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Five Free OS X Applications ~ Thu, 08 Apr 2010 18:01:25 +0000

In March 2006 I wrote an article about my five favorite free applications for OS X to enter a contest. It seems like a good time to re-visit that idea and do another post on the subject. I have been using OS X for five years now, and the majority of software I use is free software. So let's how things have changed in the last four years.

Smultron IconFirst up is Smultron. Development has been discontinued by the author, but this is still one of my favorite applications. I used to use it for almost all of my development. It has syntax highlighting for just about any language you can think of and the ability to save open documents as a project. Now, I use it for edits when I don't want to open a full IDE.

iTerm IconIt made the list last time, and it's making it again. Anyone who needs to use a terminal emulator more than occasionally will quickly learn why. The terminal emulator that ships with OS X has gotten a lot better, especially in OS 10.6, but it still doesn't compare to iTerm. Additionally, don't miss this awesome script to open an iTerm window to the currently open Finder location. I keep the script* in `~/Library/Scripts/Applications/Finder/` along with a compiled version that I keep in my Finder toolbar.

Xee IconSure, OS X ships with Preview, but a good, lightweight, image viewer is indispensable. Xee is that image viewer. It's much faster than Preview, and uses OpenGL to render images. The only downside to Xee is that it doesn't have all the features of Irfanview. But I haven't found a better replacement for Irfanview on OS X than Xee.

Cyberduck IconCyberduck is one of the best FTP/SFTP clients I have ever used. It follows the OS X workflow, it integrates with a whole host of editors for remote text editing, and it will authenticate with public key authentication.

Camino IconFor the most part, I use Safari as my web browser. But sometimes I need something even simpler. Camino fits the bill. Based on the same technologies that power Firefox, Camino is a lightweight, standards compliant, browser that feels like an OS X app (the complete opposite of Firefox).

When I started this post I thought it would be easier. But I wanted to highlight software you can only use on OS X, and that made it difficult. I use a lot of free software that has ports to both Linux and/or Windows. Stuff like Google Quick Search Box, NeoOffice (an OS X native version of, and Firefox. I also came to realize that I use a lot of software included with OS X or software for which I've bought a license (saving that for another post).

* A note about scripts: If you open AppleScript Editor, found in `/Applications/Utilities/`, and go to its preferences, you can make the scripts menu always show in the menu bar. This gives you access to any AppleScripts you have on your system at any time.
OS X,  Software


John said (2010-04-08 19:06:04 GMT):

I use and love both iTerm and Cyberduck. While I have tried other FTP/SFTP clients I always come back to Cyberduck because it is just so darn good. As for Camino, I have almost completely switched to Chrome which fits the bill almost perfectly. As soon as 1Password is integrated with Chrome fully I will be set.

As for a couple other great free apps/plugins, if you use iChat, Chax is absolutely awesome. Letterbox is also incredible for Dropbox is an app I use everyday and can't live without. Great list of apps.

James Sumners said (2010-04-09 00:28:42 GMT):

Letterbox looks good for folks who like that view. Personally, I prefer the traditional "folder" on the left, message list on top, and current message on bottom view. As for instant messaging, I prefer Adium to iChat.

Dropbox and Chrome are multi-platform apps, so they didn't fit my post requirements. And, really, there isn't much reason to use Chrome over Safari (on OS X), in my opinion. They both use the same HTML renderer, and the JavaScript engines are close enough in performance to not matter. Camino uses Gecko and TraceMonkey, lagging only a little behind Firefox.