The 30 apps that should be installed on every new mac

Welcome to Mac Essentials! The objective of this site is to provide you with a list of 30 apps that should be installed on every new Mac that you get from your favourite Apple Store. Yes, they say Mac computers come bundled with all the software you need and this is true when you compare it to Microsoft Windows. However, there are some applications and utilities you just need to make your life easier and make your new Mac run smoothly. 

Applications folderHow did I prepare this list? Well, I have convinced many of my friends and family to purchase a Mac. And they have come to the conclusion they should send their computer to my house for a few hours before they start to use it, just to get those apps that are essential on their computer. Most of them are new to Mac and they don’t want to spend months trying to discover what they really need. Well, I have compiled a list of all the free apps that I install automatically on their computer. Now if you are new to the Mac and you don’t have a geeky Mac friend to do this work for you, I am sure this site will be very handy for you. By installing those applications, you should really enhance your Mac experience. I tried to choose only free apps. That is why the first 25 applications on this list are free. There are a few paid apps that I also consider very useful and they are # 26 to 30 on this list. These paid app all come with a free trial, so feel free to give them a try and see if you like them. 

I would also really like to get your feedback on my selection using the comments. This list is not static and I will modify it over the months as I discover new apps. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. If you think there are problems with an app, please describe them. Just saying “This app sucks” is not very useful to anyone.

App #1 : Neo Office or Open Office


Neo Office

Yes you can purchase Microsoft office if you are working in an environment that requires you to produce many Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents that are 100 % compatible with their Windows counterpart, but if you are just a casual office user, the free Neo Office or Open Office should be a good solution for all your needs. Both free office suites include equivalent to Word, Excel and PowerPoint and include even more. The documents they produce are also compatible with Microsoft office although sometimes, there maybe a few bugs that will make documents not look totally right. I personally prefer Neo Office, because I have to work with many WordPerfect documents for my job and Neo Office open them and display properly in almost every case. If you are not sure, test both of them and you can choose later. Download Neo Office. Download Open Office.

App #2 : Google Earth

Google EarthGoogle Earth has become so useful and includes so many more features with every new versions that you need that huge atlas and encyclopedia on  your computer. Not only it is great for road maps and directions, but it is also amazing to learn about new places on the earth including countries, the oceans and space! The interface is easy to use and let you visit almost every part of the earth using satellite pictures as well as 3D representations of buildings. Download Google Earth.

App #3 : Adobe Media Player

Adobe Media PlayerAdobe Media Player is a great player that includes link to many good TV shows and video podcast that are available on the Web. It is a great way to get all your video content you watch on the Web all organized. It is all based on Flash and Adobe Air. Download Adobe Media Player.

App #4 : Flash Player plugin

Flash PlayerIf there is a plugin you absolutely need on your computer, it is the Flash Player. There is so much Flash content on the Internet, that not having the flash player will prevent you from viewing a lot of content on websites. It is quick and very easy to install and will integrate with your web browsers. Download Flash Player.

App #5 : Growl

GrowlMaybe Growl won’t seem useful to you at first, but take my word for it. When you are multitasking and you got many things going on at the same time, those little notifications that discretely show up in the corner of your screen will be so useful. What I like with them is that they are discrete and they all have the same look. They are not like those ugly Windows notifications which all look different and sometimes require you to click to keep working on what you are doing. When a grow notification shows up, you can still keep working in your app. Many applications are now compatible with Growl. It won’t show up as a separate application, but it will show up in your System Preferences panel. Download Growl.

App #6 : Firefox

FirefoxIf you need superpower in terms of browsing, you need to install Firefox on your new Mac. The features list of this browser is way longer than what you would get with Safari. All the plugins make the big difference. With the plugins, the expansion of this browser is almost unlimited. Also if you have tested Firefox in the past and thought it was very slow loading, don’t worry, the new version is way faster. I really think you should have multiple browsers on your computer and if a website doesn’t render properly with one, you can use it with another. I recommend installing Safari, Firefox and Camino. Download Firefox.

