I have been a technologist for the past 20 years helping customers streamline operations, reduce costs or increase profitability through the efficient use of technology. Over the years, the technologies have changed but one that has remained fairly influential over the last 10 years has been Microsoft Windows. Not only has it been a strong business platform but it has been my main personal (home use) platform. With Windows 8 and the increasingly unfriendly user interface, I finally decided it was time to finally go back to the Apple platform for personal use.
Switching to Mac meant I also had to change many of my main applications so I wanted to share my top 10 Mac apps with you.
1 - Evernote
Evernote has been one of my main applications for the last 4 years and is my main data hub. It helps organize information, tasks and powers my GTD system. I love the fact that the Evernote team is constantly updating the product (trying to make it better) and that it exists for almost every platform (Android, IOS, windows,
2 - Google Chrome
Discussing browsers is like discussing religion. There is no magically right answer and everyone has their own preferences. Sure you can use Apple's own Safari or Mozilla's Firefox but my browser of choice is Google Chrome. It is fast, synchronizes my data across all my devices and provides the tight integration with Google's cloud services I wants.
3 - VideoLan Client
There are hundreds of video clients available for the Apple Mac OS platform but nothing else matches the features and versatility of VLC. It is a FREE open source client that supports almost every audio and video format under the sun. It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. Once you get a little more advanced you can even use it to digitize a CD or DVD, comprress videos, and much more.
4 - Handbrake
Handbrake is a fantastic open source software (multi-platform) that allows you to rip and convert media. I'll admit it isn't the most elegant user interface and has some quirks but you get a powerful free tool.
5 - Keka
The more I use cloud, the less I use compression but there are still times when I need to compress a bunch of files to send it off. There are a bunch of good paid apps but since I don't use compression / decompression often, I wanted something function but free. Enter Keka.
Keka is a free (no advertising) compression / decompression tool that works extremely well. I found the app a little confusing at first, it doesn't seem to be update all that often and it doesn't really have a manual.
It isn't perfect but the functionality is good. It supports a tone of formats.
Compression formats supported:
7z, Zip, Tar, Gzip, Bzip2, DMG, ISO
Extraction formats supported:
RAR, 7z, Lzma, Zip, Tar, Gzip, Bzip2, ISO, EXE, CAB, PAX, ACE (PPC)
What I liked most about Keka is that it works good for a basic non technical user but offers enough customization for a power user as well.
6 - Caffeine
Some of us need a big cup of coffee to get through the day because it perks you up, makes you more attentive and prevents drowsiness. Caffeine does the same for your Mac. It's a free app that is added to your menu bar that when activated ensures your Mac screen stays powered preventing dimming, sleeping or activation of the screen saver.
Why would you want this? When reading a book (Kindle), a PDF or a webpage, you don't want to wiggle your mouse every couple of seconds to prevent your mac from sleeping.
7 - ExpanDrive 3
ExpanDrive 3 is a simple little program that turns any cloud storage service into a standard mounted drive on your computer (like plugging in a USB key or hard-drive). This means that any app on your Mac can read and write file to any of the supported cloud storage services without modification.
Out of the box, it supports:
- Amazon S3
- Rackspace Cloud Files
- Dreamhost DreamObjects
- Openstack Swift
This is not a free app but well worth the money.
8 - Paragon NTFS for Mac
There will be times when you have to access an NTFS formatted drive (hard-drive, USB key, etc) and the Mac doesn't natively support creating, deleting or modifying NTFS stored files. This is where Paragon NTFS for Mac comes in. It provides that emulation layer required to use any Windows storage medium as you would a native Mac medium.
Again this app is not free but definitely worth considering.
9 - Skitch
Skitch is a free app from Evernote that allows you to take screenshots then add text, graphics, shapes and annotations to it. It integrates with your Evernote account but also works as a stand-alone app even without an account.
I have skitch on my Mac, Windows PC and iPhone.
10 - AfterShot Pro
AfterShot Pro is a paid photo management app from Corel. It use to be called Bibble Labs until Corel bought them. It is a cross platform phot management app that works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It supports everything you would expect such as photo management, raw support, non-destructive modifications and much more. I love the automatic photo improvement algorithms from a company called Athentiech (product is called Perfectly Clear). It brings 12 pro-level corrections down to 1 click:
- Beautify (for human faces)
- Tint correction
- Depth correction
- Skin tone correction
- Light Diffusion correction
- Red Eye removal
- Widening the dynamic range
- Visual spectrum improvement
You can buy this as a photoshop plug in for $200 but it it for free with AfterShot Pro
I loved this product when it was Bibble Labs and I love it as a Corel product. Works well and is often prices at 50% off which makes it a must have app.