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Mac Must-Have Applications - About Guides Share Their Favorite Mac Applications

About Guides List Their Must-Have Mac Applications


Many of the Guides here at About use Macs to get their work done. In some cases, the Mac is their preferred computing platform; in others, they cover topics that require using multiple OSes, including Mac OS X. Either way, About Guides need to keep their Macs loaded with the applications they use most or just enjoy having around.

While I have my own list of must-haves, The 10 Applications I Always Install on My Macs, here are the lists of must-have Mac applications from each About Guide who uses a Mac.


David Bolton - Guide to C/C++/C#

Must-Have Mac Applications - About Guides Share Their Must-Have Mac Applications

David Bolton, About's Guide to the C/C++/C# programming languages, uses his Mac for development work. That makes his decision about which Mac application he uses most a simple one: Xcode, Apple's IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Xcode is made up of various applications including Xcode itself, which is a code editor, emulator, debugger, and project manager; Interface Builder, for creating an application's user interface; Dashcode, a special environment for creating Dashboard Widgets; and a bevy of utilities developers need at their beck and call.

Xcode is available from the Apple Developer Connection web site. Xcode is free, but you'll need to create a free developer account before you can download it.

Marziah Karch - Guide to Google

Must-Have Mac Applications - About Guides Share Their Must-Have Mac Applications

Marziah Karch, About's Guide to Google, has a long list of Mac applications she uses. Not surprisingly, many of them are Google applications:

  • Chrome web browser.
  • Google Earth, an amazing mapping application.
  • SketchUp, a 3D modeling application.
  • Firefox web browser.
  • Skitch, a free screen capture program.
  • Adium, a messaging client for the Mac that works with many popular messaging systems.
  • OpenOffice.org, a free office productivity suite.
  • FileZilla, a free FTP client.
  • XAMPP for Mac OS X, an easy-to-install web server that incorporates everything necessary to run Apache, MySQL, PHP, PEAR, SQLite, Perl, ProFTP, phpMyAdmin, and OpenSSL, plus a few more essentials a web server administrator needs.
  • Komodo Edit, a free text/HTML/CSS/XML editor.


Paul Leahy - Guide to Java

As you'd expect, the must-have Mac apps list of Paul Leahy, About's Guide to Java, includes Java tools of the trade, plus some dandy general-purpose applications.

Paul's list of applications includes:

  • Firefox web browser.
  • Thunderbird, an email client.
  • Scrivener, a word processor and project management application.
  • NetBeans, a free IDE for creating Java and JavaFX applications.
  • NetNewsWire, a popular RSS client.
  • Parallels, a virtualization environment for running Windows, Linux, and other OSes side-by-side with OS X.
  • OpenOffice.org, a free office productivity suite.
  • Skype, a free application that lets you use your Mac for VoIP (Voice over IP) calling services.
  • Gimp, a free open source image editing application.
  • GnuCash, a free open source financial application.


Jennifer Kyrnin - Guide to Web Design/HTML

Must-Have Mac Applications - About Guides Share Their Must-Have Mac Applications

Jennifer Kyrnin, About's Guide to Web Design and HTML, has a few favorite Mac applications, and two she says she can't live without:

  • Chrome web browser.
  • OS X Mail, an email client.
  • Ulysses, a note taking, writing and organizational tool that can sync to iOS devices.
  • TextExpander, a great tool for creating and using snippets of text that are expanded into phrases and sentences.
  • Komodo Edit, a free text/HTML/CSS/XML editor.
  • Dreamweaver, a WYSIWYG editor for web designers that also lets you delve into code, if you're so inclined.
  • Photoshop, one of the most popular image editors available for the Mac.
  • Quicksilver, an application launcher and so much more. "In fact, Quicksilver is the first thing I install on nearly any Mac I get my grubby little paws on."
  • Pages, to take care of writing any Word documents
  • 1Password, a critical part of Jennifer's workflow. 1Password keeps all her logins and passwords just a click away.
  • Parallels, for hosting Windows XP and Windows 7, so Jennifer can test web designs in Internet Explorer.

Scott Orgera - Guide to Web Browsers

Must-Have Mac Applications - About Guides Share Their Must-Have Mac Applications

Scott Orgera, About's Guide to Web Browsers, has a core group of applications he installs on his Macs. It's no surprise that he installs many different browsers, but he has many other applications that also need to be present.

  • Firefox web browser.
  • Chrome web browser.
  • Opera web browser.
  • Flock, also a web browser, but with a bent for social networking.
  • Xcode, Apple's IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for developing Mac, iPad, and iPhone applications.
  • Photoshop, the ever-popular image editor.
  • Dreamweaver, a robust WYSIWYG editor for web designers.
  • Expresso, an integrated web development application.


James Marshall - Guide to Word Processing

James Marshall, About's Guide to Word Processing, just recently replaced his Windows laptop with a MacBook Pro. Some guys have all the luck. I was going to welcome him to the Mac side, but he informed me that he already has an iMac.

