Thursday, July 17, 2008

10 FREE Mac Programs I Use...

For those of you who do not know, I am a closet tech geek. I like gadgets and such and I converted from PC to Mac in 2005. During this summer I have been speaking at youth camps and on the road for nearly 6 weeks, so in my free time I have been using Stumble and have come across some great, FREE software for the Mac. Here are some that I have found useful.

Adium - This program helps combine all of your different chat programs into one. So, for those using iChat and you have an AIM and GoogleTalk account, you have to have two windows open. However, not only does Adium combine the many IM services, but it also allows all of the different conversations to be held in one window, which is super helpful. One of the only drawbacks is that it does not currently have video chat capabilities. So, if I want to have a video conference I have to turn on iChat, or I use TokBox or ooVoo.

AppCleaner - One of the things I have always wondered about since switching over to a Mac is how to properly delete programs and all of their support files. Enter in AppCleaner. This program rocks. Simply drag the application file over and then it locates all of the support files all over your hard drive. Once you click the button, it deletes them completely! This is a very helpful utility.

AppMenuBoy - This is a handy little program developed by a programmer at Google. Simply put, instead of overwhelming your Dock with tons of icons to open programs, this little program collects all of your programs in your application folder (and subfolders!) and you simply launch the utility from your Dock, then right click (2 finger click or CTRL-Click) and select the program you want to launch. It sorts them alphabetically so it makes it really easy to find. One drawback is that you have to re-launch the program anytime you add new software, but that's not a big deal.

Burn -This program allows you to burn various types of CDs & DVDs (Data, Music, CD Video, etc.). It's simple to use and really helpful. While Apple does have a nice Burn Folder feature, this little App just has more options and gives you a bit more control.

Caffeine - When I first heard about this program I was like, "big whoop, David Blaine", but after I started using it I noticed a huge difference. Have you ever been watching a video on Hulu or YouTube and having to move your mouse every minute in order to keep your screen from dimming? Or maybe you were updating software or sending a large file and then your computer went to sleep mode? Sure, you could go into your System Preferences and change all of that temporarily, but why waste that time? With Caffeine, you have a little coffee cup icon that loads into your menu bar that you just click whenever you need to disable your screen-savers & power savers, and then you click it again when you are done. It's a small little app, but very helpful.

Cyberduck - If you do any work with FTPs or stuff like it, then this little program is great. I have 2 little sites that I maintain for Lucid Books and Brenham Pressure Washing and I use Cyberduck all the time to make little changes. It's simple to use and very helpful. There are several other options out there if you want to pay, but this is a great freebie.

Handbrake - NOTE: I am not one to advocate the breaking of any copyright laws. With that being said, this is a helpful application that allows you to convert DVDs to MPEG files (it even supports iPODs and AppleTV). This program has helped me be able to listen to lectures for my online classes while driving. I simply take the lecture DVDs, convert them to iPod low-rez and then listen to the lectures while driving to and from camps. It has allowed me to redeem drive time and stay up to date on my lectures for class. This software is also available for PC and Linux.

Fan Control - This little App is a huge lap saver! I have a MacBook Pro and it gets HOT! While Apple seems to feel okay with themselves, because this type of computer is a 'portable computer' and not a 'laptop computer', I still find it on my lap quite often. I was reading David Alison's blog awhile back and he shared his insight about this little software, so I tried it out. What a blessing! I took his advice and bumped it up from 1500 RPM base speed to 3100 RPM. What a difference! Don't get me wrong, it is still warm, but I don't feel like I'm going to need skin graphs anymore!

NetNewsWire - This is my RSS (Blogs, News, MacNews, etc.) program that I use to keep up with all of my reading. This program has significantly reduced the time that was previously required in order to stay 'in the loop' while on the road. Now I can read all the news I am interested in, Blogs, and other articles in one little program that organizes them for me quite nicely. This will allow you to stay abreast on important developments in blogdom and the world around us while maximizing your time to do other stuff.

Nocturne - At the beginning of the summer I was 'suffering for the Lord' with Steph and 'B' down in South Padre Island, TX at a youth camp. We had a great time, but we were all sharing a room. At night, Steph and 'B' were ready for bed, but I needed to catch up on e-mails and such, and that is when I discovered this nifty little program. What it does is invert the colors and essentially makes everything gray-scale. This is helpful because your screen light is cut in half. It's even better than dimming your screen to the lowest possible setting. I definitely find it helpful when I am trying to get work done in a room that is not very permitting of light.

QuickSilver - This is a 'Hot-Key' type App Launching program. If you are a fast typer, then this is so helpful. While there are other programs that you can buy that have been built off this open source version, for those who are just looking to launch programs, then this is a great free option. I changed the settings to have Command-Space be my launch combo instead of the pre-set CTRL-Space (You'll have to change the current hotkey that makes your spotlight pop up with Command-Space). You can do that in your System Preferences. It's worth playing around with for a bit. I have found it helpful.

Well, this is my list for now. Let me know if you try any of these programs and if they are of help. Also let me know if I have missed any that I should try. One great site that has a great collection of free opensource programs for Mac is Open Source Mac.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Thanks for the "appcleaner" and "fan control" links, those are very handy. Glad to see NetNewsWire on here too, I'm a big fan.