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Summary:

Over half of new Macs are being bought by users new to the platform. After years of negative experiences on that other platform, new Mac users might be a little worried about downloading software for their machine. Here are some safe bets to get you started.

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Over half of new Macs are being bought by users new to the platform. After years of negative experiences on that other platform, new Mac users might be a little worried about downloading software for their machine. Here are some safe bets to get you started.

Delicious Library. Delicious Library (DL2), is a cataloging app that can read bar codes through the iSight camera. Hold up a book to the camera, and in a few seconds, DL2 will read the bar code and download information about that book from Amazon. DL2 doesn’t just let you keep track of books though, it can scan and locate nearly anything in the Amazon database. DL2 lets you create a home inventory of books, movies, music, and gadgets: the perfect app for the obsessive-compulsive organizer in all of us.

NetNewsWire. The first feed reader of its kind, NetNewsWire inspired an entire generation of desktop RSS aggregator applications. Since its introduction in 2003, NetNewsWire has been acquired by NewsGator, and ported to the iPhone and iPad. NetNewsWire is easy to customize, quick to navigate, and gives me a single place to check for all the new blog posts and news stories I’m interested in. It’s the first app I open in the morning, and one of the last I close at night.

1Password: Tops on the list of indispensable applications, 1Password manages all of my passwords for my online accounts. Before 1Password, I’ll admit it; I was using the same three or four passwords for everything, over and over, for years. I knew it was bad practice, but I figured identity theft and stolen credit cards were things that happened to other people, until I had my credit card stolen. Now, I’ve taken appropriate precautions, and one of those precautions is that every online account gets a unique, complex password, and I can can keep track of them all thanks to this app.

Dropbox. If you use more than one computing device, say an iPhone and a Mac, or a Mac and a PC, or any combination thereof, Dropbox is perfect. It synchronizes files between systems over the cloud. Just drop a file or folder into the Dropbox folder and it becomes available to all. Quite a few third-party applications already tap into Dropbox for syncing data between iOS and the Mac, and if you use one computer for work and another for home, Dropbox is perfect.

Yojimbo. Over time, you’ll find things that are interesting, or neat, or something you want to keep, and you’ll wonder where to put it. If you don’t already have a place for it, Yojimbo is that place. Yojimbo is a “digital junk-drawer:” a place to shove everything that you’d like to have quick access to. One of my favorite things to do with Yojimbo is to keep articles I know I’ll want to re-read several times. Yojimbo will take just about anything you can throw at it: word documents, PDF files, images, bookmarks, and it even has special formatting recognition for software serial numbers.

iWork. If you are coming over from the PC world, you might think you need to drop some serious cash for the Mac version of Office. Before you do that, you might want to take a look at Apple’s iWork. iWork is actually three applications: Pages, the word processor; Numbers, the spreadsheet app; and Keynote, the presentation app. Pages isn’t as feature rich as Word, but Numbers can hold its own against Excel, and everyone I’ve talked to about Keynote says it blows PowerPoint out of the water. iWork is available as a 30-day trial, so give it a spin.

A new Mac comes with just about everything you need for day-to-day casual use. However, well designed, well thought-out, well-engineered and developed apps like the ones mentioned above are just plain fun to use, even for work. An in the end, isn’t that what owning a Mac is all about?

I know there are a ton of other apps that would be great for new Mac users to try, if you’ve got some suggestions, drop them in the comments!

  1. Except for Dropbox and iWork I never found a use for any of those. I would give Adium a recommendation, it’s a really extensive and super simple IM client. Notational Velocity, the simplest text editor/collator you can get and if you’re into the torrent scene, grab Transmission. Best of all, those are all free!

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  2. I disagree about Numbers being able to hold its own against Excel. I wish it could but it can not handle any serious data processing.

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  3. The app I love the most is Simplenote! It’s both simple and handy as I always imagined. I take a note in my iPhone and automatically syncs it to the cloud, so I can acces that from any browser. It also has a Chrom add-no, so I’m only a click away of any note!

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  4. While I think NNW is a great program, I’ve yet to find a compelling reason to use it instead of Google Reader’s web interface.

    That being said, I would also add Divvy ($8 I think) and Handbrake (Free). Divvy is a great app that allows you to assign hornets to resize and assign positions to windows. Handbreak is a fantastic media encoder/transcoder.

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    1. NNW lets you read offline after it’s synced. I use that all the time when travelling.

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  5. DropBox rocks. Its simple awesome and so handy, whether on the iPhone, iPad or iMac, its like a virtual server for smaller files, although, you could use it for larger files. Something I highly recommend. Good choice for the list.

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  6. Another vote for Dropbox, especially with the new public folders stuff… unbelievable useful for both personal and work tasks. :)

    Another useful work related app. is viscosity, an invaluable little VPN client, works great and easy to configure and enable/disable tunnels. I just imported my old openvpn stuff from windows and up it came.

    …and of course either parallels or VMFusion, in case there still an app. only available for windows that anyone converting still has to use.
    My personal preference is VMFusion.

    I was a new user 3 years ago now, haven’t looked back. :D

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  7. The article’s right about one thing – Pages and Numbers aren’t total replacements for Word or Excel, and make you “export” to the doc or xls formats (not always accurately) if you have to share with non-iWork users, but Keynote totally eclipses PowerPoint (as does WordPerfect Presentations on Windows).

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  8. I’m definitely a DropBox fan. I have it on my MacBook Pro, iPhone and Windows desktop. It has proven itself to be indispensable and I find myself saving almost all my files to it.

    Delicious Library sounds enticing. I’ve always thought about cataloging our books and movies.

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  9. I highly recommend LastPass instead of 1Password. LP is free and for me does everything that 1P does.

    Also, I am a user of Yojimbo, but I also use Evernote, which I like better because it is accessible from any computer, including my iPhone.

    Like most Mac switchers, the “missing” keys are a hassle. My solution – just use a USB PC keyboard.

    Bob
    Macswitcher for about 15 months

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  10. don’t forget scrivener. it’s not an app for mobile platforms, but it’s a great Mac-only project management/research program.

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