I’m always interested to know what other tech writers and experienced Mac users run on their Macs. This week I found a list on a notorious technology website that was aimed at the Mac geek; some of the utilities I have and use, some not. That gave me an incentive to compile my own list.
Utility vs. Tool vs. App
To be honest and straightforward about the nomenclature, a utility is an app. A tool is an app. Even Dashboard Widgets are, well, apps. How they are categorized may vary among Mac users, but let’s go with the flow and call those on this list utilities vs. apps because Safari and Mail (both apps) are not the same as Activity Monitor or Disk Utility (utilities you’ll find both in the Mac’s Applications > Utilities folder).
Here’s the list from the aforementioned technology writer. It’s geeky.
- Parallels Access – use it to access to a Mac or PC from nearly anywhere on any device
- F-Secure Freedome VPN – because geeks worry about hackers
- VLC – for when QuickTime is not enough
- iStat Menus – because we need to know what’s going on under the Mac’s hood
- Caffeine – because movies run longer than the screen saver time out
- DiskWarrior – because this proves I know more about Macs than my neighbor
- ForkLift – FTP client on performance enhancing drugs
- SnagIt – a more expensive way to snag screenshots than the free Grab in Utilities
- Bartender – the Mac’s Menubar can get messy, this helps
- The Unarchiver – opens archived and zipped files the Mac’s built-in tool does not
- Mountain – think mount external volumes
- Temperature Gauge Pro – because you need to know what makes the Mac’s fan so loud
Other than the aforementioned geek factor, there is nothing wrong with that list. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives and a few of those are priced less. Here’s what would make up my list.
- Remotix – Remotix works on Mac, iPhone, iPad to connect you to your Mac from anywhere.
- HotSpot Shield – Yet another VPN, HotSpot Shield isn’t any worse but costs more.
- QuickFire – it’s no VLC, but QuickFire is an alternative; and free.
- iStatistica – iStatistica is just cooler to use.
- Amphetamine – Lots of screen tools, Amphetamine is free, too.
- TechTool Pro – not exactly the same as DiskWarrior, but TechTool Pro is worthy.
- Yummy FTP Pro – Fast and packed with features, Yummy FTP Pro is priced right.
- Snap’NDrag Pro – Plenty of features, SnapNDrag Pro is less expensive, iShowU Instant does screen capture videos, too.
- Menubar ReArranger – because the Mac’s Menubar is messy, there’s MenuBar ReArranger.
- BetterZip – I don’t know of a better archive app than BetterZip.
- Semulov – It’s not better than Mountain, but Semulov is priced right.
- Macs Fan Control – Apples to apples, but Macs Fan Control is utterly free.
- DragThing – Yes, it’s from the 1990s, but DragThing has no equal.
There you have ’em; a baker’s dozen of Mac utilities and tools that are also apps but not quite.