The Best of the Mac App Store
Just a few of weeks ago the Mac App Store opened and it’s fair to say we love it. Just like the iTunes App Store, it makes it really easy to find and install great tools. With just one click you can select and install new software. There is a good mix of free and paid apps and it’s dead easy to see what users think of them with the classic star rating system. We do like Apple here at Tech Towers, but they don’t get everything right. For instance, iTunes is slow, bloated and unintuitive but the Mac App Store is fabulous. You link your iTunes account to the Mac App Store so making payments is built-in and you don’t have the pain of credit card details once you’re setup.
Our Mac App Store Best Buys
Pixelmator is a fantastically designed image editor. I use Photoshop, and that is the choice of most design professionals, but at £650 a license, it’s really only going to make sense for people who use it day in day out. At just £17.99, Pixelmator supports layers, filters, effects, importing and exporting, of all the common image formats, including psd’s. It’s not 100% compatible with photoshop PSD’s and you will notice you loose effects and styling, so beware. For the price, it has the most important image editing features, it’s a lot easier to use than Photoshop and is a great place to start if you need a good image editor.
Alfred is a quick launcher – a simple search bar, that pops up when you press a keyboard shortcut for finding local files, emails, applications, bookmarks and websites. Once you get used to this way of working, you soon find yourself using the mouse a lot less and getting things done a lot quicker. It’s a free tool but with the option to buy a Powerpack for £12, that gives you file system navigation, clipboard history and an an iTunes mini player among other things. Quick launchers aren’t for everyone and it’s something I have only recently started using. But it’s already saving me time and RSI and it’s free.
This is one tool that I really didn’t know about until the Mac App Store thrust it in my face. It’s a dead simple mind-mapping tool that’s incredibly intuitive. This is a task that I usually use pencil and paper for, and a sketch pad most definately still has its place. It makes me think more creatively. Having said that MindNode is a fantastically lightweight, simple tool to use, so you can keep your mind on the valuable thought process, rather than concentrating on how to use the software.
Evernote is a neat note taking service. Take notes using text, voice, web links or images and have it all stored in one place online. The notes can be easily organised, searched and shared. There is a really nice web interface, smartphone apps and now a very tidy and free Mac app. So if you are as forgetful as I am then Evernote is worth a try. Especially, as the free account is pretty generous.
Angry Birds is everywhere and one of the biggest success stories on the iPhone. It’s a massively addictive and fun game and now it’s available on your Mac.
If you want to capture videos of what’s happening on your computer screen then this is probably the simplest tool for the job. Whether it’s for customer support videos, tutorials or marketing videos or screen-casting, it is a useful tool for web application and software vendors and trainers. We also like Screenflow, which has more editing features, but a much higher price tag. But if you want a simple to use product for screen capture, then give Screenium a go and use iMovie to edit the movie afterwards.