving seeing Windows 7 up so large but it can be handy to dip into Microsoft’s OS now and again, if only to realise that the grass is definitely not greener.
www.vmware.com
UnRarX
If you download a folder of files with the .RAR extension you can use this tool to piece them back into the original file. Rar files are favourites for torrent users (keep it legal guys) who split large files into smaller pieces for easier sharing. These files are sometimes password protected which UnRarX also caters for.
http://www.unrarx.com/
As I said, this is by no means a definitive list and I welcome you to add your favourites in the comments section below or via Twitter to me (@benharvell) or the magazine (@icreatemagazine).

apple_imac_27_inch_3rd_gen_1-400-400So, as you may have seen from my Tweets and will doubtless hear on the podcast this month, I bought myself a new 27-inch Core i5 iMac which arrived yesterday. As the day went on and my excitement grew, I began building a list of the apps I was planning to install first and, as I promised the Twitter faithful, I am now publishing them here.

This is by no means a definitive list of apps to install on a new Mac (some aren’t in fact apps at all), just those that I felt were essential enough to be picked first and some that just suited my new 16:9 screen.

If you’re interested, beyond these utilities I also installed Aperture 3, Logic Studio, iWork, Civilization, Microsoft Office and Reason as well as transfered an obscenely large iTunes library of movies and TV Shows (that I’ll now need to buy again in HD) and music.

In no particular order (other than maybe AppleJack) here they are, the first 10 apps on my new iMac:

screen shot of AppleJack running in single user modeAppleJack A product you hope you’ll never need but could be a lifesaver. AppleJack is a text-based trouble shooting tool that can be invoked any time your Mac wont launch into its GUI (Graphical User Interface). The best part about AppleJack is that you don’t even need a system disc to boot from in order to repair permissions and cache files which could be causing your boot problems. An essential tool to install and forget until you need it. http://applejack.sourceforge.net/


10 Essential Apps To Install On A New MacAdium This all-in-one chat tool brings the instant messaging tools you use most often into one app. The interface is customisable in numerous ways and you can group your contacts by friends, family, co-workers etc. Supports all the favourites including; iChat, AIM, MSN and Yahoo. http://adium.im/


Screen shot 2010-02-26 at 11.37.57Tweetdeck I’m normally a fan of Atebits’ Tweetie as a Twitter client but, with so much screen real estate at my disposal, I decided to give this wide Adobe Air app a try. I’m excited to see Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace integration is included and the organisation of direct messages, tweets and replies into different columns makes the whole Twitter process a great deal easier. www.tweetdeck.com/


Skype Logo Skype You know what it does, it’s clean simple and easy. Perfect for saving money on international calls and even better for video and audio podcasts when you can’t be in the same place as your co-hosts or guests. www.skype.com


imgresVLC A free and very obliging media player that will play just about any media file you throw at it. It’s open source which means it’s updated regularly. I had a quick blast of The Hangover in HD using VLC and it worked flawlessly. www.videolan.org/vlc/


perian logoPerian If you can’t handle using a video player outside of Apple’s default QuickTime, you should investigate Perian. I downloaded this in seconds and within a couple of clicks I was playing an AVI inside the beautiful new QuickTime X interface. Mac purists rejoice. http://perian.org/


Screen shot 2010-02-26 at 11.38.52Cooliris With such a massive screen, browsing Google Images just got a whole lot more entertaining. Cooliris is a plugin for Safari and Firefox that displays your searches as a wall of images that you can scroll through smoothly until you find what you’re looking for. It’s a bit flashy but then who cares if it looks great, huh? http://www.cooliris.com/


imgres-1Flip4Mac Back to the video department, this is another set and forget tool that simply allows QuickTime (and Quick Look) to play those annoying WMV (Windows Media Video) files that you see from time to time. www.flip4mac.com



imgres-2Fusion 3 Following Flip4Mac, there’s a slightly more expensive alternative for using Windows file formats and that’s by running Windows itself. With a copy of Windows (XP upward) and Fusion 3 you can run Mac OS X and Windows side by side, even seamlessly using Windows apps and native Mac software alongside one another. It was a little unnerving seeing Windows 7 up so large but it can be handy to dip into Microsoft’s OS now and again, if only to realise that the grass is definitely not greener. www.vmware.com


10 Essential Apps To Install On A New MacUnRarX If you download a folder of files with the .RAR extension you can use this tool to piece them back into the original file. Rar files are favourites for torrent users (keep it legal guys) who split large files into smaller pieces for easier sharing. These files are sometimes password protected which UnRarX also caters for. www.unrarx.com


photo

As I said, this is by no means a definitive list and I welcome you to add your favourites in the comments section below or via Twitter to me (@benharvell) or the magazine (@icreatemagazine)

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    • Ten

      Hi
      I think you should add “D-Vision 3″ to your list. This app is very user friendly. It allows you to turn your DVD movie in a “.avi” file… in the language you want, with the quality you want/need and for the device you want.

      iSquint is also a very usefull app to get mpeg movies from avi files…. and it add, automatically, the movie to your iTunes film library.

      That’s it for me for the moment… keep on posting and thank you for that !

    • http://www.macaficionados.wordpress.com OGenius

      I would also add 1Password: a must for everyone who doesn’t wan to spend time fulfilling login informations and other security questions all the time on internet.
      Just create your identities once and feel free to forget all your passwords: 1Password will keep them for you!
      The iPhone version is also excellent.

    • http://www.acleon.co.uk Andy

      Not a fan of CoolIris – it slows down Safari too much for my liking (why does it have to run in 32-bit mode?).

      To run Windows within OS X without spending any money, you ca try using Sun’s Virtual Box (http://www.virtualbox.org).

      A good alternative to 1Password is mSecure (http://www.msevensoftware.com) – see the App Store at the moment and you’ll find a coupon code to discount the Mac / Windows version of the software.

      Finally, I have to recommend NetNewsWire (http://www.newsgator.com/INDIVIDUALS/NETNEWSWIRE/) – it’s the only way to manage my ever-growing number of news feeds.

    • w blake

      VLC is another excellent video player & available for free.

    • Ben Harvell

      Um… VLC is on the list…? :)

    • Victor

      Thanks for the post!

      I would suggest Google Chrome. It is so fast and it fits no nicely into the Mac OS. It’s not my main browser, however. I also use Firefox and Safari, but I really enjoy reading my Gmail on Chrome.

    • Athanagor

      Just a word of advice on Google Chrome if you want your privacy kept… private :wink: I would stay clear of the Google stuff, not only that, but also their developers are notorious for trying to install stuff on your box without you knowing it… Probably because they come from the winbloze side of things, old habits never die…

    • Jammy

      Easyfind – like spotlight but with regular expressions
      Cyberduck – for FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Cloud Files, Google Docs & Amazon S3
      xAct – audio encoder (I use for Flac > MP3)
      Handbrake – video encoder (makes apple/ipod/iphone compatible video, opensource and is multithreaded)
      Transmission – for torrents
      KeePassX – secure password storage
      TextWrangler – free and nice text editor
      The Unarchiver – (better than UnrarX) if you open multiple archives it queues them up and unpacks one after the other, also it opens multiple archive formats.
      Sun VirtualBox – not quite as integrated as Parallels, but still has Snapshots, hardware acceleration, opensource.