Useful Mac Software

The article represents the most popular and useful Mac OS X programs, applications and utilities. I expect you will find something useful for yourself.

Desktop Manager – Virtual desktop manager for the Mac OS X. You can have any number of named virtual ’screens’ (up to available memory) to arrange your programs on. It is a small, unobtrusive application – can be made to be totally invisible if you want. Designed to act like a part of the OS. You can move windows between desktops easily via status-bar menu or Exposé-like ‘Operations Menu’, move windows around in desktops via a desktop-based ‘pager’. Active edge support – switch desktop when the mouse moves past the edge of the screen.


VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.


UNO is a theme that brings the sunken unified toolbar/titlebar look & feel to every single window on your system (metal or aqua, and already unified windows as well). A full support for iTunes 7.3.1 (UNO Blue; UNO Graphite; UNO Shade Blue; UNO Shade Graphite and LCD fix), keeping support for iTunes 6 (6.0.2 or later).

No longer changes iTunes if its version is unknown (no more “blank music panel”).

The oldest of the UNO’s bugs (not working on japanese environments) is now fixed.


iGetter is a full featured download manager and accelerator. You can get the most out of your Internet connection (dial-up, wireless, cable, DSL, T1 etc.) with iGetter.

iGetter can improve greatly the speed of your downloads using segmented downloading. In addition it allows auto resume on broken downloads, queue filtering by various criteria, scheduling downloads for low traffic periods, auto redial on broken connection, auto hang-up and shut down on completion, and much more. iGetter lets you use a virus scanner program that you have on your computer to auto-scan downloaded files.

This app includes a history list for all finished downloads.

With iGetter you can easily control every download job. You can start, pause or let iGetter automatically download your files.


ClamXav is a free virus checker for Mac OS X. It uses the tried, tested and very popular ClamAV open source antivirus engine as a back end. Other features include logging results to a file, placing infected files into quarantine, monitoring folders for changes to their contents and a Finder Contextual Menu Item.


ImageWell is a small, but powerful, image editing application that lets you quickly resize, crop, watermark, edit your images, take screenshots and then upload them to the web, save to your computer or email them to a friend. ImageWell also lets

you annotate your images with text, shapes, arrows and lines, quickly and easily. And it doesn’t stop there – add a drop shadow, a shaped border, flip or rotate your image, plus so much more.


Namely is possibly one of the fastest way to open applications. Unlike some other launchers, it doesn’t require any learning.

You simply activate it using your preferred keyboard shortcut, start typing part of an application’s name and see a list of matches as you type. Most of the time, one or two letters are enough. In fact, Namely learns your habits and makes your most-used apps even quicker to access over time.


Unarchiver is a much more capable replacement for “”, the built-in archive unpacker program in Mac OS X. The Unarchiver is designed to handle many more formats than BOMArchiveHelper, and to better fit in with the design of the Finder. It can also handle filenames in foreign character sets, created with non-English versions of other operating systems. It is useful for opening Japanese archives, but it should handle many other languages just as well.

The Unarchiver is very simple to use and install.


Yahoo Messenger – The ONLY Mac messenger at the time of writing that can consistently do video chats with people who aren’t using Macs. iChat and AIM seems to be very fickle with cams. Plus, since YIM and MSN now interact happily, it’s easy to cam for anyone on your MSN or YIM lists.


Cyberduck FTP is an open source FTP and SFTP (SSH Secure File Transfer) browser licensed under the GPL. It has an easy to use interface, integration with external editors and support for many Mac OS X system technologies such as Spotlight, Bonjour, the Keychain and AppleScript.


Carbon Copy Cloner – In its simplest form, CCC will clone one hard drive to another, copying every single block or file to create an exact replica of your source hard drive. This is very useful if, for example, your laptop is damaged and you must send it in for repair. CCC can also be used to perform regular backups of your data.

Among the new features are:

Support for block-level disk-to-disk clones.

