Prominent Blogger Switches to Mac, Asks for Advice on Software


I’ve been following Random Acts of Reality for quite a while now. This morning Reynolds had his to say:

“I’ve recently moved my ‘business’ computing work to an Intel Macbook. And very nice it is too. However I’m wondering if I’m missing some essential ‘must-have’ bit of software or widget. At the moment I’m using Colloquy for IRC chat, Adium and Skype for MSN and similar (I have iChat, but have no contacts). Obviously I’m using Firefox. For writing I’m using Writeroom and SubEthaEdit (although at some point I’ll get Pages as NeoOffice seems a bit flaky for me). For blogging I have Ecto and for FTP I use Cyberduck. Most importantly I’ve found a game of Solitaire and have managed to get World of Warcraft working (although Second Life is terribly slow).

So my question is this – what should I be installing on this computer? What is the essential, or just plain enjoyable, software should I be getting.

Any advice?”

First, congratulations on making an excellent chioce. Second, are you kidding me? Thats like announcing you are pregnant in a room full of mothers… everyone has an opinion and loves to share it. Not that that’s a bad thing either! There’s so much great Mac software out there that everyone has their own setup that they can’t live without.

Well… he did ask for advice…




I’ve always used DiskWarrior, and look forward to a new release(despite no confirming information). Also, even though I never used it, I have heard good things about FileSalvage by SubRosaSoft. Alas, it too seems to be without an intel-binary so far.

To my knowledge, the only “credible” recovery program with a UB is DataRescue2. :( Watch those backups carefully, eh?

However, with the transition to Intel, I do have hope that the excellent SpinRite by GRC will soon have a compatible version. It is the best solution that I am aware of for both Windows and Linux.


Any recommendations on disk repair and disk disaster recovert software? I dont think DiskWarrior is Intel-ready yet. I also have ProSoft’s DataRescue II. Any other recommendations?


5 essentials for productivity:

1. Microsoft Office: you’ll need this to communicate with the rest of the world, and, Entourage is simply the best, most complete and most powerful email client application for the Macintosh platform.

2. CleanArchiver: you’ll need this to communicate with the rest of the world. Set it to create zip archives (it does so much more), and remove .DS_Store files that are invisible on the Mac but quite visible and confusing to recipients of your emailed archives who use Windows. I keep this in my Dock.

3. Toast. Best burning app out there, period. Beats the hell outta the Finder & iTunes – and sometimes, iDVD as well. Some old DVD players can’t play iDVD exports, so using Toast to make VCD’s comes in handy.

4. ASM – I’ve been a Mac user for so long, to me a Mac is not a Mac without the application menu on the upper right. OS X Macs without the App Menu just look naked to me, and it really, really slows me down. I just work faster with ASM. Yeah, I use Expose but I still want that App Menu!

5. Carbon Copy Cloner & PSync – get an external 1394/USB2.0 HDD drive kit and clone your whole system weekly with CCC PSync. It takes only a few moments – these apps are FAST! – and you have a perfectly exact backup. Buy a qualified drive that’ll fit into your system and the external kit for it, so if your laptop’s drive dies, you can simply swap it out with your backup! You’ll be up and running in a matter of moments.

Other apps I use quite often:

_ShotChoice – changes the default file type for screen shots.
_Acrobat: I create a lot of sophisticated PDFs; links, ToC, Appendices, etc.
_OmniGraffle: creates awesome diagrams.
_MailSiphon: checks mail on the server for all my accounts.
_MenuCalendar: I can’t believe how many times I use this thing.

If I had a MacBook, I’d probably get Parallels & Win XP as well.

There’s not a single widget I use nor can I recommend. Actually, I’ve removed Dashboard, all widgets and every file relating to this from my system.

Welcome to the club, man.

Don Parr

Always at the top of the list – QUICKSILVER – Launchbar, Butler, Spotlight can’t touch this!

Application Uninstaller – AppZapper
Backup – SuperDuper! & Carbon Copy Cloner
Text Ed – WriteRoom is wonderful :)! I also use Smultron.
Browser – Camino with honorable mention to Firefox
IRC – Conversation
Mail – (Apple) & GMail (Google)
News Reader – Vienna & Blog Bridge
Journal & blogging tool – MacJournal (Mariner Software)
Word Processor and Spreadsheet – Write & Calc (Mariner Software)

You should also give this a look see: Essential Mac OSX Applications


Web – Firefox w/many extensions (downloadthemall, bugmenot, tabmixplus, showip, download statusbar, formfox, distrust, dragdropupload, adblockplus, adblock filterset.G, foxmarks)

Email – Gmail notifier (works well with “gmail for your domain”) and Entourage

Mail Filtration – SpamSieve

Office – MSOffice2004 (yeah, I know….but it works better on OSX than on windows)

Office Companion – OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle

Text – TextWrangler

IM – Adium

RSS – Newsfire (excellent for podcasts vidcasts too

FTP – Transmit

Bittorrent – Transmission (Azureus is better, but the Intel port still isn’t working well)

