Pimp My Mac


I know how many of you love to pimp your machine, your GUI, your programs, your OS; skins, mods, hacks, you name it. But as many of you probably know, getting the best programs, mods, and skins for your machine could be troublesome, and it’s a system of trial and error when finding the right files. Well this is a list that is compiled by your’s truly, it will feature the best programs to use for certain tasks (in my opinion), and other small hacks and mods. Just remember that all of these downoads will be for Mac OS X.

Browsing the Internet Super Highway and designing it.

  • Firefox – I love firefox, extentions, themes, user-friendly, you name it. But Firefox for OSX does tend to crash from time to time. In fact mine crashed while typing this post.
  • Shiira – Fast, reliable, gets the job done.
  • Opera – Now that it’s freeware
  • Safari – This is the default browser when you first fire up OS X
  • Camino – This is the Mac version of Mozilla. It’s fluid, it works, it’s reliable. However it lacks it’s older brother Firefox’s extentions, themes, and other mods.
  • CocoaMySQL – For some MySQL is ugly, and they just don’t get along with it. This tool is for them. It easily allows people to alter MySQL databases and upload the changes.

Email Clients

  • Thunderbird – Before I made the total switch to Mac I used this on the PC platform. I loved it, however the difficulty of installing and setup is determined by your email service (gmail is a pain).
  • Mail – OS X’s default mail client, and what I personally would recommend this. It operates seamlessly with almost everything in OS X.

Peer to Peer P2P

  • Acuisition – This is a reliable P2P client, seamless iTunes integration. but nothing really new here.
  • Limewire – This isn’t free, but it asks you if you want to buy it when you boot it up, you click no, and you’re good to go. Great client, what I personally prefer
  • Azureus – When asking me, this is the best bittorrent client, easy to use, but if you know how it has many advanced features.
  • BitComet – Easy to use, and fairly userfriendly. Not much to say on this one.

Instant Messaging

  • AdiumX – I use AIM, and on Windows I used Trillian Pro, Adium is the best instant messaging client, bar none.
  • iChat – This is the default messenger in OSX. It’s alright, for basic instant messaging, and it has awesome AV chat. But if you want something that is skinnable, has mods, and easy to use. Get Adium.

Office Suites

  • Open Office – Personally, I never got Open office to work on my Mac. I got it to work perfectly fine on Windows and I loved it. However, I did get Microsoft Office with my Mac so I just assume use that. However, if you are able to get Open Office for Mac working, don’t bother paying the high dollar for Microsoft Word. Open Office gets the job done just as well, and it’s almost identical, minus a few minor technicalities. Like word it can open Powerpoint, documents, PDFs, you name it.
  • Microsoft Office for Mac – You do have to roll out the high dollars for this little office suite, if you can’t afford it go with Open Office. However if you can afford it, go for it. Microsoft Office doesn’t do anything differently than Open Office, it’s really up to the user to decide which they want.
  • Writely – The Web 2.0 word processor, it gets the job done, however you need the web to access it, and it cannot open Powerpoint or other file types.


  • VLC – This will play almost any video format you can throw at it, a must have.
  • Windows Media Player – Yes I know. You really don’t want anything having to do with Windows on your Mac. Well, this will help you play those pesky WMV files. I don’t use it a whole lot, but occasionally I do get a WMV file that will not play in anything but Windows Media Player.
  • FLip4Mac – This allows Quicktime to play those pesky WMV files. However Windows Media Player still comes in handy from time to time.
  • Disco X – Very easy to use mixing software.


  • MAME – The Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, I love this little program, if you’re an old school fan this is for you. I nor does The Apple Blog condone piracy.

Voice over IP

  • Skype – Skype has been around for a while, it’s a great app. However in today’s world of podcasting it does lack some basic functionality. It doesn’t allow you to record, and it limits you to 5 people per voice conference. Other than that it has great quality and reliability. For those of you wanting to record with Skype use Hotrecorder. It’s easy, but not free.
  • Gizmo Project – After being a long time Skype user, and having to pay to record I found out about Gizmo Project. It offers much of the same functionality as Skype, only with added recording and their exclusive news services. This is also free, and it’s free to record conversations with it.

