A Dozen Mac Gems Unearthed In 2005
What where your favorite applications you found for the Mac in 2005? Everyone does a “top ten favorites of the year” and I’m no different - except I’m not going with the traditional “new applications” rather this is my list of applications I discovered this year. Only a couple on the list were actually new products in 2005, the rest I didn’t discover until this year, either because I didn’t previously have the need, or they hadn’t reached maturity.
Okay, onto my 2005 honor roll (not in any order):
The year opened with Apple taking page layout and word processing to a new level with their document production application, Pages, which joined the already very successful and respected Keynote, in forming the beginnings of the AppleWorks replacement, iWork.
Review: Pages: A dusty diamond
A cosmopolitan production team from several continents produced Comic Life which can be used by working cartoonists to make the process of finishing cartoons easier, but for the Joe Average User, it gives them a whole new realm of fun to explore with their reams of photos that had been gathering dust in iPhoto
Review: Collective thinking produces comic genius
Website: Plasq Comic Life
If you are a serious blogger, then Ecto should be high on your shopping list for productivity applications. It works with all the major blog engines such as WordPress, Blogger, pMachine, Moveable Type and supports Technorati tags.
To tell you to “Get Opera” might be pointless if the feared rumor that Microsoft have bought out Opera proves true. Opera is the best browser and leaves the other browsers a distant second. Opera 9 although only in beta, is performing excellently for me and brings among other things, standardization with Safari’s keystrokes - eg Command-T now creates a new tab.
Reviewed: Is it time to ditch Safari?
Jer’s Novel Writer
If you’re looking for a tool to make the writing process easier, you can’t go past Jer’s Novel Writer with it’s useful features such as excellent margin notes and the abiltiy to have different print and screen layouts.
Reviewed: Unleashing the writer
Website: Jer’s Novel Writer
I’d looked at this image utility a few times before - as it does tend to get rave reviews - and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Like a lot of applications, it’s not until you find a use for them that you realise how good they are. I leave Inkwell running permanently and using it for resizing images for my portable entertainment blog, Go Play AV. I’ve set upon a rough standard of a maximum of 170 pixels either horizontally or vertically for images in the posts. With Inkwell, I simply drag and drop the image to it, adjust it’s size with the slider, then drag and drop it into place in the article in Ecto. Almost too easy.
Website: XtraLean ImageWell
After my search for a low cost decent image editor proved fruitless, it was both a delight and relief to find GimpShop, a hacked version of The Gimp but with a Photoshop like interface. Obviously I wasn’t the only one confused beyond sanity by The Gimp’s interface!
What The Gimp is to image editing, so Inkscape is to vector graphics editing. Also like The Gimp, it is an X11 application on the Mac. Still in it’s early days of development, Inkscape already displays exciting potential.
The Battle for Wesnoth
I don’t play many games on computers, if at all, so I’ll leave the voting in the Games category to my boys, who if not for MacMinder (a godsend for limiting the time they spend on the computer), would spend every minute of their waking hours playing WesNoth if they could.
Website: The Battle for Wesnoth
There’s been a few little OS X extenders that I’ve come across this year, but the standout is definitely Textpander which allows you to assign to short strings of text, longer plain text or formatted text that can include images. For example, I’ve configured it so if I type !ahr it is expanded to the code for inserting an HTML hyperlink. Textpander is also useful for auto correcting common typos. Eg if I type “downlaod” Textpander automatically changes it to “download”.
Website: Peter Maurer’s Textpander
And finally, I must give a brief mention to hardware. In a year when Apple released several significant new hardware including video enabled iPods, flash based iPods and a multibutton mouse, the most significant hardware release for mine was the Mac mini, which is still - nearly a year later - yet to be matched for form and price in the PC world. It may have been underpowered (ram, slow hdd) but what a beauty. And when you see what people are doing with them, they’ve brought a whole new cool factor to Macs. Checkout Apple’s own site dedicated to Mac mini modding, Big Ideas
Well, there’s top ten (plus one hardware), now let’s hear what was your favorite Mac software you unearthed in 2005.
Update: I realised I forgot to update the title. I did have a dozen originally. The missing one is the FTP client, CyberDuck. It’s website was not responding and the latest version 2.5.2 was getting bad feedback (I’m still on 2.5.1), so rather than put you on to a potentially bum-steer, I cut it. Keep an eye on CyberDuck though, it is an excellent utility and my favorite FTP client.