Support for backing up across the network.

The ability to drill down into folders to select exactly what gets copied and what doesn’t

A more responsive interface and the ability to stop the clone.

More accurate feedback during the clone.

The ability to pick up where a previously aborted backup task left off.

More information about your disks are available within the CCC interface.

Advanced scheduling capabilities — choose what days to run your backups and how frequently they should run.

Allows to create a scheduled task that backs up your data whenever you attach a specific hard drive or iPod.

System Requirements: Mac OS 10.2 (or later) with the BSD subsystem installed (which is installed by default)


Apple Boot Camp is a new technology that lets you install and run Windows on your Mac. If you have an Intel-based Mac computer and would like to try Boot Camp, you can download the public beta today.

It lets you install Windows without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple does not sell or support Microsoft Windows (you’ll need XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2, WIndows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate. ) Boot Camp will burn a CD with all the required drivers for Windows so you don’t have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.


AppleJack is a user friendly troubleshooting assistant for Mac OS X. With it you can troubleshoot a computer even if you can’t load the GUI, or don’t have a startup CD handy. AppleJack runs in Single User Mode and is menu-based for ease of use.

You can repair your disk, repair permissions, validate the system’s preference files, and get rid of possibly corrupted cache files. In most cases, these operations can help get your machine back on track. The important thing is that you don’t need another startup disk with you. All you need to do is restart in Single User Mode (SUM), by holding down the command and s keys at startup, and then typing applejack, or applejack auto (which will run through all the tasks automatically), or applejack auto restart (which will also restart the computer automatically at the end of the process).


Burn is an application to burn most common disks:

– five kinds of data disks : Mac (HFS+), PC (Joliet), DVD (UDF), Mac + PC, DVD-Video

– two kinds of audio disks can be burned: audio CD, MP3 Disk

– four kinds of video disks VCD, SVCD, DVD, DivX.

– three kinds of image disks can be burned. Normal images (with the extensions: img, dmg, cdr, toast and iso), Cue/bin, Toc (only mode 1 toc images are supported).

– It can also scan for disks and use them as images to burn.


Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

PowerPC or Intel Mac


Butler makes it easier for you to perform different potentially recurring tasks. Butler lets you arrange these tasks in its fully customizable configuration. You can assign one or more triggers to a task:

Due to its unique variety of triggers and tasks, Butler is a very flexible productivity tool .

Butler is compiled as a universal binary. This means that Butler runs natively on both Intel and PowerPC based Macs.


Chicken of the VNC – a fast, lightweight VNC client for Mac OS X. A VNC client allows one to display and interact with a remote computer screen. In other words, you can use Chicken of the VNC to interact with a remote computer as though it’s right next to you.

Chicken features:

automatic server discovery via Rendezvous

an auto-scrolling full-screen mode

keychain integration

CPU performance throttling

smart unicode keybindings

mouse button emulation and native multibutton support

tons of supported transfer encodings including Tight and ZLib

customizable connection profiles


FinderPop – a classic Mac utility, now a preference pane for OS X. FinderPop is a Universal Preference pane that extends OS X’s contextual menus using a FinderPop Items folder much as the Apple Menu Items folder used to do for the Apple menu.


iWebMore – this lets you easily and quickly add features to sites created in iWeb that would be difficult to add without this utility. This is the dig for the iWeb developer. Embed HTML in your iWeb pages and finally have those flash animations, applets and google ads on the website.


iWillQuit – a simple mean to save electricity.

If you are going to downloading a big file, but you don’t want to let your Mac on all night long, you want to save energy, iWillQuit will help you do this. Use iWillQuit to put to sleep, shut down, restart, or log out your Mac in XX hours and XX minutes. Made with AppleScript Studio.


Linotype FontExplorer X sets a new standard for font management software. With the new FontExplorer X, font management, font sorting, font shopping and font discovery are simple and fun! It’s easy to use and is elegant in style. Supported languages are currently English and German.


