I’ve always collected large piles of software, especially shareware, for my computers. Part of me just likes that ‘underdog’ role of the small developer. But the uniquely cool thing about being a Mac user is there are some mind-blowingly awesome small Mac developers. Microsoft, Adobe, and Apple all have a large chunk of my hard drives and rightfully so given the large footprint they have in the Marketplace. But more and more the software I really lean on are these little bits I’ve collected over the years.
So inspired by the regular free and cheap picks on Lifehacker, here are some of my recommendations.
First place has to go to GraphicConverter, if for no other reason that I’ve owned it and used it longer than any other piece of software. Think I’ve had it since System7 on my first color Mac. I remember it could open Amiga graphic files – probably still can. Technically I probably own 27 copies of this in various versions.
Coming in at a close second is BBEdit. Owned that one for a while to, can’t remember when I first got it but it predates OS X by a while. Plus I love the “Software that doesn’t Suck” tagline.
An honorable mention to Dragthing which I used sometime starting with System 8 and is still on my machine. Unfortunately it has lost the battle to LaunchBar which continues to have new tricks I continue to learn. Recently started using the clipping history for copy and paste – very nice.
Around for a good long time as well is Fetch and Interarchy, two file transfer utilities I keep around for slightly different reasons. Fetch I still use to speed test downloads because I like the transfer rate displays. Interarchy (nee Anarchie) is an all purpose file utility that I use for Web site updates and backups. Its mirroring and Netdisk features are still the best bridge between a GUI and the Unix world of ftp/sftp. Fetch comes from the pedigree of Dartmouth college alongside some other great Mac Software like Intermapper. Interarchy was another University derived software effort started with Peter N. Lewis which begat Stairways Software and was joined by Andrew Tomazos.
Got to go back to the folks at BareBones, owned just about all their software too, Mailsmith, Yojimbo, in addition to BBEdit. And I could still be using them all with their free lifetime support.
A newer connection is the folks at SmileonmyMac who have a lot of great stuff but TextExpander just works like nothing else I have. It must be hard to sell a little utility like that but this is a lifesaver. And I’ve got it on my iPhone. PDFpen is also the best PDF tool on the Mac. The number of times I’ve had to deal with a form or document and I just type on it and paste in a TIFF of my signature – that is what paperless was supposed to be about. Own just about all their stuff too.
Almost last but not least a special bouquet to HourWorld – a classic example of Mac Shareware. It lasted from OS 9 to OS X and still works on the latest machines – all be it in Rosetta compatibility mode. This bit of work has been on my Macs, and around my family of Macs for over a decade, through 3 major process migrations and at least 4 operating system architectures under Classic Mac OS and OS X.
And I add an “In Memorandum” section to some old software houses that aren’t producing anymore. The folks at Cassidy and Greene who did iTunes before Apple did with SoundJam and the classic game Glider. A morsel of their work still survives with SpellCatcher. A nod to Karelia Software who did desktop search before there even really was search. And Arlo Rose the original Widget-teer before Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Face it if these folks can make something useful for less than $29.95 chances are I’m going to buy it. If for no other reason than they will probably take the $29.95 and make something even better with it. Oh and I probably paid about a million dollars for all those $29.95 pieces of sofware, wonder how far back the records at Kagi go?? Maybe I can find it in my Eudora mailbox somewhere.