My next door neighbor was visiting yesterday afternoon. Amid all the talk of neighbors, kids, husbands, and Sunday football widowhood, she asked me how to do something on her Mac. I’m like the neighborhood big sister who persuaded her to toss out her Windows PC and get a Mac.
She was wary at first, but like many PC switchers, came to love her Mac and look up to me as some kind of Techno Goddess™. Then I showed her my Mac and she went into shock. Why? What’s on my Mac tends to scare neighbors, children, and pets.
It’s no secret that I collect utilities, tools, applications, Dashboard Widgets, and anything else to make my Mac life a little better. It also makes me appear technologically supernatural to my neighbors.
Between a few glasses of wine and toting bags of chips out to the men who were watching my beloved San Diego Chargers get mashed by the Steelers (I stopped watching after the third quarter—my bad), she asked me about disk images.
It seems she had downloaded an application and it opened up as a disk image on her Mac. She wanted to know what disk images were, what they did, and how to make them. So, I showed her my Mac’s screen. That’s when she went into utility shock.
I use DragThing as my Mac’s main launcher, though I keep plenty of apps, utilities, and folders in the Dock. My neighbor only uses the Dock. Compare the two. My DragThing has 11 rows of applications and utilities, each row with 13 icons, a total of 143. The Dock adds 40 more.
My neighbor gasped and stood in shock for moment. “What are all those things? You use all those? There must be hundreds.” Even in shock, she could count. I felt guilty.
One by one I went through many of my favorite utilities and apps and showed her what they do, how they do it, why each is valuable to me. By comparison, her Mac has the basic OS X apps and utilities, plus iWork ‘09 and iLife ‘09. That’s a couple of dozen total, and more than she uses regularly.
How Many Is Too Much?
Yesterday’s neighborly episode gave me something to think about. First, never count out the San Diego Chargers, even when they’re down by 28 points against the defending Super Bowl champions. I missed the 4th quarter action. My bad.
Second, is there such a thing as having too many utilities, applications, or Widgets on a Mac? I cherish my collection, upgrade regularly, and try to use each at least a few times every six months. My iPhone collection is even worse. I’ve bought or downloaded over 300 apps, utilities, games and keep nine iPhone pages full—148 total. Is that too many?
My reality is a bit different than my neighbor. I’ve been a Mac user for about 20 years, so I’m comfortable adding a new tool, whereas a recently switcher from the Dark Side of Windows may be less inquisitive or willing to muck around on the Mac.
The Bell Curve applies to Mac users as it does with many facets of society and culture.
A few are power users. a few hardly know what to click or when. The vast majority of users are somewhere in the middle, getting things done, not worrying much about what else might be out there.
Excluding Apple’s apps and utilities, and excluding anything by Microsoft or Adobe, how many different third party Mac applications, utilities, tools, and Widgets exist on your Mac? Which ones are best and why? Which ones have you used for years? Which ones are the most recent add ons? Inquiring minds want to know.