The Top 5 Bare Mac Essentials

So here you are, facing your beautiful new Mac, wondering what sorts of applications you simply must install.

After being in this very situation many times myself, and helping numerous friends with their new Macs, I have developed a list of apps that I simply cannot live without.

1. Quicksilver

This is the ultimate application launcher. However, Quicksilver’s stated purpose will never explain just how useful it truly is.

With one simple keystoke, you can bring up Quicksilver and search for any application, document, file, or contact on your Mac.

The more you use it, the more accurate it gets at predicting what you’re looking for. With Quicksilver by your side, you won’t need all of those dock icons anymore.

Extra points for: installing the clipboard module. This little plugin allows you to keep track of the items you put on your clipboard so that you can recall them later.

Highly useful if you copy and paste often.

2. Adium 

As the swiss army knife of instant messengers, Adium is both useful as well as beautiful. It allows you to chat on almost every instant messaging medium out there, while logging your chats and letting you customize the look and feel of the application completely.

For those people who find themselves chatting online, Adium is an indispensable (and free!) application.

Extra points for: installing the NoteBoard message style from Adium Xtras. NoteBoard is a beautiful new message style that takes advantage of some of the beautiful features of the latest version of Adium.

3. SuperDuper

After getting and setting up your new Mac, your first instinct should be to back it up. That’s exactly where SuperDuper comes in, creating bootable backups of your Mac to an external drive with simplicity and ease.

SuperDuper is free, but the paid version allows you to make “Smart Backups,” which only update the differences since your last backup and take only a fraction of the time.

Please note that although your new Mac will come with backup software built in (called Time Machine), it is the opinion of this author that there are distinct advantages  to using SuperDuper over Time Machine.
Extra points for: setting up scheduled backups. With SuperDuper, this can be done by setting up the backup you’re interested in making, and then clicking the Schedule button. Once set up (with daily backups, preferably), all you need to do is make sure that your external backup drive is connected, and you’re all set.

4. VLC

Short for Video LAN Client, VLC is a very robust video player that plays almost every format of video. The latest version boasts a refined interface, integration, and support for many more filetypes.

Best of all, VLC is completely free.

Extra points for: installing Perian (which includes many commonly used video codecs) and Flip4Mac (which allows you to play Windows Media on your Mac). Both are free, highly recommended, and work system wide (including in QuickTime). 

5.  Microsoft Office

Although it’s the least exciting of the apps on the list, Microsoft Office still remains the most usable and compatible Office suite for the Mac.

Microsoft Office 2008 ships as a universal binary, with a refined user interface and many new features which should boost your productivity on your new Mac.

You can also find many great deals online which decrease the price of Office 2008 significantly. 

Extra points for: speeding up the slow startup time of Microsoft Word by disabling font previews. It’s a simple little fix until Microsoft gets its act together. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Monolingual – removes unneeded languages from your Mac, saving you a significant amount of room for much more important things that you’ll actually use.
  • Jing – a very simple application that allows you to quickly and easily share your screenshots & screencasts with others.
  • Reader Notifier – A Growl-enabled notifier for Google Reader users.
  • Gmail Notifier – A notifier for Gmail and Google Calendar.

Do you have any apps that you find absolutely necessary for your new Mac? Let us know by posting a comment through the link below.

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