A Hearty Welcome To the New Mac Users I Know (Part 2-Recommended Apps)

All right. I’ve already told you about my favorite podcasts, and I hope you’ve been giving them a listen. If you have, then I know you’ve been learning some cool stuff about your Macs, and that’s always nice. Nevertheless, it’s time for me to give you a list of recommended apps for your Mac. Out of the nine apps I list, seven of them are free, and the ones that aren’t are so reasonable I don’t think you’ll have a problem buying them if they tickle your fancy.

Enough small talk! Let me get to that list for you.

Adium – I’ve been chatting online since way back with my first PC (a Gateway 2000 386DX/33 Mhz, for the curious). It was a blast with IRC and got even better with CompuServe and the GUI it offered. But that was some time ago. Like a lot of folks, I’ve gone through the gamut of chat and now IM clients from AOL, to MSN, Yahoo, iChat, and Google Talk. And I still use them all. That being the case, I was pleased as could be when I was tipped off about Adium. Adium allows me to sign in to all of the IM chat servers I mentioned above simultaneously. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much the mother of all IM clients. It’s a free (that’s a nice word!), open-source, and user-friendly IM client packed with plenty of goodies, and can be tailored to your liking in many ways. If you haven’t checked it out yet you probably should take five minutes to give it a peek.

VLC Media Player – As with the chat clients, I’ve used a couple of media players in my day as well. Real Player, WinAmp, Windows Media Player… You name it, I’ve, more than likely, given it a shot. And I’ve also experienced the occasional headache of double-clicking on a file only to find a particular media player won’t play the format of that file. Not fun. VLC was the aspirin of the media player world I was looking for. I have yet to come across a media format this cross platform player can’t handle. I used it back in my Windows days, so I was more than happy to see a Mac OS X version waiting for me when I made the switch. I’m glad to tell you VLC is also free. 🙂

Skype – By now, if you don’t know what Skype is, you’re one of a very few people. Especially in the western world. How does one describe Skype..? Wow. It’s not easy folks. I use it for chatting, sending SMS messages to mobile phones, for video conferencing, for making and receiving regular phone calls (national and international), as well as voice mail. Skype also allows me to have a phone number in the U.S. that forwards calls to my mobile phone number here in Sweden. This, as you can imagine, saves my family and friends in the U.S. a dime or two when they call. 😉 Skype costs nothing to install, just as the phone calls and video conferencing to other Skype users cost nothing. I like that a lot!

Chmox CHM Viewer – During your transition to Mac, you may come across a moment when you to need to read a help file that’s written in CHM (Compiled HTML). Chmox will come in handy then. As with everything else I’ve written about so far, Chmox is free.

Firefox Web Browser – Yeah. I know about Safari, and I think it’s an okay web browswer. However, the way it stands now, Firefox is the choice of web browser for my Mac. I say this after coming off of a self-inflicted, two weeks, Safari-only diet so I that I could write this with a clear conscience to not lose any sleep. As I said, Safari is okay. However, I want my web browser to be more than okay. I want boatloads of themes to choose from, and add-ons as far as the eye can see. When I log on to my Mac and fire up my browser I want it to scream, “Harlem’s here!” Aaaaaaand, I’ve noticed Safari can be just a teeny bit buggy when I use Gmail. As a hardcore Gmail user, that’s a no-can-do. And, of course, it’ free.

NeoOffice – Okay. Continuing with our theme of free, NeoOffice is just that, and that’s not too shabby for an office suite. What’s more, it’s a very good office suite. If you’re not ready to shell out $400 for MS Office for Mac, or $79 for iWork ’08 this is the office suite for you. Every time I fire it up, I’m rather amazed it’s free. Try it out and judge for yourself. After all, it doesn’t cost you a things.

Cyberduck FTP Client – Yep. This is my last free one. Cyberduck is an easy to use FTP client that is FTP, FTP/TLS (FTP over secured over SSL/TLS), and SFTP (SSH Secure File Transfer) capable, allows bookmarking, and a whole slew of other options that should more than handle your file transferring needs. Okay. I also thought the duck was cute as well.

Here is where we leave the land of free and journey to the land of not-that-expensive-at-all. That’s something I’d like to point about switching to Mac: software is pretty darn inexpensive! So inexpensive you often find yourself spending more than you planned just because you want to see what else your Mac can do. Anyway, let me get to the point and show you what I mean:

O2M – If you’re an Outlook user in need moving your info to Apple Mail, here’s a pretty good solution. In my experience, O2M was definitely worth the $10. And when it was time for my wife to move her info from Outlook to her MacBook, there was nothing to think about. This handy-dandy little app turned it into a 5 minute job.

Little Snitch – Here’s where I remind you all of realities of the net. Granted, making the leap from the Windows environment to the definitely-more-secure world of Mac OS X improved your security situation quite a bit. Nevertheless, there’s no need to go around thinking your absolutely bullet-proof. I know Mac OS X has a great firewall that should definitely help you keep things from coming in, but how do you check and make sure your valuable information isn’t going out when you don’t want it to? Little Snitch is your answer. For the reasonable cost of $24.95, Little Snitch will let you know when a program is attempting to access the internet and prevent that connection if you didn’t want to grant it. This semi-paranoid person definitely appreciates that capability.

That’s all for now.

(Next up, Part 3-Recommended web sites to keep an eye on)

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