Useful Mac Applications – 2012

So I was wondering what to publish for my firstwordpress blog. Few years ago, When I first got my Macbook pro (2006), I found myself constantly googling for “Must Have Apps” or “Useful Apps” etc. I still google the same continuously. So if you came to blog using the same search types, I won’t be surprised. In this post, I decided to put forth few apps that are very handy – some are paid, others are free.

A Warning before you see below. This list consist of apps that I use. Who I am and my primary laptop usage & purpose have influence on the type of app I use. For e.g., If i write apps, my usage of apps varies and my essential would include xCode, Textmate etc. But for me, as a regular user who just browse the web, do a bit of social networking, check mails, and for official use (btw, I am into business!) these apps are must!

So check ’em out if you are of my type. The rest, thanks for visiting my blog. Hope I have something interesting for you next time. And, If there are any other apps that might help me out, put a comment. I shall check out and update it as well. Whats more, the below apps work on Mountain Lion too.

UPDATE date 31.72012: The following apps are MOUNTAIN LION compatible unless specified. (Basically  all are compatible!) 

Note: The order is not based on importance but alphabetical.

1) Alfred – Free/£15

I literally cannot operate my mac without this app. Its basically the same as “Spotlight” by default. It opens files, opens applications, finds document just like SpotLight. But then why another app when Spotlight does the same trick? It does the same job but more easily, quickly and can be customized to suit your preference. So what is the £15 for if its free? Its for power pack (I have power pack!) With power pack, it literally puts your mouse pad to zero use. Use it to send tweets, toggle wifi, bluetooth, use your spotifu, rdio, search evernote.. basically it does almost all stuff. Check this for some scripts.

You may want to download free version, get addicted and buy the full version (I mean the power pack for extensions!)

2) 1Password – $49.99 

Ok. $50? Yes! For a app just for Mac. Add another $14.99 for your iOS device. All it does is saves your password. Are they crazy to charge us so much for this app? No! Frankly, Lastpass is a beautiful extension to remember our passwords. Its on almost all browsers. Then why this? This saves your bank information, email accounts, FTP ones, IM’s, Software password and the list is on and on! This on my OS X along with my iPhone version makes life so much easier for me. If you keep forgetting your ATM pins or you dont want to open your wallet to see your credit card number or want to know your software license number you bought few years – this app stores all those information for you. So I never lose my password anytime, anywhere. Try it for free for 30 days!

3) BetterTouchTool – Free

Alfred makes you use less of touchpad. This makes you use more of Touchpad. Then why I use both? Obviously I balance it out between these two. Using this you can customize gestures to open applications, performs actions for an app specific and many more. My gestures are for openning a tab in chrome browser, closing a tab, reloading a tab, gesture to send mail, open finder etc. When I have my hands on touchpad, to open a new tab in browser, I have to cmd+t. But I assigned a gesture to open the tab thus saves times and more comfy this way than taking my hands to type the same.  You can customize gestures for both app specific (recognizes only for the app) or for universal (irrespective of active app, the gestures work). Do use this along with alfred. It saves a lot time. It won’t take much time to get used to them.

4) Caffeine – Free 

It just sits on your menu bar. The symbol is like a coffee mug with/without tea (or coffee or whatever!) in it. If there is your drink, you won’t let your mac to sleep. If none, it would let your mac to sleep. You can customize the time as per your requirement. Now I can watch videos without my screen getting dimmed. Most of all, its free completely. Overall, a neat little app to avoid screen savers, dimming your screen etc.

P.S. If you have alfred power pack, you can put this to sleep using your keyboard!

5) CleanMyMac – $29.95 

Nope! Not a freeware. It makes sure the files that aren’t required aren’t there anymore thus save you your valuable space. AppTrap does the same. AppTrap is free but has limited functions. This clean erases your applications if you want to delete it. And if you are new to mac, Just throwing the application in bin removes “everything”, but to clean up all the mess completely, this is useful. It now cleans even drive as per latest update. So, Again, try for free and buy! And share the result on twitter! I have saved more than 101.23 GB so far.

