Best Software

Since I wanted to be able to access this post easily for future reference, I thought I’d make a page of “The Best Mac and Windows Software” I’ve found.
macandwindowsRecent events have prompted me to create a post that will have references and links to all the great software I use on Windows and Mac that I couldn’t live without (or at least that would make my life much harder without). I’ve reinstalled MacOSX Leopard and Windows XP on my home computer, and at work I’ve had to change computers about two times in the last three months. It’s started to become a headache to always Google search the software I use often just to re-find the download links to re-install it all. Therefore, I figured if I gathered all the software download links into one location on my blog, it would be a virtual “one-stop-shopping” center for all my software needs.

Windows and Mac Software

Two of the best sources for free open-source Windows and Mac software are the aptly named and I found most of the following software from these two sites and check back periodically to see if there are any new open-source recommendations.

Internet Browsers

Obviously, the greatest asset (or distraction) for my work on the computer is the choice of a good Internet browser, and Internet Explorer 6 just won’t do.

  • Firefox Browser (Windows and Mac) Hands down the BEST browser available. Firefox has security, speed and new features that will change the way you use the Web. Don’t settle for anything less.
  • Opera Browser (Windows and Mac) The second best browser available with three great features: Speed Dial: Your favorite sites are just one click away at all times; Search Shortcuts: Faster search – type your queries directly in the address bar; Trash Can: Instantly reopen recently closed tabs.
  • Google Chrome (Windows ONLY at this time) The BEST browser available for speedy browsing and Google searching. Type your query directly into the address bar and Google will return a list of results instantly -> no more browsing straight to Google for your “Google-ing.”
  • Safari 3 (Windows and Mac) The original Mac browser in all its glory -> soon to be replaced by Safari 4.
  • Safari 4 Beta (Windows and Mac) Boasting 150 features including a Mac look-and-feel and plenty of tools and built-in plug-ins, this is the wave of the future.
  • Internet Explorer 8 (Windows) A potentially great browser with updated support for CSS 3, but it seems Microsoft will shortly be throwing in the towel on the IE engine.
  • Stand-alone IE 7 (Windows) Internet Explorer 7 is very literally a NECESSARY update to the poorly designed IE6 which has quite bad CSS support. IE7 isn’t perfect, but is far better for browsing than IE6. This is a link to the stand-alone version I use for website design and cross-browser testing. The original MS IE7 is here.
  • Stand-alone (multiple) IE browsers (Windows) This install puts Internet Explorer versions 3-6 on your computer each in stand-alone versions. I wrote about its potential for cross-browser design and code testing here.
  • Camino (Mac) Mozilla Power, Mac Style. From their own website: “The Camino Project has worked to create a browser that is as functional and elegant as the computers it runs on.”
  • Flock Browser (Windows and Mac) Powered by Mozilla, this is the “Social Networking Browser” that has lots of features specifically targeted toward staying connected on social networks.
  • SeaMonkey (Windows and Mac) Powered by Mozilla, this is an Internet Suite: web-browser, advanced e-mail and newsgroup client, IRC chat client, and HTML editing made simple — all your Internet needs in one application.

Browser Extensions and Plugins

  • Firebug for Firefox Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of web development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page.
  • ColorZilla for Firefox Advanced Eyedropper, Color Picker, Palette Viewer and other colorful goodies for your Firefox.
  • Delicious Firefox Buttons to save links to your account from the page you’re on. Similar versions available for Safari and Opera below.
  • Delicious Safari
  • Delicious Opera
  • FlashPlayer The Adobe Flash Player is software for creating and viewing animations and movies using computer programs such as a web browser; in common usage, flash lets you put animation and movies on a web site.
  • ShockWave Player Shockwave Player displays Web content that has been created by Adobe Director, necessary for some videos and animations.
  • Quicktime Apple’s video player, used often for movie trailers and other videos. A necessary download. Video trailers available here.
  • Java Java allows you to play online games, chat with people around the world, calculate your mortgage interest, and view images in 3D, just to name a few. It’s also integral to the intranet applications and other e-business solutions that are the foundation of corporate computing.

