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  5. Only Mac OS X (not iOS, OS 9, compatible, etc) applications. All versions of OS X are accepted, but if the application requires a specific version please note.

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locked by patrix Nov 24 '13 at 9:28

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Voted to close — a good question, but we really should avoid subjective ones here. –  apostlion Aug 17 '10 at 20:19
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@Apostlion: Simply because it's subjective does not mean it can't be answered. There are (community defined) "good" applications that are useful on a daily basis. –  Josh K Aug 17 '10 at 20:22
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Voted to reopen - it is subjective, but a popular and useful style of question, if kept as a wiki and not repeated too much. These questions are mostly accepted on gadgets.stackexhange.com for example. –  Jon Hadley Aug 17 '10 at 21:08
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Can we make this Community Wiki? And also 1 app per answer? Much easier to check if something has already been said and to edit to add information about said app. Thank you. –  Loïc Wolff Aug 19 '10 at 20:39
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I did a lot of cleanup. Changed all the app names to ## (because it was the most commonly used in the existing answers. Moved links so that they were within the app names. Removed some first-person descriptors. –  Robert S Ciaccio Aug 23 '10 at 3:18
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239 Answers 239

MPlayer OSX Extended

It is a media player. I like it more than VLC player.

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I like both, but I'm using mplayer more nowadays. It is great! –  Cawas Dec 23 '10 at 12:39
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I tend to go with VLC or QuickTime Player with Perian in this case, I find MPlayer to be too buggy. –  CyberSkull Jan 16 '12 at 5:37
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Audacity

A free software, cross-platform digital audio editor and recording application (from Wikipedia).

If you want to record plain old audio onto your computer, Audacity is a pretty easy way to do it.

(Apple's optical drives from the past several years have implemented region lockout DRM in firmware, rather than simply software, so I can't play back DVDs from multiple regions on my Mac. It's a laptop, so "just buy a second DVD drive" isn't really feasible, and I'm not brave enough to try flashing it with a third-party firmware. Plugging in my DVD player to my Mac is quick and easy, though!)

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Xee

Xee is a lightweight, fast and convenient image viewer and browser. It is designed to be a serious tool for image viewing and management, with a sleek and powerful interface. Xee is useful as a more powerful replacement for Preview, or most any other image viewer available on Mac OS X.

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Default Folder X

Augments the Open Folder and Save Folder dialogs from any application to allow you to immediately jump to any folder currently open by Finder. (Also works for folders open with Path Finder).

Once you start using this app, it's really hard to live without it.

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Onyx

OnyX is a (free) multifunction utility for Mac OS X which allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, QuickTime, Safari, Mail, iTunes, Login window, Spotlight and many Apple’s applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.

I've seen this utility majorly improve the performance of Mac OS X. I run it about once a month to automate maintenance scripts and it's helped identify problems like the need to repair a disk several times. A very useful and effective tool.

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nvALT

Unbeatable note-taking app, featuring online syncing with the plain text notes web service, Simplenote, and the simplenote apps for iPhone and iPad.

nvAlt is a fork of the existing application, Notational Velocity.

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Fantastical

Amazing background app for quickly accessing and adding events to your mac's calendar. Supports Caldev Sync to keep your mac's calendar always up to date, as well as natural writing event creation.

Bring up fantastical with a keyboard shortcut, and then type out your new event. Hit return and it's in. Quickly view all the upcoming events for the next month and beyond. Next time you open iCal, all of your data will remain intact as Fantastical works with your software in the background.

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cdto

Fast mini application that opens a Terminal.app window cd'd to the front most finder window. This app is designed (including it's icon) to placed in the finder window's toolbar.

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Gitbox

Gitbox is a Git repository manager.

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Airfoil

Play any audio across your network to a whole host of devices, all in sync! Airfoil sends audio to remote speakers including iOS devices, other computers, and hardware devices like the Apple TV and AirPort Express. Airfoil for Mac gives you any audio, everywhere.

Basically, what previously only iTunes could do (send audio to an AirPort Express) you can now do with all applications.

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Geektool

Geektool allows you to put a tail of your syslog on the desktop, or the output of some command, or some graphic/chart/picture.

It's a bit like a more single-minded Dashboard for your desktop. You can make awesome clocks, or beautiful server monitoring, or just a fortune cookie (if you install fortune with HomeBrew).

It's not perfect (it would need sticky borders, continuous command output and sane multi-monitor behavior for that) but it's a lot of fun, using little resources.

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Shift It

(Uses the same principles as SizeUp, but free)

This application will let you resize and move your windows without having to using a mouse. Here are some of things you can do with Shift It:

  • Shift the focused window to left/right/top/bottom half of the screen.
  • Resize the focused window to fill the whole screen.
  • Move the focused window to the center of the screen.

Shift It is a great tool that lets you organize your windows. Now you can read documents side-by-side without having the pain of manually resizing the windows.

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Tunnelblick

Tunnelblick is a free, open source Graphic User Interface (GUI) for OpenVPN on Mac OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections.

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Notify

Notify is an awesome email notifier for Mac OS X. It fits seamlessly into your menubar, only vying for your attention when you have new mail. Notify supports mutliple accounts, including Gmail, MobileMe, and Rackspace Email.

