Essential software for Mac OS X

I’ve been a Mac user for a little over a year now, coming from about 10 years with Windows, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share the applications available for Mac OS X that I find absolutely essential.

Some of these are software I loved from day one, while others are fairly new finds that improve my Mac experience. The idea here is to only cover applications that aren’t bundled with Mac OS X (amongst those, Preview is fantastic, and iMovie and iDVD are a must for importing and creating nice DVDs).


Quicksilver (Freeware)

If I could only choose one software to install, it would be Quicksilver. It’s an amazingly powerful software, which to some are just an easy way to start applications, but for the power user, there’s no end to the possibilities. Install it. Now!

muCommander (Freeware)

Are you a fan of TotalCommander or NortonCommander on Windows? After many tries, I think I’ve found the equivalent for Mac OS X: muCommander. It is almost as good as the above mentioned, and a personal recommendation is to open the action_keymap.xml file (located under [your user name]/Library/Preferences/muCommander) and change the keyboard shortcuts to your liking (a hint: “meta” is the name for the Command key).

It also supports FTP, so no need for any separate program for that.

Transmission (Freeware)

Simply the best option for torrent files. Light-weight, simple and working like charm.

MacTheRipper (Freeware)

Outstanding software to completely rip a DVD. It works, every time!

Adium (Freeware)

Software for all kinds of IM services. A bit shaky when it comes to file transfers, but otherwise a good choice.

Skype (Freeware)

The application for Internet telephony.

The Unarchiver (Freeware)

Free software to easily unpack ZIP and RAR files.

Running other operating systems

Parallels Desktop (Price: $79.99)

An outstanding way to virtualize other operating systems on your Intel Mac. Also supports Boot Camp installations as well.

Boot Camp (Freeware)

Install Windows side-by-side with Mac OS X.


iSquint (Freeware)

A program that helps you transform your video files for playback on your video iPod.

Senuti (Freeware)

Helps you retrieving all your media files from your iPod, through an iTunes-like interface.


VLC (Freeware)

The most reliable video player. Supports a multitude of formats, subtitles and other options. Maybe not the best-looking software, but something you can trust (and that goes a far way in my book).

Apple Remote Helper (Freeware)

A great software to make your AppleRemote work with VLC.

Apparently the download link is now dead. Anyone who knows where to get this application, please let me know.

Movie Time (Freeware)

Based on QuickTime Player, but supports full-screen viewing and subtitles (something QuickTime Player should’ve done a long time ago…).

Flip4Mac (Freeware)

A plug-in to QuickTime Player for playback of WMV-files (a must for web sites who have chosen a crappy streaming video format). It is freeware if you follow the link above in the heading to the Microsoft web site.

Web browsers

Firefox (Freeware)

The best web browser on the market, and with all the add-ons available, it’s pretty hard to beat.

Flock (Freeware)

Actually, all I use Flock for is uploading pictures to Flickr, but when it comes to that, it’s superb.

SafariStand (Freeware)

If you’re a Safari user, all you need to do is install SafariStand to get a proper experience (as opposed to wasting money on Saft).


TextMate (Price: €39)

Without a doubt, the most competent program for programming on the Mac. Extremely powerful and versatile adaptions available for an abundance of programming languages, the ability to customize it to your needs and bundled with superior functionality. A must, if you’re a developer

RSS readers

Vienna (Freeware)

Easy-to-use RSS reader that supports three-column layouts.

NetNewsWire Lite (Freeware)

Simple and good RSS reader. Suits most people (scroll down the page in the link above).

Anything I’ve missed?

Anything I missed? Please let me know!

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