VNC – Chicken of the VNC

Firewall Enhancement – LittleSnitch

Wireless Detection – KisMAC

Backups – SuperDuper

Notifications – Growl

Media Playback – VLC, MPlayer, and Flip4Mac

Audio Redirection – Audio HiJack

DVD Ripping – MacTheRipper

Video Encoding – Handbrake

Media Cataloging – Delicious Library

File Management – OmniDiskSweeper

ScreenShots – SnapNDrag

Web Screenshots – Paparazzi

Folder Customization – FolderBrander

Uninstallation – AppZapper

Clipboard Manager – iClip

Archival – RARexpander and SimplyRAR

Collaboration – SubEthaEdit

Maintainence – TinkerTool and TinkerToolSystem, ServiceScrubber, Cocktail

Desktop Switching – VirtueDesktops

Widget – Radar in Motion (2 copies, 1 regional and 1 local), Dictionary/Thesaurus, YellowPages, WhitePages, Conversion Calculator, iStatPro, Stickies, ChuckNorrisFacts :)

Dos – DosBox (for really really old games like Lemmings)

Recipes – Conniseur

Customization – ClearDock and ShapeShifter (require Application Enhancer) (Shapeshifter is still beta for Intel)

Alarm – iRooster

Terminal Emulation – iTerm (not to be confused with the system Terminal)

..and finally, to bring it all together, Quicksilver

John Davis

Some apps I couldn’t do without:

Automates typing. Make your own shorthand. Speeds up typing enormously. Works in EVERYTHING.

Superbly simple and FREE. Great for maintenance.

Comic Life
Someone else mentioned it. Use it to make comics or even posters. Wonderful and amazingly cheap.

Gorgeous. I haven’t begun to plumb its depths. Also FREE.

Does most of what BBEdit does – also FREE and by the same people.

For playing videos, plays more formats than Quicktime. FREE

Plays formats that iTunes doesn’t – OGG, Flac, etc.

And in spite of controversy, I find the apps that come with a Mac to be very good.

Bare bones, but does the job. I just wish it had a few more keyboard shortcuts.

Works well for me. The junk filter picks up 90% of the crap.

Superb, but you have to have enough memory.


Incredibly useful, especially the shortcut which enables you to define the word under your mouse in more or less anything. In Safari, I sometimes find a word I need to define on a web site. Pressing a shortcut pops up the definition of the word under the cursor.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t notice much difference in speed with any of the browsers – and there certainly is a lot of choice these days. Safari works for me.

EXCELLENT – I run my business on it. My staff subscribe to my calendar and I subscribe to theirs. We can adjust schedules on the fly.

There are others – but these are the main ones.

Yours sincerely,

John Davis


OmniOutliner Professional. You’d never think a simple list-maker could insinuate itself into your life the way this one will if you just start using it. Download the demo.

For loads of fun, go find the KinklessGTD scripts for it. That plus Quicksilver can really change your work habits.

OmniGraffle, if you have any need for it at all. Nothing does a better job at that sort of work.

TextWrangler if you must, but the folks at BareBones really do great work, and they’ve earned the money you would spend on BBEdit. It’s amazing.

Mike Napolitano

LaunchBar (like butler/quicksilver) is the best piece of code i have ever purchased on any platform. Whatever you do, take the time to learn the ins and outs of this app, and you will massivly improve your productivity. It is basicaly a finder replacement when you dial it in.

Default Folder to enhance open/saves.

Witch 1.02. should be a feature in expose.

Sharepoints for making network shared volumes and folders.


Ililfe of course

Parralels for windows apps with no reboot.

BBEdit for text editing.

Chronosync for scheduled backups and syncro

Cocktail for scheduled weekly maintenance

Diskwarrior for disk happiness

Of course the Creative Suite is as it should be on the Mac, but I’d wait until the universal version next year. Indesign under OSX is a thing of beauty…

All good stuff, but learn Launchbar first. People watch me use my mac and they assume it’s all scripted how fast every goes. naving folders, sending email. searching in spotlight or google, opening applescripts/apps, etc. all with a a keystroke. the app learns as you use it. un freaking real…



An absolute must-have in the productivity department is Quicksilver. It’s kind of silly — and difficult — to describe what it does, but once you try it you’ll get hooked. Trust me.

Ronald Pomeroy

More Goodness…

Anything from Panic Software…but especially Unison (NNTP)
GoogleEarth (Planetary productivity killer)
Google SketchUp (3D Modelling productivity killer)
TextMate (unless you need SubEthaEdit’s collaborative capabilities)
1 NetNewsWire (RSS Reader – get the full version)
1 OmniGraffle


Uncle Paul

I do have MS Office, but it will probably be the last version I ever buy. I’m using iWorks more and more every day, and you can’t go wrong with the iLife apps. If you download a lot of apps to try out like I do, then AppZapper can be indispensible. Others, in no apparent order:
• Transmission
• Audio Hijack
• SnapzPro
• ffmpegx
• GraphicConvertor
• MactheRipper
• Onyx
• Omnigraffle
• Toast
• Transmit
• Transmission
• VueScan

Grant Griffiths

I use MarsEdit for blogging and NetNewsWire for RSS. You might want to try Camino for your web browser. Same folks that do FireFox do Camino. There are tons of other programs for you new Mac. Just depends on what you want to do with it.

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