4 Mac apps I can’t survive without

Quicksilver1.jpgQuicksilver (Blacktree)
If ever I’m installing OSX from scratch, or configuring a virgin Mac, Quicksilver by Blacktree is the first application that gets installed.

What it does allow you do to perform various system actions by simply entering a few letter into its search box. The simplest function you’ll use Quicksolver for is launching an application. This is done by calling up the Quicksilver search window with and then typing in a few letters from the name of the application. This function alone saves a great deal of time for apps that aren’t resident on your dock, but represents only the tip of the iceberg of Quicksilver’s functionality.

There are plugins available for many common OSX apps which allow you to perform quite complex operations effortlessly, for example copying a file to a USB drive, or emailing a specific document to a specific contact.

You need to put a little effort in to get used to Quicksilver, but, once you do, the results are astounding and you’ll wonder how you ever used OSX without it!

There are a number of OSX RSS feed aggregators around. My preferred reader is NetNewsWire by NewsGator / Ranchero.

Keeping up with the latest blog and forum posts is a time consuming business. Netnewswire provides an intuitive GUI with support for nested categories of RSS sources, as well as a built-in browser with thumbnail previews of each open window.

Everyone processes their feeds with their own personal “workflow” process. Mine is to whizz through the various summary views of each post, and open those fully that are of interest for further reading later on. Netnewswire supports this approach by saving previously opened web pages, similar to Safari’s option to save open tabs. This means that you can come back to the application at your leisure and be confident that your pages are still there.

Additional key features include synchronisation of your feeds with other Macs (and PCs) via the excellent Newsgator service, direct posting of interesting feeds to blogs and Twitter, and a powerful search engine.


Dropbox is an on-line personal data storage service that provides client applications for the Mac, Windows and Linux. This is by no means a revolutionary new product, but what is particularly praiseworthy about Dropbox ( and what has caused me to abandon Apple’s MobileMe iDisk as my primary means of file synchronisation ) is how efficient and reliable the service is.

The Mac client creates a new folder, “Dropbox” within your Documents folder, which is synchronised with the Dropbox server. Syncing is almost real-time. You can see the status icon appended to each file’s icon change as it is individually sync’d. Moreover, the speed of transfer is much faster, as only incremental changes in a file are uploaded / downloaded by your computer. An interesting side-effect of this is that you can see a version history of files if you log into the Dropbox web interface.

A free 2Gb account with Dropbox from here.

A recent addition to my dock, this one, so not really an app that I can’t survive without, but worthy of inclusion, none the less. Nambu is a Twitter client that is very similar in layout to Apple’s Mail or indeed NetNewsWire. I’m a comparitive newb to Twitter, but Nambu does an excellent job of allowing you to set up searches of new and recent tweets with a particular keyword or subject.