Everyone has their favourite applications, and every now and then you find a gem that you wonder how you ever lived without.
Here are my “gems”, I hope you find some of them as useful as I have. Some of them I use so often that I forget I have them until I use someone else’s computer and think “Why doesn’t that work?” Like Better Touch Tool and KeyRemap4MacBook or PDF-XChange Viewer for Windows.
You’ll find a mixture of Macintosh, Windows, Linux and even iOS (iPad) applications.
PDF-XChange Viewer (Windows – Free). This is about the only application that forces me to use Windows occasionally. Not only does it read .pdf files, but allows you a rich variety of annotation tools, including sticky notes, typewriter and a comprehensive set of line & shape drawing tools. And when you save your annotated document, these annotations are still visible to other readers who use other .pdf readers. (Wish they’d bring out a Macintosh version)
Better Touch Tool (Macintosh – Free). Especially in conjunction with the Apple Magic Mouse and/or touchpad. It gives me those extra features I expected the Apple mouse/touchpad to have but weren’t there, like the ability to snap windows to a quarter or half a screen, and extra actions for the mouse/touchpad for actions like three or four finger click. And most importantly, allows me to define an “ignore” area for the Magic Mouse, so my big thumb doesn’t interfere with the mouse action.
KeyRemap4MacBook (Macintosh – Free). This little app has allowed me to remap the useless DVD eject button to give me a proper “Delete forward” key on my MacBook Pro. Pity the narrow sighted Apple designers couldn’t have done this right from the start. I’ve remapped a couple of other keys as well to make up for the lack of essential keys on the MacBook Pro keyboard (RightCommand=Home; RightOption=End)
Alfred (Macintosh – Free). At the touch of a keystroke I have a search box on my screen. Google’s Quick Search Box is almost as good, but I can’t make it use google.com.au as the default search site, whereas in Alfred I can. Windows and Linux users used to be able to get similar functionality by installing Google Desktop (now discontinued)
Wireshark (Macintosh, Windows and Linux – Free). I never really understand how a protocol works until I see a few packets. And since I spend many of my days explaining to people how protocols work, this is my most favourite application. Hope the iPad and andriod versions come soon.
iTerm2 (Macintosh – Free). If you need to use the unix shell on your Macintosh, then this replacement for the Macintosh Terminal application is the way to go. One of my favourite features is the ability to send your input to multiple sessions, but there’s heaps more – like split screens, search functions… And it is free.
Konsole (Linux – Free). Doesn’t have all the features of iTerm2, but has some features that iTerm2 lacks, like ability to choose which sessions to send your input to, rather than all-or-one. Also free.
SecureCRT (Windows – not free). I don’t actually use this, because I have iTerm2. But if I HAD to use a PC, this is the terminal program I’d use. If I ever do need to use a PC terminal emulator, I use PuTTY. There are Macintosh and Linux versions of SecureCRT too, and if iTerm2 wasn’t so damn good I’d pay the money for the Mac version. You get a trail period before you have to pay for registration.
VMware (VMware Fusion for the Macintosh (not free), VMware Player for Windows (free)). This program allows me to run Virtual Machines on my host machine. It is how I run Linux on a Mac or PC, and how I run Windows on my Macintosh.
Microsoft Office (Windows – not free). I know there is a Macintosh version (and I paid good money for it), but the Mac version of PowerPoint destroys the main laptop display when you go into presentation mode, and in displays notes in a fixed font size of “too small to be readable”. As much as I actually hate so many annoyances in MS Word and MS PowerPoint, I still have to say it is the best around – not for PowerPoint, but Excel is a top product and Word gets the job done (even if frustration abounds). I don’t use Outlook.
Directory Opus (Windows not free). If you need to copy files, compare files in one location with another, or do hundreds of other file management related tasks from rotating pictures to rewriting the time stamps, then this is the program for you. I particularly love the fact that I can have side by side displays of two different locations. If you run windows, do yourself a favour and download the 60 day trial.
Path Finder (Macintosh – not free). Although missing some of the features of Directory Opus, Path Finder has a swag of enhancements to make you want to banish Apple’s Finder to the Trash. Also has the ability to view directories side by side.
Dropbox (Macintosh or PC – free for 2GB of cloud storage). By using the same account on multiple computers, I can drop files (usually photos) Into my Dropbox, and they automatically appear in the dropbox of my wife’s PC and there is a 3rd copy in “the cloud” that I can access from my phone, iPad or any browser.
Notepad++ (Windows – Free) is a brilliant text editor. My favourite feature is via a plugin that allows you to compare two files. Ideal for comparing two router config files or two versions of a program script. I really wish there was a Macintosh version.
Text Wrangler (Macintosh – Free). A decent text editor for the Mac, but still wish I could find something to measure up to Notepad++. It also will compare files, but the interface is pathetic compared to the afore mentioned Notepad++.
Skype (Macintosh and PC and iPad and Android – Free-ish). Of course.
Evernote (Macintosh, PC, iPad and any browser – Free for basic a/c). I use it to take notes on my iPad and have them instantly available on other platforms. Lacks any local storage on the iPad, so if you take notes and loose contact with 3G then you can easily loose your notes. Looking for better replacement.
KisMAC (Macintosh – Free). A free, open source wireless stumbling and security tool for Mac OS X. Great for seeing what channels are used and detecting hidden SSIDs (mind you there is no such thing as a “hidden” SSID really – hidden just means the connecting PCs broadcast the SSID rather than the Access Point).
Grand Perspective (Macintosh – Free). “A small utility application for Mac OS X that graphically shows the disk usage within a file system. It can help you to manage your disk, as you can easily spot which files and folders take up the most space. It uses a so called tree map for visualisation. Each file is shown as a rectangle with an area proportional to the file’s size. Files in the same folder appear together, but their placement is otherwise arbitrary.” Great for finding what is taking up all that disk space.
Paintbrush (Macintosh – Free). Very unsophisticated. Allows me to add some text to a screen dump before I paste it into my document or blog.
SMH (iPad – Free). The only way to read a newspaper. SMH is the Sydney Morning Herald for those not in the know.
Words with Friends (iPad or online via Facebook – Free or Paid). I had to have one time waster!