back to article Ten free apps to install on every new Mac

Apple provides plenty of free software to get you started with a new Mac. But there are some gaps, and a number of the firm's own freebies have been improved upon by some equally inexpensive alternatives. Here, then, is our selection of the ten apps you should download onto every new Mac you buy. RH Numbers Adium Adium is …

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http://handbrake.fr/

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HandBrake

Free, open-source video transcoder. It just works and has some reasonable default template settings for the non-technically literate (like me).

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www.steampowered.com

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Steam!

Surely the day after it's launch this should have been included. The gaming "iTunes" has finally made it to the mac allowing easy access to a large catalogue of games.

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http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/unarchiver.html

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The Unarchiver

I haven't had to bother with the Stuffit signup annoyances ever since I discovered "The Unarchiver", which handles at least as many formats (if not more) and is free and open source. The author seems readily available on his site to take bug reports and feature requests too, not that bugs seem too common.

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http://download.openoffice.org/other.html#tested-full

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Openoffice

Can't think why you left this off!

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n/a

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Monolingual - use with caution

Monolingual is a great way to save some disk space, but beware, it can completely break your Office suite. After using Monolingual, Word 2008 became extremely unstable for me (crashing every few minutes), and the Auto Update procedure ceased to work.

A Time Machine backup saved the day, at the cost of several hours productivity.

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https://www.dropbox.com/

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DropBox

Cloud storage for everyone. Cross platform, multiple folder sharing with other drop box users, up to 2.8 GB free storage. I just works.

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http://blacktree.com/?quicksilver

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Quicksilver

Keyboard shortcuts that work. This app learns your usage patterns and allows you to call up any app, file, or website by typing a few letters of the item's name or keyword.

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http://skitch.com/

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Skitch

Screenshots and annotation made simple, saved in the cloud. Awesome interface, easy to use, and free for now.

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http://handbrake.fr/

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Handbrake

If there's only room for one video-transcoding utility in this list, I would probably choose Handbrake over MPEG Streamclip - partly because it looks a little more user-friendly, but mostly because it includes a lot of device-specific presets (iPod, etc.), and does DVD ripping.

That said, I haven't looked at MPEG Streamclip for a while, so perhaps it's time to get reacquainted :-) Many thanks for a very handy list, which I'll probably be working through over the next few weeks...

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http://lightheadsw.com/caffeine/

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Caffeine

If you have a laptop and don't want it to go to sleep during that important powerpoint presentation - you need Caffeine. It's a menu app and one click will keep your mac from sleeping at inopportune times.

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http://jumpcut.sourceforge.net

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Jumpcut

I'd be less productive without Jumpcut, "a minimalist clipboard manager", which remembers the last dozen or so cuts and copies. Plain text only, but that's good enough for me.

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http://www.clamxav.com/index.php?page=v2beta

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ClamXav

Free antivirus software - picks up Windows malware and the few Mac ones that exist too.

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Anonymous Coward

Going to say

This article should be 5 things to install. since the first 5 are just obvious

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Why CCC Carbon Copy Clone

Why use CCC when Disk Utiility lets you do the same.

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elan.plexapp.com

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Plex

A xbmc fork that's better than the original. VLC becomes irrelevant with Plex.

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aMule

What's VLC/Plex good for without amule?

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http://www.blacktree.com/

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Quicksilver

Your producitvity goes through the roof. For keyboard lovers out there.

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http://www.boxee.tv

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Boxee

Great integrated access to lots of web-based video sources including iPlayer, Nasa TV and loads more...

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http://www.hanynet.com/waterroof/

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Waterroof

Advanced configuration for the OSX firewall - much more fine-grained control that the OSX control panel gives you.

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http://growl.info/

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Growl

Pop up notifier for system & application events. Useful in letting you know when that file has finally uploaded, among lots of other things. Integrates with many other apps to improve the user experience.

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VLC

Unfortunately, the current iteration of VLC is buggy and suffers playback issues on both of my Macs.

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http://www.istumbler.net/http://www.istumbler.net/

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iStumbler

Gives great stats on all available Wifi / Bluetooth connections.

Particularly useful to make sure that your own WiFi isn't sharing a channel with somebody else's

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http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/30315

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Insomnia

Allows you to shut the lid of your MacBook without putting it to sleep, which is really useful if you’ve got a download going or are sending a stream to the TV etc). Unless I have missed anything, I cannot find this functionality anywhere in the system settings.

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Bronze badge

Time Machine

eh ? You can use time machine to restore onto a fresh HD no problem.

In fact, not only that, but i have even restored a mac mini time machine backup onto a freshly formatted macbook air drive (to save me the hassle of sticking all my apps onto it again).

including 'everything' as you say - apps, updates, my data, etc, etc.

Was surprised with with different underlying hardware it worked at all, but work it does with no issues whatsoever.*

I tried CCC and it failed twice, and since then I've stuck with time machine.

you just book off osx disk - select disk utility, restore from time machine, and 10 minutes later all is well.

stu

* I've even restored the same backup with all my apps onto a snow leopard MBP (the mac mini is leopard), and told it just to move apps across - rather optimistic this, as they are all being moved across to a different OS entirely (64 bit, etc)... and blow me, if that just didn't just work too - saving me hours and hours of reinstalling and configuring all my apps and utilities.

