James Mardell

Nesting in OS X

2013-05-09

James' list of his favourite applications for Mac OS X.

Mac App Store

  1. Xcode (Free) A reasonable IDE for C development, although the interface is a bit clumsy when dealing with external libraries. The Command Line Tools are a dependency for other software, and used to reside on the installation DVD. Nowadays you can find these tools by opening XCode, click Preferences then Downloads. This will install GCC and other build utilities.

  2. TextWrangler (Free) Fantastic text editor with built-in support for SFTP connections and a good find and replace tool. I also like the automatic tabbing and visual warnings for unmatched brackets. Installing extra themes is a chore, but the default is reasonable. For the Mac App Store version, you need to install TextWrangler’s Command Line Tools separately (notice a trend?) from the Bare Bones Software FAQ. This additional package gives you the ability to use edit on the terminal for when Vim has got too much.

  3. Tweetbot for Twitter (£13.99) The best Twitter client of them all. Synchronises with their iPhone and iPad applications over iCloud and supports lots of different Twitter services. Very slick and intuitive user-interface. This is indeed fourteen quid better than the official Twitter application, also available in the Mac App Store.

  4. Clear (£4.99 at time of writing) A simple to-do list application with iCloud synchronisation support with the iPhone application. The interface doesn’t translate from the touchscreen to a touchpad as smoothly as I hoped, but the interface is unique and simple.

  5. Keynote (£13.99) One of the better presentation editors available. PowerPoint is fairly good nowadays, although it does produce bland-looking slideshows. Keynote presentations always seem to look good, no matter how ham-fisted you are. Good synchronisation through iCloud with the iPhone/iPad application.

  6. Caffeine (Free) I rarely use this application, but it’s useful to have when you need your notebook to stay awake.

External sources

By default, Mountain Lion will only allow Mac App Store applications to be run. To remove this restriction, open System Preferences and click Security & Privacy. On the first tab, General there’s a set of radio-buttons to configure this. This style of default option is a worrying trend with Apple software, although at least the option still exists.

  1. iTerm2 (Free) The best terminal emulator on OS X. A good full-screen mode, with split panes and good theme support. Download the Zenburn theme from the unofficial Iterm2-color-schemes website.

  2. Homebrew (Free) A good package manager for OS X. Unlike MacPorts or Fink, my current installation of Homebrew has yet to break. Administrator privileges are not required, and Homebrew also lets you add additional configure commands onto your installations, such as brew install imagemagick --use-tiff to compile ImageMagick with TIFF support.

  3. git (Free) Slightly better than SVN, but more widely used. Xcode includes this, but I prefer to download the latest version because I rely upon it to such a degree.

  4. oh-my-zsh (Free) OS X includes ZSH, so all you need is this to get going. That and git.

  5. Omnigraffle ($59.99 from the Edu Store, £69.99 from the Mac App Store) As a student you can save £30 by purchasing this directly from The Omni Group. This is the only diagramming package that matters. Accept no imitations.

  6. DropBox (Free) It just works.

  7. MacTeX (Free) A extremely well polished LaTeX environment, providing several GUI applications such as BibDesk (a refined reference manager), LaTeXiT (drag and drop LaTeX equations onto other applications such as Omnigraffle or Keynote and double-click them to edit) and TeXShop (a very well organised LaTeX editor, albeit one that makes it difficult to begin from a blank document).

  8. coconutBattery (Free) A useful battery degradation monitor. Use it to take snapshots to establish whether you’re prematurely killing your notebook’s battery.

Other Applications