Mac apps: A beginning

Monday, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:06 | technology

So I’ve fiddled with my work MacBook over the weekend and installed a lot of crap to cover everything I need. This is a list of stuff I’ve found useful and would likely install in a new Mac, too.

Desktop Manager for more space. It’s a free virtual desktop solution, effectively multiplying my screen estate. Currently I’m using a web browsing, email and office desktop. I can change the desktop by taking the mouse to the screen edge or hitting [Option + left/right]. The software’s kind of old and the Universal Binary (Intel-compatible) version is made by another guy, but so far it’s worked well despite being a little clunky. Any PC user would be so envious of your funky desktop transition animations – I know I was.

Quicksilver for launching apps and finding stuff, which I already recommended in my last post. Really minimizes mouse use and time spent in menus.

Thunderbird for email. The Mac’s native does not play nice with the Exchange server we have set up at the office. Thunderbird does. It also feels more like the Outlook I’m so familiar with. Saved searches (like Mac’s “smart folders”) are a godsend – everyone should try them out if you’re unfamiliar with them. I don’t know if the PC version has them, too. I have saved searches for all flagged and unread items.

Growl for keeping me up to date on what’s happening with my hardware, notifying me of new email, new songs on iTunes and so on.

Coda for web development. It doesn’t do anything you couldn’t do with a separate editor, a browser and an FTP application, but it brings them all together in one workspace. Excellent when low on screen space, that is, working on the MacBook.

iTunes for music playing. I like the latest version a lot more than the previous ones. There is the not-insignificant reason that I need it to play with the office AirPort Express, too – I’d have to use iTunes anyway, so it’s a bonus I like it. I used to be very much a Windows Media Player kind of guy, just for reference.

I’m still looking for a calendar solution and remain undecided on the office solution. I’m currently trying out NeoOffice, the OpenOffice Mac version. If it plays well with the Microsoft documents I have to play around with at work, no need to shell out for Microsoft Office. I do suspect I may need the package for the full-fledged PowerPoint, though, as we do produce quite a lot of presentations.

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