My Mac starter pack

Last year I posted my essential free downloads for new Mac owners. With the arrival of the Mac App Store this year, and the fact that my dear friend @ImTheBigOJ has finally bought a Mac, I thought that I would revisit this topic, whilst also including a few paid apps you will love.

Applications are free unless stated.


I mentioned Alfred last year, over the past year it’s become absolutely essential, and I’m lost on any Mac without it. Be sure to create a system-wide Alfred hotkey (i.e. ⌘ + Space). Alfred can be a supercharged Finder, app launcher, and if you learn the system commands, a terrific GTD tool.

You need Caffeine. Fact. A simple task bar icon that overrides your Mac’s battery management and stops the screen dimming/going off.

CloudApp — share screen-grabs easily.

FormatMatch — copy and paste sans formatting (like shift-ctrl-v on a PC).

Dropbox — what do you mean you don’t use Dropbox?

TextExpander — accelerate your workflow. Warning! Once hooked, you will need miss this like crazy if you use a machine without it ($35).

1Password — brilliant password management software ($50).

What I said about Growl last year:

It’s amazing that Apple hasn’t just built Growl into the Mac. I couldn’t imagine a Macintosh without it – it just wouldn’t feel like a Mac. It’s an app that displays messages to alert you of changes to programmes you’re running. New emails, IM updates, or that a download is complete. It might sound a bit intrusive (not-to-mention anti-GTD), but the levels of customisation are insane, and you can create a version that suits your needs perfectly.


Three of the apps I mentioned last year are still worth having: Perian, VLC, and Handbrake.

In addition to this list I would add the great video player MPlayerX, which is my go-to video app whenever we watch anything. It will play almost any format you will throw at it. Aces.

Other Apps

MarsEdit — the best blogging software on any platform ($40).

Twitter for Mac. YoruFukurou is ace, but I prefer the official application (for now) — at least while it still resembles the original Tweetie app.

Sparrow — I prefer this lightweight IMAP client to Apple’s Partner with a Gmail account for email perfected ($10).

If you want a simple task list for your Mac, Wunderlist is probably the best option, as it syncs with Windows, Android, iOS and Mac.

If you have a Kindle you need Calibre.

Reeder is the perfect Mac RSS reader ($10).

I think that is pretty much it for must-have apps. If you know of any application that I absolutely must add, drop me an email and I’ll add to the list (and give you a credit). If there is a specific type of app you’re after, email me and I’ll help if I can.