That new Macintosh that you have is probably looking lonely without its fair share of applications. At some point we all get a new computer and, if it’s a Mac, it will come bare-boned and ready for all types of applications to suit your needs and pleasures. The applications that I name off today can mostly be found in the Mac App Store, which is available on computers running Snow Leopard and Lion.
These solutions have been polled from the greater Gnomies community. Some of the utilities and applications provided today are free and some are paid; if they are paid, I consider them worth the small investment toward their purchase.
TextWrangler: If you code anything or are looking for something advanced like Notepad++ on Windows, than TextWrangler is your equivalent. Being free in the Mac App Store, TextWrangler is highly customizable and can help you code in any language from ASP to XHTML.
Sparrow: If you’re a fan of a simplified layout of your mail, like the Lion design of the Mail app, check out Sparrow. With both a free and paid version, Sparrow is in modular with separate columns for your mailboxes, messages, and message content. Its got a very slick layout with simple layout of buttons and customizability. Sparrow can even connect with Facebook to align names with pictures and Dropbox to attach files.
Dropbox: One of my very favorite applications for sharing documents and other files between multiple places is Dropbox. You start out with a massive 2 GB of space that’s enough for pictures and videos to be stored with documents and other data. Not only on OS X, but all desktop and mobile platforms, Dropbox can sync and view almost every document from any location where it can be accessed.
CyberDuck: If you’re looking for a super simple client to access FTP or SFTP, CyberDuck is for you. It’s lightweight and easy to navigate and configure for any transferring that you need to do. For more advanced users it can also access Google Docs, Amazon S3, Rackspack Cloud Files, Google Cloud Storage, and more.
Google Chrome: I’m not a fan of Internet Explorer, and it’s a safe bet that you might not be, either, if you were to look into alternative browser options that are out there. One of my favorites is Google Chrome — it’s both fast and lightweight. It’s very expandable with extensions and can sync across computers if you have a connected Google Account. Google Chrome is a fast growing browser and is making leaps and bounds over the competition. Based on the open source project of Chromium, it’s being actively developed and stays up to date for avoiding all the nasty browser bugs out there.
Adium: Let’s face it, you probably have multiple instant messenger accounts. An easy way to manage all that with a clean interface is Adium; it’s a great IM tool that lets you connect multiple accounts — even IRC — and manage your instant message life. With access to a wide array of extensions to customize the experience and appearance, you can turn Adium into the ultimate IM machine.
Twitter: Twitter is a very active social network with messages streaming in by the second on everything from friend updates to the latest news depending on who you follow. Twitter has a native desktop application for Twitter that is a simple single column with tabs on the side to manage multiple accounts and all of your messages in a lightweight client that can sit on your desktop.
Colloquy: IRC is still alive and popular these days. The big question is always what the best IRC client is. Our recommendation for a long time has alway been Colloquy; it’s free and very easy to use to connect to IRC servers and get chatting away. For the user who doesn’t mind paying a little bit, there is Linkinus in the Mac App Store, which is the top paid IRC client.
Skype: Even though Microsoft bought Skype, the application is still pretty slick with Facebook integration and is a must for easily video or voice chatting with people over an Internet connection. The application is free for you to voice chat with a group of people without limitation. If you want to video chat with a group of people, however, you’ll have to pay for that service. For most mainstream users, the base Skype system is fine. There’s also the ability to add in your own phone number to the service and the ability to call landlines with Skype Credit.
The Unarchiver: The native extraction utility in OS X is nice, but it just doesn’t do as good of a job as The Unarchiver. The Unarchiver provides more compatibility with extensions ranging from RAR to ISO files, and much more. The application also has a variety of great features to customize what happens with the archived folder and when it is extracted. It’s fast and very user-friendly, which is a must have for files that need extracting.
Cloud: I find myself constantly sharing screenshots to friends and clients needing a simple update on their website design. Combined with the built-in screen shot utility for OS X, Cloud can take those screen shots and upload them to the site, giving you an easy-to-share link to that screen shot.
TeamViewer: Not just for Windows but OS X, too, if you need to access another computer or provide tech support to your friends and family, TeamViewer will do just that. It’s free if you’re using it for non-commercial purposes. If you’re looking for a more professional route, check out GoToAssist, which provides the most features and one-click URLs that allows you instant access to remote computers for support.
Alfred: Sometimes the finder toolbar isn’t enough for finding what you want, and that’s where Alfred comes in. it’s an application that hides itself in the background until you call it up. It gives you all the access that the finder bar gives you, but a lot more. If you quickly need to go to a Web address but won’t be bothered to bring up an entire browser, then you can type in the address to the Alfred bar and it’ll pull up your browser client for you and input the address. It has those features and a lot more to check out. If you’re looking for an alternative to Alfred, check out QuickSilver, which is almost as good.
Growl: If you work within multiple applications, chances are they are enabled for Growl notifications. These are simple notifications that pop up on your desktop to alert you of statuses like someone initiating an IM session with you or the changing of a song in iTunes. It has long been a popular application to install right away; recently it updated and became a part of the App Store. Now you can get it for a small fee, which helps the developer out for creating a better product. If you want an older version for free, though, it’s available on Growl’s website.
VLC: One of the most popular media players out there is VLC because, let’s face it, QuickTime isn’t the best at playing multiple file formats and has many compatibility issues with file formats. VLC comes packed with all the codecs you could ever need to play any video or audio file out there. VLC also leaves a lighter footprint on your Mac than QuickTime and won’t cause it to crash as much. Besides compatibility, it’s also customizable for that perfect home theater computer, as well.
Perian: If you just love QuickTime and won’t change it for another client, check out Perian. It’s a code pack that sits in your preferences panel and gives you access to a wide range of codes that enable QuickTime to play any file — just like VLC.
Picasa: Who doesn’t take pictures these days? One of the biggest problems with taking a lot of pictures is organizing them. Picasa has proven time and time again that it can handle all of your pictures and manage them in organized folders and even upload them to sites like Facebook and Flickr. For the best management of your pictures from your camera, check out Picasa and all its abilities.
SoundFlower: Sometimes you need to reroute audio from one application into another, and that’s where SoundFlower comes in to virtualize an audio source. For example, if you like streaming your gameplay to a website, you can reroute the audio from the game into SoundFlower and then use it as the input setting on the streaming client to send audio to it.
This is just a small portion of the vast amount of applications that are out there to download to your new Mac to make it useful. Obviously, for every situation there are different apps that can be used and downloaded to conform to what you like to do. Let us know in the comments what you use on your Mac!
And if you came here because you just bought a new PC and you were hoping to find Windows software, check out Best Windows Downloads for Any New Computer.