Of the default applications that come with a Mac (Safari, Mail, iLife, iWork etc.) the one’s I use most every day are Safari and iTunes. I am on Snow Leopard where Appe Mail comes with Exchange 2007 support but I haven’t been able to connect to the office network. So for mail, I prefer Microsoft Entourage simply because of the better Exchange 2007 support. I dabble with iWeb, Keynote, Pages and Garage Band – all part of the Apple bouquet. Outside of Apple, there are are a few applications which I find indispensable.
While there are several good RSS feed readers (find a great round up at Smoking Apples), I haven’t found any better than NetNewsWire (and it’s Windows equivalent – FeedDemon). I have tried several including the very nice Vienna, and the elegant NewsFire both of which come close to being my favorites. Some of the other competitive RSS readers may score better in one department or the other (Times for example, looks gorgeous) but for overall value at a great price of $0, there’s nothing to beat NetNewsWire. It’s biggest plus point: sync with Google Reader. Which means you have your favourite feeds in any computer – and I happen to use 3 laptops (my Macbook, the office Toshiba laptop running Vista and my wife’s HCL laptop running Windows 7). My only grouse? The Windows version looks hideous and so do most of the newspaper ‘styles’.
2. Tweetie for Mac
Twitter addicts come in different shapes & sizes and so do the Twitter desktop apps. There are several popular ones – TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop and Echofon for Firefox to name a few. I have tried them all (with TweetDeck being the current favourite on Windows) but I am in love with Tweetie for Mac. There are two versions – free (ad supported) and the pro version at $19.95. You could mistake it for an Apple-developed product since it integrates so well with the Mac in terms of interface & ease os use. Again, there are several good looking Twitter clients for Mac (Bluebird, Nambu) but none offering the total package that Tweetie does.
This is a hidden Mac gem. Don’t let the name fool into you thinking this is a Drawing utility. SketchBox a sticky notes manager on steroids – it can do To Do lists, sketches (especially helpful if you have a 4-year old daughter).
The makers of Radium believe that desktop applications should be simple, non-invasive, and beautiful. They keep their word with Radium – a menubar Internet Radio player. If you are into music and love radio, this is a must-have.
There are truck loads of radio networks available and the sheer joy of discovering great radio is worth the $16. The free version plays music for 42 minutes and needs a re-start to play again for 42 minutes. And unlike several other online radio apps I have tried on Windows & Mac, this one seems to work. And it’s much better than the browser-based radio players like Radio Time and Net Radio.
Perhaps the most useful of the must-have apps, Evernote is great for storing web clippings, notes and more. As this review from Lifehacker says, it is perhaps the closest option to a true universal capture tool available next to plain old pen and paper. Since it is available for the desktop version, a browser (Firefox extension), mobile and the iPhone you can virtually take your notes and other reading material wherever you go. I find it particularly useful for collating data for presentations, reports and articles.
The common thing to all of these? Simplicity. Letting you do your stuff in a seamless, non-intrusive manner. And not trying to do too many fancy things and ending up doing nothing well. Great interface is just a bonus. Quite like Apple products, eh?