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Please note: This page is now mostly outdated. For more current info please visit the dedicated blog at etosx.blogspot.com

I have compiled a list of useful tools for the MacOS X that live in the Applications folder on my startup drive, trying to include most of the tiny but useful utilities that sometimes save you lots of trouble and effort, and omitting for the most part the list of big guns, that one normally uses on a daily basis. This serves two purposes, lets me easily answer ‘how do I do this on the Mac’ questions asked by other users, and helps me remember answers to the same questions myself.


  • Adiumx

    Adium(www.adiumx.com) – My current instant messenger of choice. Supports several IM services – yahoo, jabber, aim, icq, msn, googleTalk, many, many more. Clean, customisable interface, quite robust, supports all the latest Tiger-related goodies – Spotlight, Growl, etc. I’ve always been on the quest to keep only one IM application running at a time. Adium brings me very close to achieving that goal, I only have to run Skype on the side. Licensed under the GNU GPL.

  • amule

    aMule(www.amule.org) – a multi platform eMule compatible client for the eD2k and Kademlio p2p networks. Universal application, freeware, accepts PayPal donations.

  • cotvnc

    Chicken of the VNC(cotvnc.sourceforge.net) – best VNC client for the Mac I can think of. VNC clients allow you to connect to the screen of a remote computer running a VNC server, and somehow have become the network lazy network admin’s tool of choice. Very slick interface, support Bonjour and keeps a list of all my servers with usernames and passwords. Universal application. Licensed under the GNU GPL.

  • chmox

    Chmox(chmox.sourceforge.net) A .chm reader for the MacOS X. .chm is the extention for Windows help file. Why do I need to reed Windows help files? Well, I don’t, but seems a good majority of the e-book pirates from the ex-soviet countries have been using .chm as a cheap substitude for .pdf. Well, what do you know… Universal app, published under the GNU LGPL.

  • clamxav

    ClamXav(www.clamxav.com) – nice gui for the ClamAV open source engine(clamav.net), well integrated with the OS, with instructions that just might be enough for the average user. When it comes to virus protection and spam filtering I always recommend the open source projects. At least you can be sure nobody out there tries to push their specific solution down the customer’s throat. Very well integrated with Tiger, Mail.app. I don’t use it much, because the virus threat for MacOS X has not been that big lately, but I keep it for reference for users that prefer to be on the safe side. ClamXav is free, PayPal donation-ware.

  • cocoamysql

    CocoaMySQL(cocoamysql.sourceforge.net) – an Objective-C (or Cocoa) based MySQL gui client, one of the first that were available. I’ve been using it for long years. Funny thing, even now when far more sophisticated clients are availavle from mysql.com and what not, I still prefer to use this one. For one thing, it doesn’t mess-up cyrillic data from my databases. PayPal donation-ware.

  • coconutbattery

    coconutBattery(www.coconut-flavour.com) – a nifty tool that can show you the current capacity of your notebook’s battery, your current maximum capacity, the original maximum capacity and the number of load cycles your battery has survived. To cut it short, it can tell you if your battery is still good or not. Recommended for everyone looking into getting an used Apple laptop.

  • coconutidentitycard

    coconutIdentityCard(www.coconut-flavour.com) – don’t know how useful it might actually be, but this utility can show you exactly where and almost exactly where your Mac or iPod has been built. Mine says Shanghai, China. Made by the same German kid that gives you coconutBattery. PayPal donation-ware.

  • comiclife

    Comic Life(plasq.com) – great app that lets you easily create cartoon-like pages with your iPhoto albums or any collection of photos you have. 25$ commercial license, 30 day trial.

  • crossover

    CrossOver Mac(www.codeweavers.com) – this is CodeWeaver’s Windows-compatibility-for-the-Mac product, it lets you run Windows applications without running windows or requiring a Windows license. It is the perfect solution if you just need to test that web page with IE6. The catch – only helps you run win98 compatible software. Based on the Wine project. $59.95 commercial license, trial available.

