Editor’s note: This guest post by Glen Stansberry is a special expanded edition of a post originally published on LifeDev.net.
It’s Christmas day and you’ve just unwrapped your shiny new piece of Apple goodness from your new favorite family member. You’ve installed the beautiful Leopard operating system, and are ready to conquer the world.
But you soon realize you don’t know which programs to install to perform your everyday functions on your mac. Sure, there are lots of programs you could install, but there are a few that you need to install first. The bread-and-butter, the staples of any mac experience.
Here are 12 must-have applications for your new mac. Trust me, you’ll be glad you installed these first.
1. Quicksilver- The right arm of all that is productive on the mac. You’ll soon learn to have everything center around this awesome program launcher extraordinaire. You can literally do just about anything you can think of with this program. Send emails, browse your iTunes library, capture todo items, launch websites… all with a few keystrokes.
2. Firefox- Safari is a great web browser. Fast, sleek, sexy… but it doesn’t allow you to really customize your browsing experience. Firefox is a swiss-army’d version of Safari on steroids. We’re talking baseball in the late nineties steroids. Firefox allows you to add any array of extensions to add to the experience. Need a bit torrent client? Done. Don’t want to see ads? Done. Want to wrap your web-browsing in a winter wonderland? Done. Firefox can do virtually anything when it comes to surfing the web.
3. Adium- Now, iChat is no slouch of an instant messaging client. But Adium allows you to login and use multiple IM clients simultaneously. You can save chat transcripts, and do many of the other things that you can do with iChat.
4. iGTD- What mac isn’t complete with a kickin’ GTD system? iGTD is a great out-of-the-box organization capture tool that doesn’t require all the incessant fiddling that most GTD software requires. Just add some contexts (and projects if you’d like), and go.
Another cool thing about iGTD is that it integrates with Quicksilver. You can be in the middle of a task and suddenly remember you need to email Roy about carpooling tomorrow. Invoke Quicksilver, type your task, and go right back to what you were working on. It’s insanely useful and allows you to capture everything. (You can read more about iGTD + Quicksilver here and here)
5. Cyberduck- Almost everybody needs an FTP client, right? Cyberduck is a great mac-only FTP client. It may not be as fancy as the likes of Transmit, but it has a simple interface and works quite well.
6. Anti RSI- If you use the computer more than an hour a day, it’s imperative you install Anti-RSI. You know how staring at the monitor can make your eyes feel like somebody switched your contact solution with wood glue? Anti-RSI makes sure that you’re taking proper breaks when using your computer. By looking away from the computer at regular intervals and stretching, you can prevent other fairly severe conditions like Carpal Tunnel. Anti-RSI ensures that you’re getting the proper pauses needed for healthy computer usage.
7. DeskLickr- It may not be an essential item per se, but sometimes a girl just likes to look pretty. This nifty program will launch a high-quality wallpaper (that matches your screen resolution, mind you) every time you start your computer up. You can even set it to display a new wallpaper every X number of minutes. WARNING: This setting is not recommended for those of us with ADD. You’ve been warned.
8. Gimp- Weird name, great photo editing. Gimp is the open source version of Photoshop. Gimp may not sport all the bells and whistles that Photoshop has, but it gets the job does. And to the tune of Free, who can complain?
9. Open Office- The open source alternative to Microsoft Office, Open Office is a full-featured document editor. (If you don’t have x11 installed on your mac, you may want to try NeoOffice. It’s pretty much the same thing as Open Office.)
10. Skype- Skype is everyone’s favorite VOIP client. Essentially, Skype allows you to call other computers and talk (like a telephone conversation), for free. You can also do IM messaging with the client.
11. Mozy- The un-sung hero of your new mac. Mozy backs up all of the files on my computer (in the background) at regular intervals. If my hard drive ever crashes, I’ll just install mozy and hit “restore”, mirroring my drive pre-meltdown. Most times I don’t even know when the little bugger is working. It’s fast, quiet, and it just works. You can make backups up to 2GB before you’ll start needing a paid plan.
12. Text Expander- Text Expander requires you to pay for a $30 license. But once you try it out, it’s pretty hard to part with. We’re talking geeky productivity to the max, people.
Text Expander allows you to program in shortcuts that you use when typing all of the time. For example, you could configure a shortcut for your email signature. Instead of typing out my signature every single time I write an email, I could just punch “sigg” and up pops
This is only scratching the surface. If you do a lot of HTML or CSS work, there’s already preset packages with shortcuts of commonly used HTML tags. For $30, I think it’s a steal.
13. Think- It’s much easier to concentrate while working on the Mac when I’ve only got one application opened. Think is an elegant piece of software that gives you the ability to have one application illuminated, while the rest are blacked out behind it. This keeps you from spending any attention elsewhere, so you can give your full attention to only thing at a time. It’s a godsend for individuals with short attention spans, and a multi-tasker’s worst nightmare ;)
14. Mailtags- If you use Apple Mail and need a little more organization built into your mail, you might consider MailTags. MailTags allows you to add keywords, projects, priority and notes to your mail. While I don’t personally recommend using email as your task capture system, MailTags can help you sift and archive your mail more effectively in Apple Mail. Cost: $30.
15. ClamXav- One of the the best things about Macs is that they don’t have to worry about spyware and viruses nearly as much as Windows users. But, unfortunately viruses do exist for the Mac. It dosen’t hurt to run a virus sweep every now again, does it? Use ClamXav for a free virus checker and rest easy tonight.
16. Textmate- Sure, you could go ahead and use TextEdit (the Mac’s built-in text editor) and get along just fine. But if you’re craving a geekier flavor for editing text, look no further than TextMate. TextMate makes it incredibly easy for anyone working in code (html, css, etc.) and a text editor. It packs many powerful features like tabbed browsing, search and replace in project (not just single files), clipboard history, support for subversion, and plenty of other cool features. One drawback: you have to pay $58. But I think it’s well worth the money.
So there you have it. Install these 16 programs on your brand new mac, and you’ll have the ability to be a power user in no time, without breaking the bank.
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