Best of the Best Mac applications

by Brandon Yap

The contenders

When I first started out with Macs, one of the more challenging tasks for me was to find the cream of the crop in Mac software. Sure there are lots of applications out there and most of them good, but some stand out above the others and this page aims to capture those excelling in their field.

This list includes casual to intermediate level applications which I think represents the best of the best. Professional applications are not covered here.

Image editing

Pixelmator, Acorn

Pixelmator and Acorn are part of a new breed of image editing applications capable of utilising the GPU for imaging operations enabling realtime effects and layering not seen in other less capable applications. Pixelmator and Acorn are not meant to be Photoshop replacements, they should be seen as lightweight and cost effective alternatives.

Alternatives: Graphic Converter

Image management

iPhoto

You can’t go past iPhoto for simple consumer level image management. It comes as part of the iLife suite of applications from Apple.

Personal finance

iBank

Quicken is the undisputed king of personal finance applications, trouble is it only runs on Windows. iBank from IGG Software has enough power to stand toe to toe with it and has changed the scene of personal finance in the Mac world.

Alternatives: Moneydance, Cha-Ching

Image capture

Snapz Pro X, Jing

Jing and Snapz Pro X are both very capable image capture applications. They also both target different types of users. Snapz Pro X is the more capable of the two and is aimed at the prosumer who wants a fully featured image capture applications no holds barred. Jing is more the social of the two and has features which allows you to capture and easily share images and videos freely online. At the end of the day, they are both great applications and deserve considering.

File compression

Stuffit

Stuffit has been around in the Mac world for years and years. Their sitx compression still remains one of the top in the field, not just for Macs but across the board. Definitely one if you need file compression.

Video compression

Visualhub

Visualhub will convert just about anything to anything. It is your video gateway. Got a video you want to put on your ipod? No problem. Visualhub can output to PSP, DVD,MP4, WMV, Flash just to name a few. It’s interface is relatively well laid out and simple to understand, but don’t be fooled. It has a lot of power under the hood.

DVD conversion

Handbrake, MacTheRipper

Both these applications were meant to be used in tandem. MacTheRipper will rip your DVD’s to VOBs, Handbrake will then compress them into MPEG-4. The latter comes with preset profiles for outputting to AppleTV, iPod, and PS3 compatible formats.

Scanning

VueScan

If your scanner is too old and your scanning software and drivers are out of date, VueScan can come to your rescue. It is compatible with lots of scanners and does not need TWAIN drivers already installed.

Database

Bento

Bento is a database application from the makers of Filemaker Pro. It lets you input and store large amounts of data through friendly and easy to use templates.

Movie making

iMovie

Also part of the iLife suite of applications, iMovie aims to please with it’s quick and easy no fuss drag and drop movie editing. It doesn’t get any easier than this. Seriously. You can even upload your video direct to .Mac or Youtube straight from within iMovie.

Productivity

iWork

Apple’s own iWork suite consists of a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. Why not Microsoft Office you ask? Simply because iWork is more than powerful enough for the majority of Mac users, at close to a quarter of the cost.

Alternatives: NeoOffice

CD/DVD Authoring

Toast Titanium

Roxio has been making CD/DVD authoring/burning software for years and their experience shines in this area. Toast Titanium is a polished product which shows in every aspect.

RSS Reader

NetNewsWire

Both NetNewsWire and Vienna are very capable apps and match each others features. NetNewsWire’s outstanding attribute is it’s ability to update feeds very quickly.

Alternatives: Vienna

Diagramming

OmniGraffle

The Visio equivalent for Mac.

Maczot and MacUpdate daily promotions

Maczot and MacUpdate Promo both run daily promotions on Mac applications. Each day they feature some of the best applications out there massively discounted (around 40 – 50% off).

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