I was changing something in System Preferences on a friend’s Mac a while back and stopped for a second to consider the “Other” section and the lonely little Logitech Controller that was in there all by itself. Not many applications install to the “Other” section of […]


I was changing something in System Preferences on a friend’s Mac a while back and stopped for a second to consider the “Other” section and the lonely little Logitech Controller that was in there all by itself. Not many applications install to the “Other” section of System Preferences and this got me wondering about what I had gathered in my section over time, and more interestingly, what other Mac enthusiasts had in theirs. So I took a quick survey over on SuperUser (currently closed beta, sorry) and figured I’d share those applications people called out as “must-haves.”

Growl: A longstanding favorite of Mac fans everywhere, this desktop notification app “lets Mac OS X applications unintrusively tell you when things happen.” This is one of the first things I put on new Macs and it’s so natural and intuitive it makes you wonder why Apple hasn’t already bought them out and built this right into the OS.

Secrets: This handy little utility from the fine makers of Quicksilver exposes all those options hidden away in application .plist files and makes it dead simple to do things like change the login window desktop image, switch to the 2D Dock, and so much more.

Perian: “The Swiss-army knife for QuickTime,” Perian adds support for a metric crap-ton of different video codecs and enclosures to QuickTime. Anytime someone tells me they can’t open a video, this is the first place I send them.


TextExpander: This handy little timesaver lets you easily insert often-used text snippets or images into a document using easily customized keystroke triggers. Tired of writing out over and over how to connect to a printer on the network? Next time a local user sends an email asking about it, just hit the trigger key and the answer is inserted right into your response.

Plaxo: This one’s for syncing up your address book across multiple computers. If some of your contacts are themselves Plaxo members, then as they update their information it will cascade down and be updated in your address books as well.

Flip4Mac: One of the few things Perian won’t play is WMV, so for those occasional times when you do need to watch some Windows Media, Flip4Mac is here to help.

This was a great way to find some new gems I didn’t know about and remember some I had forgotten. A couple of honorable mentions I should call out were iStat menus (for displaying important system info in the menu bar), and GeekTool (for displaying info from scripts or files on your desktop).

If you’ve got any of your own favorites sitting in the Other section of your System Preferences, please share them in the comments.

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  1. Flip4Mac, Growl, and Perian. I like to keep it simple.

  2. A Better Finder, Flip4Mac, GeekTool, Glimmer Blocker, Growl, iStat Menus, Pen Tablet, Perian, Secrets and SynergyKM.

  3. TinkerTool is a great little utility I’m surprised isn’t already on your list.


  4. Apple Qmaster, Connect 360, DivX, Flip4Mac, Growl, iStat Menus, MacFUSE, Perian, and Xmarks for Safari

  5. actually, now that i think about it, TinkerTool isn’t really a prefpane, it’s a utility. Still unlocks lots of nice preferences though!

  6. I have Perian and a few others you didn’t mention, but Growl sucks IMO. Aside from the ugly icon it’s just not configurable enough and it regularly screws up on me.

    I like the *idea* of Growl so much I’ve installed it three times now and each time I end up deleting it in anger a week or so later because it just doesn’t do what you want it to do in a reliable fashion.

    I think if you’re into Linux and like fiddling with crap all day long you could get it to work efficiently, but otherwise I just wish that Apple would build in system notifications of their own that actually work properly.

    1. i have used growl on multiple macs for years without any problems

    2. Yeah, I’ve used it for almost as long as it’s existed and have never had issue with configuration or it’s ability to work as expected.

      Even customising different balloons for different tasks on different apps is not an issue (although it is counter-intuitive on the more recent versions)

  7. RC Default Apps is good –lets you set the default application used for various URL schemes, file extensions, file types, MIME types, and Uniform Type Identifiers.


  8. MySQL is also very handy

  9. In my Other/section, I have: 3DConnexion, Default Apps, Default Folder X, Apple QMaster, Flip4Mac WMV, GeekTool, Growl, Hazel, MacFuse, PCKeyboardHack, Perian, Salling Clicker, Secrets, Spanning Sync, Startup Sound, TechTool, TeX Distribution, TextExpander, VersionCue CS4, Wacom Tablet, Witch, Xmarks for Safari

  10. Almost from day one, Macaroni. Also Perian and Flip4Mac. PTHP pasteboard and Finderpop.


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