Usability and Skinning

  • ShapeShifter – Can we say Windowblinds for Mac? This is not so much Windowblinds, seeing as it adds a few more features, it’s not free, but definatley worth a look.
  • Menu Meters – Add all kinds of usability, menus, and meters to your OS X taskbar.
  • Synergy – If anything this is just a random tool I think is cool. It allows you to share one keyboard and mouse set over multiple machines. Useful…sometimes.
  • Voodoopad – Very useful app if you find yourself constantly jotting down notes, and you use up way too many Post-it notes. This takes all your thoughts and puts them in one very nice Wiki.


  • Applejack – Macs are incredible; yet they are still computers; and we all know that computers aren’t always the most reliable tools. This is a very useful system restore/diagnostic/security tool. It wil allow you to run security tasks to repair your machine even when the GUI won’t pop up.
  • ClamXav – For those out there that are still weary-eyed about Mac security, this is a free antivirus tool.



I’ve been using mac since January of this year, the first app i downloaded was Neooffice, I had a *special* moment and couldn’t get Openoffice to work… X11 was still a mystery.
get Audacity for freeware sound editing, from my limited experience, it works pretty well and it’s FREE!! yay.
Azureus is great, especially if you’re a newbie like me.
Gimpshop works well, and is a great alternative to $500 photoshop CS.
If you have Appleworks, that will work just as well as MS office with a little teasing.

But really, just visit http://www.apple.com/macosx/downloads and search for what you need, and chances are there’s some freeware for you, just waiting.

I’ve actually heard mixed reviews on iWork, this troubles me. Does anyone have a personal experience where it has done something horribly wrong?


Cabos is an amazing p2p client, I would highly recommend it above the ones listed here.


argh, sorry. Some parse-script screws those links

“http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7575606203130479112&q=pimp my laptop&pr=goog-sl”


Bits on Wheels is a great torrent client — I’ve never had problems with it and it’s very flexible. Also, the new windows Remote Desktop Connection is great for accessing your PC if you still need to use it from time to time (though the PC will seem to run fairly choppy).

Brian Donohue

Keep an eye on Writely: now that it’s Google-owned, expect it to be developed into something that will compete with the new MS web-based apps that are being coming out.

By the way, I completely agree on the other point of Mac developing supposedly ceasing because of boot camp. A baseless, ridiculous piece of punditry. If I were to wander into such seas of speculation, in fact, I’d lean in the other direction entirely: once windows users get a taste of running software in OS X, the treand might go the other way. I use Word extensively by day and it crashes regularly; also at night and it’s fairly solid. As you might guess, that’s XP by day, Tiger at night.


Thee Session Saver extension (free) for Firefox and Saft ($12) for Safari give you something like that recovery feature in Omniweb (in fact add Safari Stand (free) for visual tabs and Safari seems to have all the best features of Omniweb ($29.95)).


Man, Omniweb is horrible. It´s slow, with clunky preferences and the tab bar is just too big. And tell me, does anyone still pays for web browsers when we can have Safari and Camino (who can save the sessions with the right add-on) for free?

Bitcomet is a joke, right? I mean, you´re not actually suggesting people to use Boot Camp. Right? RIGHT?

Typo: ‘Acusition’ is ‘Acquisition’

Oh, the Disco X app was a wonderful tip.


Hey Dude You left out one of My Favorite Browsers of All time


You can have several work spaces all open with several windows all with their own tabs.

need to restart your Mac?

Just quit OmniWeb reboot Start Omniweb Again and all your searches workspaces etc.

Are back to normal continue your work.

True not as fast as other web browsers, depending on workload but
this is a must have for can’t live with out Applications

Found At http://www.omnigroup.com

Also What about Desktop Manager?
How about TextMate great text editor can’t live with out that.

