Defecting to OS X recommendations
March 19, 2005 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I've taken the plunge, and purchased a Mac Mini. I've used Windows primarily for most of my life, with a bit of Debian Linux. What recommendations do you all have for general use, software, etc etc?
posted by jackofsaxons to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
First, I would do a search on Ask Metafilter for "os x," "macintosh" or look at the "Apple"-tagged posts. Second, I would do nothing, because all the answers are there in a bunch of other nearly identical questions.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:13 PM on March 19, 2005


While Mo' may not be _wrong_, here's a few software pointers that I gave to a friend recently when she got her first Mac...

Weblog/site/news reading: NetNewsWire

Weblog writing (if you do such a thing): ecto

General application launching (plus tons more that I haven't investigated): Quicksilver

gMail notificaton (if you have gMail): gCount

IM: Adium X (The Mac's answer to Trillian, multi-platform IMing)

Netflix Queue management (if you rent via Netflix): Netflix Freak

Screenshots: Snapz Pro X

General text/html editing: TextWrangler

Collaborative text editing (this is cool if you have the chance/opportunity/need to play with it): SubEthaEdit
posted by djwudi at 2:26 PM on March 19, 2005


Coming from Windos, you might like ShowDesktop.
posted by airguitar at 2:27 PM on March 19, 2005


Just search for an earlier thread. You're basically going to get the same answers over and over again, so this thread will give you nothing new.
posted by justgary at 2:38 PM on March 19, 2005


Two suggested resources:

Mac Specialist's Essential Mac Applications

OSX inventories, tips & hack collections

Beyond that... TidBITS has some great eBooks on maximizing your MAC experience.

Good luck, and welcome to the family!
posted by silusGROK at 3:16 PM on March 19, 2005


My opinion is it depends on what you are planning on doing with it. What did you do with your Win/Lin box? Or what new things do you intend to with your Mac? Here's a few I use as a computer scientist/programmer:

iTerm - tabbed terminal replacement

Fink and Fink Commander - easy installation of open source packages

Omnigraffle - great figure drawing program

Alarm Clock Pro and World Clock Deluxe - I use these when I'm on the road

And because I'm shameless, I'll add a self-link to Burning Monkey Solitaire. All the other Freeverse titles are good, too.
posted by bhorling at 4:16 PM on March 19, 2005


Version Tracker, for god's sake. How can no one mention Version Tracker? When I had a mac, I checked it every day.
posted by bingo at 5:53 PM on March 19, 2005


Witch is an application switcher that lets you switch by window, which seems more akin to the Windows switching.
posted by WCityMike at 6:18 PM on March 19, 2005


Just to second one of djwudi's suggestions, you really should install QuickSilver. It might not be apparent exactly what it's good for, but here's a quick summary:

The program loads automatically when you log in, and stays out of the way. It sticks itself up next to the clock and doesn't do anything until you press the hotkey (like Option+SpaceBar, for instance). When you do press it, a window comes up. You type what you want to look for or perform an action on, using as many or as few letters as possible.

When you type out what it is you're looking for, or enough for QuickSilver to understand, you hit Enter or the right arrow. Enter executes the item, or performs the default action. Right arrow shows a list of actions to perform. The most common usage would be to run programs that you don't use often enough to stick in your dock, but still use frequently enough that it's a hassle to pick through the Applications menu to find them.

So, to write a quick note with Stickies, I hit Option+SpaceBar, and immediately start typing "sti"... which is enough to find Stickies...then I hit Enter and up comes a new note.

If I want to look up someone's address, I hit the hotkey sequence, and start typing their name. Up comes their address. I hit right arrow, arrow down to their e-mail address, and then hit enter... up pops a new blank email to the contact I searched for.

It does tons of other snazzy stuff that really isn't apparent from the website, so excuse the length of this post, but I felt it might be useful to explain it.

ShapeShifter is also a beautiful little program that lets you skin your whole system. It does cost money, but I thought it was worth it. Maybe there's something free that works similarly, but I haven't found it. The other software on the haxies website is also worth looking in to.

Take a look in the Mac OS X Help documentation for the list of generic keyboard shortcuts. It's very easy to do things with the keyboard, like hitting Command+W to close the current window of an application, or Command+Q to quit the application entirely. Command-Shift-Delete to empty the trash in Finder... you get the idea, I love keyboard shortcuts.

SizzlingKeys is a great (you guessed it) keyboard shortcut manager for controlling iTunes without actually having to switch to the iTunes window.

Adium X: I couldn't live without it. It's more than just a multi-protocol IM client, it's also very easy to customize the appearance to suit your mood. Both the chat windows and the buddy list are extremely customizeable.
posted by odinsdream at 7:24 PM on March 19, 2005


I recently switched from Windows to Mac. Also I didnt get to participate in the earlier threads although I did learn a lot from them:

Quicksilver
How, I mean how, did I get by without this on either Windows or Mac?? Indispensable.

Adium X
This is the IM client on Mac.

X11
If you are coming from a Unix environment, you will want to get this right away.

Chicken of the VNC
This is the VNC client.

NetNewsWire Lite
RSS Client

VLC
Use this as your video player. Will play any media you throw at it and also play any DVD (regardless of region-coding)

Transmit
This is the FTP client to use

General observations about OSX:
-Networking is so much easier. You'll see what I mean
-Keychain is a pain in the butt. I have pretty much disabled it.
-Having window buttons on the left instead of the right felt wierd at first but that goes away quickly.
-Was a Firefox user but have come to love the look/feel of Safari.
-There is no real app for Windows that does everything Itunes does. Manage/Rip/Convert/burn music. Its all in one program.
-In additon to VersionTracker, also check out Macupdate.com

(Sorry for no links. In a bit of a hurry. All easily google-able)
posted by vacapinta at 7:48 PM on March 19, 2005


(self-link warning) My list of essential Mac OS X software.
posted by mrbill at 8:04 PM on March 19, 2005


Keychain is a pain in the butt. I have pretty much disabled it.

Actually, the lack of a decent keychain feature is one of the drawbacks shared by nearly every other OS. Sure, some individual apps will store your passwords for you, but you never know how well it's encrypted, and there's no central place to go to look up a forgotten password, if that's even possible. Really, the Keychain is exactly the sort of thing that makes Mac users into Mac zealots. Like most Mac features, it just works -- I can't imagine what in the world could make you consider it a "pain in the butt." (And I am not even sure how you'd go about disabling it, or how you'd run applications that require it to be there after you did.)
posted by kindall at 8:23 PM on March 19, 2005


Thanks for the different suggestions guys. I did a search, and most of the stuff that came up was more topic specific.

I do everything for graphic design, to monkeying around with Apache and things of that nature.

I'm really liking Mac OS X, especially I got over the stupid "PC's can do anything a Mac can" argument. Things are just so much.. simpler.
posted by jackofsaxons at 11:03 PM on March 19, 2005


You may find the Mac OSX section of LifeHacker useful. And yes - welcome to the family.
posted by quadog at 1:14 AM on March 20, 2005


Nobody mentioned VersionTracker because it sucks. MacUpdate is like VersionTracker without the crappiness.

There have been several questions along these lines, including a discussion of tips and best practices, and some game recommendations. There were a couple of other threads, including a much better discussion of software that I referred to several times after the purchase of my Powerbook, but I appear to have misplaced the bookmark.
posted by majick at 8:36 AM on March 20, 2005


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