We’re deep into the digital social revolution of the 21st century, and Mac users are in the middle of it all. There’s MySpace, Facebook, and the microblogging site, Twitter. Your friends do it. Companies do it. Celebrities do it.
If you want to tweet for free you can use your web browser, or one of a few Twitter clients loaded with features but without a price tag.
#5 – Syrinx
What you get is an elegant and logical interface, and quick access to the basic Twitter features.
Keep track of unread tweets in The Bookmark. Find relevant tweets in the Timeline Search. Add color, add a sound to the incoming tweet alert, shorten URLs automatically, even customize font size.
Not bad for free. Syrinx needs an comparable iPhone version.
#4 – Tie: Vienna/NetNewsWire
Gotcha. Yet another tie. Listen, I cannot stress enough the value of using an RSS reader, and plenty abound for Mac and Windows users.
An RSS reader simply pulls down the latest headlines and summaries of as many web sites as you want. No more clicking bookmarks, waiting for sites to download to your browser, then clicking, scanning the page for relevant news, clicking again, and scanning yet another page for relevant news.
RSS newsreaders do all that for you, behind the scenes, quickly, efficiently, and with enough bells and whistles that you could forgo using a browser for awhile.
Vienna is lean and fast and local. NetNewsWire is my preference only because I have a penchant for bloated apps with cartoon-like icons, and I use Google Reader. NetNewsWire syncs with your RSS URLs on Google Reader.
Vienna is billed as full featured, but it’s not. It’s good, yes, better than using Safari for RSS, yes, and a totally non-distracting RSS reader, but the feature list isn’t anything like NetNewsWire.
NNW acts like a browser with a giant RSS list. It can archive web pages, integrates with iCal, iPhoto, Twitterific, Spotlight, and Address Book on your Mac. Even email from within NNW. Did I mention tabs. NNW’s got tabs. There’s no better way to dig through many web sites in minutes than a good RSS reader.
#3 – Skype
Yes, your Mac has iChat and it does chat, audio, and video, and has pretty bells and whistles. But you really need to connect to someone else using iChat, and that, in a Windows PC world, presents a problem.
Skype is like having all your friends on iChat. It does chat, audio, video and, with an extra cost plan, VoIP. That’s like having a telephone connection in your Mac, so you can literally dial up friends and family all over the world. It’s free Mac to Mac or Mac to PC.
Some plans get you a phone number or the ability to use your Mac to dial someone, almost anywhere in the world, over the internet and telephone lines, using your Mac.
These days you see Skype on network television. It’s a lot less expensive for CNN to use Skype than satellite connections. Skype for Mac also uses your Mac’s built-in iSight camera and microphone.
# 2 – Flip4Mac WMV
Like it or don’t, it’s a Windows infested world out there. That means plenty of Microsoft’s proprietary Windows video files that show up on the web. Worse, Microsoft’s Silverlight (similar to Adobe Flash) has an increased presence on web sites.
Your Mac’s QuickTime player won’t play Windows Media Video files or Silverlight video. What’s a Mac user to do?
Flip4Mac WMV to the rescue. This free utility lets your Mac play WMV and Silverlight videos, right within Safari or Firefox using the plugin.
As much as I disdain WMV videos and Silverlight videos and Flash videos, they’re out there. If you’re a Mac user, Flip4Mac is a necessity to view the rest of the world’s videos.
#1 – CarbonCopyCloner
Last week I listed the Top 12 Tools Your New Mac Must Have Now. All those tools come with a price tag. #1 was SuperDuper!, the best of many Mac back up utilities; especially good at cloning your Mac’s hard disk drive.
SuperDuper! has a price tag. The free feature, which can be used to complete erase and clone a Mac’s disk drive, is easy to use but limited.
Enter Carbon Copy Cloner. Think of it as a free SuperDuper!
Think of CCC as the most important free utility your Mac will ever see. Simply put, CCC clones your Mac’s hard disk drive, bit for bit, to another disk drive, makes it bootable. It’s a clone.
That means you can use the backup clone to start up your Mac if the original disk drive fails. CCC works on all recent Macs, and virtually any decent external (or, internal on MacPro models).
Not only does Carbon Copy Cloner clone your Mac, it will synchronize specific folders according to your needs. It comes with an auto scheduler so the backup process takes place when you want. Backups can also be handled incrementally, updating only the files which have changed. Incremental backups can take only minutes, depending on your disk drive size and number of files.
CCC has plenty of features, considering the price tag. Back up to another Mac on your home network. Back up across the internet. Back up while you’re asleep. Restore your Mac’s files the same way. Click. Eat lunch. Done.