There are so many apps that I can’t work with out just not available on other platforms in the way it is for the mac.


unless some serious changes are afoot, you do know bitcomet is windows only??
I am hoping to god you are not including that because of some boot camp excuse…

Paul Stamatiou

Yeah, I could never get OpenOffice to work on my mac either. It just bounces in the dock a few times then exists… and I have X11 installed.


For the security section: I use Intego VirusBarrier X4 (not free). Excellent program!

Of course, I’m not that afraid of getting a virus on my Mac, but I am afraid of forwarding infected files from Windows users to other Windows users.


Hi Mark and Slam,
Thanks for the info; that’s definitely relieved me a great deal – having known about OSX’s reliability/security for some time, i was a bit shocked when i heard about this friend’s computer being eaten up by a virus. You’ve definitely taken a load off my mind.



hey sachin,

there have been all of TWO viruses discovered for OSX. i have never had my OSX mac get a virus, nor has anyone i know, nor have i ever read an actual first-hand account of anyone getting a virus.

the security holes that those two viruses took advantage of has been plugged and there is currently no known active virus for the mac.

the last virus that was discovered was estimated to have infected as many as “several hundred” macintoshes. out of how many? several millions? so even at the peak the virus activity was extremely low.

some day someone may be able to write a killer virus for the mac, but that has not happened in the five years of major mac OSX usage.



Hi Sachin,
So few people use a mac that in general we don’t worry about viruses, honestly. Mac OS X is great! I’m sure you’ll be pleased and there are a lot of apps that will let you do what you want often cheaper and better then window’s apps. But as you’ve noticed from reading this blog spyware and virus protection does exist for the mac so if you feel like you ought to run it then run it.


Hi, I’m definitely thinking of switching to a Mac very soon, so was reading this post carefully, My eye wandered over to the Security bit, and obviously I’ve been told how secure/virus-free OSX is, but I wanted to ask whether anyone out there has had their Mac ruined by a virus, and what precautions/software should be used to keep it virus-free. Also , do you need anti-spyware software?


oh man, you left out LaunchBar.

i can’t believe how much i rely on it. just hit command-space, and a little bar drops down off my menu bar. type in a file name, it displays a list of files and folders. type in a song name and it plays the itunes song. type in a name and it pulls the address and phone number out of address book, AND can dump it to the screen in big giant letters you can read while driving, making a phone call, getting google map directions, and drinking your soy chai.

it’s similar to spotlight only more better, and faster.


Casey Koons

I was a long time user of Firefox but I find Camino much faster, more reliable, and (obviously) much better at integration with the Mac environment.

And while hard to find, there are hacks out there that can bring back some of the power of the Fox’s extensions.

After only a month I’ve made Camino:

* Have multiple search engines in the search field with CamiTools (and many other things)
* Have Opera-like mouse gestures with Cocoa Gesture
* Have Session-Saving with CamiScripts
* Integration with Vienna (which promotes a good question, what’s your fav RSS app?)
* Spell Checker dialog for any text box via AppleScript.


If you are looking at office productivity suites then how can you pass up Apple’s own simple suite called iWork? It is a nice, simple, Word Processor and Presentation application that gets the job done.

If you want to customize your systems icons then look no further than CandyBar by Panic. It is, by far, the best icon customization application for OSX. It is similar to IconPackager for Windows.


I agree, unless you need to generate torrent files or some other advanced options, Transmission beats the others hands down.


Great article!

For torrent clients on the OS X, I can’t think of one better than the open source Transmission. It is very lightweight but well-designed and highly functional. What’s more, it’s a Cocoa app!


Robin Cawser

Hi, I was just trying to install both of the torrent clients you listed, and for one, BitComet doesnt seem to support OS X (I’ve probably missed something), and azureus doesnt seem to work on my intel iMac.
I’ve probably made a mistake though, I only got my mac today (first one!).

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