10 Top Mac Apps That I Can’t Live Without, and That You Won’t Find in the Mac App Store
A few months, I wrote about ten of my favorite apps in the Mac App Store. Not all apps are in the App Store, though, for a variety of grounds. Among other reasons, some apps hook deeper into the operating system than Apple allows from App Store apps, while other apps aren’t there due to developer concerns over the upcoming sandboxing requirements for App Store apps. Whatever the rationale, I have a number of crucial apps that aren’t available in the Mac App Store. Here are ten of them.
SuperDuper! is backup software that lets you create a bootable backup of your Mac on an external drive. If your main hard disk dies, or you run into some other catastrophic problem, simply hold down the Option key while you boot your Mac, select the SuperDuper! drive, and you’re up and running. I’ve set SuperDuper! to make an updated clone disk every night. Pair SuperDuper! with something like Time Machine, and you have a bulletproof local backup system. SuperDuper! is free, or you can pay $27.95 to unlock scheduling, Smart Update (a sort of incremental update of your backup that saves time), and a few other features.
A local backup plan is only half the battle. You need a remote backup in the event of a real life catastrophe, like a flood or the theft of your equipment. I’ve previously written about what a great deal CrashPlan is. CrashPlan can even be a free solution if you have another location to keep your backup drive, and use the app as a utility instead of a paid service.
Another app that I’ve previously covered is BetterTouchTool, which lets you assign gestures and shortcuts to your trackpad, mouse, and keyboard. BetterTouchTool also is a great tool to use to set a keystroke to lock your Mac.
Calling LaunchBar an application launcher does it a bit of a disservice. LaunchBar isn’t as pretty or elegant as Alfred, but it is a bit geekier. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and have only scratched the surface of its power. In addition to being able to almost instantly launch applications, you can also use it to search files within many applications and automatically open those files within the proper app. You can also use it to launch, search, or find documents, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, media libraries, and search engines. It also acts as a a clipboard manager, file browser, and calculator. There is a 30 day trial, with a single user license running $35. That’s a bit steep. I got my copy in a Mac bundle which has since expired, so it may be worth keeping your eyes open for a similar deal.
We’ve covered Dropbox a good bit here at 40Tech, and for good reason. While there are more feature-filled apps with similar functionality that probably haven’t had the security scares that Dropbox has experienced, nobody makes file sharing and transfer as easy as Dropbox. And if you’re an iOS user, there are so many apps with built-in Dropbox support that using it on your other systems becomes almost a no brainer.
SoundSource, another free app we’ve covered before, makes it dead simple to switch audio input and output sources on your Mac. Click the icon in your menubar, and then select the source (microphone or audio input) you want to change.
Espionage is an app that lets you password-protect files, folders, and applications. Those items are then encrypted, giving your Mac an added layer of security. I currently use Espionage to password-protect Evernote. Think of it as the simple (but not free) Mac counterpart to the complicated method of password-protecting Evernote in Windows. Espionage currently costs $34.95.
As the Fluid website explains, “Fluid lets you create a Real Mac App (or “Fluid App”) out of any website or web application, effectively turning your favorite web apps into OS X desktop apps.” This works similarly to how Chrome lets you create application shortcuts, but so far Chrome only allows that on Windows. Fluid is free, although a paid version for $4.99 gives you additional functionality, such as separate cookie storage, and the use of Userscripts and Userstyles.
VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of media players, capable of playing almost any type of audio or video file that you throw at it. If QuickTime won’t play it (or even if it will), give VLC a try.
Several years ago, I gave up on Quicken, disgusted with the way that Intuit baked a kill-pill into some of the online functionality of the app in order to force users to upgrade. After a long search, I ended up with Moneydance, and have been using it ever since (first on Windows, now on Mac). I’m far from a power user, so I can’t comment on how Moneydance stacks up to Quicken’s advanced features, but it has served me well.
There are ten of my favorite apps not in the Mac App Store. Let us know your favorites by leaving a comment, below.