MainMenu runs all the various tools and scripts to keep your Mac running smoothly, it makes these tasks quick and easy, right from your menu bar. Rebuilding your Spotlight library for faster searching, repairing permissions, cleaning caches to improve application performance, and even more advanced settings – such as enabling and disabling the Dashboard – are no more than two clicks away.

MainMenu is full of powerful maintenance tools to keep your Mac running like new, within a slick, simple interface.

Besides, German, French, Japanese, Korean, and Traditional Chinese localizations added, Portuguese is coming soon.


Max is an application for creating high-quality audio files in various formats, from compact discs or files.

When extracting audio from compact discs, Max offers the maximum in flexibility to ensure the true sound of your CD is faithfully extracted. For damaged discs, Max can either use its built-in comparison ripper (for drives that cache audio) or the error-correcting power of cdparanoia.

Once the audio is extracted, Max can generate audio in over 20 compressed and uncompressed formats including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Apple Lossless, Monkey’s Audio, WavPack, Speex, AIFF, and WAVE.

If you would like to convert your audio from one format to another, Max can read and write audio files in over 20 compressed and uncompressed formats at almost all sample rates and and in most sample sizes.

Max allows full control over where output files are placed and what they are named. If desired, Max will even add the encoded files to your iTunes library in a playlist of your choice.

For advanced users, Max allows control over how many threads are used for encoding, what type of error correction is used for audio extraction, and what parameters are used for each of the various encoders.


MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for MacOS X.

The MenuMeters monitors are true SystemUIServer plugins (also known as Menu Extras). They can be reordered using command-drag and remember their positions in the menubar across logins and restarts.

The CPU Meter can display system load both as a total percentage, or broken out as user and system time. It can also graph user and system load and display the load as a “thermometer”. The menu for the CPU Meter contains several pieces of information I like to have a single click away (uptime, load average, open Process Viewer, open Console).

The Memory Meter can display current memory usage as either a pie chart, thermometer, history graph, or as used/free totals. The Memory Meter menu shows a breakdown of current memory usage and VM statistics. The Memory Meter can optionally display a paging indicator light.

The Net Meter can display network throughput as arrows, bytes per second, and/or as a graph. Both the arrows and the graph are scaled using a user-selected scaling factor and calculation. Scaling can be done on the basis of actual link speed reported by the network interface or peak traffic and can use one of several scaling calculations. The Net Meter menu shows current interfaces and their status. Interface information is gathered from the SystemConfiguraton framework and thus is MacOS X network location aware.


OnyX allows you to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Exposé, Safari, Login window and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome, to see the detailed info of your configuration, to preview various logs and CrashReporter-reports, to check the Preferences files and more.


Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.

Perian enables QuickTime application support for additional Media Types:

– AVI, FLV, and MKV file formats

– MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 -Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio

-AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3

– Subtitle support for SSA and SRT


PTHPasteboard is a multiple pasteboard program for OS X.

How often have you copied something only to find that you need it a few minutes later but you’ve already copied another item? PTHPasteboard watches you while you work and keeps a copy of any items that you have copied to your pasteboard.

PTHPasteboard has a number of exciting features:

Access information on Pasteboard items by right/control clicking on any item

Paste formatted text as unformatted by middle/command clicking on any item

Vastly improved HotKeys support

Fully integrated Mac OS X Help

Ability to choose menu bar icons for Custom Pasteboard windows

Service Scrubber – Wouldn’t the services menu be much more useful if it weren’t overcrowded by services you never even thought of using? With Service Scrubber, you can restructure the services menu, change service keyboard shortcuts or disable services. It also lets you deactivate, activate, reorder, rename and redefine the keyboard shortcuts for all the entries in the services menu. It does this in a way that is pretty much foolproof so you can always revert.

Service Scrubber is compiled as a universal binary. This means that Service Scrubber runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs.