App #7 : Camino

CaminoYes, every single Mac comes with an amazing browser that is fast and reliable : Safari. However, sometimes, you wish you had another browser just because a site won’t render properly in Safari. Camino is a browser designed especially for the Mac based on the Firefox engine. It doesn’t include tons of features like Firefox, but it is a nice quick and mac looking browser. I always prefer to have more than one browser on my computer in case a site doesn’t work properly with a specific browser. I recommend having Safari, Camino and Firefox. Maybe one day I will recommend Google Chrome when it does become available for the Mac. Download Camino.

App #8 : Google Sketchup

Google SketchupMaybe ths app will not be useful for everyone but there is nothing wrong installing it on the computer until the day your kids or teens will discover it and will start to make amazing 3D drawings with it. Google Sketchup is a simple 3D drawing tool that is entirely free! It lets you produce 3D images of buildings and add textures to them. You can even use photos of each side of the building to add a more realistic texture. Download Google Sketchup.

App #9 : Skype

SkypeThis is the way to reduce your long distance phone bill if you make many calls to other part of your country or if you make international calls. All calls from skype to skype are totally free. What if your aunt who is living overseas doesn’t have Skype? Not a problem. All you need to do is to get a skype unlimited account and for a very low monthly cost, you can make unlimited international calls to many country. Even countries where calls are usually expensive, they will be cheaper with Skype. Now if the sound quality is not as good as you would expect, it is probably because your Internet Service Provider is doing some traffic shapping. Swtich ISP and thell them how you do not appreciate their policies. Download Skype.

App #10 : DivX Codec

DivXOne day, you will download a video on the Internet with the .avi extension and it will simply won’t play in QuickTime. You will have no idea why, because QuickTime usually seems to open .avi. The culprit? The video has been encoded with the DivX codec. It is a very powerful codec that will compress video while still keeping a reasonable amount of picture quality. The DivX codec is available for the Mac and will integrate with iTunes. It will appear in your System Preferences Panel once you install it. Download DivX.

App #11 : Inquisitor


If you like searching with spotlight and start to get results as you are typing, you will like Inquisitor. It is known as the “Spotlight of Safari”. It act as a plugin and when you start doing a search in the search engine  box in Safari or Firefox, it will start to suggest results as you are typing. Most of the time, you get the site you are looking for immediately without even loading the search engine page. Download Inquisitor.

App #12 : Onyx

OnyxThis little utility application is necessary to help you keep your system clean, because it lets you optimize your system and clean tons of files that are not ncessary. It will also help you tweak various apsects of the operating system that would normally require the knowledge of the command line in terminal. There are other options to Onyx such as MacPilot, but since Onyx is free and so powerful, I would not even think twice and would choose Onyx immediately over the other options available. Download Onyx.

App #13 : Name Mangler

Name ManglerName Mangler is a very simple app that will let you rename files in batch. It is perfect to rename tons of photos from your digital camera if you don’t want all of them to be called names like DCS0002.jpg. It let you add a prefix, or a suffix or numbers to the filename. It also let you do a search and replace or change case. Best of all, it is free! Download Name Mangler.

App #14 : Handbrake

HandbrakeIf you own an iPhone, iPod or iPod Touch, this application is necessary. It will let you convert your DVDs to put them in a format recognized by those portable devices. Now make sure you use this app just to make a copy of movies your already own! This application will also need VLC to be installed (I already recommend the installation of VLC elsewhere on this blog). Handbrake comes with tons of preset for converting videos not only for the iPhone and iPod, but also for the Apple TV, the PSP, the PS3 and the Xbox 360. It lets you control which language tracks you want to keep as well as cropping uncesssary black stripes. Also, if your movie is originally interlaced, it lets you deinterlace it. Download Handbrake.

App #15 : iStat Nano

iStat NanoThis little utility is actually a widget on your Dashboard. It is an incredible tool to manage your CPU, your memory, your disks, the network, the processes, uptime, batteries, fans and tempratures. It is small, so it doesn’t use to much space on your monitor, but it contains tons of useful information, especially when doing some troubleshooting for a problem on the computer. There is also a larger version of the app  called iStat Menus, but for most people, the iStat Nano widget is all your will need. Download the iStat Nano widget.

