This page is now obsolete. Please see the updated page at: Software for New Mac Users.
I’ve written this introductory guide to help out new Mac users, the people who are owning or using a Mac computer for the first time. There are a couple of things that you will want to know about, not just about how to setup and use your Mac, but also what are the “must-have” applications, where to go to find information, etc. This is a Getting Started guide that Apple should be written, but didn’t.
This is still a work-in-progress page…
Must Have Applications
Adium: This is the all-in-one instant messaging app for Mac OS X. It is designed for the Mac, not something ported over from Windows or Linux. It supports a big bunch of instant messaging networks like MSN, Yahoo, Facebook, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, etc. Just about any instant messaging network imaginable.
iStat pro: This is a dashboard widget that shows a bunch of interesting monitoring status and statistics about your Mac. Things like CPU load, network activity, temperature, fan speed, battery status, etc. A similar program for your menu bar is iStat Menus, which essentially does the same thing in your menu bar (although you’d obviously have less screen real estate in there to display everything).
VirtualBox: If you still need to run Windows, there’s a better way to do it than BootCamp (dual boot). Do it with virtualization software, and VirtualBox is an excellent free software alternative to paid software like VMware or Parallels. It really works very well. Don’t think free == not good. You could otherwise consider VMware Fusion if you don’t mind buying a paid solution. The integration of Windows into the Mac OS X desktop is really neat.
NeoOffice: I’m not particularly keen to recommend NeoOffice, but if you need a free office application, this is it. There is an OpenOffice port to Mac, but NeoOffice is an OpenOffice flavour adapted and enhanced specifically for the Mac platform.
coconutBattery: Useful utility to find out the status and health of your battery (notebooks of course).
Safari Tidy: For web developers, this little plugin to the Safari browser does what Html Validator does for FireFox, namely validates the standards compliance of webpages displayed. It is a convenient way to instantly check the validation status without having to run a separate program or visit a validation web service.
Afloat: This is a plugin that adds a variety of convenient window management functions to Mac OS X, such as to keep windows always-on-top, make transparent, move by dragging any part of the window, etc.
Firefox: Apple’s Safari is a wonderful web browser, but sometimes it isn’t enough for one reason or other.
It is not a dumb one-button mouse like how Apple mice started out to be. It can do left-click, right-click, centre click (on the scroll ball), and the scroll ball scrolls in 360 degrees. You can even side-squeeze the mouse as their are sensors on the sides as well. It’s also bluetooth. So no need for any silly wireless dongles to work with the mouse.