Web Development Tools

  • TextWrangler (Mac) Combined with CyberDuck FTP, it makes my development work so much smoother. “TextWrangler is a very capable text editor. Among other things, it can open files from (and save them) to remote FTP and SFTP servers, offers a significantly more powerful grep engine, supports multi-byte and non-Roman text files, can perform Find Differences on pairs of files or folders, and can be invoked from the Unix command line.”
  • CyberDuck (Mac) Cyberduck is an open source FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Mosso Cloud Files and Amazon S3 browser for the Mac. Combined with TextWrangler for Mac, it is unbeatable for webdesign work.
  • Filezilla (Windows and Mac) The BEST FTP client for Windows. FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface.
  • Notepad++ (Windows) Notepad++ is a free source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages and allows saving files into multiple formats.
  • Nvu (Windows and Mac) Nvu makes creating web pages as easy as using a word processor and rivals such programs as Adobe’s Dreamweaver and Microsoft’s Expression Web, only for free! With Nvu’s built-in site manager, connecting to your website and making changes is a snap.
  • Top Style Lite (Windows) Looking for a powerful tool for creating standards-compliant sites? Consider TopStyle, written by the creator of HomeSite, the world famous HTML-editor. Top Style Lite is only a CSS editor, the full version includes XHTML and HTML.
  • ColorPic (Windows) Pick any color from any part of your screen using a magnifier. It shows the color and the RGB Hex# value.
  • MAMP (Mac) The abbreviation “MAMP” stands for: Macintosh, Apache, Mysql and PHP. With just a few mouse-clicks, you can install Apache, PHP and MySQL for Mac OS X! MAMP installs a local server environment in a matter of seconds on your Mac OS X computer. It’s great to test drive some programs that require these programs, such as WordPress, before actually uploading your blog to the Internet.
  • Eclipse (Windows and Mac) Although not really for web development specifically, it is the Java development platform that my team used for my Senior Design class at the University of Wyoming to build a map viewing application similar to Google Earth that we called “TerraViewer.”

Design Tools

  • GIMP (Windows and Mac) The “free Photoshop” with nearly as many features as Photoshop. Many plug-ins can be downloaded to enhance its abilities. The only real set-back is it doesn’t support CMYK colors for printing (only RGB for on-screen stuff).
  • Inkscape (Windows and Mac) A powerful and free vector graphics drawing utility.
  • The following software speak for themselves as they are part of Adobe’s line-up of powerful design tools. Each of them has a 30-day free trial before requiring the purchase of a license key, and they are all well worth the 30-day look (and the purchase of a license afterward).
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Flash
  • Dreamweaver

Media Tools

  • Audacity (Windows and Mac) A free audio editor that has may features. I’ve used it extensively for cutting music for movies, church, dance teams, and personal use. Good for mixing, cutting, adding effects and enhancing any sound waves.
  • libmp3lame (Windows and Mac) Audacity’s required plug-in to allow exporting in MP3 format.
  • iTunes (Windows and Mac) Listen and subscribe to Podcasts, browse the Music or Movies stores, search for your favorite artists.
  • K-Lite Media Player and Codec pack (Windows) The BEST codec pack for Windows. Installation of this and the Media Player allows me to view ANY video in ANY format.
  • VLC (Windows and Mac) A nice video player that has excellent codec support and play any video I give it. Lightweight and simple as well.
  • Miro (Windows and Mac) Another nice video player with a few more features than VLC, including feeds and channels. It also plays any video I send it.
  • Burn4Free (Windows) A nice, simple CD or DVD burner for Windows. One of the very few (and working) burners I’ve found for Windows.
  • Handbrake (Windows and Mac) This allows ripping of DVDs to digital format for saving on your computer. It also includes (at least the Mac version) optimization features for saving to iPod or Apple TV (if I remember rightly).
  • Media Coder (Windows) This coder will change videos to different formats on Windows. I’ve not tried it myself yet.
  • Winamp (Windows) A great, lightweight media player for windows with plenty of features, keyboard shortcuts and other goodies.
  • MacTheRipper (Mac) A nice DVD-ripper for the Mac. Unfortunately, the official site wasn’t working when I wrote this, so I posted an alternate link instead.
  • iSquint (Mac) A great video conversion tool for Mac that optimizes any video for iPod use.
  • Videora (Windows) This tool has tons of video converters for iPods, cellphones, and nearly any other handheld devices you can think of. Worth a look.
  • Flip4Mac (Mac) Allows me to play Windows Media Video (WMV) files on my Mac.
  • Growl (Mac) Growl lets Mac OS X applications unintrusively tell you when things happen. Used with iTunes it pops up the next song that plays. With Adium it pops up instant messages I receive. And I’m sure there are plenty more features I’ve not played with yet.

