Awesome idea: “a 10W USB wall charger that piggybacks onto your MacBook Power Adapter, creating a totally unique, all-in-one, dual charger for MacBook + iPad or iPhone.”
While I’m in the process of changing machines I’m going to document many of the apps and plugins that are on my “Must Have” list. I love a fresh start and given my proclivity for demo software and beta apps it’s positively refreshing to start with a clean Applications folder.
I’ve also collected my System Tweaks for OS X if you’re interested.
I plan to write a post with all of my must-have UX components, which will include many OG resources, so I won’t go into those here.
I use Pages, Numbers and Keynote on my personal machine, but their integration and support of the de facto workplace standard just aren’t good enough, so Microsoft Office is the suite of the day for work. Specifically, I use:
- Entourage – Mail.app’s support for Exchange is pretty decent, but the calendar integration is sorely lacking when you want to book a room or see your coworkers’ availability,
- Entourage 2008 for Mac Web Services Edition – a free update to the Entourage client which adds some very useful functionality
Design and Development Applications
Adobe’s Creative Suite is indispensable. I spend a lot of my creative time in Photoshop and Illustrator, while others swear by Fireworks. I’ve tried many of the smaller, independent image editors, but I’m accustomed to the power and features of these pro tools.
Coda is one of many Web development applications that I’ve tried since switching to the Mac. While I used TextMate for a few years, Coda has replaced it with a combination of efficiency and beauty. It feels much more oriented to front-end development and flow than the spartan TextMate, and feels “right” to me. The built-in support for multiple sites, FTP, terminal, Subversion, preview capabilities and code snippets integrate with the code editor beautifully for a great experience. The only thing that it lacks from my point of view is code-folding, which is quite likely the most-requested feature, so I hope they’ll add it in the next release. For me, the benefits easily outweigh that one negative.
Versions is a beautiful and easy to use Subversion client, which says a lot as most SVN clients, even on OS X are convoluted and not much of a step-up from doing everything at the command line. While I have used the command line in the past, I really like having a graphical UI for interacting with version control.
MAMP stands for Mac, Apache, MySQL, PHP. It’s a self-contained install of those server technologies that I’ve found easier to configure and run than the native OS X installs. That said, I haven’t tried the pre-installed versions since 10.4, so it’s possible that my use of this app is purely out of habit.
LaunchBar is quite possibly the most used utility on my system. The app speeds the launching of other applications. With a simple keyboard shortcut, I open LaunchBar type a couple of letters and hit Enter to launch an application, start or stop music, find a file or even run a quick calculation (without the calculator app). It also has a setting that will keep track of multiple clipboard items, so I don’t have to run a dedicated utility for that functionality.
Evernote is my note-taking application of choice as it quickly and quietly syncs content between computers, the Web and my iPhone, guaranteeing access to information where and when I need it. The fact that I can easily add photos is killer, especially as Evernote will index the text inside the photos so it’s searchable.
Adium is a great instant messaging client that unifies the various networks, ensuring that I can communicate with anyone that I need to regardless if they are on AIM, Yahoo!, MSN or Jabber.
Things is one of countless to-do and GTD applications available for the Mac, but for me, it stands above the rest. I love its structure and the ability toe create projects, which can be grouped into areas. Additionally, being able to assign dates – both specific and general (“Someday”) – allows me to get ideas out of my head without being oppressed by an overwhelming task list.
Dropbox syncs files between computers, both Macs and PCs as well as my iPhone and does it seamlessly. Dropbox is elegant, powerful and amazingly enough, it’s free unless you need a very large amount of space. Many apps that lack their own ability to sync information can use Dropbox to add information sharing. For example, I use Dropbox to store my Things database, ensuring that both my work and home computers have the same list of tasks, without my needing to do anything extra to keep each up to date.
If you sign up, please use this referral link as we’ll both get an extra 250mb of space for free.
Skitch is one of the many screen capture apps released in the last year or two. It’s a great app that just works, making it easy to take a snapshot of part of the screen and annotate it if I need. Additionally, it makes it easy to upload the capture to online services, which is how I typically add interesting bits to my Web Detritus set on Flickr.