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http://www.evernote.com/

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Evernote

Great collector and sorter of information, from personal notes, web cam shots, random images, screen shots, web pages, and scanned text - with limited OCR function. Your data is stored in the cloud and the app is cross platform, with several mobile versions. Free account gives you 45mb monthly upload allowance.

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Adium - huh?

C'mon - who uses this anymore. For most folks it's either Skype or G-chat. These other clients are increasingly irrelevant, in addition to the app like Adium that corrals them.

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http://www.google.com/chrome

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Chrome

Fastest Mac Browser available. Easy to use and great interface.

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Handbrake

Another vote for Handbrake here. You need to install VLC for it to work fully, but once that's done, it's fantastic.

Handbrake can rip from DVDs or transcode from most other video formats. Where it scores over MPEG StreamClip is in ease of use. In particular, the presets will give you great quality output for iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs, whatever in a single click. With MPEG SC you have to know a bit about what you're doing.

There are certain things that MPEG SC is useful for (which is why I have it too), such as joining two H.264 movies into a single .mov or .m4v container (without hours of transcoding). Plus, a few MKV or other source files will crash Handbrake but work with MPEG SC. But, outside of these rare occasions, I use Handbrake every time.

I'd also pair it with MetaX for correctly tagging (including chapter names) your TV and movie files. They integrate quite nicely (and your Mac moos when it finishes -- what more could you want?)

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Onyx, Also, agree with Quicksilver.

Quicksilver is the FIRST thing I install when I get a new mac.

Onyx does what TinkerTool does, and more.

Disk Inventory X, Cyberduckj, and Smultron are also must haves

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http://www.neooffice.org/neojava/en/index.php

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Neooffice

Version of OpenOffice.org for the Mac that has a better "native" look and feel.

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http://members.ozemail.com.au/~pli/x-assist/

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X-Assist

Puts the application switcher drop down menu back on the right hand side of the Finder's menu bar (along with a few other goodies). Invaluable if, like me, you're old school.

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http://www.panic.com/transmit/

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Transmit

i guess this is the best ftp client for mac - FTP or SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV

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http://perian.org/

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Perian

Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.

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http://blog.boastr.net/?page_id=1722

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Better touch tool

this utility is amazing, allows you to customize gestures for touch pad and magic mouse and also few bits on tom, can't live without this as i'm using few spaces and flicking through them using three fingers :)

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http://www.mozilla.org/firefox/

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Firefox

I can't get on with Safari.

Actually Camino is also a nice OS X friendly port of Firefox, but doesn't use the same extensions :(

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Macports

Macports and opera.

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http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/

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Firefox

One of the first things I install on a new mac. To each their own, I never liked Safari.

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http://www.getsongbird.com/

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Songbird

Free iTunes music player replacement with plugins for cover art, video-clips, phone syncing, gigs and even song lyrics.

Bonus feature: it can play FLAC audio files.

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A few others

Keka (http://www.kekaosx.com/en/): for decompressing files, just runs in the background.

Cyberduck (http://cyberduck.ch/): for SFTP chores

Flip4Mac (http://www.telestream.net/flip4mac-wmv/overview.htm): play WMV on mac, also has a paid for pro version for doing other stuff.

Perian (http://perian.org/): codecs galore for QuickTime

Opera (http://www.opera.com/): Opera web browser :)

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http://nightly.webkit.org

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Webkit

It's Safari, but not directly from Apple.

And, more up to date vis a vis security patches.

Chrome is for people who don't mind Google's impending takeover of the interwebs...

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http://p7zip.sourceforge.net/

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py7zip

7zip archive for Mac OS X command line.

Enough said.

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Bronze badge

http://code.google.com/p/subler/

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Subler

I wouldn't put it in my top ten, but Subler is a great accompaniment to Handbrake and allows you to mux in subtitles to the original MP4 file. This frees you from the yoke of VLC, especially when you use Perian...

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Bronze badge

http://perian.org/

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Perian

Perian adds support for loads of video formats to Quicktime - DIVX etc - and given Quicktime is a lot more reliable than VLC on the Mac I'm amazed this didn't make your top 10. It's indispensible.

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This suggestion has been deleted by its author

Transmit isn't free, you know

besides, real men do their ftp business in the Terminal

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http://glimmerblocker.org/

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Glimmerblocker

Not quite as effective as adblock plus for Firefox, but stil very effective if you aren't using that browser. Works system wide as a proxy, so works with Opera, Chrome, Safari and whatever browser you like.

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http://clicktoflash.com/

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Click2flash

Flash is crap on Macs. The newest beta improves that but still it won't make any difference on unsupported graphics cards. So click2flash blocks flash and offers the option to playback flash movies using Quicktime.

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http://cyberduck.ch/

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Cyberduck - FTP

Best free (But asks for a donation once every new version), open source, FTP client out there for the mac. Supports FTP, SFTP, WebDAV and rackspace+amazon cloud uploads. Has a pretty advanced feature set without imposing a complicated user interface.

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@Tiny Iota

Insomnia is pretty awesome - I close the lid of my laptop all the time, and I'd rather that my ssh sessions stay connected.

To fully correct the bizarre power behaviour on your average mac laptop, this command:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 1

Will turn 'sleep' mode into suspend-to-disk, instead of suspend-to-ram. You'll want to use that one w/ Insomnia to prevent a hibernate every time you close the lid, however.

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http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html

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SuperDuper

i found carbon copy cloner to be a bit annoying. superduper is really easy and the paid version allows you to do stuff i have never needed.

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