Yesterday I was discussing the fact that I need a new laptop and how much I wanted to get an HP Mini 1000 (cheap, ultra light, good manufacturer), but couldn’t because of those damn independent Mac developers. They keep making incredible apps I simply won’t give up. Unsurprisingly, he asked me what my killer apps were for the Mac, and I thought you might be interested too. But, before I start the list, I just have to give a major shout-out to the indie developers for OS X. You guys make the most creative, useful, and beautiful software on any platform. If it weren’t for you I would have given up my Mac years ago.
- Scrivener Scrivener is a writer’s Swiss Army Knife from the future. I say “from the future” because unlike a modern Swiss Army Knife, and MS Word, it does’n’t throw every possible option in front of you. No, it keeps them subtly out of view, waiting until you need them. Unfortunately, this means that unless you actually walk through the tutorial it comes with, you’ll only notice the superficial goodness, and not the myriad Pieces Of Awesome that are hidden in plain sight.It’s filled with tools to help you organize your writing, reference material, thoughts, etc. Honestly, I can’t even begin to encompass how amazing this tool is for writers. The only thing I wish it had was bibliography support.
- OmniGraffle I admit it. I like making flow charts, and nothing makes flow-charting as fun, easy, or beautiful as OmniGraffle. I constantly get comments on the look of my OmniGraffle flow charts. It’s also great for web mock-ups (just grab some of the free stencils). Yeah, I’m sure Visio has more features, but Visio is ugly, no fun to use, and I really don’t give a damn if my flow charting software can’t map my LAN.
- DeliciousLibrary Nothing makes cataloging your media easier or more beautiful than DeliciousLibrary. There are lots of competing apps on every platform, but nothing is even remotely as nice to look at, or as easy to use, which is sad, because the company behind DL sucks when it comes to adding new features**, and it leaves out some obvious ones, like you can lend out books, but not borrow them. The HTML export is beautiful, (there is another prettier, but less functional output too) but gives you very little control over the end result. But, even with all its little annoyances it’s still twice as good as anything else out there. And, they’ve just released an iPhone app that syncs with your desktop, which is probably cool, but does me no good because I have an Android phone.
[Update] Lineform is no-longer updated and prone to crashing in the current versions of OS X. I don’t have a recommended replacement..
For the average person I wouldn’t normally classify LineForm as a killer app. It’s a good vector art package, but it’s simple. On the other hand, it’s $80 not $600 like Illustrator*. In spite of it’s simplicity I’ve come to really enjoy this app, and because I use it five days a week to create things like this, switching to anything else that could produce the same quality of results would be painful, or ridiculously overpriced. So, for me it’s a de-facto killer app. I did a write-up before about why I chose LineForm.
- VoodooPad Ok, technically, VoodooPad isn’t a “killer app” for me. It alone wouldn’t keep me from leaving the Mac, but it is freaking awesome! Like many of these apps, the thing that makes it awesome is it’s subtle power. On the surface it’s just a personal wiki. But, it is so well implemented that it just makes you want to use it more and more. In my opinion none of the competiton comes anywhere close to VoodooPad. It’s great for personal knowedge bases, building up research, and 42,001 other uses.
All of these apps have free trials. If any of them sound interesting to you, please download them and give them a try. They are each worth every penny. * Yes, I could pirate Illustrator, but as a software developer it’s important to me to only use software that’s free or has been legitimately paid for. I wouldn’t want anyone pirating software I wrote so I won’t do it to them. And yes, Inkscape is arguably more powerful than Lineform, and I like it, but I can’t use Inkscape on a Mac because OS X’s X server doesn’t support pressure sensitivity, and it tends to slow everything down, which screws up long flowing lines. ** They have updated Delicious Library with new features since it was originally released, and they are quite good, but it took years to actually get them the last time around. And it still can’t @$#% let me borrow a book! Also, there was lots of frustration on their forums and very little interaction from the company when the last version was months late in coming out. So, the app rocks but I’m not thrilled with the support or the co.