A few of you may have gotten your first Apple computer this Christmas and to that I say this: Welcome to a vastly better computing experience!
I am biased, obviously, but I truly believe that OS X is a superior operating system and that it’s integration with the hardware is nothing short of magical.
After having moved completely to Apple-based products for everything that I do I cannot imagine ever going back – the ecosystem is wonderful and every computing need that I have is present and available.
So, when a friend of mine got her first Mac computer yesterday as a gift and asked me what they should download I gave them an epic list that was probably overwhelming. I’ve since thought about this list and boiled it down to a few absolutes that I would definitely hit up.
To get you started on your new Apple / OS X experience here are a few Mac Apps that I love and use daily (outside of the native apps that come standard):
1. Desk App
Clearly you’re here because I’m a blogger and I like publishing things. What is not always obvious, which is fine, is that I’m still active as a software developer. I love building things as that has been a passion and pursuit of mine for a very long time.
If you’re a blogger (and I think you should be one) then I’d recommend finding the right tools for the job. Desk App is something that I’ve built that does just that. And even if you’re not a blogger it’s a great text editing and notetaking app.
Oh, and by the way… it has also won a few awards for which I am very thankful for. Blessed, seriously blessed!
2. Google Chrome
The browser that you use matters a lot and although the native Safari browser is quite amazing I prefer Google Chrome over it, especially if you do any development.
It’s fast and I’ve built a handful of scripts and extensions for myself that make it even more useful (optional, of course).
3. Acorn Image Editor
There’s always a need for image editing and I look no further than Flying Meat’s Acorn. It’s infinitely less expensive that Photoshop and let’s be honest: You don’t need Photoshop.
I use this for a ton of different needs from design to development to product development to images for my blog. If you want something different or, perhaps, a bit more “robust” then Pixelmator is also freakin’ amazing too (I have it as well).
4. Clean My Mac
This is truly one of the best tools for keeping things “clean” on your new Mac device and I have scheduled cleanings once a week. MacPaw has really done themselves something awesome with CleanMyMac 2 and I give them digital kudos every time I use it.
The feeling is sensational.
If you need an introduction to Dropbox then I feel sorry for you (just kidding…). It truly is difficult to imagine life before this cloud-based solution. I use it to not only backup my work but save local drafts (via Desk App) for blog post publishing and even use it image and photo backups.
And, it houses all my software and professional work as well. I’m so darn grateful for this little service. Although Dropbox does do image-sharing as well I do prefer Droplr, so make note.
Video screen capture is something important to my daily work and although you’ll find a similar solution in your native Quicktime player (yes, it’ll do screen record and capture!) you’ll want to upgrade your efforts with the likes of Screenflow.
It’s almost impossible to count the ways in which I’ve used this application both personally and professionally. I even used it in my feature overview for Desk App recently:
It’s almost too easy to use and can do more than just record your screen. Edit in text, audio, and even a video of you talking through your sequence. The things is totally the jam.
And, of course, there’s a mobile compliment that makes it even more outstanding. There are very few passwords that I actually “know” and remember at this point in time and that’s a good thing as our entire lives are dependent on good security (and not knowing your own passwords is a great place to start!).
I’ve been plain-spoken about my dislike of Evernote but there’s one product in their lineup that is really very, very decent: Skitch.
It took me a longggggggg time to come back to this app after the acquisition by Evernote especially because they totally botched the next version post-acquisition, but the application is pretty incredible and has some epic utility in screen and image capture and annotation.
It’s the latter-part that really gets me going as I can easily annotate any screencap that I need for delivery to my team(s) and for use in such things as blog posts and explanation images.
Heck, I’ll admit that I even use it for selfies once in a while… … … … or… not…
Keynote doesn’t get automatically installed any more nor is it paid software either. So, you still have to manually download it and it’s 1,000% (or more…?) better than Microsoft Powerpizzzzzzzoint.
I use it not only for presentation (a must-have, for sure) but also for doing serious mockups for many of my software projects. Who would have thought, right? Right.
The other Mac Apps out there like Pages, Numbers, Notes, and more are also good but I haven’t found much consistent use for those as I have a number of web-based apps that are better.
This one might actually surprise you a bit but I like Xee app, an image viewer and browser, much better than the native preview app within OS X. I could probably talk for a while on this but trust me, it’s just better.
I hope you enjoy your new Mac! There’s an amazing world out there and you’ve only just begun your journey into the land of milk and app honey.
Looking for more Mac Apps?
I’ve listed a few more here on my Colophon, which I continue to update regularly.