  • defish

    DeFish(www.worldserver.com/turk/quicktimevr/fisheye.html) Ken Turkowski’s application will let you re-map fisheye images into perspective images. There is some discussion about who-owns-what patents for fisheye image processing on Ken’s site. DeFish is freeware.

  • delocalizer

    The good thing about MacOS X applications is that they can come localized in as many languages as their auther has designed them to, and to use a specific language localization you only need to change you prefs and restart. The bad thing is that having so much localizations at once can eat up hard drive space pretty fast. In comes DeLocalizer(software.bombich.com), it can go into each package on your disk and delete the localizations you don’t need, saving you gigs of space.

  • diskinventoryx

    Disk Inventory X(www.derlien.com)is a program that looks at your hard drives and draws a nice diagram showing the directory and file structure. This is very helpful when you’re trying to find out where did your free hard drive space go. It is free, released under the GPL and based on KDirStat.

  • dvd2one

    DVD2one(www.dvd2one.com) is a tool that can help you when you want to do a quick copy of an entire DVD. Quick, friendly interface allows you to fit all the original content of a disc into a single DVD-R by re-compressing it on the fly. Available both for MacOS X and Windows. Commerical license.

  • exifuntrasher

    Exif Untrasher(www.bluem.net) is an utility that can „unerase“ your accidentally deleted digital camera pictures. Very helpful with images in .jpg format, doen’t play that well with raw camera data. Freeware, PayPal donations accepted.

  • eyetv

    EyeTV(www.elgato.com) is ElGato’s TV recording software. Very well integrated with the OS. Commercial license, but available as a bundle with different TV tuner devices, both from ElGato and from 3rd parties. Unfortunately in Bulgaria you don’t get online tv schedule services, so for me half of the functionality of EyeTV is lost.

  • firefox

    This one probably doesn’t need introduction, being the web browser of choice for millions of people. I don’t use it as a Safari replacement, but rather as a second browser.

  • flip4mac

    Flip4Mac(www.flip4mac.com)- this is a solution that is required for easy integration of numerous format encoded .wmv and .avi files, it other words, all those movies your PC-owning friend can play and you normally can’t. It is brought to you by the nice folks at Telestream, Inc. and they also give you the opportunity to purchase WMV Player Pro (allows for re-encoding in QuickTime formats) as well as several other pro-video oriented tools.

  • frogblast

    Frogblast(www.ayanamichan.com/richard/frogblast/)- once there was Hotline which consisted of the Hotline Server, Hotline Client and the Hotline tracker. It was a system for file sharing designed years before p2p programs began to show here and there and it was exclusively popular with the Mac users. Now that the company that created Hotline is long gone, the Hotline culture survives through third party clients compatible with the Hotline protocol, such as Frogblast, which is a freeware program.

  • fugu

    Fugu(rsug.itd.umich.edu/software/fugu) – sftp/scp client with GUI. In fact, the help page says that this is a sftp frontend to the client that normally ships with MacOSX. This utility helps web designers/administrators and all normal users to have secure access to their remote files, which is far better than using plain ftp. Fugu is distributed under the BSD license. Current version is an Universal Application.

  • gawker

    Gawker(gawker.sourceforge.net) – tiny utility that can create time-lapse movies using your webcam/iSight (maccam compatible). More than this,it lets you connect to other shared cameras over the net and potentially create a movie of up to 4 camera sources. Gawker is licensed under the GPL and accepts donations via PayPal.

  • handbrake

    HandBrake(handbrake.m0k.org) – your one stop solution to create an iPod movie from any DVD-like source (dvd disc, image file, VIDEO_TS folder…). You can control the size, quality and bitrate of the resulting MPEG4 movie as well as decide which language track and subtitle (cyrillics work ok) language to include and which not. Handbrake is licensed under the GPL and apart from MacOS X the home page quotes compatibility with Linux and Windows.

  • hexeditor

    HexEditor(www.ex-cinder.com)- a hex editor for the MacOS X, that allows you to work on raw file data, with nice add-ons like ascii/hex search ability, support fort different encodings, etc.. Freeware.

