There are more Mac users on planet earth than ever before.
Thanks to the iPod halo effect, the iPhone halo effect, and, soon, the iPad halo effect, even more Windows PC users will switch to the Mac. If you or someone you know has recently switched to Apple’s World of Light™ from Microsoft’s Dark Side, take heart—the Mac has plenty of free software to go around.
First, The Switcher’s Basics
Switchers to the Mac are awed by Apple’s famed eye candy, and inspired by the Mac’s famed ease of use, and delighted by the traditional lack of utilities to scan for Malware.
That doesn’t mean that switchers don’t need to have the basics.
Since a Mac already comes with iLife, all that’s necessary is to decide between Microsoft Office for Mac, or Apple’s zen-like iWork suite of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
Regardless of which is chosen, and we recommend both, switchers to the Mac are off on the right foot, and all that’s left is to get a list of those Friday Freebies that Mac360 resident Value Vixen™ serves up every Friday. Mostly.
The Top 20 Free Mac Tools For Switchers
Switchers from Windows PCs have special needs when it comes to Mac software. These apps need to be useful, utilitarian, comfortable and not complex, and, best of all—free.
#20 – ClamXav: Yep, no in-the-wild viruses for Mac users, but switchers may feel more comfortable with a quick and easy scan to ease their worrisome mind, and ClamXav does just that.
#19 – Firefox: It’s important for switchers to feel comfortable using a Mac. Sure, there’s Safari on Windows PCs, but who uses it? On the other hand, Firefox accounts for about 30-percent of all browsing on PCs, so using the Mac version just adds to a switchers comfort zone.
#18 – VirtualBox: Some switchers won’t be happy until they know for themselves that Windows can truly run on a Mac whether they ever use it or not. Cough up money for Parallels or VMWare Fusion or use Apple’s Boot Camp, or give VirtualBox a try.
#17 – Flip4Mac WMV: Newcomers to the Mac surely must know where all the Windows Media Video sites are. Flip4Mac to the rescue, since WMV and WMA audio files don’t play natively on the Mac. Now they will. Oh, Flip4Mac can also install the latest version of Microsoft’s so very popular SilverLight which provides Flash-like animation and interactivity on all 12 of the sites that use it.
#16 – Flash Player: Amazingly, the web isn’t made up of just Windows and Apple movie files. It’s mostly made up of Flash videos, and for that you need the latest Flash Player, now at version 10.1. This one works pretty well on the Mac.
#15 – Handbrake: Windows and Mac users have some common ground. We both love to rip DVDs to our respective computer of choice, and what better utility than Handbrake.
#14 – Vienna RSS Reader: RSS is the cat’s meow. What better way to read the headlines and summaries of dozens and dozens of web sites without all that nasty clicking. The free and easy way is Vienna, now with Facebook and Twitter emailing built in.
#12 – Cyberduck: Even if you can’t spell FTP, it’s likely you’ll need to do it one day on your Mac. Cyberduck is easy and oh so Mac like; capable of spelling SFTP, S3, SSH, SCP, WebDAV, FTP/TLS, and free.
# 11 – Buddi: It’s likely that switchers from Windows won’t have too much money left over after buying a Mac, but if you do, Buddi is a good Mac money management utility to manage whatever might be left over. Buddi runs on Macs and Windows, just in case you and your money need to go back to the Dark Side.
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The Top 10 Free Mac Tools For Switchers
No Top 20 list of anything is complete without the Top 10, so here it is. The rest of the story. Mac360’s Top 10 Free Mac Tools Every Windows PC Switcher Needs.
#10 – iStumbler: More than half of all Macs sold are of the notebook variety. iStumbler is that nifty Mac utility which helps you find wireless networks—everything from WiFi to Bluetooth to Bonjour.
#9 – Google Earth: What’s a Mac if you can’t see what’s in your own back yard? Google Earth works on Macs, too, oh Windows brethren. It’s decently fast, decently detailed, and priced right to move quickly.
#8 – DropCopy: How easy is it to move files from one Mac to another? It’s like dropping something. That’s DropCopy. Drag and drop to copy.
#7 – NameChanger: Files on Macs and Windows need names changed now and again.
NameChanger makes renaming a bunch of crazy named files much easier—so easy a caveman could do it. So can a switcher.
#7 – Skype: Yes, dear switcher, Skype runs on the Mac, too. Only, on the Mac, Skype is actually easy to use. But don’t forget, your Mac comes with iChat built-in. It does what Skype does but not for as many people.
#6 – Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2: And who says Microsoft can’t be creative with names? Just in case you need to connect to a nearby Windows PC but stay on your Mac because you don’t want to contaminate yourself, Microsoft understands. RDCC4Mac2 lets you connect to your Windows PC to get Windows files and apps but without infecting your Mac.
#5 – Quinn: I have a few dozen games on my Mac and they’re mostly aimed at kids. Quinn is the Mac game I use when I want to mindlessly zone out and not think of the day’s troubles. Think of it as what happened when Dominoes mated with Tetris. Quinn is best tried after a few glasses of wine. The scores won’t be as high, but you’ll have more fun.
#4 – Quicksilver: It’s just possible, possible, mind you, that a geeky Windows PC user would switch to the Mac. If so, Quicksilver is what Mac power users use to show they have power. What is Quicksilver? A unified, extensible interface for working with applications, contacts, music, and other data.
Geeky prose like that just stirs the heart, doesn’t it?
#3 – iStat Pro: Tell the truth. You switched to a Mac for all the eye candy, right?
iStat Pro brings you more eye candy in a useful, though totally unnecessary utility. It’s a Dashboard Widget that monitors your Mac’s hot spots—CPU, memory, hard disk drive, battery, network connection, and other tidbits of information to make you feel like you’re in control.
#2 – OnyX: You thought buying a Mac would make life easier, right? It does. But underneath all that easy is complexity just waiting for an opportunity to show you that a Mac can spell UNIX. OnyX is a handy tool that opens up a bunch of the Mac’s hidden secret features.
#1 – Carbon Copy Cloner: A Mac has a hard disk drive just like a Windows PC. That means back ups are important and what better tool than Carbon Copy Cloner? Your Mac’s hard disk drive can be cloned to an external disk drive. That means you can run your Mac using the back up, just in case something goes terribly wrong with your Mac’s disk drive.
CCC is drop dead easy to use, and comes with a scheduler so you don’t have to sit and watch. Incremental back ups take minutes, and you end up with a complete clone of all the files on your Mac. CCC lets you sleep well at night knowing that a cloned Mac is a good Mac.
That’s my Top 20 Free Mac Tools And Utilities That Every Windows PC Switcher Needs. What did I miss? To add your favorite or to tell me the error of my ways, just click Comments.