About half a year ago, I started using an old PowerBook at work. Shortly afterwards, I was hooked and bought a MacBook for my wife. Now I finally bought a Mac for myself: a shiny, nice MacBook Pro. One of the great things about the Mac is that it is highly usable right out of the box. It includes a decent browser, a very nice email application, a chat application, video editing tools, audio software, and much more. However, as with any operating system, certain third party tools always prove to be invaluable. Now that I have gone through this process several times, installing everything I need on my new MacBook Pro was a breeze. I figured I’d take that opportunity to blog about the list of applications I recommend. Most of these are useful to anybody, although some applications reveal a certain software development bias. Next time I’ll go into some of the additional tools that belong to a Mac development environment for Ruby or Java, such as Ruby itself, Rails, Subversion, Eclipse, etc.
All of the applications below are either freeware or open source.
Safari is nice, but in my opinion it still doesn’t come close to Firefox. For web development, certain plugins are a must-have (such as the wonderful Web Developer Extension).
This is a great terminal replacement, as native OSX Terminal tool is sorely lacking. Most importantly, iTerm features tabs, but it also supports transparency and is highly customizable.
Quicksilver is an invaluable tool that allows you to access applications, emails, and other things via convenient keyboard shortcuts. You invoke Quicksilver by hitting Ctrl+Space (of course this is configurable) and simply type a few letters of the application you want to start. It uses plugins to add support for various applications, such as iTunes (to quickly locate music), iTerm, Firefox, and more.
Frankly, this one is a bit subjective and arguable. There are many great editors for the Mac, such as the popular TextMate. I briefly evaluated TextMate at some point but didn’t get enough exposure to it to convince myself that I really need it, although I might give it another shot later. But jEdit is a great open source alternative. It also works in all major operating systems, which is a big advantage as I still do a lot of work in Linux. jEdit is also very extensible, and particularly the Ruby Editor plugin is very useful if you do any Ruby or Rails development. If you’re an old-school hacker, you may prefer Vim or Emacs, but jEdit is my preferred standalone text editor.
Adium is a multi-protocol instant messaging client. Works great, and is very extensible and skinnable.
Adds a notification icon for Gmail and Google Calendar events to the menu bar. Obviously, you only need Google Notifier if you use either of these tools…
NeoOffice is a port of OpenOffice, an open source Office suite. In contrast to OpenOffice however, NeoOffice uses the native Aqua UI, which makes it look far less out of place. It’s not quite like Microsoft Office, but it comes pretty close for most purposes, and you can’t beat the price (plus it allows you to keep your Mac free from Microsoft applications ;) ).