Thought I’d do a mini-series on the Mac software I use day to day. It might be of use to a new Mac user. Even experienced Mac users might find a surprise or two.
I’m always trying out various programs so I can choose my favorite. I like to think I’m pretty discriminating. I want the software I use regularly to be stable, reasonably fast, and have an interface that not only makes my tasks easier, but even makes them a pleasure.
To each their own, and I won’t claim that my favorites are uncategorically the best.
The first topic: Internet software. I happily rely on Safari, Mail and Keychain Access. Huh? Betcha didn’t see that last one coming. If you’re a Mac user, you probably rely on Keychain Access too, you just may not realize it. Every time your browser asks if you want it to remember a password for you, guess who? Yup, the Keychain. Don’t waste any money on shareware password-wallets. The Keychain rocks.
You can get more mileage out of it by actually launching the Keychain Access utility and creating a new keychain for your more sensitive passwords. Configure it not to unlock upon login, like your default keychain, but to require its own password and automatically lock itself after the desired amount of time. And any sensitive info that’s not a login-password pair? Put it in a Secure Note in your new keychain. Handy and safe!
Mail does everything I want, and now that WordPress is supporting Safari a bit better, Safari does too. Safari is also the fastest browser on the Mac, as far as I can tell, as long as you don’t let too many bookmarks build up. There are some wonderful extensions for Safari, too, like PicLens and many more you can find at Pimp My Safari.
I do a lot of file transfers most days, and I’ve been using Transmit for years. I love this program from the bottom of my heart. The interface makes my work feel so natural and intuitive. I use it for FTP, SFTP, and I love the illusion of “editing on the server,” which streamlines work. It remembers shortcuts to any specific directories I want on any particular server. The same folks who make Transmit also make Unison, the best Usenet program I’ve found, especially for downloading binaries. Fast, intuitive, a pleasure to use. Both programs well worth the shareware fees.
I occasionally do instant messaging, and Adium supports several protocols, is gorgeous, impressively customizable, and free. Can’t beat that!
BitTorrent is also a once-in-a-while thing for me, but I’ve tried several clients and Xtorrent is by far my fave. You can search and save your searches from right within Xtorrent.
One more thing: the GoogleFight widget. I use this often when comparing the popularity of a couple of words or phrases. It’s of real use to me when I’m writing in Spanish.
Recommend your favorites in the comments, please.
Next in the series: a few unsung Apple gems.