Google has long offered a great library of free software for Windows PCs. For example, Google Desktop (described here) was available for Windows PCs for 2 1/2 years before it was unveiled for the Mac.

Most of Google’s excellent free software is now also available for Apple computers. For example, if you’re using Safari, you can use these applications: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Checkout, Search History, Google Analytics, Blogger, Adwords, Picasa Web Albums (free web-based photo hosting) and now parts of Google Desktop.

If you’re using the Firefox web browser on the Mac, you can use the applications above, plus the following: Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Page Creator (for making web pages), Talk (for instant messaging), Google Notebook, and Google Toolbar. Again, those apps work on the Mac, but only in the Firefox browser. Firefox is free. Get it here:

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/

Google offers some free stand-alone programs that you can download and install on your Mac. These are: Picasa Web Albums Unloader (a plug-in for iPhoto that allows you to upload your photos to Picasa Web Albums), Google SketchUp, Google Notifier (a menu-bar plug-in that tells you when have new Gmail) Google Earth, Google Updater, and now Google Desktop.

Note: It wasn’t always easy for Mac users to take advance of Google’s free Picasa Web Albums. The Web Albums Unloader plug-in for iPhoto has greatly simplified this. If you like to post photos to the web, it’s worth checking out.

Also, Google Talk is rapidly growing in popularity. It does not work in Safari, but it does work in Firefox. Or, you can use Google Talk via the familiar iChat interface. I prefer this method, as I can save all chats to my Documents folder, and easily spell check as I type. You have to use the Jabber feature of iChat to do this, but it’s very easy to set up. Here’s a great tutorial:

http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?answer=24076

Take a look at Google’s Apple blog – they call it “Mac inside Google.” Sounds like a geek dream to me. Here’s a tidbit to entice you to read more on their blog: “And, just as elsewhere in the world, new Mac users at Google are often won over by Apple’s excellent combination of hardware and software.” Check it out here:

http://googlemac.blogspot.com/

Google Software Downloads for the Mac:

http://www.google.com/mac.html

Google’s list of its own services and software – 95% work with the Mac, as long as you’re using Firefox:

http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/

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