April 28, 2011

New mac user, looking for good applications

MacBook Air hands on #1Image by Dan_H via FlickrI recently made the switch to a Macbook Air. I didn't make this decision lightly. I have been so far a power user of Windows. I swear Win 7 is the best OS out there. The reason of the switch is related to lack of hardware of decent quality shipping with windows installed on it. There are no highly portable laptops out there worth their salt against the Macbook Air. Yes Samsung is coming up with a great line of products, and I hope it's very successful, I will revisit my decision when I can get my hands onto one of those machine.

As a new user I had to start over the setup, and learn to use new tools. All my stuff is in the clouds so I user plenty of web interface, so transition for me is not a big deal, since I get to reuse the same web interfaces.
I thought I would share with you three tools I find very useful in my day to day.

Gmail application helper:
I'm an big gmail user, and I love the priority inbox. The drawback of gmail for me is
  1. its web interface lack integration with the desktop
  2. offline email on the mac is not supported out of the box
I looked for alternative clients, and none could offer really a solution to the problem above. I stumbled on Mailplane. It's a gmail client with additional capabilities. It allows for drag and drop of files onto a message I'm composing, and the file is automatically attached. Through a hoop it also allows for offline email work using gear.

Google Doc sync:
At the office we use google doc to store files centrally and facilitate collaboration. Google Doc is a great tool, as long as you're connected. With memeo connect all the files that are shared with you are now automatically synced to your local hard drive. This is fantastic when you need to be on the road from time to time, gone are the days when I needed to remember what files I was going to work on, with memo they are already local with the latest version!

Google Calendar helper:
The fact is web application on the mac is not as straight forward, Gears not being supported is a problem. I don't want to use Firefox, so prism is out the window, it didn't work very well for me anyway. To have access to my calendar readily I have installed calendarbar. The utility allows me to see what my next few days are like, without having to find the browser window with my calendar in it. When I need to make changes or consult more in-depth I click on one event and it takes me to the google calendar in a browser window.
For other utilities, I refer you to lifehacker's top 10 micro apps for windows and mac! and If you have other suggestions, by all means this is what comments are for!

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Dan M said...

Browser choices on the Mac are interesting. For a while there was a really good culture of constantly-evolving Mac-only browsers, but that has really dried up in the past 4 or 5 years (all the browser innovation these days is coming from the major players).

Firefox generally performs poorly in OSX, but Chrome does quite well. Safari isn't half-bad either, but the UI takes a little more getting used to and I don't really like how it manages tabs when more than 10 or so are open.

Personally I leave Safari open all the time with the 7 or 8 tabs I constantly need open, but Chrome is my default browser and serves all my general-poking-around-online needs.

Hope you like the Air!

Francis said...

I really like Notational Velocity. It is a lightning fast text editor that lets you manage a small number of notes in plain text. I sync it to Dropbox so that I can use IA Writer on my iPad to edit the same notes.

I am also a big fan of 1Password to manage the multitude of logins that I keep everywhere on the web. It can also sync with dropbox and the iPhone/Android app.

Frederic Boulanger said...

I use Chrome all the time, Safari didn't but it for me. I wish Gears support was simpler to come by on the Mac!

Frederic Boulanger said...

@francis, thanks! I will give a shot to Notational! and 1Password. Kewl stuff.

@francis & @Dan_m - anyway to hotkey the icons in the top right corner? for example I want to open skype menu with hotkeys?

Ryan H said...

If you were simply looking for better hardware and love Win 7, I'm curious why you didn't just install Win 7 on your MacBook Air as the base OS.

Frederic Boulanger said...

@Ryan H Great question, the answer is I did do just that for a few months at the beginning. I wasn't comfortable dumping Win7 altogether. Win7 worked flawlessly on the MacBook air. What made me switch is the battery life, I get more juice from my machine running MAcbook air than Win7.