Free (or Low Cost) Apps for Mac OSX

The best thing I ever did was switch from PC to Mac OSX which seems like eons ago now…  
Since then, many other friends and relatives have also switched and have asked me for a list of my favourite free (or low cost) "tools" or "apps" for the Mac that will make their lives easier…

This is what I've come up with so far (in no particular order)...

Not an App but an extremely useful website wiki to check compatibility for Mac OSX Lion and now iOS 5.  Exceeding useful if you're thinking of upgrading from Snow Leopard to Lion


Everyone knows Dropbox for their amazing file-sharing service. Drag any file into the Dropbox folder and it automatically gets shared.
Sign up for a free account and you automatically get 2GB to share with your friends. Set up shared folders and anything you drop will be instantly downloaded by others.
Need mobile access to your files? There’s an iPhone app just for that.

The Unarchiver

With emphasis on the “The”. This little app – that comes without a user interface – can probably unpack just about any file you throw at it. Once installed, it will replace Mac’s native unarchiving utility, BOMArchiveHelper.

To mention a few, it supports and unarchives RAR, ZIP, Tar, 7-Zip, Stuffit, CAB, MSI and even EXE files. The only format it cannot unpack is ACE. But that’s hardly a worry.

Besides being clever, The Unarchiver is also efficient. You can click on as many RAR or ZIP files for it to unpack but it will never overwork your system. Instead, it will queue the files and unpacks them individually.
Bean is lean, fast, and uncluttered. If you get depressed at the thought of firing up MS Word or OpenOffice, try Bean.  
(Note: At time of writing, according to their site, "Bean has not yet been tested on OS X 10.7 Lion).

I use TextWrangler for different purposes, mainly for what lacks in TextEdit (Mac's native application) — a word counter. It also supports coding and HTML, which is helpful on occasion.

SnagIt for Mac (Low Cost)
More than just simple screen capture, Snagit empowers you to communicate faster, clearly explain concepts, and archive digital information. All with point and click convenience. You can easily capture, edit, and share a screenshot of exactly what you see on your screen. The more you use Snagit, the more ways you'll find to use it

Skype lets you make voice calls, as well as video conferencing online to anyone else with this free app installed. You can also make conference calls effortlessly, as well as participate in text chats and file transfers. With Skype To Go, you can make calls from your mobile phone and from your computer, you can dial international landlines and to cell phones with prepaid minutes.

Tuxera NTFS for Mac (Low Cost)

Mac OS X does not support writing to Microsoft Windows formatted NTFS volumes out-of-the box. Tuxera NTFS for Mac is a commercial NTFS driver and read/write NTFS software for Mac users developed from the popular open source NTFS-3G driver, which is a natural part of all major Linux distributions, and also has lots of users on Mac OS X, FreeBSD, Solaris and NetBSD.

GIMP is an image editor (raster), which is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. It has tons of cool features, and is a great free alternative to other software 

[Note: According to Roaringapps website, "Gimp has some problems on OS X 10.7 Lion].

Photoshop Elements 10 (Low Cost)
Whilst you can get an free Photoshop alternative, as a Lion user, and now long time user of Photoshop Elements, this application just keeps getting better & better. Simply awesome! Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 photo-editing software delivers powerful options that make it easy to create extraordinary photos, quickly share your memories in Online Albums and unique print creations.

Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw, or Xara X using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, and more. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats.


Scribus is an Open Source program that brings professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation and Windows desktops with a combination of press-ready output and new approaches to page design. Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and Spot Color support, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation. [Note: According to Roaringapps website, "Scribus" has some problems on OS X 10.7 Lion].

Swift Publisher (Low Cost)
Swift Publisher is a page layout application for designing and printing colorful flyers, newsletters, brochures, letterheads, booklets, etc. A great selection of 130 professionally designed templates inspires your creativity and a variety of editing tools lets you quickly apply it.

iClip  (Low Cost)

Clip is the premier multiple clipboard & scrapbook tool that enables you to keep a history of almost anything you copy, instead of only the last thing.

Evernote (Free & Premium options)
Evernote helps millions worldwide remember anything and everything that happens in their lives. Use Evernote to take notes, save interesting web pages, create to-dos and shopping lists, attach images and PDFs, and so much more. Then, watch as it all instantly synchronizes from your Mac to your smartphone, tablet, and the Web, allowing you to find your memories at any time from anywhere 

Media utilities and applications for Mac 

Switch is one of the most stable and comprehensive multi format audio file converters available, is very easy to use, and is completely free.

VLC is an application that lets you view any type of video file without hassle. Features like handling subtitles, DVDs, CDs, web streams, VLC is a powerful media player.

Growl (Lion update - Low Cost)
Growl is a notification system for Mac that lets supported applications send you notices in an unobtrusive way.

Macs are not prone to getting infected with viruses, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t transmit them to a machine that can be. ClamXAV is a free virus scanner that checks for files that can infect other operating systems as well.

Time Machine Editor is software that lets you change the default one-hour backup interval of Time Machine.  You can change the interval or create a more sophisticated scheduling.  This is useful if you don’t need to backup every hour and don’t want the performance penalty. This is also especially useful if you manipulate lots of data within one hour, as you would spend the whole day backing up.

AppCleaner is a small application, which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. Installing an application distributes many files throughout your System using space of your Hard Drive unnecessarily.
 AppCleaner finds all these small files and safely deletes them.

Adium is a free instant messaging application for Mac OS X that can connect to AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, and more.

OnyX is a multifunction utility for Mac OS X which allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run miscellaneous tasks of system maintenance, to configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, QuickTime, Safari, Mail, iTunes, Login window, Spotlight and many Apple’s applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.

If you're still required to run Windows applications… then there are choices and it's easier than you might think to run Windows on a Mac; all you need is virtualization (also know as virtual machine) software.

The top three applications for running Windows on an Intel-based Mac are Boot Camp (included with Mac OSX), Parallels (Low Cost) and Fusion (Low Cost). All three work well, and are easy to use. Determining which one performs best, provides the best value, and best meets your needs can be difficult.

Whilst I would prefer to run native Mac OSX apps, in the meantime I prefer to use Parallel's (v7) - I find it exceedingly easy to use and configure.


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