  • ialertu

    iAlertU(www.ialertu.com) – this is one-of-a-kind alarm system for the MacBook. It lets you lock your MacBook via the infrared Apple Remote that came in the laptop box. When locked (or armed) iAlertU will detect movement of the MacBook by using the built-in motion sensor, the device that is supposed to prevent hard disk data loss. Upon movement detection iAlertU can produce an audio and visual alarm (very much like your car alarm system), and if this sounds like innocent fun for you, it can take a picture of whatever is in front of the laptop (via your built-in iSight camera) and then send an email with that picture included to a pre-specified email address. MacBook thieves, beware!

  • iAstroPhoto

  • igetter

    iGetter(www.igetter.net) – a very well designed download accelerator/optimiser for the MacOS X. It speeds up downloads by uding multiple slots/requests for different segments of the file that is being downloaded. Very similar to the popular Windows tool FlashGet. iGetter is a shareware product with a 25 USD registration fee, made by Presenta, which is a Bulgarian software company.

  • istumbler

    iStumbler(istumbler.net) – a wireless detection/scanner app, currently has plug-ins for Airport/WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices and Bonjour services. It can show you useful info for each detected service, such as signal to noise ratio, radio channel and so on, which can be very helpful when designing wireless networks.

  • kismac

    KisMAC(kismac.de) – passive stumbler for MacOS X. It can put a WiFi adapter in passive mode, thus turning it completely invisible. Useful for probing upon other people’s networks. Supports a long list of third party wireless cards, check site for details. Freeware and published under the GPL.

  • macsaber

    MacSaber(isnoop.net) – yet another fun showcase for the sudden motion sensor (SMS?!) that is built-in most recent Apple mobile computers. This one mimics the sound of a star wars light saber, turning your laptop into a high-tech weapon, albeit very expensive.

  • MacTheRipper

  • maintenance

    Maintenance(automatorworld.com/archives/maintenance) – an automator action that runs a series of system maintenance scripts, without having to know your way around the CLI/Terminal.app. It repairs permissions, verifies preference files, runs the periodic scripts and updates pre-bindings. In English: it makes MacOS X run a bit faster. The real beauty is that you can schedule the thing to run once per week (via an iCal alarm).

  • monolingual

    Monolingual(monolingual.sourceforge.net/) – another utility that helps you save hard drive space by removing unused localization resources(see also delocalizer). Ad bonus, this one can remove sources from the input menu and also unused architectures from the application bundles. The last one sounds interesting – if you’re currently running on an Intel chip you probably won’t be going back to PowerPC G3. Careful, though, removing app architectures can be a dangerous thing and may corrupt your operating system. Make sure you know what you’re doing.

  • mplayerosx

    MPlayer OSX(www.mplayerhq.hu)- an OS X port of the popular Movie Player for Linux. The port is now integrated into the original project. It has nice features such as on-screen display, multi encoding subtitles and supports quite a lot of movie formats. Opensource project, published under the GPL2.

  • omnigraffle

    OmniGraffle(www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnigraffle) – a diagram and charting tool with very easy, yet very powerful user interface, allowing you to create office layouts, organization charts, UML diagrams or whatever you need to visually describe a process or idea. The diagrams it creates are in a vector format which you can later export to almost anything you want, reducing the process of creating a wall-big chart or diagram to just a few clicks. I’m using it for creating network diagrams form some of my projects, which is where OmniGraffle’s plugin architecture comes to play. There is a huge list of plugins or stencils with diagram components available, ranging from HP SAN components to bathroom equipment. OmniGraffle is a commercial application available for $79.95 and you can also get OmniGraffle Professional for $149.95.

  • omnioutliner

    OmniOutliner(www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnioutliner) – another application by the OmniGroup, I think this one can be described as a tool for data collection and organization. I usually start a new project by organizing a list of actions/items in OmniOutliner, then each item becomes a category containing other items and so on. The user interface allows for multi-column lists, checkboxes for each item, drag-and-drop of text, graphics, attachment files. Once you’ve collected and organized your data you can easily export it one of the many formats OmniOutliner supports – text, html, xml, opml, keynote(!) presentations, etc. OmniOutliner is available for $39.95 or you can go for the Professional version for $69.95.

