IT’S been five years since I wrote about free software that new Mac users ought to be installing on their new machines, back when I was still running OS X 10.7 or Lion. I recently had the occasion to revisit the list, and thought it would be an opportune time to update it, given the many changes to the operating system since then.
All of the software on this list is free—showing once again that you can extend the capabilities of your Mac without spending a lot.
1. LibreOffice. Five years ago, the Mac didn’t come with a free productivity suite. Nowadays, Pages (Apple’s word processor), Numbers (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentation software) come free with every installation of macOS Sierra. For those who insist on using MS Office, however, you can subscribe to Office 365 for P2,599 a year or buy the Office Home & Student 2016 package for P5,199.
Or you can get LibreOffice for free.
LibreOffice is a feature-rich, multi-platform (there are versions for the Mac, Linux and Windows), MS Office-compatible productivity suite with its own word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc) and presentation software (Impress). There have been major improvements since LibreOffice spun off from OpenOffice in 2010, making this a no-brainer for new Mac users.
You can download the installer at the LibreOffice website (www.libreoffice.org) or install it through tha App Store by searching for LibreOffice Vanilla.
2. Firefox or Google Chrome. If, like me, you want a browser that works on multiple platforms, download and install Firefox (www.firefox.com) or Google Chrome (www.google.com/#q=chrome+for+mac) for your Mac. Both are excellent and the choice boils down to personal taste.
3. Dropbox. This free utility lets you save files to a Web server and automatically synchronizes them across all your computers. A cross-platform program, Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. With the program installed on my MacBook and a PC running Ubuntu Linux at home, I no longer have to save files I created on my notebook to a USB drive or e-mail them to myself to gain access to them on my desktop computer. Any file I save to the Dropbox folder is automatically made available to all my other registered devices.
4. MagiCal. MagiCal from Charcoal Design (www.charcoaldesign.co.uk/magical) is a nifty utility that I use every day. The program sits on the right side of the menu bar and shows a compact monthly calendar when you click on the icon. You can tear off the calendar and have it sit anywhere on your desktop.
5. Unarchiver. Unarchiver is a free file unpacker that supports more formats than the built-in Archive Utility on the Mac. Supported formats include Zip, Tar-GZip, Tar-BZip2, RAR, 7-zip, Lha and StuffIt.
6. Transmission. I used to like using uTorrent, then Deluge for torrent downloads but I’ve lately taken to the much lighter Transmission, a cross-platform BitTorrent client that runs natively on the Mac as well as Linux. (A version, Transmission-QT, caters to Windows users.) You can download Transmission from https://transmissionbt.com
7. Dr. Cleaner. Available as a free download on the App Store, Dr. Cleaner gives your Mac a performance boost by freeing up disk space and by also clearing up your Mac’s memory, two vital processes that can improve your system performance. Disk Clean purges useless cache files that can build up over time, empties out temporary download locations, deletes browser cache, cleans out your trash and completely removes all traces of an application that you want to uninstall. Memory Optimizer, on the other hand, purges unused memory and makes it available to your Mac’s processor, frees up unnecessary memory used by recent files that you are done with, and gives you an easy memory monitoring application to analyze your Mac’s memory usage.
8. NTFS driver. If you use an external drive, chances are it’s been formatted to the NTFS (NT file system) standard, which still isn’t natively supported on the Mac. To read and write to NTFS drives, you’ll need a driver, such as the Paragon Driver for Mac OS, a free utility for Seagate drives. I’ve been using this for years without a problem, but what if you use other external drives? You might want to try Tuxera (www.tuxera.com), an open-source read-write NTFS driver that works for the Mac as well as Linux systems. Chin Wong
Column archive and blog at: http://www.chinwong.com