Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lifehacker's Best Mac Apps - Part 1 of 3

It seems like every other day there is a post on Digg about the 10 best free Mac apps.

When I saw that such a list from Lifehacker made it on to Digg about a week ago, I was excited by the prospect of something that wasn't the usual fluff because I generally find Lifehacker's picks for these kinds of things to be spot-on. But, in a rare occurrence, I was disappointed with their selections — and thus, this series of blog posts.

My comments on their picks for positions 7-10 will come in a second post. We'll start with taking a look at what they picked for 1-6:

  1. Quicksilver icon


    OK, they got this one right. Absolutely.

    Quicksilver is the best thing since sliced bread, and then some. And, I concur with their inability to really describe Quicksilver. I didn't really "get it" either until I ran through the "QuickSilver - A Better OS X In Just 10 Minutes" tutorial. In 10 minutes I really did have a better OS X. I don't know that I'd agree that "QS has a steep learning curve" though. Once you start getting used to it, using it becomes extremely natural. The "steep"-ness is in radically changing all the built in training you have of how to conventionally find documents and launch & interact with applications.

  2. TextWrangler icon


    And here's where my preferences start differing from Lifehacker's.

    TextWrangler is a fine run-of-the-mill text editor. Back in the System 7 - OS 9 days of the Macintosh, I was an avid user of TextWrangler's predecessor, BBEdit Lite. Since then I found Vim, and, frankly, there's no going back for me. Ironically, my preference for Vim over TextWrangler centers on the exact same reasons I'm so wild about Quicksilver. The more I can keep my hands on the keyboard and avoid dialog boxes , the happier and more productive I am.

  3. SilverKeeper icon


    For serious?

    SilverKeeper is a fine free alternative to SuperDuper I guess, but it's rsync all the way for me (or see a bit more user friend tutorial via engadget. or even Lifehacker's own treatment on rsync.) If the command line is too daunting, OS X users can always consider RsyncX.

  4. Adium icon


    And we are agreeing again.

    Adium rocks. It's built on libgaim, the foundation of the Gaim Instant Messenger client, but has a UI that blows Gaim's away (and fits extremely nicely into the feel of OS X.) (Random aside: the very cool meebo uses libgaim too.)

  5. Handbrake icon


    If backing up DVDs is something you do regularly, Handbrake is probably right up your alley.

    On the rare occasion I need to do something like this I simply use the "advanced output" option of VLC. (We'll get to VLC here in a minute...). Then once I have the MPEG content off of the DVD courtesy of VLC, I use ffmpeg to transcode it to whatever I need. Again, for those who find the command line daunting, there's a nice alternative: ffmpegX.

    So, Handbrake is a fine app, but (unlike VLC) it wouldn't make my top ten.

  6. iSquint icon


    My thoughts on this app are very similar to those on Handbrake.

    iSquint is another app I would only have very occasional use for and for which I'd much rather just use ffmpeg. It's a fine app, but it certainly wouldn't make my top ten.

Continue to Part 2...