Since James just got a new Mac, it was interesting to find out what applications he installed first. Here is his list:

  • Aperture, Apple's image library and workflow management tool for amateur and professional photographers. Although it was the first application James installed, he says it was the first application he removed as well.
  • Lightroom, Adobe's image library and workflow management tool. Seems this application stayed installed, so James must be enjoying it a bit more than Aperture.
  • Firefox web browser.


Brandon De Hoyos - Guide to Instant Messaging

Must-Have Mac Applications - About Guides Share Their Must-Have Mac Applications

Brandon De Hoyos, About's Guide to Instant Messaging, has his Mac loaded with instant messaging clients. Are you surprised? Brandon provided me with a list that not only includes his must-have Mac apps, but also the order in which he installs them.


Gilberto J Perera - Guide to Windows

Yes, it's true. Gilberto, the About Guide to Windows, also uses a Mac. But that's okay; I use Windows from time to time, and I'm the Mac Guide, so it all balances out in the end. Gilberto and I share more than just the use of Macs; we also use a virtualization environment so that we can run Windows on our Macs.

Gilberto's list of favorite Mac software covers a wide range of uses. You may find some great gems in here that you may not have encountered before.

  • MarsEdit, a desktop blogging editor. Unlike many other blog editors, MarsEdit is a stand-alone application that doesn’t use a browser interface.
  • Parallels, for hosting the many Windows environments that Gilberto needs to work with on a daily basis.
  • Billings, a very handy time billing application that runs on Macs as well as iOS devices.
  • DEVONthink, a great way to manage and organize documents, mail, notes, and other items that clutter up your daily life.
  • Illustrator CS 5, vector-based illustration application for creating and editing digital artwork.
  • NewsRack, a handy RSS reader for managing Google RSS feeds.
  • Chrome web browser. Gilberto actually uses the most recent development builds.
  • Seesmic, keeps track of all social media needs and works across multiple platforms. I may have to give this one a try myself.
  • Evernote, multi-platform note-taking application that syncs to cloud services with ease.
  • Picasa, Google's ever-popular photo editor and image library.


Shelley Elmblad - Guide to Financial Software

Shelley Elmblad, About's Guide to Financial Software, has been testing personal finance software on a variety of platforms for almost six years. Here are her favorite picks for Mac applications.

  • OpenOffice.org, a free office suite that provides all of the core tools a business or home office user needs to be productive in a day-to-day work environment.
  • Firefox, a perennial browser favorite among Mac users.
  • iBank 4, a personal finance software application for the Mac. I've been following Shelley's reviews and blogs about iBank 4, and I think I'm ready to make the move to iBank 4.


Heinz Tschabitscher - Guide to Email

Heinz Tschabitscher, About's Guide to Email, claims his experience with email stretches back to the spam-free days of local BBSes. It's nice to find someone else who is willing to admit they worked with email systems when Spam was still primarily a meat product you took with you when camping.

Heinz provided a long list of Mac applications he uses, so I took the liberty of editing his list to show applications that haven't previously been mentioned.

  • Stellarium. This is one of my favorites, too; a free and fun planetarium and sky map for the Mac.
  • Aquamacs. Emacs gets a GUI interface to make the old-time favorite editor an up-to-date Mac application.
  • Transmit, a feature-rich FTP client, kust the thing for maintaining a web site, or uploading large batches of images to your favorite photo sharing site.
  • GrandPerpective is a handy utility that shows you how your disk space is being used.
  • f.lux, a color management system for your Mac that adjusts your monitors white balance depending on the time of day.
  • ScreenFlow is a screencasting application, for capturing your Mac's display and then playing back the screen capture as a movie. Great for tutorials on how to use an application or feature.
  • ForeverSave. You don't have to wait for OS X Lion to get an AutoSave feature, ForeverSave has been automatically saving Mac documents for quite a while.
  • TrashMe is an uninstaller for completely deleting applications and associated support files.
  • MailMate. Of course the guide to email has a favorite email program; well, here it is. MailMate is an IMAP mail client that simply shines.

Dixie Allan - Guide to Clip Art

Dixie is About's guide to Clip Art, so you would naturally expect her to load up her Mac with graphics applications. But Dixie also uses her Mac for everyday tasks, so her collection of Mac applications has something for everyone.

  • Photoshop, a perennial favorite for image editing.
  • Illustrator, one of the best digital art creation and editing applications around.
  • InDesign, a page layout and graphic design application.
  • Dreamweaver, for creating web sites and web development.
  • Firefox, that other browser that just about every Mac user has installed.
  • Office for Mac, Microsoft's ever-popular office application.
  • Toast, a CD/DVD burning application that does so much more than just burn to optical media.
  • Google Maps. Getting directions has never been so eary.
  • Google Earth. A map of the earth, and nearby planets, all at the click of a mouse.


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