Essentials 2007

Last year, I wrote about software I used regularly for work or for fun, my Essentials. Since then I’ve moved over from half-Mac-half-PC user to a full fledged member of the Mac society, but I still use a virtual Windows install for some of my work.

Here are my essentials in 2007, in no particular order:


  1. Mail. I use Google Apps for my e-mail on my own domain, and I had been using it’s own web interface and Mailplane. But ever since Google added IMAP to Gmail, I’ve ditched those and started using Apple Mail again, especially now in it’s version 3.1 guise with much improved search and IMAP support. The little fucker still likes to crash though.

  2. Safari. I sometimes find myself flipping between Camino and Safari, trying to decide which browser I prefer, and very often I just can’t seem to decide. But Camino doesn’t seem to play with the proxy servers at university very well and hangs for a few seconds every time I navigate go a page, which rules it out here. Add to that Safari’s excellent in-line find and its ability to show PDF files, and that wins it over for me.

  3. Adium X. The best IM client for OS X, no doubt about it. Just lacks video support right now, but I use Skype anytime I want to video conference (which is very rarely) so it doesn’t bother me.

  4. iTunes. Still the best music player, nothing else touches it on OS X.

  5. Adobe Lightroom. I tried Aperture, but I find myself preferring Lightroom even though Aperture seems to be a more polished application. Lightroom is just far more powerful at photo editing, and that’s what wins it for me.

  6. Adobe Photoshop CS3. I actually find myself using Photoshop a whole lot less ever since I started using proper RAW image processors such as Aperture and Lightroom, but it’s still useful for some touching-up or restoration, and it’s still the web designers image editor of choice.

  7. VLC. This can be a bit of a bitch on OS X, but the simple fact that it plays all my videos with only the rare complaint means its my preference over Quicktime + Perian.

  8. VMware Fusion. Even though I’ve moved over to OS X full time, I still do a fair amount of work on Windows (see below). I had the choice of either VMware Fusion, or Parallels Desktop, and at the time VMware were offering a half price discount, and I felt it was faster and less resource-hungry than Parallels. It runs my Windows XP Professional without much fault, although it does stretch the limits of my 2GB of RAM.

  9. iCal. Still the best calendaring system for OS X, although it took a little while to get used to the new interface introduced in version 3.0.1 that shipped with Leopard. It’s integration with many other apps and iSync make it my choice over the competition. That and it’s free.

  10. OmniFocus. My workload has increase significantly this year, so I’ve started to follow a GTD philopshy to my work, and I’ve found OmniFocus seemed the best tool to assist me. But I’ve just started testing an alpha version of Things, and my allegiances may change depending on how Things pans out (it’s currently a lot prettier).

  11. Yojimbo. I don’t use it as much as other people, but for collecting bits and pieces of information and finding it afterwards, it’s priceless.

  12. Papers. I’ve been reading a huge amount of scientific papers for my dissertation, and having an iTunes style interface to catalogue them with Papers is a massive time saver. It’s not without its flaws though, but there are some innovative features that means I parted with my hard earned cash.

  13. Transmit. Same as last year, still the best FTP client (and for WebDAV too).

  14. Delicious Library. Still waiting for the ever elusive version 2.0, but 1.6 is hanging in. Saves me buying duplicate DVDs and books (I don’t buy CDs anymore) with a quick and easy search. Scanning in the barcode is also fun.

  15. Pages. I get on with pages, more because I have to and the only real alternative is Microsoft Word (which I’m still waiting for). There needs to be some more competition.

  16. TextMate. I don’t use it as much now as I mainly write C# code in Visual Studio 2008. But one of my goals is to learn Ruby on Rails and this should prove very useful.

  17. Unison. Best newsgroup app for OS X. It costs, but it’s worth it.

  18. Twitterrific. There is no other Mac Twitter client to use, a great little app that does a simple task very well.


  1. Firefox. Still beats IE out of the water, and the betas of 3.0 are looking very promising.

  2. Visual Studio 2008. Only recently release by Microsoft, I haven’t had enough time to properly delve into it yet, but I’ve stopped creating new projects in VS2005 now, and Twitterlicious has been migrated over to VS2008 (although it’s still a .NET 2.0 application).

  3. SQL Server 2005. The de facto database for Windows programmers. Full integration with Visual Studio as well, which makes it a pleasure to work with.