One of my favorite things about being a Mac user is getting to enjoy all sorts of great freeware and shareware applications. There are cooking programs, network utilities, games, interface enhancements, widgets, and much more. I’m a daily reader of MacUpdate, which is a site that lists freeware, shareware and commercial updates as they are released or updated. There are as many as fifty entries each day! Here are some of my current favorites:

Chax 3.0a5 provides enhancements to iChat, including a unified contact list, growl notification, and more font control. It also adds more preferences to control auto-accepting chats and file transfers, and several other options. The feature I like most is the automatic resizing of my contact lists as my contacts go on and off-line.

BBEdit 9.3.1 is one of the most powerful text-editing tools on the Mac. I use it for web development, editing configuration files, and many other things. BBEdit has been around for since 1993, and I’ve been a loyal customer from the very beginning. It supports profiles for numerous programming languages and web languages. It has command-line tools to let users access its text editing engine from the terminal. My second-choice text editor is probably TextMate 1.5.9, which I also own.

MenuCalendarClock iCal 4.1.1 is a simple menu bar item with a quick calendar view, event list, and rapid access to iCal data. I like that I can make a quick check of upcoming consults without opening the full iCal window. There is also a version for Entourage.

Transmit 3.7 is an excellent FTP client with a great tabbed dual-pane view for easy drag and drop of files to and from servers. It supports a variety of protocols and allows you save a list of server favorites. I have my Transmit setup configured so I can double-click on remote files and have them open up directly in BBEdit, an image editor, or a CSS editor. I’ve also heard great things about a fairly new FTP client, “ForkLift 1.7.7: and many people still rely on the venerable Fetch 5.5.3, which is still meaningfully evolving after twenty years.

SuperDuper! 2.6.2 While I rely on Time Machine for daily backup, I still use SuperDuper for a second cloned backup. Its great Smart Update feature quickly updates my clone drive in a fraction of the time a full clone would take. It just copies what has changed since my last clone, and also removes files to match my system drive. I can’t use it to go back for long-deleted files, but I can boot directly from my clone backup. If you still use Mac OS 10.4, you should definitely look at SuperDuper if you won’t be upgrading to 10.5 or 10.6 with Time Machine.

I encourage you to search MacUpdate and other Mac shareware sites to see if there are cool programs you might like to try. Let us know your favorites and we’ll publish some selections in an upcoming TechTails!


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