App #16 : Cooliris

CoolirisCooliris is such a great way to browse through photos and images on the Internet. It gives you this nice 3D interface like the Apple TV introduction. You can zoom in and zoom out and you can also move left and right with a 3D wall full of pictures. Cooliris is not a stand alone application, but it is a plugin that will add itself to Safari or Firefox. When you visit a website compatible with Cooliris (such as Google Images, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) you can click the Cooliris icon and view the images in 3D. It is not totally useful, but it looks cool and makes your friend think your computer is so powerfull! Download Cooliris plugin.

App #17 : aMSN

aMSNMSN on the Mac has always been lagguing compared to its Windows counterpart. One of the most frequent complain is the lack of webcam support with the Mac version. Well, there is a solution to that and it is an open source clone of MSN called aMSN. It is still not on a par with the Windows version of MSN, but it is getting pretty close. Many people also prefer to use Mercury messenger (which is a Java based MSN clone) or a multi-messenger such as Adium. If most of your friends are on MSN and you want to use the webcam with them, I would strongly recommend aMSN. Download aMSN.

App #18 : Livestation

LivestationThis one is a great one!!! A free way to watch live TV on your computer all streaming from the Internet. Livestation already include many international TV station as partners (including France 24, RFI, BBC, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, DW Radio, Euronews, etc), but also lets you add the TV station you watch the most. The quality is quite impressive, especially with the partner stations. There is also a good selection of other stations and you can add your own live feeds. It is a great way to have all your live TV feeds in one location. Download Livestation.

App #19 : Flip4Mac

Flip4macIn a perfect world, all the videos on the Internet would be made for Quicktime and produced on a Mac. However, since we share the net with Windows users, there is a lot of Windows movie files (WMV) out there and without this little tool, QuickTime cannot read them. Microsoft used to make a version of Windows Movie Maker for the Mac, but they are not making it anymore. Who cares, since Flip4Mac integrates within QuickTime and let you play WMV files seamlessly even with the free version. It is a must have! Download Flip4Mac from the Telestream website.

App #20 : Perian

PerianPerian is considered to be the Swiss-Army knife for QuickTime. It is a collection of codecs that will complement QuickTime, allowing you to view videos that could not normally be viewed with it. It adds native support for many popular video formats. When you install it, it won’t show up as an application, but will add an icon in your system preference. If you surf the Internet to watch videos, you need this Perian. It is totally free. Download Perian.

App #21 : VLC

VLCSometimes, there is just this one video that will not play with Quicktime even though you have installed all the codecs that you could find such as Perian and DivX. VLC should be your solution in those rare case. VLC is an open source multimedia player and it is surprising for opening files that don’t work with anything else. I found it work particularly well with old video files that were stiched with MS-DOS. Quicktime just play the first segment of the video and does not recognize the rest of it, but VLC will play it all. Download VLC.

App #22 : Microsoft Silverlight

silverlightWhether you like it or not, Microsoft is a major player in the computer industry and it has become almost necessary to include Microsoft Silverlight on our Mac computer. Silverlight is a competitor to Flash and is used by web designer to produce great looking content on their website. Since more and more website include Silverlight content (including last summer Olympics), you should install it. It won’t show up as a separate application, but will integrate with your browser. Download Microsoft Silverlight.

App #23 : Skitch

SkitchThis is not just your regular screen grab utility. This one is actually fun! It lets you grab portion of a website or portion of your screen and add all sorts of fun annotation before you send it to someone. The Skitch application is very well integrated with the website. After you are done editing the photo and adding stuff to it, you can then share it with a friend or with the rest of the world. You can send it to your MobileMe account or to your skitch account to publish it to the world or you can send it via e-mail to a friend. Even kids will love this app! Download Skitch.

App #24 : Vuze or Transmission

TransmissionVuze and Transmission are both bittorrent applications for downloading large files on the Internet using a peer to peer protocole. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not recommending that you start using a bittorrent client to download commercial videos and applications without paying for them. In these days and age, there are more and more legit bittorrent content available on the Internet. Even some serious companies have started to distribute trials of their applications using this kind of protocole because their server simply cannot keep up with the load. Some Internet podcasts are also distributed using peer-to-peer. So it is a good idea to have one of these two applications installed on your computer. I find Vuze to be a bit slower to run (since it is Java based), but more user friendly. Transmission is quick, fast an extremely simple! Your choice! Download Vuze or download Transmission.