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Echofon

A really simple, intuitive twitter client. This is the one that got me to switch from Tweetie.

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Unrar

This is a command line utility to unpack the .rar files on Mac OSX. You can't unpack the .rar files natively on OSX, where this small util is useful.

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"The Unarchiver" does this in the GUI and can be set as your default so it acts like the native OS X archive utility. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 16 '10 at 21:32
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X Lossless Decoder

X Lossless Decoder(XLD) is a tool for Mac OS X that is able to decode/convert/play various 'lossless' audio files. Supported audio files can be split into tracks with a cue sheet when decoding. It works on Mac OS X 10.3 and later.

XLD is Universal Binary, so it runs natively on both Intel Macs and PPC Macs.

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Aperture

Aperture is a fine app for photo management and editing for professionals and advanced amateur photographers alike. It supports many file-formats and raw image file formats.

For a complete feature list see the link above.

One of my favorite features is having a full screen view while still having image control for editing via a HUD.

enter image description here

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Isolator

Isolator is a small menu bar application that helps you concentrate. When you're working on a document, and don't want to be distracted, turn on Isolator. It will cover up your desktop and all the icons on it, as well as the windows of all your other applications, so you can concentrate on the task in hand.

It's a small utility, but one that I find pretty indispensable. One of the first apps I install on new Mac.

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I try to keep my desktop empty so then I can achieve the same with Cmd-Shift-H to Hide Others and Cmd-Shift-D to hide the Dock. Fullscreen in Lion really helps too. –  w00t Sep 29 '11 at 10:53
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A Better Finder Rename

A Better Finder Rename has long been the file renamer of choice for tens of thousands of professionals, businesses and hobbyists across the world.

alt text

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Windows have programs too for mass renaming. A free alternative to A Better Finder Rename is the program: NameChanger, it's not that advanced, but it's something. –  neoneye Sep 6 '10 at 9:07
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I'd prefer to do these things in Terminal. Also Automator is really helpful! –  fardjad Nov 29 '10 at 21:34
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Mathematica

If I need to choose only one software to install on my Mac, I would install Mathematica by Wolfram.

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This is a great app, and really helped me understand my last Trig class better. –  Aboutimage Sep 7 '11 at 1:36
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XBMC

XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, Windows, and the original Xbox.

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iMovie

iMovie is the best amateur video editing software out there. It has a very small learning curve, which makes it great for doing quick projects. I used iMovie for the longest time, then switched to FCE. I still use it for minor projects.

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Clean My Mac

The world's easiest-to-use maintenance solution. This all-in-one tool includes everything you need to keep your Mac clean and healthy.

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I thought Mac OS X itself had everything I needed to keep my Mac clean and healthy... –  Josh Dec 1 '10 at 14:05
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Clean My Mac clears cache files, broken links and also it has an uninstaller to remove applications completely. –  AliBZ Dec 1 '10 at 22:50
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Opera

Because it's still my favourite browser. After having used it on Windows for eight years, I took it with me when I "switched" four years ago.

Browsers are always subjective, but I like Opera because I rely on its single-key shortcuts, used its mouse gestures a lot before I moved over to a glass trackpad, I have dozens of tabs open at any time, it has session handling, bookmark syncing, and dozens of other neat, small things. And everything is built in and just works.

I could probably get Firefox to do everything Opera does for me, but it would be a hassle, and it would be even slower than it already is without any extensions. I could never get Safari to do everything I need.

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NTFS-3G (Tuxera)

We still need to learn how to play nice with windows systems (and filesystems). I use this to access my NTFS drives.

NTFS-3G is a stable, read/write NTFS driver for Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenSolaris, QNX, Haiku, and other operating systems. It provides safe handling of the Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 NTFS file systems. A high-performance driver is available commercially for embedded devices.

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CrashPlan

A very powerful backup application that allows you to backup to external drives, other computers, and/or their own cloud at a very reasonable price. It has an impressive compression rate and allows you to create multiple backup sets to backup different data to different locations. It has a well-designed interface and allows you to specify scheduled or continuous backups. It offers versioning and 448-bit encryption. For a home user the software is free to use if you choose not to backup to their cloud.

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I Love Stars

Displays iTunes’ current song’s rating in your menu bar. Click to change rating. Supports keyboard shortcuts. Has a configurable sound to remind you to rate an unrated song. Disappears when nothing’s playing.

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MusicBrainz Picard

MusicBrainz is an audio file metadata (or "tag") editor. It has options for both automatic and manual modification of audio metadata.

It's cross-platform (Linux/Mac OS X/Windows) and written in Python and is the official MusicBrainz tagger.

Picard supports the majority of audio file formats, is capable of using audio fingerprints (PUIDs, similar to other fingerprinting apps like Shazam and SoundHound), performing CD lookups and disc ID submissions, and it has excellent Unicode support. Additionally, there are several plugins available that extend Picard's features.

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Pomodoro

Pomodoro Desktop is a desktop application for Time Management on your Mac OSX. It is a simple but effective way to manage your (coding) time, and it's based on the Pomodoro technique you can find here.

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