1Password is one of those applications that causes me to wonder how I worked without it. It is the best password manager I have ever worked with, hands-down. 1Password guarantees that I can use very complex passwords without risk of forgetting them, nor worry that they’re sitting around for someone to steal.
Fluid is another browser I use regularly, though it has a key difference. Instead of acting as a general Web browser, it turns Web sites into desktop applications, complete with icons in the Applications folder and on your dock. My most common use for this is for Google Reader, but I have also tapped it for Web-based mail and to-do lists.
For Preference Panes, please see my post about System Tweaks for OS X.
Back in 2006, I wrote Software for a Switcher.
What are the Apps You Can’t Live Without?
Please expand this list by adding your recommendations in the comments.
As I’m switching to a new machine, this is the ideal time for me to list all of the tweaks and changes I make to OS X and various core apps.
System Enhancements and Plugins
- FunctionFlip “individually controls your MacBook or MacBook Pro’s function keys, turning special keys back to regular F-keys, or vice-versa. FunctionFlip is a preference pane; you’ll find it in the “Other” category in System Preferences.”
These are the settings I flip for the newer model MackBook Pro:
- F8 for quick Spaces access
- F9, F10 and F11 – To provide quick access to Expose functionality
- F12 – To PRovide quick access to Dashboard
- Set it to start at login
- Growl is a must-have for every Mac.. It provides a platform for programs to notify you of activity.
- Start at login
- iStat Menus
- The Blaqua skin with the Fire skin color
- Disable checking for updates at startup, relying instead on checking every 24 hours
- I monitor the CPU, combining multiple CPUs into a single graph
- I monitor Memory
- I disable monitoring of other stats
- I enable Date & Time, using it as a replacement for the system time stamp in the top right because I like the compressed calendar layout
- Witch Thanks to Flip for the link
(The Developer appears to have disappeared altogether, so there isn’t a site to link to)
- Set it to ignore the LastFm.app
- Set it to “Ignore Windows that identify themselves as floating windows (tool bars etc.)”
Preferences and Settings
- Disable Bluetooth I don’t use any Bluetooth devices, so there’s no need to drain the battery and chew up processing power for it. I also take it out of the menu bar to reduce clutter.
- Pair a Remote The Apple remote that used to come free with Macs can be really useful, to the point that I keep mine with the laptop wherever I go. You never know when a presentation will bust out in the street.
- Sound Effects – I go with Submarine as I like it a bit better. Exciting huh?
- Universal Access – I enable access for assistive devices, which provides hooks for a couple of other 3rd party tools.
- Enable Dock Magnification – I like to enable a subtle magnification, so the currently indicated icon has a bit more prominence.
- Enable Automatic Hiding and Showing of the Dock – I don’t like the Dock cluttering the screen and using up pixels when I don’t need it.
- Enable Spaces – I like to use four spaces to separate different types of activities. Additionally I select the box to show Spaces in the menu bar for easy access via Mouse.
- Disable Switching Spaces Shortcuts – I don’t typically switch to a space, more often I switch to an app which happens to be in a space, so the shortcuts aren’t useful for me and occasionally conflict with application short cuts. I leave the activation shortcut (F8) as it is.
- I bump up the default key repeat rate a notch
- I do not check the “Use all F1, F2 , etc. keys as standard function keys” as I install FunctionFlip which provides the granularity to select which action is taken for each key. See below for detail on my settings.
- Check Illuminate Keyboard in low light conditions and set it to turn off after a minute of inactivity.
- I change the Full Keyboard Access to “All Controls” as it makes it easier to navigate through some applications without the mouse.
- Customize the Tool Bar
- I add the Path button to the left of the display options
- Enable Use Small Size Icons
- Enable the display of Hard disks on the desktop
- Disable the display of iDisk in the sidebar
- Select “Show all filename extensions”
- Modify the search behavior so that Search defaults to searching the current folder instead of the entire machine