Essential business iOS apps
October 17, 2012 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Transitioning from a Windows laptop to a Macbook Pro at work. Yay! Need software recommendations.

Got the go-ahead to make the switch, which I'm very happy about. Now I need to trick the thing out. First and foremost, I need an email client app. We use Google Apps for Business, and on our Windows machine we use Outlook as the client app. It's overkill, but it's nice because it syncs up mail so I never have to worry about where messages are. I do NOT want an app that will force me to download messages to my laptop (as I do a lot of work in the Gmail app on my iPhone).

Beyond that, what are the other essential productivity tools I need? Free is best but I can spend a little if it's something really worthy.

(Already have purchased Keynote, BTW.)
posted by jbickers to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I usually use a web client now, but just play OS X Mail was fine for me when I was using it. It lets you use IMAP so messages can stay on the server.

There are a jillion TODO apps for the Mac, but I like TaskPaper and use it for general note-taking in addition to TODO lists.

If you do a lot of text editing, I like TextMate.
posted by ignignokt at 10:03 AM on October 17, 2012

Alfred is a good app for launching applications.
posted by Dansaman at 10:05 AM on October 17, 2012

I use Office for Mac 2011 and the new version of Outlook is actually quite nice. It's nothing like the half-assed version called Entourage that was in Office for Mac 2008.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:18 AM on October 17, 2012

I still prefer the bundled Apple Mail client. What else you need depends largely on what you need to do with the machine, but I will say that 1Password is the most useful utility program ever created for any computer.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:27 AM on October 17, 2012

I use Apple's stock Mail client and have for years. It's not perfect, but it's definitely a solid and feature-rich piece of software. I'd suggest giving it a try, at least.

You're going to get a lot of good suggestions here, so I'm going to take a different tack.

Here are some things I use every day on my Mac that are not apps but that speed up my work considerably, and that I wish I'd known about all along:
  • ⌘-shift-3 takes a screenshot.
  • ⌘-shift-4 lets you drag a rectangle to just take a screenshot of a given area. Hitting "space" while in this mode changes the cursor to a camera icon that lets you take perfect screenshots of individual windows.
  • You can launch apps from Spotlight. Hit ⌘-spacebar, then start typing the app's name.
  • You can also do arithmetic in Spotlight. ⌘-spacebar, then type 2+2. Or (123*456)/99. You can even do exponentiation with ^, and it knows the values of e and pi as well.
  • Selecting a file in the Finder and then hitting space brings up a preview, but you can open the file in any application by clicking and holding on the "Open with..." button in the top right corner.
  • In most text entry fields, you can hold down option to change operations from character level to word-level. So option-⌫ deletes the last word, and option-arrow keys let you navigate by word instead of character; I use this constantly.
  • In the "Language & Text" preferences panel, under "Text" you can define arbitrary shortcuts that the system will automatically expand to longer words. I do a lot of work that involves typing the same names over and over again, and defining three-character shortcuts has saved me HUGE amounts of frustration. (Also, if the auto-substitution of things like (c) bothers you, here's where to turn it off.)
  • You can enable system-wide dictionary lookups in the "Trackpad" preferences. Just check "Look Up / Tap with three fingers," and then do a three-finger tap over any word. There's the definition. There's more, though -- open up the Dictionary app and go to its preferences, and you can select which of the MANY dictionaries (including several foreign languages and Wikipedia) are automatically searched. I am a translator and this changed my life.
Anyway, my favorite utility is Soundsource.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Seconding 1Password. I'd also recommend Little Snitch, SuperDuper, Quicksilver, VLC, Disk Warrior, EasyFind or FindAnyFile, BetterZip or The UnArchiver and Adium. You can find all of those apps at MacUpdate. These are the base apps that I put on my computers.

