My best friend got a new MacBook and asked me what useful free software she should install. Well, this is my top list of what softwares I use regularly on my Mac. Most of them are open source and multi-platform, so you can get them for your Linux or (gulp) Windows machine too.
Firefox - the best web browser on Earth. Be sure to download the AdBlock add on, it’s so convenient! (You’ll never have to watch another stupid bachelor network add while looking for song lyrics.) Get it here.
NeoOffice - it’s OpenOffice for the Mac. You can also have OpenOffice on your Mac, but it runs with X11, and that bugs me. NeoOffice is an open source software that supports OpenOffice documents (.odt) and also Word (.doc), Excel (.xls) and PowerPoint (.ppt), and probably more! Friends don’t let friends pay for Microsoft Office. Get it here.
TeXshop - OK, this one is for typesetting geeks and scholars. It’s a nice interface for LaTeX, easy to learn and works great. For those of you who don’t use LaTeX to typeset your documents, well, you should. Learn why here. Get it here.
JabRef - a nice bibliography reference manager (again for scholars). It’s especially useful when writing a thesis or a scientific article (ahem! you know who you are…). It is actually an interface to edit a .bib file, so it’s very easy to make a bibliography with BibTeX afterwards. Get it here.
Latexit - a nice small application : you just type your LaTeX equation and it produces a pdf image ready to drag and drop in your Keynote or PowerPoint presentation. So useful! Get it here.
Freemind - a fantastic mind mapping software. It’s a high productivity tool. It is very useful to brainstorm and rearrange your ideas afterwards, or take note during a conference or a reunion. I use it every day and I (and some coworkers) swear by it. Get it here.
Quicksilver - an application launcher, and much more! It makes all those small tasks more efficient and saves you time everyday. It takes time to learn it and exploit it at it’s full capacity though. Get it here.
Inkscape - a vectorial drawing software. Nice for touching up all those great svg file you find on Wikipedia and drawing your own sketches (I used it a lot for illustrating my thesis). Get it here.
Skype - for making video conference calls with faraway friends or your thesis supervisor. Get it here.
VLC - a neat media player that reads most of the video files QuickTime or Window Media Player won’t. Get it here.
Perian - it’s not a software, but a “single package for all you playback needs”. It’s the most comprehensive library of QuickTime components, so QuickTime can read almost any video/audio files (but get VLC too, they are complementary). Get it here.
Frets on Fire - it’s like Guitar Hero, but open source. Sure your Mac is for work, but you have the right to relax a bit once in a while. Get it here.
Frozen Bubble - an addictive game reminiscent of the old school classic Breakout, but with cute penguins. Same comment as above! Get it here.