12 must have apps recommended for your new Mac
So you’ve gotten a new Mac. That’s awesome! But if you are new to OS X, you might be wondering if there are any apps that you should have on your brand new Mac. I often get this same question from friends and family who’s just gotten their new Mac, so I decided to put this list together to avoid repeating myself, while also putting down my thoughts and reasoning why these apps are on my must-have list. I’ve previously written a similar article before but decided that it’s about time I updated that article with a list that’s more relevant today.
1. Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X 11
If you work in an environment that’s largely Windows dominated, chances are you will be using NTFS formatted external hard disks. And as you would probably already discovered, OS X by default can only read NTFS formatted drives and not write into it. Thankfully, the good folks at Paragon Software provides us with an implementation of NTFS support for OS X. The latest version 11 provides full NTFS features and supports the latest OS X 10.9 Mavericks as well. Paragon Software has also made the installation process a lot easier on this latest release, making it simpler for non-techies to install it.
I’ve been using Paragon Software NTFS for Mac OS X for a long time and it’s really stable! And I would also say that this is a software that’s pretty much mandatory for anyone with a Mac, unless of course you exclusively only work on OS X.
For a 20% discount off the retail price of $19.95, use this link to buy your copy of Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X 11 for only $15.96 and make sure you use the following code: YXC-WFX-PGH
Alfred is one of the few utility apps that I can’t live without now on my Mac. Essentially, it’s a search utility, working pretty much like Spotlight of OS X. However, it does it in a far more elegant manner. It also provides you with the quickest way to launch applications. Find out more about what Alfred can do for you here. The basic version of Alfred is available free on the Mac App Store or from their website as well, which makes it a real no brainer to have it installed on your Mac.
However, I’d advice you to also take a quick look at the Powerpack which would cost you £15 if you decides (like me) that the additional features so worth it! One of the greatest features that the Powerpack includes is the ability to create global shortcut keys that allows you to launch not just apps but also to open a commonly used folder, activate an AppleScript, run system commands, and much more. It also provides a quick file system navigator that’s really handy in many situations. No more fiddling around with Finder!
Link: Alfred (Mac App Store) – OR – Alfred Power pack (£15)
With all the password hacks going around the web, it is high time everyone starts using stronger passwords for all your online accounts. Not just a single strong password being re-used, but a unique strong passwords for each online account you have. And if that is to be, then you would need to use a password manager to help you remember all those passwords, unless of course you are one of those unique individual who can simply just remember everything. I’m surely am not, and therefore swears by the use of 1Password for this specific use!
When it comes to password management, 1Password is really in a league of its own. What I like most about 1Password is it’s ability to not just store and manage passwords well, but it’s ability to seamlessly sync the stored passwords across all your iDevices (iPad, iPhones and iPod Touch) via iCloud or Dropbox, as long as you also have the 1Password app on your device. It also stores not just passwords, but also credit card numbers (which is really helpful for all your online shopping needs), software license keys, accounts, and much more!
And on the latest version of 1Password, it has a mini interface that is accessible with a quick shortcut key that allows you to quickly search the information you need and immediately copy it into the clipboard and allowing you to paste it where you need it to be. Before, you would only be limited to the browser plugin that helps you automatically login with the stored user id and password, or opening up the full application to gain access to the secured information.
You can even create multiple vaults to be shared across different team or family members for those accounts that are meant to be shared, while keeping your own personal logins accessible just to yourself.
$49.99 and $17.99 may seem steep for an OS X and iOS app, but this amount worth spending so to allow you to start managing (and strengthening) all your online accounts. Getting your password hacked is far more annoying and potentially a costlier affair too!
Link: 1Password ($49.99 on the Mac App Store) and 1Password for iOS ($17.99 on the App Store)
4. Scroll Reverser
If you kinda like the OS X’s natural scrolling direction on the trackpad, but wish you can maintain the status quo on the scroll direction when you use your mouse, Scroll Reverser is the tool for you, for free!
The screenshot below shows the exact settings I’m using, specifically to remain using natural scrolling on the trackpad (where it does actually make sense) but reserved on the mouse’s scroll wheel. Once you’ve set it up as you prefer, just uncheck the “Show in Menu Bar” option to hide it from cluttering up your Menu Bar.
Link: Scroll Reverser
Uninstalling applications on the Mac is really easy. Unlike Windows which requires an uninstaller to do the job right, on the Mac, you simple would just delete the application. It’s that simple! However, it still does leave some traces on your Mac, in the form of settings and configuration files. If you plan to reinstall the application later on and would like to have all the settings and configurations intact, then that’s fine. However, if you like to wipe it all clean, then AppCleaner does the job for you, for free too!
