9 Essentials for My MacBook Pro

it-pixie-macbook-proI love my new MacBook Pro!!!!

Although I have only had it for a few days (and really played with it for 2), I have to say my friends were totally right, that once I go Mac I will never go back (to PC).

Well, my friends are not entirely right, because I still have a nice PC desktop from HP.  But as far as laptop goes, I’m really loving mine!

May be I am slightly skewed in my PC-vs-Mac view after the Dell Hell that I went through, but Apple definitely made a pretty slick machine, and Mac OS X is a vast improvement from the last time I used a Mac (back in my college days).

As an afterthought, I did worry about making the switch from PC to Mac… After all I had been a PC user pretty much my entire life of using computers.  I have read/heard how there’s a pretty steep learning curve, and I knew I would have to switch all my software to Mac version (which could be a total pain)…

But as it turned out, the learning curve was much easier than I thought, and although it’s still a pain to have to replace all my essential software, it was not too bad.  Plus it’s kind of fun to check out bunch of new software…

So here is a list of the 9 essentials I just put on my MacBook Pro:

  • Sophos Antivirus for Mac — I know Mac is not immune to malware, and being paranoid as I am with computer security, I started researching malware protection even BEFORE I received my Mac.  Sophos is a well-known and respected anti-malware maker, and their antivirus for Mac is recommended by many.  Best of all, it’s free!
  • Little Snitch — This is a fireware made by Objective Development.  It runs in the background with light footprint, monitors your network activities and alerts you  outgoing traffic to protect your privacy.  You can define your own rules to allow or block certain traffic.  There is a 3 hour trial for you test the software out, and the full version is only $30.
  • TextWrangler — This is to replace Notepad++, which is a text editor that every developer should have.  But unfortunately Notepad++ doesn’t come in a Mac version.  TextWrangler has a very similar feel and look to Notepad++, which allows me to read and edit the all kinds of source codes.  And like Notepad++, TextWrangler is free.
  • Filezilla — My must-have FTP client!  And thank goodness there is a Mac version of Filezilla.  Again, it’s free.
  • Extra web browsersChrome**, FirefoxOpera and Camino (a Mac OS specific browser).  I am starting to like Safari, but other browsers are necessary for code testing.  And I really like the SEO plugins for Firefox that SEOBook offers.
  • Paintbrush — The Mac equivalent of Microsoft Paint.  Not super sophisticated, but good enough to do simple image creation and editing.  I’m still looking for good imaging software for Mac, so if you know of any I would love to hear about them.
  • Growly Notes — If you like/miss Microsoft OneNote, you will like Growly Notes.  This OneNote clone for Mac was created by a former Microsoft software engineer.  Work just like OneNote, and it’s totally free!

Bonus stuff: Speaking of OneNote, I had a bunch of notes in OneNotes that needed to be migrated over.  Unfortunately I have not found anything that would allow me to import notes from OneNote and keep the formatting and all.  I did find a work-around — a plugin for OneNote that can export your OneNote notebooks into HTML files.

Enters OneNote Web Exporter.  This nifty little plugin is installed onto your OneNote application, it exports individual notebooks into HTML files that preserve the format and style of the notebooks.  When you open an exported file, it looks like you have opened a OneNote notebook, except the whole thing is a HTML file*.  So although I won’t be able to keep adding notes to this exported notebook file easily (you can still edit the HTML source code to add notes), but at least I get to preserve all my important notes.

If you are a Mac user, what are you must-have software?  I would love to learn about them, so please share in the Comments. 🙂

p.s. Here’s more info on Mac malware protections

* For some reason, the OneNote HTML file does not always render correctly in all browsers.  For example, the iFrames does not display correctly in Safari (Mac), Chrome (Mac) or Firefox (Mac).  But it works beautifully in Opera (Mac).  I haven’t had time to really study the HTML/CSS/JavaScript code used to create the file and make any necessary changes, so I just have to use Opera specifically to open my OneNote HTML file.
** Update 5/31/2011 — I had to uninstall Chrome from my MBP because it was causing a lot of error messages in the Console when I use it.  While I do not fully understand what the errors mean (I’m still very new at this Mac OS X stuff), it seems it has to do with Mac’s Exposé and/or Spaces.  Now that I am not using Chrome and Exposé at the same time, there is no error message.  Since I do use Exposé a lot, I had to give up Chrome… Which is sad because I really like Chrome as a browser.  I did, however, found another browser specifically for Mac OS — Camino.  Meanwhile, Opera really stepped up to become my non-default browser (Safari is my default).
Update 11/18/2011 — So after updating to the latest version of Chrome a couple of months ago, combining with the upgrade to OS X Lion, Chrome has been working quite nicely.  And I guess I have stopped obsessing over the error messages in the Console.  Anyways, I now use all the browsers regularly for web design testing; and inevitably some website scripts or codes don’t run or display quite correctly.  That’s when all the different browsers come in handy.

  • Freakonomics3415

    CleanMyMac is a mac cleaning software that eliminates all the useless files in an application (language files and binary) as well as deleting ghost files leftover from deleted applications.  It has deleted 444 GB of data from my MacBook Pro.  Every time my Mac starts to slow down I clean it up and it speeds up tenfold.

    • Cool! I’ll definitely check it out! Now that my MBP is almost 6 months old, I’m sure it has accumulated plenty orphan/ghost files…. Thanks for the suggestion! 😀