What’s Your Favorite Mac Stuff?

I recently had a friend of a friend write me about my views on the software I use for Mac OS X. Here’s what I told him.

Re: browsers, Firefox and Safari are both good on the Mac but you might want to try Camino – it’s just recently available in a 1.0 release, very fast, and totally Mac-centric:

One utility I absolutely can’t live without is LaunchBar. It’s hard to describe what it does – but when I sit down at a Mac without it, I have to get reoriented to life without it! Basically, you can invoke it with a hot key sequence – I have mine set to command-space (replacing Spotlight’s use of that key combination). When you hit command-space, it opens a tiny one line window at the bottom of the screen and you then have LaunchBar’s full suite of services available.

Some other folks rave similarly about Quicksilver – which does much of the same stuff. It also supports a very fast and easy text append to files – which some folks really love. Either LaunchBar or Quicksilver is an acquired taste – with the usual “tastes great” vs. “less filling” debates among the two camps.

For mail, I find the SpamSieve add-on essential. I get huge quantities of spam from having my personal email address on the web in various places for many years. Even with Mail’s good built-in junk mail filtering, I couldn’t survive without SpamSieve.

Those are the key tools for me. I use BBEdit for text editing (it’s been around for years) – but TextMate is coming on fast and has some huge supporters. It’s very Mac-centric again.

Yojimbo, also by the authors of BBEdit, is a new personal organizing thingie that’s getting some good reviews. I’ve downloaded and played with it but it’s not part of my routine – yet. It’s got some cool built-in encryption capabilities for protecting stuff that looks pretty useful.

For protecting little bits of text (like credit card numbers, account passwords, etc.) I use the built-in Mac Keychain Access utility (it’s in the Utilities folder insider your Application folder). I’ve created a new keychain that I call “My Secure Notes” and in that keychain I store secure notes with the various account numbers, etc. that I want to have with me but that I want encrypted and protected. You can set an option to have it always available in the top menu bar – which makes it easy to find/use when I need it.

I like to see what’s happening on my machine, so I run a menu bar utility called MenuMeters which installs itself as a preference pane in your System Preferences control panel. It lets me see how busy the CPU is, etc.

For file sharing among colleagues at work, we’re using something called FolderShare that was recently acquired by Microsoft: It’s a peer-to-peer encrypted file sharing tool that works cross-platform – so you might find it helpful for keeping your PC/Mac world sync’ed up in terms of your personal files.

The best RSS reader for the Mac, bar none, is NetNewsWire. I use it and it’s companion blog posting tool called MarsEdit to do all of the blog work that I do:

I also run Virtual PC on the Mac which I need to be able to run IE on Windows to access our Quickbooks Online accounting applications (which makes extensive use of ActiveX controls – ugh – and thus the IE dependency!) A friend of mine, Paul Rosenfeld, is the general manager at Intuit for Quickbooks Online and I’ve bugged him about the IE dependency but apparently it runs pretty deep and they’ve not found a business case to justify making a change.

Like your wife, I also use the Adobe Creative Suite 2 stuff — oh so heavy those applications!

That’s about it in terms of the key Mac OS X stuff I use every day. Hope this is helpful!

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