Office and Images

  • Open Office (Windows and Mac) Hands down the BEST free office suite out there. It is compatible with MS Office (opening and saving) and rivals MS Office in its ease of use and features (especially given MS’s latest incarnation of office that completely changed the menus and location of menu items). Users familiar with MS Office and unhappy with the latest version or not wanting to pay a lot for an office suite would do well to install this one (FREE).
  • Abiword (Windows and Mac) A simple, but powerful text editor, very much like MS Word, yet faster.
  • Xee (Mac) Xee is useful as a more powerful replacement for Preview, or most any other image viewer available on Mac OS X. It is very fast, and uses less memory than most other image viewing tools. Only problem is, it doesn’t allow printing (at least not yet).
  • Picasa (Windows and Mac) Google’s great image viewer, editor, and photo album that lets me enhance images with a single click. Online PicasaWeb Albums are available here.
  • PosteRazor (Windows and Mac) Make your own poster! The PosteRazor cuts a raster image into pieces which can afterwards be printed out and assembled to a poster.

Utility Tools

  • Winrar (Windows primarily, Mac command line only) A nice unzipper app for .zip and .rar files. Shareware I think.
  • Winzip (Windows) Another good unzipper.
  • UrarX (Mac) The BEST Mac unzipper app handling multiple file formats (and speedy too).
  • Azureus (Vuze) (Windows and Mac) -> requires Java. This is a slick torrent downloader that also has a “guide” similar to the iTunes music store.
  • BitLord (Windows) My torrent downloader of choice for Windows. Simple, and speedy.
  • Adaware (Windows) The BEST program to remove ads and ad programs from a Windows machine.
  • Spybot (Windows) Another great spyware and adware remover for Windows. It also offers immunization from thousands of threats and Internet Explorer live protection.
  • Quicksilver (Mac) At first glance, Quicksilver is a launcher. When opened, it will create a catalog of applications and some frequently used folders and documents. Activate it, and you can search for and open anything in its catalog instantly. The search is adaptive, so Quicksilver will recognize which items you are searching for based on previous experience. It also supports abbreviations, so you can type entire words, or just fragments of each. When not in use, Quicksilver vanishes, waiting for the next time you summon it.

Fun Stuff

  • Google Earth (Windows and Mac) Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. I use it to track (approximate) distances for running and biking around town.
  • SONY eBook Library (Windows) I use this for my SONY Reader 700. Great little device and nice software for transferring books to the reader.
  • Zinio (Windows and Mac) This software downloads magazines (like Men’s Health) to my computer and allows me to read them from my computer. Great for me to get the latest English magazines while I’m living in Korea.
  • Adium (Mac) An extensive chat client for Mac that lets me see ALL my contacts in the same place: Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and many more.

Operating System Stuff

  • FlyAKite OSX (Windows) This software installs a MacOSX look-and-feel to Windows. It’s so nice to not have the ugly Windows “Start” starring me in the face every time I turn on the Windows machine I use.
  • WinXP SP3 A necessary download for updating many security and usability features for Windows XP. Also necessary to change languages in WinXP.
  • Change WinXP languages Let’s not forget that sometimes changing Windows languages can be an extremely wonderful thing. After changing mine from Korean to English, I was more able to do anything I wanted on my computer without the hindrance of attempting to decipher Korean.
  • PortableApps (Windows USB) Finally, let’s not forget the SUPERB application for a USB key that will allow me to carry my favorite programs with me to any other Windows computer. It’s great in Korea to take me favorite FTP, design, or office programs from one Internet Cafe to another and I never have to worry about whether or not the computers have the right programs available for me to do my work with.
  • 100 Portable Apps for Windows and Mac Last but not least, let me provide a link to 100 great portable apps for Windows and Mac. If there is something you need to be portable, chances are it will be in this list. Additionally, this list may provide more useful applications that I’ve not mentioned here.

Well, there you have it. My (extensive) list of software that I routinely install onto any new computer or fresh installation of the Windows or Mac operating systems. These are all programs that I use regularly (or at least enough to know that my life would be far more difficult without them) and I highly recommend their use. Most of these are free and open-source and and great for anyone looking for great software on a budget (i.e. FREE).

Hope you enjoyed this list! Let me know what you think!

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