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Mac Apps I Can’t Live Without

One of my co-workers and I were having a discussion this morning. He and I represent the only two people on our side of the house (end-user support) that are fluent in all three of the major OSes. We were talking about our personal love/hate relationships with Mac platform. It mostly came down to handful of things that are actually quite useful in addition to being cool toys. Here’s a quick rundown of the things that came up in no particular order.

  • Exposé – This is quite honestly the feature that hooked me with Panther (10.3). What it does is show you all the windows open or all the windows for a specific application all at once in a smaller format so that you can still make out what’s going on in the window. For me, it makes the App Switcher (via Cmd + Tab, equivalent to Ctrl + Tab) feel clunky and not terribly useful. Especially when you’ve got multiple Firefox windows open with specific tab groups, multiple terminal windows, and multiple VMs running and especially when combined with…
  • Better Touch Tool/Multi-Touch in general – A four finger downward swipe to engage Exposé makes it even better. The Magic Trackpad has made my desktop computing life that much better. Better Touch Tool made the Magic Trackpad even better than that. I had tried to set the squeeze on my Mighty Mouse as Exposé in a previous life, but that never worked like I wanted it to work, mostly because the squeeze button those mice is needlessly twitchy. When placed between the halves of my Kinesis Freestyle, the Trackpad is the perfect compliment to my Trackman Wheel.
  • Growl – Growl is a handy little notifier app that alerts you to incoming IMs, changed tracks in iTunes and a plethora of other things that you can configure. Very handy when you’re playing your whole iTunes library on shuffle.
  • Bowtie – This is an app that gives you a few global shortcuts to control iTunes and a built-in scribbler for Last.FM. Way better than the official Last.FM client, which, let’s face it, sucks.
  • Quicksilver – While Windows may have Launchy, it just pales in comparison, but that might just be a matter of slightly less maturity. Sure, Quicksilver is an app-launcher, but it’s capable of so much more. Before Bowtie, I used it to control iTunes. I still have it set up to trigger a few global shortcuts that I find fairly useful.
  • Visor – Ctrl + ` to get Terminal window that slides down like the console in Quake, but not quite. Can you tell that I like global shortcuts?

For all my talk of loving Linux and what it represents, I can’t get away from the Mac OS. When it comes time to get some work done, I just need to have OS X running on my machine. Does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t know. I do know that it makes me a creature of habit, and as they say “old habits die hard.”

How about you? What apps can’t you live without? What do you need to feel productive?

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Categories: Linux, Mac, Tech, Windows
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