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Essential Mac Software

Author: Joe Savelberg 30.03.2009   Print This Post   Email This Post

Today, I received my new Mac Pro and I’m about to move all software from my aging PowerMac G5 to this new machine. As I’d like to make a clean install of everything, I’m downloading all the latest versions of the software I use regularly. This is especially necessary as I’m moving from the PowerPC (G5 2x 2.5 GHz) processor to the new Intel Nehalem processor family (2x 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon) and thus I need to update my applications to the Intel/Universal versions.

Here is a brief overview of the software which should come in handy for most Mac users. These programs increase your productivity and enhance the basic Mac OS X system to provide more features.

At the bottom of the page you’ll also find the approximate street prices for the programs mentioned here.

Useful Mac utilities and programs:

  • AppleJack is a maintenance tool which you can use when starting in single user mode (cmd-s on startup)
  • ASM brings back the Application Switcher Menu from Mac OS 9 and offers single window mode among others.
  • DefaultFolderX enhances your “Save” and “Open” windows. Allows you to click in open Finder windows to easily change the current path for the Open/Save window.
  • FruitMenu allows you to put files and folders under your Apple menu, offers many other features.
  • SoundSource puts a little icon on your menubar to let you change your sound input and output without going to the System Preferences.
  • Jumpcut provides multiple clipboards so you can use previously copied items again and again.
  • MenuCalendarClock inserts a calendar into your menubar and gives you quick access to iCal.
  • Spotless enables and disables Spotlight search for volumes. It also lets your repair the Spotlight index.
  • A Better Finder Rename lets you quickly rename a batch of files depending on various criteria, e.g. create ordered lists, add/remove prefix or suffix etc.
  • A Better Finder Attributes creates a contextual menu item to quickly change file settings such as the type and creator or modification time.
  • TimeMachineEditor allows you to change the schedule for your TimeMachine backups.
  • OpaqueMenuBar makes your menubar opaque again so you don’t see your background image through it any more.
  • SnapzProX is an advanced screen shot utility. It allows you to select menus, windows, partial screens or your whole desktop. You decide the file format you’d like to use and you can also create screen casts with it.
  • CarbonCopyCloner clones, synchronizes and makes backups of your disks and directories.
  • DiskWarrior is the essential tool to recover lost or corrupt volumes and to repair your directory structure.

MultiMedia Codecs:

  • Flip4Mac plays Windows Media Files through the QuickTime Player and Safari.
  • Perian is the swiss army knife for QuickTime. It handles the support for a lot of file and media format for QuickTime-enabled applications.
  • Divx is the official codec for watching DivX movies on your Mac.
  • QuickTimeMPEG2 enables the ability to play back MPEG-2 content via the QuickTime.

Windows Compatibility:

  • Parallels Desktop lets you run Windows (or other operating systems) on your Mac.
  • MaclinkPlus is the veteran of file conversion. Convert many popular Windows file formats to their Mac counterparts.

Graphic Tools:

  • Art Directors Toolkit 5 bundles a lot of little tools which come in handy when working with graphics files (rulers, color meters, swatches, typography tools).
  • GraphicConverter is the swiss army knife for converting image formats and also offers a nice image editor as well as additional tools.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements is a stripped-down version of Photoshop but still provides most features you’ll want for manipulating your graphics and photos.


  • Acrobat Reader is the standard tool to display PDF files.
  • StuffIt Deluxe 2009 is one of the oldest file compression tools on the market. It still comes in handy to decompress more obscure compression formats.
  • Interachy 9 is a popular FTP and file transfer tool.
  • Timbuktu Pro is a remote management application which allows you to control other computers and to exchange files.
  • BBEdit is a popular text editor which allows many different coding languages and is an ideal tool for web developers who like to create their HTML code by hand.
  • Skype for MacOS X allows you to make free calls from one computer to another and very cheap calls to landlines.
  • Firefox is the popular opensource alternative to Safari and based on Mozilla.
  • Toast Titanium is the CD and DVD recording tool of choice for many people.
  • Popcorn converts your DVD’s to other formats and lets you easily backup a DVD.
  • Vienna is a freeware, open source RSS/Atom newsreader which allows you to easily manage your favorite RSS feeds.
  • Geekbench provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance.
  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is the Mac counterpart of the popular Windows Office suite.
  • iWork ’09 is Apple’s cheaper alternative to Microsoft Office and very often more than sufficient for your daily office work.

Summary of all the programs along with their street prices:

Product Price
AppleJack donate
ASM $15.62
DefaultFolderX $38.95
FruitMenu $12.00
SoundSource free
Jumpcut free
MenuCalendarClock $19.95
Spotless $16.95
A Better Finder Rename €19.95
A Better Finder Attributes €14.95
TimeMachineEditor free
OpaqueMenuBar donate
SnapzProX $69
CarbonCopyCloner donate
DiskWarrior $99.95
Flip4Mac free / $29-$179
Perian donate
Divx free / $19.99
QuickTimeMPEG2 $19.99
Parallels Desktop $79.95
MaclinkPlus $79.99
Art Directors Toolkit 5 $39.95
GraphicConverter $34.95
Adobe Photoshop Elements $89.99
Acrobat Reader free
StuffIt Deluxe 2009 $79.99
Interachy 9 $59
Timbuktu Pro Twin-Pack $159.95
BBEdit $125
Skype for MacOS X free
Firefox free
Toast Titanium $99.99
Popcorn $49.99
Vienna free
Geekbench free
Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac $149.95 – $499.95
iWork ’09 $79.00
Total (approximately) $1515 to $1995

I hope this list of applications and utilities is also useful for you. If you’ve got a list of your own favorite programs, please post them in the comments.

Best regards,

Joe Savelberg.

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