App #25 : Boxee

BoxeeBoxee is great when it is installed on your Apple TV, because it lets your Apple TV access tons of content that is not in iTunes. It lets you access video content on the Web and on your computers in your house right from your TV. However, it is also a great add-on to your computer, because it has a nice interface and will find all the content you have on your computer and home network. It will show it in an easy to use interface that works with the Apple remote. So it is like having your TV right on your computer monitor. When it finds movies, music and TV shows on your computer, it will also look for reviews and descriptions. So you can more easily choose what content you want to watch. You need to open an account to use boxee, but it is totally free. Download Boxee.

App #26 : Fotomagico ($£€)

FotomagicoOk, this is an app that you need to pay for, but it is well worth the price. It will let you produce professional slide show with full control on how you want slide to appear and zoom. It lets you turn your pictures into a story with a few simple clicks and present it in high resolution. You can then share your new slide show on a CD/DVD or you can export it to put for your website or to send through e-mail. It also integrate very well with iPhoto. It is free to try, so go for it… Give it a try and I am certain you will be convinced that you need this app. Download Fotomagico.

App #27 : Roxio Toast Titanium ($£€)

Roxio Toast TitaniumI agree with you, a CD/DVD/Bluray burning tool should be included with the Mac OS. There is actually a very basic one included, however, for most users, I would strongly recommend that your purchase Roxio Toast Titanium. It will let you easily burn your content (music, video, data) to CDs, DVDs or Blurays. It works extremely well and the interface is easy to use. It will also let you shrink video from a dual layer DVD to a single layer DVD. Now it won’t let you make backup of commercial encrypted DVD. You need a free utility like “Mac the Ripper” for that. Download Roxio Toast Titanium.

App 28 : Xslimmer ($£€)

XslimmerThis one may not seem that useful to you at first, but when you run out of disk space, you will thank me for suggesting this one. Although you have to pay for it, it is very inexpensive. What it does it actually reduce the size of the applications you have installed. How can it be done without destroying them? Easy! Mac used to include a PowerPC processor and then now include an Intel processor. Most applications are shipped with the code to run on both PowerPC or Intel. When you install it on your computer, you only need one of the code, because your computer doesn’t have both type of processor in it. Xslimmer will recognize your processor and will remove unessary code from the application. Applications also include many different languages. For most of us, we only need one or two languages. Xslimmer lets you choose which language to keep and will delete all the language files in the application. This will let you regain a lot of hard drive space. Some application are half of the size of the original after going through Xslimmer. Some applications could be destroyed by Xslimmer, so there is a black list. I use Xslimmer on all my apps on my computer and I never destroyed one using it. If it ever happen to you, you could just reinstall it. Download Xslimmer.

App #29 : Parallels Desktop ($£€)

Parallels DesktopWe may think we don’t need Windows since we are dedicated hardcore Mac fans, but there will be this one moment when you will find out you really need Windows for this little specialized application needed for work. You can always reboot your computer in Windows using Bootcamp, but rebooting is no fun. Parallels Desktop will let you run Windows right on your Mac desktop seemlessly. You can have Windows and Mac apps running side by side. Yes, when you include the price of Parallels and the price of a copy of Windows, it may sounds a bit expensive, but if you need it, that is the way to go. I use Windows XP with Parallels and it works very well. Download Parallels.

App # 30 : Pulpmotion ($£€)

PulpmotionYou want cute videos made with your photos? Pulpmotion will actually do that for you with very little effort. There are many templates included and all you have to do is drop your photos in the the placeholders and let Pulpmotion do the magic. It will then produce a nice looking video that you can share with your friends and family using mail, iWeb, iMovie or iDVD. Your kids and teens will love this application. Download Pulpmotion.

Other cool apps

These are other cool apps that didn’t make it to the list for different reasons. The list meant to be essentials apps for everyone. So if an app is too specialized I didn’t include it. If an application is used mostly by geeks, but family-oriented users would not see any use to it, it wasn’t included in the list. Here are these great applications that didn’t made it to the list :