6) Clippy – $0.99 

The icon looks like bob in Microsoft but does way better than it! It saves all your pasteboard entries! Not just the previous ones, but more than it! I have around last 10 entries. You have a shortcut to paste them back as well. Like the second last one you copied will be accessed using cmd+1. Your existing copy will be cmd+v. If you do a lot of cutting, copying and pasting, then this is the app for you. Its a dollar app, but worth much more than that.

7) Cobook – Free 

An address book alternative! It connects to Facebook, twitter, Google voice, linkedIn and  uses cloud. So my iPhone contacts gets autoupdated! Its a neat little free app. Its in Beta mode, but never experienced any problem till date.

Update: Cobook now works well with Alfred. So its double Bingo!

Update 2: They are coming out with paid version for Power/Business Users. Keep an eye out for them!

8) Coconut Battery – Free

You must have seen this app on all blogs and heard a lots. It tells ur battery charge levels, capacity and few more details like, model, age of mac, load cycles, temperature and power usage! An alternative is iStat nano that can be used in dashboard. I use both depending on my mood frankly. Its handy to know these details. If my current capacity is less than design capacity, I calibrate my battery! This kinda acts as a reminder.

9) Google Chrome – Free

Why this? Coz its an app I use more frequently than safari, firefox. Nothing more to say here. Its awesome browser according to me. Neat, with nice extensions to add. Give it a try!

10) Google Notifier – Free

Another menu bar app! Its lightweight, sits on menu bar like a envelope. It syncs you reminder on google and mails. It notifies when you receive mail and you can click to open it on your browser. It gives a short information about the sender. Kind’a like preview! Why I use it? I use mail clients for all my business ID’s. But few gmail ID’s, yahoo ones that are for personal usage like for Facebook notifications, twitter updates, etc I don’t want them in my mail client. I want to check them only when I receive them and only after I know from whom. So I sync’d that and its healthy for me. I use sparrow for business ID’s. This for my Gmail ones. If you comment on this post, the notification mail goes to my Gmail ID and not my business ID and it notifies on my desktop. See the usage?Please comment if you have better application in mind so that even I can use them. Hope this post was helpful. You can also contact me and follow me on twitter. I mostly update on some computer stuff.

11) Growl – Free/$1.99 

This is an notification app for Mac. Almost all mac run the free version and if you love the service you can buy the full version. With Mountain Lion OSX nearing release that includes integrated notification system, you might want to stick to free version. Overall, its very useful till Lion users. It notifies every updates, e.g., you receive a mail  (obvious, you have to have the mail client running!) it notifies you. On Skype it tells you who comes online and who goes off.  So handy app.

Update: As you know, OS X Mountain Lion would come with default notification support. Growl Developers have promised that Growl would still be of significant use. So your call if you want to buy it.

12) Handbrake – Free

An awesome video converter! This app does the video conversion part and its free. You can select the device for which you want to convert the video and just wait for it to finish. You can add in subtitles, change FPS, and other advanced options as well. But if you have an android phone, you have only two devices – “Android Mid” & “Andorid High”. Apple fanboys have all their portable devices options. Simply the best free convertor with few powerful features within it.

13) MacHider – $19.95

From the maker of CleanMyMac, gives you MacHider. It hides the files you don’t want others to see. You drop in files/folders you don’t want others to see and give them a master password. So view them, you have to open the app and type in the password. You can use Terminal to hide files as well. I bought this app, because it came as a bundle for me along with cleanMyMac. Kinda awesome deal. So went for it.

The real bonus was the option to hide on External Drives as well. I havent tried if the files would be visible on Windows when connected because I havent felt the necessity to do so, but I hope it doesnt show up there.