  • rbrowser

    RBrowser(www.rbrowser.com) – afaik a unique remote GUI-enabled file system browser for the MacOS X. Supports various protocols, such as sftp-ssh, ssl/tls-enabled ftp, plain old ftp. The gui is very similar to MacOS X’s column view, so new users feel at home, and can perform sophisticated tasks as remote-to-remote folder synchronization by simply dragging and dropping between two Finder-like windows. Very useful for web site maintainers, allowing them to work on a local copy of the web site contents and easily auto-sync all between local and remote no matter what the protocol needed. Also useful for backups. Comes completely free (ftp and sftp) or you can purchase a license for $35 allowing you to work with all protocols. I think RBroser has been around since the OpenStep days.

  • ard

    Remote Desktop, or ARD(www.apple.com/remotedesktop) – the must have remote management tool for MacOS X system/network administrators. You can think of it as VNC on steroids, crack, whtatever. If you have a bunch of macs to manage you can effortlessly copy items to them, install packages remotely, run unix commands on multiple machines and many more. Client machines can be organized in lists or dynamic (or smart) lists using different criteria such as network range, os version, amount of ram, etc. Administrators can send messages to remote clients and clients can request assistance from administrators. Apple charges around $300 for this one, but I can’t stress enough how useful it is.

  • rdc

    Remote Desktop Connection(www.microsoft.com/mac/otherproducts) – if I had to choose only one piece of software from Microsoft this would probably be it.(Frankly speaking, it is the only piece of software by Microsoft that I’m using) Remote Desktop Connection allows you to remotely control Windows-based computers from the safety of your MacOS X machine, which is nice. Advanced features such as remote resource sharing, drag-and-drop copying make it very useful when you have to support a windows server or two. Best of all it comes to you for free! My only gripe about it would be that it is still a PowerPC only application, but turns out both I and the Mac Development unit at Redmond can live with that.

  • reveal

    Reveal(albumshaper.sourceforge.net) – and exif data viewer/editor, which means that you can actually change a lot of properties of a photo, for example change the shutter speed/aperture value (not very useful) or maybe change the date a photo was taken (hmmm). It is an opensource project with MacOS X binaries available. Donationware.

  • smultron

    Smultron(http://smultron.sourceforge.net) – is a lightweight, Cocoa-based text editor that is currently on top of my list. I’ve alway been a great fan of quick text editors that serve me to compose a document, which later on I can mark-up in another application if I need to do so. Smultron can be very sophisticated, if you need it to. It supports syntax coloring, line/column numbers, split-window editing and can present a whole project (as in a bunch of files) in the same window. Requieres Tiger. It is an opensource project, and the authors accept PayPal donations through SourceForge.

  • transmission

    Transmission(transmission.m0k.org) – a very quick, light torrent client with nice user interface. Multiplatform (various *n*x-es, BeOS), opensource (MIT license). You can download tons of stuff with this thing.

  • vlc

    VLC(www.videolan.org) a multi-platform video player which started as a student project, but currently is one of the most popular video players out there. It is more of a streaming solution than just a player (started as a client-server project), very nice user interface Current version has better support for cyrillic subtitles than mplayer which is enough for me. VLC is an actively developed opensource project which accepts contributions and donations.

  • xact

    xACT(xact.sourceforge.net) – a nice gui frontend for a couple of unix tools alowing you to transcode audio file formats. Currently the most popular format for losses audio compression on the net is FLAC, APE coming somewhat second, and I can’t play any of them on my iPod, which is why I need to transcode files to something more playable such as AAC. xAct(which stands for Audio Compression Toolkit) is capable of many different format transcoding, support for batch jobs, artwork, tagging, etc. The sourceforge project doens’t look like it is being maintained actively, but the current version is quite useful.

  • xchm

    xCHM(xchm.sourceforge.net) – another .chm viewer for the MacOS. This one is cross-platform, available for MacOS X and Windows(?). Opensource, published under the GPL.

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