If we knew more about what you use your computer for at work, it'd be easier to recommend other apps that would improve your productivity.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:44 AM on October 17, 2012

I presume what you are looking for are things that are Mac-specific that you don't, and can't, currently use on a PC, and Alfred is one such example. There are many good applications that you can use on both a PC and a Mac. For example, 1Password was mentioned, and in that same category would be LastPass, which is free (forever), cross-platform (including Mac), and allows you to use your passwords everywhere without having to physically keep them with you.
posted by Dansaman at 10:47 AM on October 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for these so far. For those of you wondering about the kind of work done: Mostly typical Office/office stuff (loads of email, calendar, Web, writing, etc.). Trying to move to Google Apps as much as possible (i.e. in place of Word or Excel). A little bit of video editing, a little bit of audio, and tons of just project management and organizational stuff.
posted by jbickers at 10:51 AM on October 17, 2012

I would not recommend Apple Mail; I'd choose Thunderbird over it any day of the week. The program just has some totally bizarre behavior. I recently had to switch to using Apple Mail for work, after using the Google Apps Gmail Web client for all work email for about a year, and it drives me nuts. Even something as seemingly simple as formatting my required work email signature in Apple Mail took a lot of trial and error, and even then, it doesn't quite look the way it's supposed to.

And that's to say nothing of Apple Mail's bizarre failure, at least once a day, to sync with my company's email server until I restart it, or the fact that sometimes, click-and-drag just doesn't work for moving email, or the fact that even when I set up Google Apps Gmail via IMAP and tell Mail to use Gmail's Sent folder as its Sent folder, it still doesn't actually put sent email in that folder, so I have to drag it from the local Sent folder to Gmail's sent folder... In general, the rules you can set up for automatically moving email from inbox to inbox or folder to folder in Apple Mail are far less useful than those in Gmail—and in some cases, for unknown reasons, they fail outright, or fail outright for a while, then magically start to work at some later point, or work for a while, then fail. And believe me, I've read enough FAQs and "little-known Apple Mail tips" and the like to tide me over for a long time. If I didn't have to use Apple Mail for work, I wouldn't.
posted by limeonaire at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2012

Never had an issue with Apple's Been using it forever, monitoring 8 different accounts (imap and pop) at once.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:46 AM on October 17, 2012

You might find Lifehacker's Mac App Directory useful. I don't agree with all of their "best app for ___" choices, but it's a good resource.
posted by sharkfu at 11:50 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

A little bit of video editing, a little bit of audio

For audio capture, Audio Hijack is often useful; for audio editing Audacity is still pretty much the standard.

For video, if you don't need to go to a full fledged editor, you can get a surprising amount done within Quicktime Pro. (I don't remember if iMovie comes pre-installed, but I prefer cut-and-paste within QTPro for simple edits; the iMovie interface is a bit too nonstandard for me to grok.)

They're very similar, but I personally greatly prefer Quicksilver to Alfred.

For project management and organization, OmniGroup's apps are the usual go-to recommendation (especially omnigraffle and omnioutliner.)
posted by ook at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2012

TextExpander may be good.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:53 PM on October 17, 2012

Things I would hate to live without:
Jing (quick and easy screenshots)
Jumpcut (quick and easy access to the last 75 things I've put on the text clipboard)
Growl (notifications)
Sublime Text 2 (text/code editing... I'm a developer, you may not need this)
Adium (instant messaging)

Things I use somewhat less:
FileZilla (ftp client)
istat nano (dashboard widget; lets you see all kinds of nifty stats about your computer)
posted by contrarian at 6:42 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding the free Jumpcut.
posted by mecran01 at 5:30 AM on October 18, 2012

One of the first things I install on any new Mac is Dropbox. It's really the best option out there for syncing files between machines.

I've also become a big fan of a little utility called Yoink. It sits hidden off the edge of your screen until you grab something like a file or picture. Then it pops out like a little shelf where you can put stuff as sort of a temporary storage space. This is great for collecting things all scattered about that you need to do something with--like put them together in a folder, or attach them to an email.
posted by beatmenace at 7:54 PM on October 24, 2012

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