I love free Mac software. The biggest problem I have is that I love lots of Mac software. How do I keep track of updates on over 100 hundred applications and utilities?
It’s remarkably easy and I use a free tool to scan all the software on my Mac, then tell me which ones need an update, then find the update for me.
My tool of choice is AppFresh, a handy little utility that helps Mac users keep track of all the software on their Macs—applications, utilities, widgets, preference panes, plugins.
Seriously, there’s a lot of stuff on your Mac that gets updated regularly so how do you keep track of it? Well, Apple does a good job of taking care of their own via Software Update in your Preferences.
Software Update can be set to check for updates daily, weekly, monthly. It downloads automatically and notifies you when the updates are ready to be installed. It even keeps a list of all the updates. That’s fine for Apple software, but what about all the other software on your Mac?
Adobe has an updater for Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Fireworks, and all the rest of their applications. Microsoft even has a software updater for Office on the Mac. What about everything else?
One day Apple might provide some kind of third party notification and update service in Software Update, but for now, you’re on your own.
It’s up to you to get the latest software and update your Mac.
Some applications and utilities check for the latest versions when they start up. Even better is AppFresh, a deceptively simple, ultimately very handy little tool that does (almost) exactly what you want—it scans your Mac, then checks your software versions against the latest updates.
The process is simple. Open AppFresh and then go do something else for awhile. AppFresh scans your Mac’s software. Applications and utilities. Widgets. Plugins. Preference Panes. For the software that needs to be updated, AppFresh provides a list of the latest versions. You’re only a click away from downloading the latest versions. It’s that easy.
What happens when you download a new version and find out you prefer the old version? AppFresh takes a snapshot—it captures the older installed version and preferences and stores it in a dark safe place. Think of it as another built in Time Machine but just for the software you used to love.
As an added benefit, AppFresh includes a software profile integration with iUseThis, a web site which also lists the latest Mac software updates. iUseThis lets Mac users see how many other Mac users use certain applications and utilities, including comments and links to other software in a similar category. The value is modest but the price is right.
What’s not to like? AppFresh is free and updated regularly. The developers say they’re “not even calling it a beta” since it’s a work in progress.
All of us at Mac360 have been using AppFresh for months with no issues.
No issues? Well, there are some. Some software doesn’t have the version number in the right place so it’s difficult to match.
AppFresh also considers beta software as the latest version. Still, out of 254 applications, utilities, widgets, plugins, and preference panes on my Mac, AppFresh found less than a dozen that needed to be updated.
Of those, some were beta versions, others were updates I’d downloaded but forgot to install, such as the latest Flash player, and a couple of Widgets. Three others were applications like Toast Titanium 8 (I’m still on version 7) which I haven’t bothered to purchase.
To keep my Mac’s software updated all I have to worry about is Apple’s Software Update, Microsoft’s software updater, Adobe’s software updater, and AppFresh. They all work. They’re all free, right?
How do you manage to keep your Mac’s software updated? Talk Back to Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.