SharePoints is an application or a preference pane that makes it easy to add and delete share points like in the old Finder. In Mac OS X, by default, you are limited to sharing only what is in your public folder in your home directory. This program makes it easy to share any folder. In addition SharePoints also brings back users and groups management to Mac OS X as well as easy configuration of AppleFileServer (AFS) and Samba (SMB) Server properties.


Sizzling Keys allows you to control iTunes with keyboard shortcuts from any application. It allows to pause, adjust the volume or skip a track or rate a song without leaving the current application. You can do all that and more with simple customizable keystrokes. Far more efficient than using iTunes itself. As well, one is generally using a lot more keyboard shortcuts when on the go anyhow. It is easy to install and, in the unlikely case that you don’t like it, uninstall.


Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is specially designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file.

With skim you can add and edit notes, highlighting important text, making “snapshots” for easy reference, view all your notes and highlights, read conveniently in full screen. It can interact with with LaTeX and PDFSync, it has support for Apple Remote Control. This application is highly customizable.


SlimBatteryMonitor – this application is excellent! It cuts the menubar space by half and is easily customizable. For example, you can easily change the color of the icon outline from black to blue. It is suggested to move the application from the desktop into the Applications folder before installing.


SMARTReporter is an application that can warn you of some hard disk drive failures before they actually happen! It does so by periodically polling the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard disk drive. S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a technology built into most modern hard disks that acts as an “early warning system” for pending hard disk drive problems. Because SMARTReporter relies on the S.M.A.R.T. implementation of Mac OS X, it only supports ATA, SATA or eSATA hard disk drives, if you want S.M.A.R.T. support for your FireWire hard disk drive, send feedback to Apple.

SMARTReporter can notify you of impending hard disk drive failures by sending e-mails, displaying a warning dialog or executing an application. The current status of your hard disk drives is always displayed through the customizable menu item.


smcFanControl lets the user set the minimum speed of the build in fans. So you can increase your minimum fan speed to make your Intel Mac run cooler. However in order not to damage your machines smcFanControl doesn’t let you set a minimum speed to a value below Apple’s defaults. This is an recommended update to everyone to avoid heavy memory usage of smcFanControl, when its running for a long time.


Springy (StuffIt replacement) – simple and elegant, but powerful archiving utility that will make your everyday archiving activities much more pleasurable. Written specifically for Mac OS X, Springy integrates seamlessly with it and includes features you would expect from a proper Mac OS X application. If you can find your way through bunch of files in Finder, you would do so in Springy in matter of seconds.

SuperDuper! is a program that makes recovery painless, because it makes creating a fully bootable backup painless. Its incredibly clear, friendly interface is understandable, easy to use, and SuperDuper’s built-in scheduler makes it trivial to back up automatically. And it runs beautifully on both Intel and Power PC Macs!

SuperDuper’s interface confirms all your actions in simple, clear language to ensure that the end result is exactly what you intended.

TextWrangler2 is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool. It is a text editor for light-duty composition, data-file editing (where the data files consist of plain ), and manipulation of text-oriented data. TextWrangler supports working with both plain-text and Unicode files (with the exception of files written using right-to-left writing systems, such as Hebrew or Arabic). TextWrangler also features an integrated spelling checker, as well as integration with Word Services-aware spelling and grammar checkers. At its most basic, a text editor is a tool for simply editing text. You can use a text editor for a wide variety of tasks from cleaning up data, to editing configuration files on your Mac or server, to writing HTML or coding.


TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the applications delivered with the system.

The tool makes sure that preference changes can only affect the current user. You don’t need administrative privileges to use the tool. With this design, it is no problem to use TinkerTool in professional networks where users have restricted permissions. The program will never change any component of the operating system, so the integrity of your system is not put at risk, and there will be no negative effect on system updates.


Transmission been built from the ground up to be a lightweight, yet powerful BitTorrent client. Its simple, intuitive interface is designed to integrate tightly with whatever computing environment you choose to use. Transmission strikes a balance between providing useful functionality without feature bloat. Furthermore, it is free for anyone to use or modify.


