Since April 2008 I am a happy owner and user of a MacBook. In fact, I had already considered earlier to switch from MS Windows to Mac OS X, but when I asked at the Gravis Apple store close to my office in Essen about availability of additional software tools for Apple, they told me: "Yes, sure, there are many productivity tools, like PhotoShop, MS Office etc.". In fact, that was not what I was thinking about. I was looking for the little programs at low or better no cost, which make day-to-day work with the computer more fun.

Well, there are plenty. Probably not as many as for MS Windows, but almost every possible task is covered - and often the Mac programs do the job better than their Windows counterparts.

Below you find a list which I compiled after working with my MacBook for 8 months and updated since then a few times. Those applications, which I tested but threw out again (or those, which I installed but did not yet test sufficiently), are not included. Standard programs for the Mac that are pre-installed (like iTunes, Mail etc.) are also not included. BTW, the table is sortable into both directions, just click into any header cell.

Icon Name Type Description Also under
7zX Open Source file compression/decompression + ****
Adobe Golive 9 commercial Powerful Web editor - you can find cheap licenses under eBay. Not maintained by Adobe any more. + ****
AllBookmarks freeware Combines the bookmarks from Safari and Firefox - but not from Opera - ****
Amaya Open Source WYSIWYG web authoring tool by the W3C + ****
Avidemux Open Source video editor + ****
BookPedia shareware Content-rich database for books, with linkage to Amazon etc. - *****
calibre Open Source Program for organising, reading (epub, mobi) and converting ebooks + *****
CDPedia shareware Content-rich database for music CDs, with linkage to Amazon etc. - *****
Clips shareware Clipboard manager - of all the new programs I tested recently (for instance from MacHeist bundles) this one is of real use for me - *****
Dropbox free for file space of 2 GB Service for synchronizing files between computers + *****
DVDPedia shareware Content-rich database for DVDs, with linkage to Amazon etc. - *****
EarthDesk shareware Screen background, showing earths illumination and current cloud cover + ****
eReader freeware e-book reader for files in Palm Doc format (*.pdb) - ***
Evernote adware (there is also a paid version) Well structured program more making and organising notes (including PDF and images), with synchonisation between different computers (for all current operating systems) + *****
FileZilla Open Source Famous FTP client, also common for Windows + ****
Firefox Open Source In my view the very best web browser + *****
Flip4Mac freeware Player for music files in WMV format, required for Wradio - *****
Flux shareware Currently my favourite WYSIWIG web editor - ****
Forklift shareware Excellent file manager with ftp-capability, I use it parallel with Pathfinder - *****
Google Earth freeware Do I need to explain further? + *****
Graphic Converter shareware More than the name suggests, it has plenty of image editing options - ****
IconBurglar shareware Tool to extract icons from programs and save them in different formats and resolutions - used for this page. - **** freeware Shows online information for any music played on iTunes + ****
MacUpdate Desktop shareware (annual subscription) Checks and helps to update all installed apps on my Mac - but crashes on initial program start. - ****
Max Open Source CD ripper and music file converter, useful if you need mp3s and do not want to limit yourself on iTunes only - ****
Movist Open Source Video player with nice interface - I use it now instead of VLC - *****
NetViewsWire adware / shareware Excellent news (RSS) reader - ***** Open Source Now in version 3.x fully OS X + ****
Opera freeware Web browser - but I am already quite happy with Safari and Firefox + ****
Parallels Desktop commercial Virtualization software, to install any alternative OS on your Mac. Claims to be faster than VMware Fusion - but I find it also slow under Snow Leopard. - ****
Path Finder shareware Finally an excellent file manager - perhaps even better than Total Commander for Windows - *****
PDF Clerk Pro shareware For editing the sequence of pages in a PDF file, works also well for huge documents - *****
Photostickies freeware Puts webcam images and photos on your screen - *****
Phoenix Slides freeware Fast image viewer, for whole directories - ****
Picasa Web Albums Uploader freeware Only for file uploads, for editing use Picasa OSX. + ***
Quantum GIS Open Source very good (but not yet perfect) Geographic Information System, continuously improved, with many interesting plug-ins... Similar as under Windows. + ****
SimplyBurns Open Source Interface to copy CDs and DVDs - *****
Skim Open Source Excellent and fast PDF-Viewer - for most purposes better than Adobe Acrobat Reader - *****
Smultron Open Source Powerful code editor for many languages, a little bit like Notepad++ for Windows. Unfortunately development has stopped. - ****
Skype freeware Do I need to explain further? but always a few steps behind the Windows versions + *****
Speed Download 5 shareware Download manager - *****
SplashID for Android shareware Password organisation for mobile and desktop computers + ****
Taco HTML edit shareware Another HTML editor. In principle a mere code editor, but comes with an attractive "component library" to construct things like menus with a nice GUI, results can be easily adjusted later. - ****
Toomble Open Source Download and convert videos from Youtube + *****
TrueCrypt Open Source File and drive encryption + *****
Tunnelblick Open Source OpenVPN client for Mac OS X - ***
TV-Browser Open Source TV and radio programme + ****
VLC Open Source Multimedia player for a wide range of formats + *****
Vmware Fusion commercial Virtualization software, to install any alternative OS on your Mac - ****
Yojimbo shareware Organiser for any kind of information, notes, bookmarks etc. - *****

status: 22.01.2011

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