I would basically keep AppCleaner on my dock and simply drag and drop any applications I like to removed on the AppCleaner icon on the dock. The other options is to simple open up AppCleaner, click on Applications (or Widgets or Others) and search for the app in question and then click on “Search”, confirm that you want to delete the app and its related files, then delete them,
Personally, I think Airmail is the OS X mail app that should have been. I’ve used Airmail from the very early days of its beta releases and now that the app is officially released on the Mac App Store, I’m highly recommending it to anyone who has looked out for an alternative to the default Mail app, especially so since the default mail client is still somewhat flaky in supporting Google Mail’s quirky way of handling IMAP mailbox.
Airmail is really fast and has a very intuitive user interface. What I like most about Airmail is its awesome support for multiple email accounts, support for a multitude of email services, including support for Exchange, IMAP, POP3, Gmail, Google Apps, iCloud™, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com and many other providers with IMAP or POP3 support.
And for Airmail to be costing just $1.99 on the Mac App Store, its a steal! Especially compared to the likes of Sparrow ($9.99 and is technically already a dead app ever since Google acquired the team) and Postbox 3 ($9.95). [Update] Airmail 1.0 is no longer available and its version 2.x now costs $9.99 on the App Store.
What’s still missing today are inbox rules, something that’s planned for future release of Airmail.
Link: Airmail ($9.99 on the Mac App Store)
I used to use The Archive Browser ($3.99 on the Mac App Store) before but have since come to prefer Keka as my preferred archiving application. With The Archive Browser, it was mainly an unarchiver with the ability to browse within the archive file and selectively unarchive specific files, which is really great feature and of which I still find useful especially when needing to extract a single file form a large archive. As for archiving files, I thought I could just get by using the built-in zip compression capability of OS X. However, in recent times, I’ve found that to be insufficient and require some more advanced compression capabilities that Keka provides, such as splitting up archive to multiple files and password protecting the archives.
You can actually download Keka for free here, but I would usually encourage you to download it via the Mac App Store link below as it would provide the developer(s) of OS X the resources to continue supporting and improving the app.
Link: Keka – $1.99 on the Mac App Store
8. Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac
I used to rank Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac a lot higher on this list. Don’t get me wrong, Parallels Desktop is still great tool to have on your Mac. It basically allows you to run a Microsoft Windows virtual machine on your Mac. If you don’t know what a virtual machine is, well don’t worry :). The result is that you’d have the ability to run Windows applications on your Mac as if it’s a Mac application. However, over the past couple of years, MacBooks has been so popular that there are more applications that are now supported natively on OS X. This simple means that there is also lesser reasons to even need to run Windows as there is likely an OS X version of the application, or there is an alternative application that you could potentially use.
But in the case that the only option is to run Windows, then I highly recommend using Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac as your virtualisation solution.
If you’re migrating over directly from Windows, it provides you with a whole lot of comfort knowing that if you can’t find Mac equivalent application you can still run the Windows one on your Mac.
Find out more about Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac by checking my in-depth review of Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac.
Link: Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac ($79.99)
I said this before in my previous article. I’d say it again. It’s VLC. Seriously. Best. Video. Player. Ever. Really.
With all the MacBooks going SSD, you’re likely to end up with a smaller capacity storage on your Mac as compared to a HDD based MacBook like the non-retina display MacBook Pros. And with lesser storage, it also means you’re more likely to fill it up faster as well. And that’s where an app like DaisyDisk comes real handy.
As you can see form the screenshot, DaisyDisk presents your storage usage in a beautiful flower-like graph which acts as the intuitive visual map of your disk. It also doubles up as an interactive interface where you can discover what’s taking up all that storage space while allowing you to also select and remote the files within the app itself.
So if you find yourself to be running out of space on your Mac, DaisyDisk is the app to use to figure out what you can remove to gain back the space you need.
Link: DaisyDisk ($9.99 on the Mac App Store)
11. Little Snitch
For all the paranoid in you, Little Snitch is a great app that helps you protect your Mac from the outside world. How it works is quite interesting as it essentially is an anti-firewall, protecting not what’s incoming to your Mac, but what’s going out from your Mac to the Internet. And in some ways, this protects you better than just using a firewall as Little Snitch will prompt you every time an app requires to sent anything out to the Internet, unless you’ve already allowed it to do so permanently.
You can find out more about Little Snitch here. But if you are as paranoid as I am about what’s getting out of your Mac, Little Snitch is a great tool to help you keep that in check.
Link: Little Snitch (€ 29.95)
12. Path Finder
With OS X Mavericks, Finder now has tabs and that feature alone has made it more useful but a hundred-fold. However, it still lacks a lot of features that I’ve come to rely on with Path Finder, such as the dual pane view which allows me to easily move files around, file copy queuing which prevents ‘disk trashing’ when copying multiple files to or from the same disk, and much more.
You can read more about Path Finder 6 here in my review of the app and see why I think it’s what Finder should have been. The only downside with using Path Finder is it’s somewhat poor search capability and is the only time I would go back to Finder.
Link: Path Finder ($39.95)