7 Free Mac Apps to Make Your Life Easier

I have a bad habit.

Whenever I hear about some cool Mac-friendly program, I immediately download it, then never use it again. The result? When I look in my Applications folder, I find all kinds of random iCrap with completely useless names like Switch, Tofu, and iSquint. That said, there are a few apps whose names (and functionality) I do remember, because I use them almost every day.

Here are 7 Mac apps that I’ve found useful over the last 4 years:

7) Cloud – This app is just a cloud-shaped icon that sits in your toolbar (up by the system clock and volume control) and lets you easily share folders, files, and links. You just drag whatever you want to share onto the icon (or press a hotkey or simply take a screenshot with Cmd-Shift-3), and the app puts a shortened URL to the content on your clipboard, ready to paste.

6) coconutBattery – Very, VERY simple app that shows you the health and number of charge cycles of your laptop battery.

Yep, that's it.

5) Papers (I cheated, this one’s not free: ~$50 for students) – Tried and true app for reading and organizing research papers. It lets you search a bunch of databases, syncs with all Apple iDevices, and imports just about any file format. The new version seems to have a kickass citation manager and other cool features too.

4) Caffeine – Another toolbar icon, just a coffee cup. You can click on it and watch it magically fill up. Click again and it empties. That’s it. Oh yeah, it also keeps your Mac awake (no screen dimming or screensaver) when it’s full, which makes it extremely useful for presentations or movies or long SSH sessions, you know, the ones where you really, really have to go to the bathroom but don’t want your Macbook to go idle and drop your connection and destroy your last 5 hours of work, so you end up wetting your pants. You know, those times. Never again. 🙂

3) TwoUp – Lets you move and resize any window into exactly one half of the screen (any half: top, bottom, left, right) with a simple hotkey. This is really helpful when you need to see an email to add an event into your iCal, or when you have two versions of a file open and need to see both at once. This useful feature is built into Windows 7, and it surprises me that Apple hasn’t yet implemented it in OS X (if anyone knows how to do this, please let me know).

2) xPad – This is my go-to app for inputting text. Nearly everything I type into my computer goes into xPad first, including research data, to do lists, grocery lists, blog posts, assignments, everything. It’s basically TextEdit with tabs and autosave, which means (1) you don’t have to worry about choosing a filename and save location each time you want to create a new document, and therefore (2) organization ensues. xPad backs up all your documents/tabs every few minutes and before it quits, and you can export any or all of them to .rtf whenever you want. Super useful app.

1) Alfred – The best app launcher out there, much better than the popular Quicksilver. Press a hotkey and enter the name of an app/document/video/whatever and it will launch immediately. But Alfred does much more than just launching apps: Type “google/wiki/gmail/docs/bing/youtube/facebook/twitter/wolfram ____” and it will search any of those sites for ____. Type in a math problem and it will solve it. The only thing it won’t do is justify dropping $2000 on a Mac, but you’ve already done that yourself, so you might as well download Alfred and make Apple’s UI even easier to use.

Leave a comment below with your top app picks!

-Joel

0) Angry Birds – Just kidding. It is stupidly addicting, though.

Likability of Angry Birds, from TheOatmeal.com

My current wallpaper.

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2 thoughts on “7 Free Mac Apps to Make Your Life Easier

  1. thanks Joel Joel. i downloaded xPad and Alfred! i’ll let you know how it works out. haha miss you, and hope you’re doing swell!

  2. dude, alfred is so confusing.. send me a 101 e-mail?…haha

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