February 1st 2011

11+ free apps for your Mac

So the buzz is always about the iPad. Or the iPhone. Or the iPod Touch. But we don’t really hear about the applications that are essential for your Mac. Yep, your computer… Your laptop, desktop, whatever you have. These six (free!) apps are a must for you.

To Write

Chances are, you sometimes have to write. Maybe for work, maybe you freelance, maybe you’re a student. But if you don’t want to put out the big(ger) bucks for programs Apple’s iWork ($79.00) and Microsoft’s Office 2011 ($149 for Home and Student edition), check out the free, open source OpenOffice. You can even Save As a .doc file for easy transfer to MS Word and iWork.

To Browse

Although you might love Apple’s Safari browser, a lot of folks aren’t really happy with it.  For me, it doesn’t run very smoothly, isn’t as user-friendly (in spite of Apple’s user-friendliness around the board) and is pretty middle ground to what else is out there. Firefox is a good alternative, with many themes, extensions, and add-ons that make it stand above the rest. Google’s Chrome is a good choice, too.

To Listen

Yeah, iTunes does the job, and does it well. But we also love Songbird, a music player that syncs with many cell phones and other mobile device. It also offers plenty of  plug-ins and work with other platforms, too.

To Talk/Chat

iChat, a pre-installed program, let’s you chat via AIM and Google Talk.  But we prefer Adium, an  app that supports all chat programs, including AIM, Gtalk and Facebook Chat, and others. It can also be fully customized (see adiumxtras.com). With it, you can edit your friend lists, message styles, sounds, and even create your own using CSS. Oh yeah, and Skype‘s good, too.

To Manage

OS X has keychain, which is great for keeping passwords altogether, but there are better options out there. Some cost some coinage (IE 1Password ($40)), while others are free and do a great job. We like  KeePassX, which does the job without the fee.

To Edit

Who doesn’t love a good editing program? Yes, Adobe Creative Suite is popular, but also pretty hard on the wallet. Other programs, such as Pixelmator ($30) are great, too. It connects to Flickr and Facebook, and worked well alongside Apple’s Aperture. But when you don’t want to spend a dollar, check out GIMP, an open source program that does the job just as well.

To Save

Dropbox is an easy to use  Web service integrates with the Finder on your Mac, so you can manage your files just as if they were right there on your desktop. It also is easy to share from computer to computer. The program comes with 2GB of free storage.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.