I just wrote a nice long email to a new Mac owner listing software that I think would be of interest. I’ve done this a couple times, and figured it’d probably be a good time to put it up some place public, where I can link to it and edit it. So, I am posting this now, I’ll hopefully add to and edit it and amend it later, although honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be a Mac user. Apple has been pissing me off a lot lately, and though most of it hasn’t been driving me away from OS X per se, I see a significant non-zero probability that one day they will.
It’s worth noting (and completely coincidental) that all but one of the programs listed below are open source in some way or another. As far as I know, all of these are Snow Leopard compatible. Without further ado…
I could not use my mac without Quicksilver. It’s a launcher (type ctrl+space to bring up a QS window, type in the name of an application, and you can launch it), but it’s also much more. You can drag and drop to and from it, so you don’t have to open up a new finder window, or you can have it look in your address book to look people up without having to open the app. After you install, edit the preferences to enable plugins and edit the catalog (which chooses which items it searches when you start typing).
A browser by some company in Mountain View, CA. The mac version doesn’t support extensions, yet, but it will. It’s awesome and fast, but have occasionally run into problems with its interactions with flash on the Mac. These seem to have been alleviated after I deleted all my flash cookies.
The sole non-open member of this list. This is the same Mountain View company’s desktop client for managing photos. It does sweet things like face recognition, and some sweet basic editing (try the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on photos that aren’t quite right – sometimes it doesn’t do much, but sometimes it is awesome). You can link it to a Picasa Web Albums account, or not. There are also plugins to post to Facebook, etc.
Multi-protocol IM – I like it a lot better than iChat, although the video chat capabilities are worse (so I open up iChat when I need to do that). You can log into AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo messenger, Facebook chat, and others all in one buddy list. Also has Growl notifications, which is nice.
Growl should be included when you download Adium, but if not, you can download it separately. Growl is a notification system that will show you alerts when applications send them. You can, e.g. configure it to show you IMs in a translucent window when they come in (I do this so I know when I do/don’t have to go to my IM window), or along with a nifty Quicksilver module, show you track info from iTunes as a nifty music video-style overlay. A bunch of other apps use Growl, and you can control all their notifications easily from the Growl preference pane in System Preferences.
Utility for burning discs. Simple, easy to use, does what I need.
This is “the swiss army knife of video codecs”. It adds avi, divx, xvid, and a bunch of other video support to OS X.
Handbrake makes ripping DVDs to local video files easy.
VLC is a great open source video player. If VLC can’t play it, it’s probably a broken file.
Basic, open source audio editor for the Mac. People who know how to use Pro Tools will probably want Pro Tools. For the rest of us, this is a decent recording/editing app.
This is kind of a cool utility – when you install it, it creates fake audio-out and audio-in devices. If you set an application (or your whole system) to output to a Soundflower device, you can choose the same device as the input of any other app so that you can easily feed sound from one app to another.
Fugu is a client for SCP and SFTP file transfer. You may not need this, but if you do need to do secure file transfer using those protocols, it’s pretty good.
This is a useful little gadget – it lets you set a global keyboard shortcut (I use Ctrl+Apple+L) to lock the computer. I am in the habit of always pressing this when I get up from my work computer.
This is a handy utility for keeping windows on top and changing their transparency. It doesn’t work with all apps, but I use it with Chrome to keep popped-out Hulu windows on top. Sometimes, I also make them transparent so I can still see what’s going on behind them.
Not that you would use this to download anything illicitly, but in case you want to download an ubuntu install disk or one of the many albums legitmately distributed via bittorrent (like Harvey Danger’s or Nine Inch Nails’), Transmission is a great bittorrent client.
This installs Quicktime codecs to support Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theorea. Adds support for these formats to iTunes, iMovie, Quicktime player, etc.