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To help out Martin and anyone else reading this thread because they're curious about Apple kit, here are a few really useful applications which can make life easier. Everyone has their favourites list - alternative packages are of course available - this is my preferred list. Everything is free (and usually open source) unless stated.

* Burning data CDs and DVDs: While iDVD makes really nice DVDs and while the Finder does let you burn data discs with a simple Finder-based interface (very like Windows XP or later do), frankly it's not very good and Apple should ship better. For a nice little simple thing comparable in many ways to RISC OS' CDBurn family, see Burn: [link]

* For a really nice FTPc-like FTP program including various secure connection options, I really like CyberDuck: [link]

* To read all those video formats which PC users like but QuickTime doesn't, install Perian - a collection of CODECs that integrate into the QuickTime subsystem: [link]

* For workable, if at times slightly shaky Windows Media support within QuickTime, see Flip4Mac (you have to tip-toe through this site to avoid accidentally buying something, but the basic decoder really is free): [link]

* A nice alternative to QuickTime player and something which can play a huge range of formats is VLC. Its user interface on Mac OS is much better than the mess on Windows IMHO: [link]

* For audio editing, Audacity has a native Mac port which works very well: [link]

* For DVD rips or video encoding, see HandBrake: [link]

* For an alternative and entirely free take on Microsoft Office or iWorks, see OpenOffice 3, which now also has a native Mac port: [link]

* A good, free and very capable text editor is Smultron, though I personally much prefer the commercial TextMate (see commercial list below): [link]

* Martin mentioned internet blackboards/whiteboards; this collaborative text editor may be of interest: [link]

* A really neat little menubar-based task manager, which ties into iCal without needing to *launch* iCal, is Anxiety: [link]

* If you want to know your machine's vital statistics (CPU load, RAM use, disc and network bandwidth etc.) then the menubar-based or Dashboard-based iStat Menus is really very good and very, very configurable, all through System Preferences: [link]

* If intending to run Windows or Linux in a virtual machine, there are well-integrated commercial options (see list below). There is also the highly capable and often overlooked VirtualBox, which is completely free: [link]

* Adium is a good chat client, if you're into that kind of thing: [link]

* To open relatively unusual archive formats, see The Unarchiver, UnRarX or 7zX: [link] [link] [link]

Commercial stuff:

* For virtualisation, Parallels vs VMWare Fusion is an ongoing debate. I like some features in Parallels 4 but I hate the company's charging strategy and they do seem to lack some quality control in their releases. I bought Parallels before VMWare came out with Fusion; if I were to make the choice today, I'd probably just buy VMWare Fusion instead. Google has links.

* For audio, I've used Cubase for many years but switched to Logic Studio 8 when I got the Mac Pro. I've never looked back. It's the single most capable and extensive piece of software I've ever bought; the range of genuinely useful and stable software you get for the price is astonishing. See the Apple store for details. Sorry for the advert ;)

* For text editing, for me, there's no contest: TextMate. It's everything StrongED is, plus a lot more, plus a big dollop of aesthetically pleasing implementation - I actually find it helps my coding style if my editor and its text displays look good, because my code wants to look good too :) The key to it is the bundles system, which is complicated, but deep and extensive. See: [link]

Oops. That ended up longer than I expected...

 is a RISC OS Useradh1003 on 26/11/08 9:14PM
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