Mac made easy

Before buying the current cute little 12″ G4 powerpc I have toted all over the world, I was known between friends to be the one who thought that Macs were BS. I ended up buying it because it was the right price, lightweight, and small–ideal for carrying along traveling.

At first a bit nervous about all the programs I thought I would be unable to use, I have to say that I fell in love with it within 20 minutes and forgot completely about my mis-informed perception that development for mac is behind that for PC. In fact, I have found every program I need and more… some programs that I use ONLY run on macs simply because the developers refuse to use the inferior Windows OS to develop.

To help people that are just beginning their life-long Mac love affair here’s a list of programs I use–most of which are open source, and thus free:

Firefox–Internet Browser–This is a MUST HAVE for every computer Mac and PC alike… DOWN WITH IE! For a list of good plug-ins see this post on Brendan Nee’s blog. Replaces Internet Explorer.
Jungledisk–Automatic backup–an easy-to-use interface that works with Amazon S3. Replaces CDs and the built-in “Time Machine” which takes hard drive space.
KeePass–Password Database–have 45907 passwords to remember? KeePass keeps them in a secure database. Replaces scraps of paper and dusty corners of your memory.
Adobe Suite CS3–Graphics Tool–this is not open source, and not easy to use unless you know how, but its a must-have for web development and complex photo editing. Also offered on PC.
Skype–VOIP Internet Phone Service–call your friends around the world for cheap over the internet. Replaces the device known as a “telephone”.
Transmission–BitTorrent Client–simple interface and easy to use. Replaces Microtorrent.

Web Development Tools:

TextMate–Text Editing Tool–the best text editing tool I’ve used, free 30 day trial then 39euro, but worth paying for and only for use on macs! Replaces Aptana or notepad.
Transmit–FTP Client–also not free, but worth the $30 for excellent, light-weight UI. Replaces Filezilla.
Xamp–Offline Webdev Tool–this is the same as the PC version. No replacement.

Free and Open Source Substitutes for above programs you have to pay for:
Aptana–Text Editing/FTP–replaces TextMate but is a bit bloated and crashes from time to time.  (Edit:  Aptana Studio is freely available (and open source) for the Mac (Universal Binary) as well as Windows and Linux.. Thanks Paul)
Filezilla–FTP–replaces Transmit, but is not as lightweight or intuitive
Gimp–Photo Editing–replaces Adobe Photoshop, but I have not fully tested its capability

That about concludes my list. I haven’t included a replacement for things like Quicken because I don’t use it, but Buxfer.com and mint.com have features that track personal finances (Quicken does not run on MacOSx). To avoid having to pay for Microsoft Office, you can use Google Docs which has spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation capabilities. Here’s a list of other mac open source programs that is comprehensive but concise.