As promised last week, here is my list of favorite paid applications for Mac. While these are my own personal favorite apps, many of them are also great for new Mac users and recent switchers. Again, these are applications you have to pay for—I will cover favorite open source and freeware apps next week!
1. Scrivener. Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool created for writers of long texts such as novels, screenplays, and research papers. It bundles a bunch of writing tools into one application, and also offers full-screen editing, which is helpful for blocking out computer distractions. I love it. I do most of my long-form creative writing with Scrivener.
2. iWork ’09. iWork is a suite of office applications that includes Pages (word processor and page layout), Numbers (spreadsheet and simple database), and Keynote (presentation). iWork has a very robust feature set, is great for school or personal use, but is also powerful enough to for any size business. I use Pages and/or Numbers every single day at work.
iWork’s hidden strength is that it creates truly beautiful documents. Actually, I tend to think of Pages as a slimmed-down page layout program in the vein of Adobe InDesign or PageMaker. Also, iWork opens, edits, and saves Microsoft Office files.
3. iLife ’09. I love iLife, but was reluctant to include it here since most people get it free when they buy their Mac. However, many people end up buying iLife when new versions are released. iLife ’09 includes new versions of iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand, along with updated versions of iTunes, iWeb and iDVD. I’m also cheating including here because it’s actually a bundle of apps.
I use iTunes and iPhoto daily, and iMovie weekly. GarageBand and iDVD are used monthly (though I will be using GarageBand for podcasts this summer). In my experience, it truly is the best suite of consumer digital media creation and management tools.
4. Final Cut Studio. This is the reason I switched to Mac. Actually, the reason I switched was Final Cut Pro, which is now bundled into Final Cut Studio – along with Motion, DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack, LiveType2, Compressor and Color. Those are all incredible applications. Together they offer truly unprecedented power to anyone creating stories with moving images, for only $1299.99. My life actually changed direction when I started using Final Cut Pro, so I’ve got to rate it high on my list of favorite apps.
5. Adobe Photoshop Elements. Ok, I use the entire Adobe Creative Suite daily – that is, the full version of Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator, etc. However, I also frequently simply use Photoshop Elements. For a $79.99 program, it’s amazingly powerful – and easy to use. It’s also the perfect compliment to iPhoto. The two programs are designed to work together, and Elements has a massive amount of editing abilities. Elements has plenty of “one click” editing options that make it fast and easy to perform common edits. in my experience, many people who think they need Photoshop are better served (and will save a ton of money) by simply using Elements. However, if you buy Elements, you can always use it to later upgrade to the full version of Photoshop later for a slightly discounted price.
6. Coda. Coda is an amazing web design and development tool that costs $99 directly from Coda It offers a one-window text, CSS and HTML editor, a file transfer app (including FTP) , terminal access, web design books and how-to, live collaboration, and a library of web clips. This is a single app that replaces a whole bunch of stand-alone apps. I mostly use Coda for editing Wordpress templates. If you do web design or development, I highly recommend it. See Coda by clicking here.
7. Apple Logic Express 8. This has to be one of the biggest bang-for-buck programs ever produced. Logic Express has over 100 instrument plug-ins and effects that come right from Logic Studio. This is a powerful audio editor, mixer and instrument in its own right. If you’ve grown beyond GarageBand, then Logic Express is the—well, logical—program to consider. It has a professional interface that makes working with audio more efficient and easier than in GarageBand.
8. Rapidweaver. This is a program for easily creating high-quality, template-based websites. iWeb is also easy to use, but Rapidweaver is a little more flexible—and has a larger community of template, plugins, and themes. Rapidweaver is not as nearly powerful as other website / blog creation tools, but it’s fast, fun, and provides great results. It’s great for making a personal website, or a website for a small business, family or friend.
9. Things. Things is a task management application for Mac (with an iPhone app as well.) Like most of the other apps on this list, it’s both powerful and easy to use. It’s also rather expensive – $49.99. However, it has a beautiful user interface, and is the fastest program I’ve used for entering ideas the moment they pop into my mind. If you subscribe to the Getting Things Done philosophy, which empahsiszes getting ideas out your head and into an organized, action-oriented to-do list, definitely check out Things.
10. Quicken for Mac. Alright, this last application isn’t really fun. In fact, with the recent economic downturn it could be a little depressing. However, as the national financial mood changes from “spend” to “save”, applications such as Quicken have become increasingly useful. Quicken is a great personal financial management program for Mac. It allows you to connect to your credit card and banking institutions, so you have a clear idea of where your money is currently going, and should be going in the future. It truly simplifies and clarifies financial management. Money is a popular Mac alternative to Quicken, but I’ve never used it.
See “Quicken: here for $69.99
Honorary mentions for programs I admire, and recommend, but simply no longer use: Microsoft Office, Parallels, Final Draft 7.