My friend Brian recently switched to a Mac. Shhh… don’t tell him. He doesn’t actually know this yet. He merely thinks he got a Mac to play around with and that he’s not going to stray far from his Windows machines — but us Mac folks know what’s really going on. He asked me to put together a list of app recommendations, so that’s what this post is. It’s a little heavily slanted toward software development, but that’s okay because he’s a Windows developer.
To the left, you see my dock. I use some hackery to put it on the left at the top of the screen. I like it there because running applications get added to the bottom, but because it’s top-aligned instead of center-aligned, the apps I launch the most are always in the same spot.
And speaking of launching, I rarely launch apps from the dock or finder. I use a little thing called LaunchBar (but some swear by QuickSilver) so that I can hit Cmd-Space, then start typing the first few letters of the thing I want to run. It’s like Unix tab-completion, but on steroids.
My dock starts with Finder, as does everyone else’s.
The app that looks like a Moleskine binder is two things at once. It is a Fluid web browser attached to a TiddlyWiki document that’s shared among all of my machines (and phone and iPad) with Dropbox. It’s for note-taking that’s a little more permanent than sticky-notes, but not as permanent as to need to get posted online or saved in a document forever. I talked about my scheme for using Wikis, notepads, and text files about a year ago.
Next up is the standard OS X terminal. I used to have Fink installed for extra Unixy goodness, but haven’t had the need to reinstall since I last wiped the hard drive. I have ffmpeg’s prerequisites installed through MacPorts, but that’s the only think I have through Unix-like package management systems.
Next is TextMate. It’s one of the best text editors around, for any platform. It uses “Bundles” to not only syntax-highlight languages, but to give you auto-completion, code snippets, and other sorts of language-specific operations. Not shown is 0xED, the hex editor. I don’t have this taking up space on the dock, but to have it docked to the top of every Finder window because the times I typically need it are when I’m looking at files in a folder. It’s a solid hex editor.
Next up are my development environments: Xcode and Eclipse (it’s the C/C++ version of Eclipse, not the Java one). I use the former for iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps. I use the latter for everything else (mainly because that was a day-to-day Unix editor for many, many years and I just know the keyboard shortcuts better).
Chrome is a kick-ass browser. The Mac version has come a long way. That icon isn’t actually Chrome, but a nightly Chromium build. I end up looking at their BuildBot reports for a recent nightly build that passes all tests, then download it from the Snapshots. It’s a bit more work, but much safer than blindly downloading a nightly build that might be all kinds of broken.
iTunes is iTunes. People hate the icon. It’s a circle and blue, just like all of the other circular blue icons out there.
Pandora is a great music streaming service. I don’t use the desktop version as much as I used the iPad and iPhone version, but it still has a home in my dock.
Tweetie for Mac is a great Twitter client. In fact, the guy who wrote that (and the iPhone app of the same name) got hired by Twitter. His iPhone app became the official Twitter app. His desktop app is feeling a little long in the tooth, though. It’s missing a lot of the features seen in the iPhone version.
Next up is iCal, which is only temporarily on the dock until BusyCal starts working with Apple’s MobileMe beta calendar.
OmniFocus keeps my tasks in one place. It’s a bit spendy (especially if you also get the iPhone and iPad apps), but in my opinion it’s totally worth it. I don’t quite subscribe to the hardcore Getting Things Done methodology, but I follow a more simplified version that works for me. OmniFocus works well with that.
Photoshop and InDesign are exactly what they are.
And finally, PhotoGrid is an app that lets me quickly and easily browse the photos in a directory (or recursively in subdirectories). It’s more lightweight than iPhoto and better at handling multiple photos than Preview.
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And that’s my dock. There are a few other apps worth mentioning: I use Jungle Disk for remote backups, TextExpander, Google Notifier, I currently use SpanningSync but I’m not 100% sure I’ll re-up my subscription. 1Password is a great app and browser plugin for storing online passwords and preventing you from falling for phishing attacks. (And heck, now there’s a Windows version!) Perian adds a ton of video codecs to QuickTime so that you can play all sorts of videos in a single interface instead of having to switch back and forth between QuickTime and VLC.
And finally, BootCamp lets you dual-boot to Windows, but Parallels is an amazing virtualization solution that lets you run the Windows operating system in a window or run Windows applications side-by-side with Mac applications under OS X.