Being somewhat of a new Mac OS X user, one of the things that I find to be great about the operating system is the vast selection of applications that help me to remain be more efficient and productive. Now, I’m not a huge term of the term “power user” because it simply sounds too cliché, but as an individual that spends a better part of my “awake time” on my Mac I have come to cling to a handful of applications – many written and developed by extremely devoted and open-minded independent developers – that I simply could not live without. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are five of my favorite and most used OS X applications.
Back in March when I bought my MacBook Pro one of the first applications that I purchased and installed was 1Password. As the name suggests, the applications is built to manage passwords, keys, login credentials, personal notes, registration identities, and even software licenses from a simple database-like layout. With features like entry tagging and organizational folders, 1Password makes it incredibly easy to manage strong and unique passwords; something that has become a must with all of the security breaches with large companies and services over the past couple of months. Combine this with the ability to automatically fill and submit login entries on websites and 1Password is an amazing time-saver.
Prior to 1Password, my personal passwords were sub-par and probably too easy to brute-force. 1Pass makes it easy to kick this bad practice out the window. While I must admit the lack of an Opera browser extension is somewhat disappointing, I think the fact that I don’t use Opera because I can’t use 1Password with it speaks for the incredible quality and usefulness of the application.
Simply put, 1Password lets me be secure by using unique and strong login credentials on each and every website; all without compromising the simplicity of logging into and using websites. In fact, I’d argue that the two-click login process for any of my pre-configured websites is easier than having one simple password.
While not professionally, it’s not uncommon for me to do light web development every now and then as part of various projects and organizations that I involve myself with. Having never been a fan of “what you see is what you get” editors such as Microsoft Expression Web or even Adobe’s DreamWeaver, I for one can appreciate an application that allows me to manage and edit web projects in a text-editor based mode. However, features like syntax highlighting and built-in tips for HTML, PHP, and CSS make it a breeze for me to do what would otherwise be somewhat complex tasks.
At a little under a hundred dollars for a single user license, Coda is admittedly a bit pricey if you are not doing routine or professional web development. However, I for one have found a number of other ways to utilize Coda in my day-to-day tasks even though I’m not a web developer. Being as involved as I am with the WyldRyde IRC Network I personally take advantage of the SFTP client to upload and download files to remote servers, and use the built-in terminal (SSH client) to run Linux commands as needed. Really, it’s my go-to application for anything involving server access.
It wasn’t but a few months ago that Jeff showed me an application called TextExpander that allowed a user to define text triggers that are automatically “expanded” to configured lines of text. For example, I could configure “haddress” to be a trigger that was automatically replaced with my home address regardless of what application I was using. Now, when Jeff first mentioned that he bought the application I must admit that I thought it was somewhat of a pointless application, especially with the auto-fill functionality offered in 1Password. And in all honesty, I probably never would have given TextExpander a chance had it not been given to me as part of a Macintosh software bundle last month.
Be it in IRC, instant messing, or even in my email I have found that I typed a lot of repetitive text numerous times a day. What makes TextExpander beautiful is the fact that I can enter lines upon lines of text simply by using a few characters as a trigger. With a retail price just shy of thirty-five dollars, TextExpander may be a bit troublesome to justify at first. But if you deal with repetitive text on a normal basis, this is one application that will probably pay off for you in the long-run.
I’ve used a lot of applications and utilities to take and upload screenshots. Really, I think I’ve downloaded and tried just about every major screenshot utility for Mac OS X; yet I have always found a shortcoming that has prevented me from using a given utility full-on. While not perfect, I have found CloudApp to be the most well-rounded utility and service for uploading screenshots and other various files to quickly and easily share them with others.
Admittedly, CloudApp is a paid service ($5 per month or $45 per year) more than it is an application. The actual application is called “Mona Lisa”, and it allows for me to automatically upload the screenshots I take with OS X’s built-in screen-capture tool and any other files can be uploaded with a simply drag to the application on the toolbar. Another feature that makes CloudApp Mona Lisa great is the fact that it supports “Raindrops” to upload from a handful of supported applications simply by using a keyboard shortcut.
If you only plan on uploading a few small files each day (10 uploads, 25Mb each), CloudApp has a free plan that should suit your needs. However, if you’re someone who plans on sharing a lot of screenshots and files (unlimited daily files, each a maximum of 250Mb within the acceptable use policy) the paid solution really isn’t a bad deal. For me, the third-party service gives me the privacy and security that I need to ensure that my files are safe and doesn’t require me to maintain my own server for to do so. Well worth it, if you ask me.
A while back I did a review on an application called Fluid which wrapped websites in their own Mac OS applications. While the concept is simple enough (each “app” is a simple web browser that opens to a given page), I must admit that the ability to run applications in their own little sandboxes is incredibly useful in managing my workflow.
While anyone can take advantage of the free version of the application to create simple web browsers configured for quick access to individual websites, a mere five-dollar license unlocks features such as scripting abilities, styling capabilities, and the option to isolate cookies on a per-application basis.
This last application allows for users to keep up to speed with their accounts and feeds on popular social networks such as Twitter and Facebook from a clean and friendly user interface that blends in extremely smoothly with the look and feel of OS X itself. While I personally prefer the more native Twitter for Mac when it comes to posting and reading Twitter updates, Socialite is the ideal application to use if you maintain accounts on other social networks and social media sites such as Facebook and Flickr.
So there they are. My “top five.” What are your favorite applications? Leave us a note in the comments!