When you build a new machine or repave an existing one, which applications do you put back first? Well it depends who you are – it depends what you do.
If you are a developer you would be installing a suite of tools that many others seldom use. As an editor you may have a host of media centric helper utilities and apps. Well for what it is worth, these are mine:
Mac OSX Snow leopard and Lion: The top half a dozen:
1/VMWare fusion: If you have a mac chances are you will need or want to run windows at some point; If not to use applications that are not available on Mac, then to run other operating systems, like various distributions of Linux that you need to run or test with. However great boot camp is, the fact that you have to boot into one or t’other is an inconvenience to say the least.
In my humble opinion VMWare Fusion is the answer. Some of my root6 colleagues swear by Parallels, but in my experience over the last few years, running it in anger every day Fusion has not let me down. I run it in parallel with my native OS, it hibernates when the mac does, picks things up when it wakes up, and I have not rebooted either OS in a while (other than last weeks patch tuesday offerings for Win7
2/Google: Chrome, Reader, Earth, Docs, Google+;
Google dominates all our lives to some extent (read a rather worrying extent.) If you are a so called information worker, or even if you aren’t, Google is the go to for everything from buying your next gadget to finding alate night taxi home using the utility bill stuffed into your back pocket. Scary, but scarily good, Chrome is fast and easy- the all in one search/address bar saves time and clicks all day and you don’t have to go through the whole syncing bookmarks drag because your history is stashed as part of your account. Truth is though, not all things play or work in Chrome’s html5 world. You may have to revert to Firefox or Safari now and again for good measure. Keep them all up to date. You never know when you may need ‘em.
3/Dropbox. What on earth did we do before Dropbox? Well, the truth is I messed about with all sorts of things; Custom scripts, rsync, Synctoy, Karens Replicator (more on that later) but for sheer ‘no brain required’ ease of use and reliability across machines and platforms, Dropbox is the business. And as an aside, I dont think I would own an Ipad if it wasn’t for Dropbox either.
4/ VLC Plays nearly every video and audio format around, cross platform, plugins galore and stable and easy to boot- what’s not to love? – snag it here- At the same time, you are going to be ripping stuff right? Turning all those DVD’s you bought at the HMV sale from atoms to bits. The most sensible way to do this as a standalone personal user is Handbrake; Again, it is one of the best at what it does, especially at creating playable content for your handheld Mac devices like Iphone and Ipad.
5/Messaging- you need to talk to people online over a messaging client,but not impressed with your typical options- Meet Adium. It is a multi-protocol messaging client that allows you to talk to all your friends wherever and whatever they may be on. IM, Ichat whatever.
6/ Productivity and mind management; Evernote is a fabulous piece of software that solves all sorts of typical issues; Most commonly, tracking down that snippet of vital information you cut and pasted into a page or clipboard somewhere on your computer. Evernote solves this dilemma by allowing you to have local or cloud based repositories for your notebooks, snippets and all the rest of your content. Evernote repositories are synced for you when you are online and you can access them wherever you have a connection. You can also send information to Evernote via other applications courtesy of Growl.
6a/ FTP Filezilla and Transmit- There are many occasions when a browser wont do, and you need a decent FTP client, Filezilla is a great FTP tool and Transmit is another but the big difference is it is not free. If you are sending large anounts of stuff via ftp you probably already own it.
So on a Mac, these would be the basics, followed by Adobe CS 5.5, Avid Media Composer and helper apps (EDL Manager, Filmscribe, etc..) Motion 5 (one of the best graphics creation tools for 50 bucks imho) As well as Omnigraffle, VNC (chicken of the VNC is best on mac platforms), Mac Office 11, Pages, Numbers via the Appstore, and last but not least Smultron – a text editor of note-
Next time, we are going to look at the top half a dozen windows apps- followed by the top NETWORK utilities and tools for Mac and Win.
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