My Favorites – Part IV – OS X Software (Part II)

Again, in no particular order, more of my favorites:

Parallels – If you’ve actually been reading this, than you’ve probably caught on to the idea that I really like my Mac. One of the things I most like about it is the ability to run Windows. There are many programs that are critical to my business which are Windows only. Additionally, there are some Windows programs that are simply better (in my humble opinion) than their Mac counterparts (Outlook). When I first looked at running Windows on the Mac, I tried Boot Camp. It was great. I was amazed at how quickly Windows XP responded, even after I loaded up a whole lot of software. One thing that I absolutely wanted, though, was the ability to flip back and forth without restarting the system. This meant that I had to look at virtualization software. I looked at Parallels first, as it was first to market, and became used to it’s interface. For more about my early impressions of Parallels, read my blog entry here. Parallels has integrated my Mac life and Windows life so seamlessly that I am able to flip back and forth effortlessly. Parallels is set to release version 4 of their product soon, though I can’t imagine how they’ll be improving it.

Pwnage Tool – While the iPhone is a fantastic tool, with a great deal of software available from Apple’s App Store, you still need to jailbreak the iPhone in order to unlock it’s full potential. One of the most useful features of a jailbroken iPhone is the ability to connect to it via FTP and retrieve phone messages for archive purposes. I am surprised that nobody has released an App Store program that does this more gracefully, but there might be something in the license agreement that forbids this. It seems like such an obvious (missing) feature to me. Who wouldn’t want to be able to archive their voicemails?

iPhoto – One of the things that drew me to the Apple platform was the fact that most of the productivity software the average consumer would need is included with the operating system. While iLife technically is not a component of OS X, it does come pre-loaded on every Apple computer. iPhoto is a fantastic program that makes it super simple to manage your pictures on the computer. The closest equivalent on the PC would be Google’s Picasa (also a great program), but what makes iLife so great is the solid integration between the suite of iLife programs. For every feature that is missing (the ability to synchronize iPhoto libraries, for example), there is a third party add-on that can do the trick.

iPhoto Library Manager – If you have more than one Mac, I highly recommend this iPhoto add-on. Well, it’s not so much an add-on as it is a utility that allows you to manage multiple iPhoto libraries with ease. At home, we typically import all family photos to the iMac in the kitchen. I use iPhoto Library Manager to copy newly imported or updated photos from the family iMac to my laptop, where I manipulate them and manage the family website (i.e. post photos of the kids for the family to see). This program handles the imports with ease, copying all meta-data and leaving out duplicates. It’s an easy way of ensuring that our personal pictures are always backed up.

Snapz Pro X – I wondered what applications people were using to create screen captures for tutorials. A google search revealed this little gem for OS X. I haven’t had time to play a whole lot, but I figured this would work pretty well for me, given that I can run just about any OS I want in a virtual machine through Parallels. If I get any good feedback or suggestions from clients, I will likely use this to create tutorials for the knowledgebase page of my site. To date, I have been posting links to other tutorials and knowledgebase articles on my site, mainly because the interface to add new kb articles is web-based (not my preference.) Here is an example of a screen capture I created which demonstrates how to Restart the Windows Print Spooler service under Windows XP.

There are a whole bunch more, so I’m going to continue to split Part IV into many smaller parts…

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