Hey, you sass that hoopy Bill Napier? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is.

What's on your Mac?

There are a few applications on my mac that I couldn't do without. These are the kinds of programs that would be the first thing I install on any new computer that I would get, they are that good. And the best part about this list? They are all (currently) free.


Beginner Quicksilver users love it as an application launcher. No more going to the Applications folder to launch your applications, just a quick Command-Space and type the first few characters of the name and your set. More advanced Quicksilver users can resize images with a few strokes of the keyboard. Or do quick math without having to launch the calculator application. Even more advanced users can send full e-mails or even text messages from inside it.


Multi-protocol IM client. MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, Google Talk and many more inside one program. Not to mention how sweet it looks. Eye candy that works well? I'm in heaven.


One of the greatest things about having a Mac is that it is UNIX under the hood and you can install all your favorite UNIX tools on it (Ethereal, Nethack, and ffmpeg jump to mind). With this great power comes great responsibility (and heartburn) as you try and get all these programs to compile and install and keep them updated. If you've ever tried to do this on another UNIX system, you know how much of a pain it can be. Most modern UNIX's have some kind of package management system to ease this burden, and OSX is one of them.

I first started with Fink. It's biggest draw to me was the pre-packaged binaries so I didn't have to compile anything and the "apt-get" interface that I was comfortable with from running Debian Linux for so many years. But I have recently switched to MacPorts. The 2 main reasons for me to switch were: 1. With Leopard, fink hasn't built up its binary library yet, so I was compiling everything anyway. 2. I got fed up with the crappy support fink had for ffmpeg. I've switched to MacPorts and haven't looked back.


It is true that Apple ships a terminal program with their computers called (creatively enough) Terminal.app. But the one that shipped before Leopard was slow and ugly (slow can be a problem when running long compiles...). So I switched to iTerm. Speedy, Looks good, and supports tabs. I've read that a lot of that has been fixed in the version of Terminal.app that ships with Leopard, but I'll never know as I'm still using iTerm.


Just like MacPorts and Fink manage your UNIX tools and keep them up to date, AppFresh does the same thing for the rest of the programs on your computer. Run it once a week and it will look at all the programs on your computer and tell you about any updates you may need to install, and in many cases install them for you. It's still a little rough around the edges at times, but it works well for me.


FTP is sooooooo 1997. But truth is, you still sometimes have to use it (like when I access files on my webhost provider). And while I can do it from the command line, the graphical interface that Cyberduck provides just gels really well with Finder and enables me to just drag and drop the files I need.


Honestly, I don't know why Apple doesn't ship Growl as part of the OS. Or write it's own version. Simply put, Growl is a notification system. It allows any application on your system that is Growl enabled (and most of the ones you download are) to put popup notifications on your screen. Some of the most useful notifications I get are: IP address changed, Safe to Remove USB stick, song changed in iTunes, etc.


Want to convert (rip) DVD's to watch on your iPod/T-Mobile Dash/Mac/etc.? Handbrake is your program. Couple of clicks, come back in a few hours and it's done.


You going to do bittorrent? Get Transmission. Easy, lightweight, free.

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Bill Napier

Bill Napier

Technologist, Gadget Lover, Father. Doing full time work at Google and part time work on everything else.