We've featured countless apps or all sorts over the years, but if you just want a quick look at the best free downloads for your Mac, this post's for you. This is the 2009 Lifehacker Pack for Mac OS X.
Like our 2009 Lifehacker Pack for Windows (and its predecessor), the Mac version has the same goal in mind: to provide Mac lovers with a single, handy list of the best free applications that you're likely to use on a regular basis.
Note: You can head directly to each application's download page from the [Download] links and see what we originally wrote about them at the [LH Post] link.
- Smultron: Whether you like the distraction-free environment of a plain text editor or you like to fire up a powerful environment where you can churn out some serious code, you can't go wrong with the open-soruce Smultron. It sports a nice tabbed interface for working with multiple documents and working inside a directory, syntax highlighting, and even a fullscren mode for those times that you want to work without distractions. [Download] [LH Post]
- Quicksilver: Even though it's no longer in active development by it's creator, we still can't get enough of this incredible application launcher and-then-some. We've taken you on a beginner's guide to Quicksilver, walked you through the various settings, provided video demonstrations of some of its coolest features, and in general have drooled all over this productivity-boosting application. And even though we're keeping a close eye on Google Quick Search, the Quicksilver-like app from Google that was developed by the same guy who made Quicksilver, it's still no replacement. [Download]
- Firefox: All debates about security, memory use, or compatibility amongst the web browsers aside, Firefox can adapt to nearly anyone's browsing habits through a range of adaptations. Whether that's an extension/add-on (and here are our top 10 picks), a Greasemonkey script (again, our 10), or some deep-down about:config tweaks, Firefox can probably be what you want it to be. [Download] [LH Post]
- Adium: Pronounced like "stadium", Adium is a free, powerful multi-protocol instant messaging client that connects to everything from AIM and Google Talk to Facebook Chat, MySpace Chat, and everything in between. Adium is extremely customizable, works like a charm, and brings way more options to your chats than the OS X standard, iChat.
- Postbox: If you're not using your email's web interface, use this. It's basically Thunderbird, the open-source email client we'd previously included in our Lifehacker pack, but remixed with stronger, almost Gmail-like powers. It finds and indexes all the attachments in your email account, groups together conversations with similar subject chains with the "Gather" command (like Gmail's conversations), offers tabbed inbox and message views, and lets you organize emails under your own chosen "Topics." It's also got built-in easy setup steps for Gmail and other webmail systems-in other words, everything we're waiting to see Thunderbird implement. [Download] [LH Post]
- Unarchiver: OS X's default Archive Utility handles a lot, but the first time you come across slightly more unusual (but still very common) archive types like RAR, you'll notice it stumble. The Unarchiver handles ZIP, TAR, RAR, 7Z, StuffIt, and several more obscure archive types without flinching. [Download] [LH Post]
- Transmission: The most popular BitTorrent client for OS X, Transmission rolls virtually every feature you'd want out of a good BitTorrent application into one clean, easy-to-use package. You can even remote control your BitTorrent downloads with Transmission, or get clever and start new BitTorrent downloads at home from any computer with Dropbox (mentioned below). [Download] [LH Post]
- AppTrap: One of the best parts of OS X is that uninstalling an application is as simple as deleting it, right? Yes, but not exactly; often simply deleting the file leaves your computer with old junk files sitting around that used to belong to the application you just deleted. AppTrap automatically detects when you're deleting an application, looks for associated files, and automatically deletes them for you along with the app in question. [Download] [LH Post]
- Burn: OS X comes with Disk Utility—a very nice burning application plus some—out of the box, but it's often used only for more advanced ISO burning, disk formatting, and other heavy-lifting type activities. Burn, on the other hand, is a simple, user-friendly CD and DVD burning application that does data, audio, video, and disc copying with aplomb. [Download] [LH Post]
- VLC - Got a video or audio file to play? VLC probably plays it. Don't like how heavy Quicktime is? VLC is lighter. Want it free, working on any system, and have it show album art from your tracks? Done and done. [Download] [LH Post]
- iTunes: We've seen stronger competition for your music management in OS X this year than ever, particularly with the recent release of Songbird, but right now you're still better off sticking with iTunes on your Mac. Not only does it integrate seamlessly with your various iPods, but it also integrates with most of your Mac's iLife applications and other Mac apps. So while you'd better watch out for the competition, iTunes, you're still the favorite for music. [Download] [LH Post]
- Dropbox: Put simply, Dropbox makes synchronizing your files across Windows, Mac, or Linux systems a very simple, almost magical process. Put a copy of what you're working on or want saved in your Dropbox folder, and it's synchronized to your account, which has 2GB to start with, and gets bigger if you recommend friends. When you're at another one of your own computers, your Dropbox updates and grabs those files. If you're at someone else's system or on a smartphone, head to Dropbox's mobile-friendly site and grab what you need. It's not quite a backup tool, but it is one of those utilities that makes a lot of old habits—thumb drive copying, CD burning, emailing attachments to yourself—seem unnecessary. [Download] [LH Post]
- Mozy: If Dropbox is where you stash the stuff you're working on or enjoying at the moment, Mozy is the backup service that saves everything for when your system goes black on bootup. The free accounts for Macs (and PCs) offer 2GB of free online space, and with the really smart filtering tools, you can have Mozy crawl your whole system and back up financial documents, Excel sheets, and any file with "Steve" in it. If you spring for a monthly unlimited plan, Mozy is a smart whole-system saver—one that doesn't eat bandwidth when you're using it, and works when you're not working. [Download] [LH Post]
If you were to compare this pack of software with our Lifehacker Pack for Windows, you'll notice a fair amount of overlap. That's because, luckily for all of us, in many cases free, cross-platform software is thriving. In other instances, we didn't include a Mac version because the system default is already a very solid choice. (For example, where we recommended Foxit Reader on Windows for lightweight PDF duties, we'd just suggest the built-in Preview in OS X). Other utilities, like Texter, don't have a completely free Mac alternative (though we do very much like TextExpander, which has a free trial beyond which it turns nagware).
Things change daily in the world of free software, and we by no means believe that this list is absolutely definitive, so if you've got your own I-can't-believe-they-didn't-include-X must-haves, tell us all about them—and share any other thoughts on our list—in the comments. Happy downloading!