Thursday, December 02, 2010

What's On My Mac?

I love tweaking and tuning my laptop for just the right performance.  Here's my collection of favorite applications that get re-installed every time I buy a new Mac:

So many little time...

1. Adium

The instant message application for the Mac.  Supports just about everything from Lotus Sametime to Facebook.

2. AppCleaner

Helps get rid of my mistakes.  Good, but not perfect, for cleaning up the extra files that apps leave lying around.

3. BreakAway

Yank your headphone cable out of the Mac at the wrong time and you'll be blaring loud music to everyone on the plane or in the coffee shop.  With this program, if you pull out the headphones, iTunes is paused.

4. Copernicus & Capture Me

Two excellent screen / window capture programs that enable you to take snapshots of applications and windows.

5. Evernote

I have Evernote on everything.  It's my notepad now.  Everything goes there.

6. InsomniaX

This application (must be used carefully) can prevent you MacBook from going to sleep when the lid is closed.  Useful for downloading your e-mail when dashing between flights.  You must be careful to avoid overheating the machine.

7. SoundSource

A nifty pull-down that lets you easily switch between speakers, headphones, and bluetooth headphones for your listening pleasure.

8. ReNicer

Nice and Re-Nice are Unix commands for changing process priorities.  ReNicer puts a GUI on top of that and automatically prioritizes what you're working on in a Window over background processes.  This improves the usability of the laptop when you're running lots of background applications.

9. Typinator

This program automatically expands simple text and fixes type-ohs in every program you use.  Reviewed by Pogue in the New York Times, it's a huge productivity tool.

10. Proximity

This program is a bit tricky, but once I got it to work it's quite neat.  It can activate or de-active the screen saver whenever your bluetooth equipped mobile phone comes in range.  That means when you walk away from your PC, it can lock automatically, and it can unlock just as easily when you come back.  The automation is nice, but setting it up was difficult.  Not for the non-technical user.

11. Growl

An excellent, simple, and attractive tool for alerts, Growl displays updates to your programs like new mail or new instant messages discreetly in the upper right of the screen for a few seconds.  It integrates across multiple programs too, making it easy to consolidate all those announcements.

12. EarthDesk

My favorite screen background, it shows various views of the earth, with or without clouds and current weather.  A neat, living wallpaper that's always changing and endlessly fascinating.

13. KeyReamp4MacBook

A long-winded program title, but perfectly accurate.  I don't want to totally remap my keyboard, but the one thing I cannot live without is the "forward delete" key - standard on PCs but not Macs.  The delete key on a Mac does what the backspace key on a PC does, but there's no PC delete key.  This makes it possible to remap one of the option keys to that function.

More elaborate remappings are possible too, but not ones I bother with.

14. TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt is the benchmark for encrypting files and keeping your personal information private.  On the PC, you can do whole disk encryption.  Not possible on the Mac, but you can use it to encode specific files and folders if you think it necessary.

I use Apple's secure folders and that seems to be "good enough" for everyday security.  I am not sure if it is enough to secure my PC against serious, determined intrusion, but that's not my main concern.

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