Essential Mac Apps for “Switchers”

If you’ve just switched to the Mac, you’re probably wondering, “Ok, how do I do _______ on this thing?” From playing certain video files, to using FTP, to running Windows and more, there are lots of great software options out there that are essential downloads for first-time switchers.

1. Miro – Want a beautiful interface, the ability to play just about any video file you can think of, and connections to just about any kind of online video you can imagine? Well then Miro is a free, open source, must have.

2. Transmit/Cyberduck – If you’re going to be needing an FTP app (and if you’re reading this and you don’t know what an FTP app is – you probably don’t need it – just skip to the next one) then you have a variety of choices. There are two, however, that stand out as the best. On the free side of things, Cyberduck is a great solution. If you’re looking for something a little slicker, and you’re willing to pay a few bucks for it, you’ll want to check out Transmit.

3. Adium – iChat is great. I love iChat – but I constantly find myself going back to Adium. Adium is the best IM client on the Mac, and it is versatile enough to handle all of your IM accounts, no matter what service you use.

4. Flip4Mac – The web is slowly changing to a cross platform world, and Microsoft switching from Windows Media to Silverlight will eventually make Flip4Mac obsolete, but for now, if you want to view Windows Media files in your browser when you stumble across a site that has them, you’ll need Flip4Mac to get it done.

5. Fusion/Parallels – If you’re wanting to run Windows inside OSX, you’re going to need either VM Ware’s Fusion, or Parallels. Both applications have their fans, but for me, it’s Fusion all the way. I’ve found it to be faster, easier to use, and I like the interface better. Still, you can try both – so it’s your call.

I’m sure there’s some things that I’ve missed that you’ll want, or that the community will deem worthy of putting on this list – so feel free to leave your questions, or application suggestions in the comments below.

Comments

  1. I recently moved to the mac but from Ubuntu linux, and I don’t need or want any of those apps (with the possible exception of Adium). What I have found indispensable is an RSS reader: vienna or netnewswire. I use macports for the extra cli stuff and vim.app. Neooffice and Lyx will probably get some use although I haven’t really gotten around to using them.

  2. jadedcritic says:

    Scratch that, I know what I would suggest for “switchers”. The OSX version of the missing manual.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mac-OS-Leopard-Missing-Manual/dp/059652952X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202241787&sr=1-1

    It’s full of little things that drove me nuts for a long time. For the longest time I had no clue what Expose was, or what it was supposed to accomplish, or why I would ever want to use it. That’s why I rather liked that book, it doesn’t just tell you about the features, it also talks a little bit about how or why you might want to use them.

    I wouldn’t spring it on a brand-new switcher you might scare off, if only because it’s a thick book/spider-squasher. However, if someone’s been around for a couple months, and has unanswered questions, it’s a great reference.

  3. I think Adium is a solid program but I always come back to iChat for its video/audio support.

  4. #1 QT ahs done great for me! I haven’t needed anything else for many years now.

    #2 A web interface has been fine for me. Or finder if absolutely needed.

    #3 I don’t have much use for IM or Chat.. so no comment except that I have used iChat for three way video conferencing with family members.

    #4 I use it and find it very useful.

    #5 I use parallels and it is great! Although if you can use bootcamp then that is cheeper.

    #’s 1..3 not necessary for me and #’s 4,5 are well worth it.

    TBM

  5. Rick Cross says:

    Mozilla Thunderbird. If you used Outlook on XP, and expect a full-featured email client on OS X (which Mail.app is not), then you’ll find Thunderbird has what you’re looking for. And it’s free.

    - http://en.www.mozilla.com/en/thunderbird/

  6. Thanks for the post. As you know many business people are making the switch to Mac. Here is a list of helpful applications for the business user http://www.askbigpapa.com/articles/371/0/How-to-use-Mac-Computers-In-Everyday-Business-a-The-Ultimate-Guide-/Page0.html.

  7. Thanks Mike…I’ve posted a link for my readers back to your post.

  8. Hmm, my mother just switched, and I wouldn’t suggest any of those for her. Maybe the VM/Parallels, but Word is all she uses.

    I’ve been keeping my eye out for any apps she might want/need, but I think training for the non-techie might be in order. She would be taking the apple store up on their deal ($99/year?) but she’ll be traveling (without a computer) for most of that.

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