14) Money – $38.99

Money is software that helps you to keep track of your expenses. It keeps tabs of your expenses and gives you a chart enabling you to analyze them as well. I have been using this app for a quiet sometime and it has helped me to know where I lose my money. Its kinda eye opener for you to save some! But yea, you have to pay $38.99 to get this app and another $1.99 to sync with iPhone/iPod Touch and $4.99 for iPad. It makes sense to have this app on iPhone first and move to other devices. Give the demo version a try.

Oh btw, if you have to pay rent, you can schedule payment and it automatically deducts from your account. You don’t have to keep doing it every month.

15) Parallels – $79.99

You may have changed from Windows, but not the world! So there might be situations where you need to have Windows due to unavoidable circumstances. I have windows, and need to open happens occasionally. Then why a must have app? Coz I like to see how much I can push my Sandy Bridge. Just to brag to others, I run Windows, Ubuntu and Snow Leopard seamlessly! 😀 But yeah, unless you have this need you may want to buy this, else just skip this app!

Alternate: VMware Fusion. I havent tried the Version 4, but having tried their previous version demo, I felt Parallels was better for some reason. I felt this worked perfectly.

UPDATE: You have to re-install their latest build for Mountain Lion Support.

16) Reeder – $9.99 

The RSS reader I use since its launch and I totally love this. Its more neat than many other freeware I used, syncs to Google reader and also has iPhone app to sync. It also performs other social functions like post to twitter, save in Evernote, Instapaper, ReadItLater and more. To perform these actions you can also assign gestures. Swipe to post to twitter or send to instapaper. Give it a try if you have RSS feeds to read. You would love it!

Only feature missing that I hope they would update is the support for Alfred! Really.

17) Robin browser – Free 

Its was called Raven initially and now its Robin browser – social browser. A browser that has very high social integration, and helps you to share very easily. Its a fresh thought into browsers, and its doing pretty awesome. Its got its own Web App Shop for web apps. You have Angry Birds, Wunderlist, CNN and few other vital apps in it! Its still in Beta stage. Hasn’t got into Version 1, but I never felt any grate danger of using this. Its stable, friendly and new interface. It might not replace your browser, but surely will let u think if you are a social network addict like me.

18) Skype – Free

No matter how we criticize Skype or how bad it is, it plays a vital part in our life! Skype on mac is just the same as windows and does the same. You must have know about this app so I will just skip over this.

19) smcFancontrol – Free  

If you are using Macbook Pro, you might have noticed that the laptop get hot and its not possible to keep it on you lap anymore. If its not happening for you, you are lucky. Coz mine get hot! Really hot. So this tiny menubar app helps me to increase the fan speed and thus cooling the body. Its gives you rpm and also the temperature. You might not want to keep the rpm at full speed always. I have heard its quite harmful for system. So use this app if you require.

20) Sparrow Mail – $9.99/Free 

I liked the new Apple’s mail client. It was a much needed change to the old style. But it never seemed enough for me. I was looking around for alternative and I found this little gem of an app! A mail client that looks like the official Twitter app! Its eye catchy, very easy classy look, highly easy to use app is a winner! I have all my mails synced to this app and I never regretted to stop looking into alternatives. Its got functions like Dropbox, Facebook integration. You may not use those, but they are always there. This along with iPhone version (Warning: iPhone has no push notification due to apple policy) can replace the default mail. Try the lite from Mac App Store and you will be amazed.

 21) gfxCardStatus – Free
I stumbled upon this awesome freeware. Check out my full review of this app as such. It basically helps you to change your GPU’s. Please note that it supports for 15″ and 17″ MBP late 2008 to the latest Retina MBP. It supports the unrealeased Mountain Lion as well.
Check out my review on this app as well.

Thanks for reading this article. Please feel free to add your comments about other apps that interest you.

Update: Please read this for a Quick Thank You!

Update 2: Please read this for Best Social Networking Apps 2012

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