Here’s the final post of the basic Essentials series. The programs featured here are useful for just about any Mac user, new or old. So let’s get to it.
I’m a big fan of Twitter, obviously, and I have to say Tweetie is hands-down the best Twitter application that I’ve seen for the Mac. It’s got an absolutely beautiful interface and is completely free if you don’t mind a few ads. For you advertising haters it also has a paid version that is ad-free for $19.95. The program sits nicely in your menubar, and its icon glows whenever your timeline gets new tweets. It has support for multiple accounts and has a slew of other features, which you can find out all about here.
iSquint is a very useful program for anyone with a large number of video files. Backed up your first season DVD set of CSI to your computer, but now aren’t sure what to do with all the avi files? iSquint will easily convert those videos to .mp4 format for easy importing into iTunes. This way you can access and play all of your video files right from Apple’s front row program. Useful! Development and distribution of the program have been stopped, but you can still find and download the program for free at sites like this.
Going hand-in-hand with video compatibility issues, Flip4Mac is a useful little application to install on any new Mac. In a nutshell, it allows you to play wmv files on your computer through Quicktime. That functionality speaks for itself. You can download the program for free here.
I’m a big lover of customization. I switch out my desktop wallpaper at least once every couple weeks and am constantly looking for new ways to make my operating system experience as unique to me as possible. This is why I love Candybar, which will take and switch out any system or application icons on your computer with new ones of your choosing. Some of the best sources for gorgeous icons are deviantArt and the MacThemes forums. Not only that, but you can also customize your dock with some slick themes, from a sleek dark glass to some wood flooring. You can purchase Candybar for a cool $29 here.
When it comes to Apple, most of the time you don’t have to worry about leftover files when you install an application. You can just drag it and drop it in the trash. However with some larger programs, like the Adobe Creative Suite or the Microsoft Office programs, files get left over even after you drop the programs in the trash can. AppZapper is perfect for those programs. It finds and trashes all the files associated with a certain program, thoroughly removing it from your system. The program will end up costing you $12.95, but provides free upgrades for life. You can purchase and download the program here.
I don’t do too much with audio. Sure, I’ll sometimes play around with Garageband, but that’s about the extent of my computer music-making activities. However in the past when I have worked with audio I’ve found Audacity to be one of the most useful applications around for cutting and splicing audio. With a simple interface that anyone can learn, this free program is a must for anyone, whether it be an aspiring podcaster or a curious audiophile. You can find out more and download Audacity here.
After Quicksilver, Growl is one of the most useful applications that you can add to your Mac. It’s an application that notifies you on screen of the different things taking place on your computer. Someone signs on to instant messenger? Growl will tell you who signed on. Download finished in Firefox? Growl will give you the heads up that it’s done. It does all of this in a small, unintrusive and stylistic window that fades in and fades out, staying as long as you set it to. In this way, it doesn’t get in the way, doesn’t get annoying, and helps you manage multiple tasks at the same time. You can download Growl for free here.
I hesitated to put Notify in this post, because it really is more of a menubar application. However the sheer functionality and use of the program warrants a place in this post. Notify is, at its heart, a Gmail inbox notification application. It sits in your menu bar and lets you know when you get new emails in your Gmail inbox. It supports multiple accounts, integrates with Growl, and has one of the most beautiful interfaces I’ve seen in a menubar application. You can find out more and download the program for free here.
That’s all for the basic Essentials series. Continued posts to this blog will be full of more useful programs, with upcoming posts featuring programs useful for Apple programmers and some of the top menubar applications out there.