The economy is brutal. Jobs are scarce. You need someone to look out for you, show you the way, protect your Mac assets (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Mac360’s Value Vixen™ to the rescue with my 8th Annual Ultimate List Of 20 Free Apps Every Mac User Needs.
This is the list of the best of the best of the free. The list that is coveted by kings and royalty and just plain cheap folks looking for a bargain.
Free, Easy, Useful: Pick Any Two
Every year (or so, depending on the month or slow news days) I dig into my stack of Mac apps and sort out the riffraff.
Discarded from consideration are apps from Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe.
Who needs them on the list? Combined, they’re already worth more than the US government, governors from Texas, and George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg combined.
What we Mac users need is a list of apps that help us make it through the night (and at least half way through the day) and don’t cost an arm and a leg or anything that would add to the federal deficit.
In no particular order, (though you’re free to argue about it), the Ultimate List Of 20 Free Mac Apps:
#20 – Bean: Please. Is there a better deal than Bean? It’s free. It’s a word processor. It’s better than TextEdit. All the features you need and none you don’t.
#19 – Twitter: Sure, use a browser window. Bo-ring. Twitter has an official Twitter app for Mac. Free. Loaded with features. And it’s a good way to learn to use the Mac App Store.
#18 – Xmarks: Got browser bookmarks? Yes, of course. Now keep them in sync between all major browsers and Mac and PC with Xmarks.
#17 – Evernote: Think of it as notes everywhere. Evernote runs on mostly everything and gives you online storage, notes, and a mini-word processor.
#16 – Firefox: It’s the Windows PC user’s way to fight Microsoft and browse better, but Firefox is good on the Mac, too. Those extensions you loved? They run on Firefox for Mac.
#15 – Alfred: Ah, yes. Productivity. That’s Alfred. What’s it do? Uh, um, increases productivity? Alfred is a launcher, and, uh, other stuff. And free. For now.
#14 – TinkerTool: How do I love to tinker on a Mac? Let me count the ways. Start to tinker with TinkerTool and open up a bunch of hidden secrets in Mac OS X.
#13 – SnapNDrag: Screen capture tools for mere mortals in the lovely SnapNDrag. A little pop up window makes it easy to capture a selection, a window, or the whole screen. And without having to remember all those crazy keyboard short cuts from Apple.
#12 – Chrome: What? Two browsers in the Top 20? Is that, like, even fair? Sure. It’s my list. I don’t like Firefox but I know others do. Besides, Safari has become troublesome even for experienced Mac users, and Google’s Chrome has Flash built-in and it mostly works.
#11 – Flash: Speaking of Flash, No Top 10 For You! If you’re a glutton for punishment, Flash is always around to help keep our MacBook fans busy, or to lock up Safari windows, or to help reduce battery life while you’re busy streaming videos you shouldn’t ought.
#10 – Flip4Mac: I tried to keep this out of the Top 10. Honestly. I tried. Flip4Mac lets you watch Windows Media Video on a Mac. All it’s good for is classy pay per view porn sites. So I hear.
#9 – Skype: Yes, there’s iChat and FaceTime, but we’re talking real world communication, and that means Skype. It’s not as bad as they say. The alternatives (see above) are better. But it’s priced right. And owned by Microsoft. Nothing could go wrong there, right?
#8 – Dropbox: It’s where you store stuff that needs to be available on other Macs or PCs. Dropbox is free to start. But the more you store, the more money you need, so store wisely.
#7 – AppCleaner: It’s to clean old apps from your Mac. AppCleaner is not the best, but it’s priced right, updated regularly and works for most users.
#6 – CyberDuck: If you need to move files from your Mac to a remote location and you can spell FTP or SFTP or S3 or SSH, then CyberDuck is where it’s at if you’re on a budget.
#5 – DropCopy: I love this app. DropCopy is the best way to send files from one Mac to another Mac (at home). Yes, Apple gave us some kind of file sharing app (I think it’s called Wi-Fi Share Drop Air or something like that). But it’s clunky, requires Wi-Fi and doesn’t work on Macs from just a few years ago. DropCopy is clunky, too, but works. So there.
#4 – NetNewsWire: Honestly, I’m torn between two lovers. Vienna on one hand, NetNewsWire on the other. Both will do you good. NNW has more features. Please. Use this app and get to know the exciting world of RSS on a Mac. You’ll be a better person.
#3 – Growl: Get notified of what’s happening on your Mac with simple little onscreen pop ups. Growl plugs into everything and notifies you when it happens. It’s must have.
#2 – Handbrake: Oh, this is a horrible app. But Handbrake is the only game in town when it comes to ripping DVDs on your Mac. And, by ripping, I mean copying for purposes of backup, so you can preserve your DVD collection. It’s definitely not a tool to be used to copy Netflix DVDs and adding them to your movie collection.
#1 – It’s A Tie! Oh, no. A tie between Carbon Copy Cloner, the free must have utility to clone your Mac’s hard disk drive and prevent catastrophic data loss, and Caffeine, the little Mac app that overrides screensaver, and screen dimmer, and screen off so you can continue to watch your favorite streaming video service without interruption.
That’s me. Practical to the end. I’m also the guardian of The Top 12 Very Cool Apps In The Mac App Store.
But I claim no allegiance to The Top 8 Word Processors Mac Users Can Love, other than #8 is my favorite.