We’ve been getting a lot of emails lately asking for recommendations of the best apps for this or that… So, we decided to come up with a list of our top ten favorite apps for your Mac.
10. Adobe Reader
All Apple computers come with a default PDF viewer - Preview, but it’s functions are limited and can cause some problems if you frequently work with PDF forms and other similar documents. When I was going through my school’s application process, I had a seemingly endless supply of forms to fill out, all in PDF format. You can view and even fill them out sometimes with Preview, but you’ll eventually find yourself back at square one, due to it’s lack of ability to save your entered data. Adobe Reader, on the other hand, has an array of useful features that you’ll be sure to find handy at some point – like the ability to actually save the data you entered, write notes off to the side, edit the actual file, and even create an electronic signature.
You can download Reader here.
9. Stuffit Expander
This archive utility used to come stock with OS X but that’s no longer the case, as Apple decided to provide their own un-zipper. That’s fine, but they could at least include support for a wider selection of files, like tar, rar, and 7z. Stuffit Expander can un-zip nearly any form of archive, including 7z, sit, zip, rar, tar, gzip, bzip2, (and about 20 others) with minimal effort.
You can get Stuffit Expander here.
8. Notational Velocity
I know there are a million other programs available for taking notes, but Notational Velocity is (by far) my favorite. The design is minimalistic, easy to navigate, and also allows for a decent amount of customization – things like custom color schemes, fonts, and designation of the “bring to front” hotkey. I really like the whole layout and functionality of NV; you have a pane on top with all of your previous notes, and all you have to do is either type the name of a previous entry to pull it up, or type a new name to start a new set of notes. All entries are automatically saved, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally quitting out of the program when you’re in the midst of a cluttered mess of windows, deep into research.
You can download Notational Velocity here.
Everyone wants to watch movies on their computer from time to time, and while there are many other tools that can be used to rip DVD’s, HandBrake is specifically tailored to satisfy your Mac. If you use iTunes as your primary media player, you already know that there are a few file formats it doesn’t like, such as m4v and mov. HandBrake provides you with a simple interface to convert between a ton of different video codecs, most of which are compatible with iTunes and most other media players.
You can download HandBrake here.
Xbox Media Center was created with the intentions of providing a fully functional media center for the original modded Xbox. More than 10 years and hundreds of revisions later, XBMC has split into two branches; one for computers - XBMC Media Center, and the original XBMC – for the classic modded Xbox. XBMC Media Center has got some major updates as of late, and provides (in my opinion) the best option for media browsing on your Mac. There are hundreds of plugins and add-ons, from the integrated web browser, to games, to content aggregates such as Navi-X. It feels more like an operating system than a media center, due in part to it’s deep roots in the light-weight Linux desktop environment LXDE. If you have a Mac and are looking for a superior alternative to Windows Media Center, XBMC is your best bet.
You can find downloads and more info on XBMC here.
If you do a lot of screen recording with Quicktime, you’re probably disappointed in it’s lack of ability to record sound directly from your computer, and if you’ve ever attempted to record video of any 3D gameplay, you’ve probably abandoned all hope. I’ve recently been getting fed up with the Quicktime screen recorder’s mediocracy, so I decided to purchase Screenflow from the app store, and haven’t looked back since.
The interface, which allows for the editing of your high quality screen recordings, is similar to that of iMovie or Final Cut Pro X. You can easily record clips from resource intensive apps like 3D games without any conflict, as well as get the direct sound output from your Mac, as opposed Quicktime’s method of only using the built in microphone.
You can purchase Screenflow, or try out the free demo here.
Docker allows you to easily change between 2D/3D dock styles, color of the dock, minimize effects, more positioning settings, an array of other various effects, and even the option to hide the Finder menu bar. Whether you’re looking for complete customization of your desktop, or just a subtle change of character for your dock, Docker is a must have tool for OS X.
You can get Docker for free here.
Like Docker, LiteIcon allows for further customization of your OS X desktop – only for icons rather than the dock. You can replace individual icons for any and all apps on your desktop, as well as restore default system icons, so there’s no need to worry about messing anything up. This app is ideal for those of you that just have to redesign your whole desktop environment.
You can get LiteIcon here.
Ever wanted to try out Linux, but were afraid you might destroy your whole computer if you tried to install it yourself? Now you can get the full experience of Linux (and even Windows), worry free. VirtualBox is a kind of emulator that allows you to install and run nearly any operating system inside of OS X, without partitioning your drive, or doing anything else complicated for that matter. As a matter of fact, you can even run the ancient OS/2 without even rebooting!
For downloads and instructions on how to run and install VirtualBox, you can visit VirtualBox.org