A newbie’s guide to OS X: 10 must have software to install
Just switched over from Windows to the Mac OS X platform? Well, what else can I say but a warm welcome! The OS X is no doubt the best operating system you can use today. However, if you are new to the wonders of OS X, coming over directly from Camp Microsoft, here’s a quick guide of what I’d consider as essential softwares to have on your brand new Mac.
While not all of them are absolutely necessary, there is a few which I think is mandatory which I’ll mark them accordingly. So here goes!
1. Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X 10 ($19.95) – Mandatory
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 10 provides full NTFS features and supports the latest OS X Mountain Lion as well.
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 only deal with Macs.
Link: Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X 10 – Use coupon “YXC-WFX-PGH” for a 20% discount exclusively available from my site.
2. Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac ($79.99) – Highly recommended
Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac is a great tool to have on you 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.
Yes, that’s pretty awesome and coming 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 8 for Mac by checking out these two articles I wrote recently: Parallels 8 for Mac: First Impressions and Parallels Desktop 8 vs VMWare Fusion 5: The usability & comparison report
3. Alfred (free) + Alfred Powerpack (£15) – Highly recommended
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 for 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!
4. BetterTouchTool (free) – Mandatory
The Mac’s multi-touch trackpad is actually pretty awesome. And while the default gestures that’s used in OS X is pretty decent, you can actually do much more with the trackpad since it can detect all 10 fingers of yours! And this is where BetterTouchTool comes in to allow you to create your own custom gestures. And if you also have the Magic Mouse or the Magic Trackpad, BetterTouchTool works on them too!
5. Scroll Reverser (free)
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!
Link: Scroll Reverser
6. AppCleaner (free) – Mandatory
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!
7. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac ($49.95)
To be honest, I’m somewhat on the fence on the need of a full fledge antivirus solution for the Mac. If you are careful and smart about downloading softwares from valid and trusted sources and being aware to avoid phishing attacks, you should be pretty ok. However, recent rise in trojan attacks targeted on the Mac platform is starting to be worrisome indeed.
So for that, I’m using Bitdefender’s offering to help me keep that worry at bay. Plus, since I still work alongside colleagues using Windows machines, regularly receives and sending files and documents to and from them. So, while Windows viruses and trojans does me no harm, I sure don’t want to be a carrier too.
8. The Archive Browser ($3.99) – Highly recommended
OS X can handle zip files by default. However, other archiving formats like RAR and 7z are also equally popular. So you will eventually need an archival software that handles all those formats. The Archive Browser works really well in this department. What I like about is its ability to browse into the archive file and selectively extract the files that you need instead of the whole archive file.
9. VLC (free) – Mandatory
It’s VLC. Seriously, nuff said! Ok. Best. Video. Player. Ever. Really.
10. RestoreMeNot (free) – Mandatory
One of the features starting from OS X Lion is the ability to automatically restore an application’s state when you launch it again. While it’s useful for applications like Pages, or Excel where you probably want to have the documents you were working on to automatically open again upon launch. However, for applications like Preview, it can be pretty annoying when you open up a PDF to view in Preview only to have it re-open the documents you last viewed with Preview as well.
So a utility like RestoreMeNot comes in really handy to put that to a stop.