Vienna is a freeware, open source RSS/Atom newsreader for the Mac OS X operating system. It provides features comparable to commercial newsreaders, but both it and the source code are freely available for download. It has a simple and intuitive interface. Vienna provides a built-in web browser based on the Safari web engine. You can create folders whose contents are dynamically determined by criteria that you specify. The built-in web browser has been enhanced in Vienna 2.1 to include back and forward buttons, a refresh button and an address bar. A new Open Web Location command on the File menu makes it easy to quickly open the built-in web browser to any URL you wish.


WhatRoute – this is a free scriptable application based on the UNIX traceroute command. Using AppleScript, you can query, ping or trace IP addresses or domain names, using a simple command such as ‘trace’

WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Macintosh to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router, thus enabling you to determine slow links or hops in the Internet. WhatRoute can also find dead links, such as routers that don’t respond.


Leave a Reply

20 Responses to “Useful Mac Software”

  1. Hot list! I have to try some of the Apps i didn’t knew!

  2. Hi,

    I think you left out one great piece of Mac software: Quicksilver. It’s a launcher that works similarly to Namely, but can do a lot more than just opening applications.

  3. Great list. I hadn’t heard of most of these. Something for everyone. Thanks for compiling and posting it!

    The one piece of great Mac software that I would add: Bean. A lean and mean word processor (Text Edit morphed into a great tool for writing longer documents, especially articles and fiction). Recommended.

  4. nice recommendations. i second Quicksilver. Desktop managr, skim, thx.


  5. Great list, thanks. I third Quicksilver, actually quite surprised its not in here.

    Also “Journler” –probably the most amazing, feature rich, jounrnal/notes (free) application out there. It allows you to create smart folders, tag, regular folders, add native app pictures, audio and video notes, turn your entries into blog entries or emails, and tons more. VERY cool.

  6. You made a list that solved more than one of my most nagging problems on Mac. Major kudos and thanks! Another vote for quicksilver, and I want to note that skype’s video/im/chat implementation works great across both platforms, and has for a while. Yahoo took years to make a decent Mac client, and Yahoo music still does not work on the Mac — I would not rely on them.

  7. What about XTorrent, Transmit, and Coda and TextMate?! Good lawd man!

  8. Thanks for the wonderful list.

    By the way, I feel a bit disappointed that I do not find Adium (the instant messenger for duck..). I think it’s much better than YM (but hey, that just my opinion, don’t bother to accept it).

  9. Erin, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this a freeware list, aren’t Xtorrent, Transmit and Coda all shareware?

  10. Quicksilver: +1
    (Sorry, that had to be said, its the best…)

  11. Yeah, I second Adium, although there is no video support yet, and Skype’s Video works now. You cannot mention Butler and not Quicksilver…. Another great free CD/DVD burning app that I use often is LIQUIDCD (when I don’t use the built-in Disk-Utility that is), and I would also give a recommendation for TextWrangler, how all this functionality can be free is beyond me, it’s fantasticly powerful, I use it all the time for coding ASM, C/C++, Shellscript etc.

  12. + 1 for quicksilver

  13. Quicksilver yet again – it’s a must. Don’t waste your time with something as pedestrian as Namely – a1c0r’s creation will change your LIFE.

  14. Great list, but…uh…no DragThing? Big oversight.

  15. Good,
    and for PC users, daniusoft dvd ripper is one of dvd ripper software for PC I think is good.

  16. my apple lappy respond very slowly, please recommend some solution

  17. My apple lappy responds very very slow, please recommend some solution very very fast.

  18. Quicksilver is great. Too bad no one’s working on it anymore.

    Butler could be the next Quicksilver. I use the free version of Butler together with Quicksilver because there are some things I like about Butler too.

  19. nice useful mac software list thx for sharing

  20. There might be some downloads or hyper links, however very very useful.