Thursday, January 14, 2010

Newbie's Guide to Apple Computing

A friend who was a longtime Windows user recently switched to Mac, and I compiled some information for him. I figured I'd share it here.

Two best reference books:
The Little Mac Book, Snow Leopard Edition and Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual

Indispensable mac sites:

I'd suggest, whenever possible, sticking with (or at least starting with) the Apple apps. Safari, not Firefox. Address Book, not 3rd party address books. Mail, not Eudora. Etc. If they dissatisfy a lot, then switch later. But if you start out third-partying lots of stuff, you lose the inter-app synergy built into OS X.

You may want to invest in
BBedit a hugely expensive text editor for programming. much better than anything in windows. You can demo it free, or the company puts out a freeware text editor, TextWrangler that's actually nearly as good.

Most of the following are freeware or cheap:

LotsaEscher is afantastic free MCEscher screensaver, just came out.

1password is a must for managing password data (and making it super easy to do log-ons with browser)

weatherdock is invaluable

Must get
Thucydides, which makes your Safari History data vastly better searchable

Adium (by far the best IM client)

Skim (vastly better than Preview for viewing PDF files. Note that it's for scientific users...I'm not will be even better for you).

DVDpedia, Bookpedia, CDpedia (if you collect such things, these are awesome catalogers. Use iSight to scan in via bar codes! Not free, but not expensive)

Minuteur (best timer app)

Tofu (you'll never want to read on-screen text any other way)

Isolator (blacks out all but the frontmost window, makes it easier to concentrate)

Namely (start typing an app name and this finds it...simpler/easier than quicksilver, which confuses the bejesus out of me)

Perian allows quicktime (and thus your browsers) to play lots of video formats

Intouch With (great freeform address book and general information manager, though expensive and more or less dead-ended in development)

PTHPasteboard (mulitpile

PDFLab surprising power to finagle with PDFs in a freeware app

best classic to-do list:
best GTD type to-do list:
iGTD (though it's in a developement stall...and if that bugs you, you can opt for the ridiculously complex and powerful OmniFocus)

Don't overlook Dictionary, which came with your mac. It's real good.

Audacity (free audio editing...much like the great old system 7 audio editors)

RadioRecorder is a good freeware app for capturing (to mp3) audio streams (e.g. from internet radio)

MacJanitor is a good thing to run once in a while

ShowVolumeFragmentation is something a system 7 vet will appreciate

WriteRoom is a zen-ware "no distractions" way to belch out streams of writing (if you liked isolator and tofu, you'll like this). seems insane to blow $25 on this, but if you love it, you'll need it.

Bugdom2 such a great game. Cro-Mag Rally is the best driving game. Well worth $20-30. Both are avail. for iPhone, btw.

Keywurl allows you to do all sorts of web actions from the "go to" field (whatever you call the field where you type in the URL). Hard to explain, but do try it.

Quickeys for hugely powerful macro creation (expensive)

I haven't tried
TrueCrypt, but it looks like a real breakthrough: on the fly disk encryptian software that's FREE

isquint (converts video files for ipod) and VisualHub (all sorts of conversion ability on all sorts of video files, including FLV files which Handbrake - which sucks, btw - can't handle) are both great. Alas, they're deadware, so you'll have to build the (renamed) apps from the sourcecode. Here are instructions

A useful Metafilter discussion of great Mac-only software


Dave said...

Thanks for this, Jim. I just made the switch, myself.

Pat said...

Oh my god, Jim! I've not even heard of most of these, after 10 years and 3 Macs, 2 I use every day!

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