I recently installed the latest OS X installment called Mavericks, OS X 10.9 more precisely. My original idea was that this post was going to be about that but I now realize that there’s not much to be said about it really. From what I’ve understood there are slight improvements here and there, some new apps and most importantly optimization done to prolong battery life. This is what I like though, that they don’t try to revolutionize anything, rather make what’s already good better. Sometimes they get it wrong, like when they removed Spaces, but often they get it right.
From what I can tell the Calendar app looks better. You can now store your keychain in the cloud (maybe this was possible previously too). You get the Maps app so that you can explore Apple Maps from your computer, which is actually kind of neat. Exploring New York in 3D is pretty neat. Finder has tabs, something it should have had long ago. The OS has better support for multiple monitors, with menu bar support on all monitors, the ability to use an Apple TV as a secondary monitor (not only mirroring), mission control on individual monitors and so on. You also get the possibility to tag files so that you can find files tagged with a similar name wherever they are on the computer. Quite cool.
All in all it’s a good upgrade but I wouldn’t jump the wagon quite yet. Sometimes I get the spinning beach ball for no particular reason, like when using the menu bar or quick looking files. This never happened before. Quicktime seems to have worse support for files as it sometimes says that it needs to convert the file before viewing, this never happened before. Maybe I had installed additional codes, who knows. I’m sure all these things will get sorted eventually but yeah. As it stands now, Mountain Lion is just as good as Mavericks.
Now for the apps I want to recommend instead! 🙂
When Apple released Lion, version 10.7 of OS X, I was extremely disappointed that they had removed one of the best features from Leopard and Snow Leopard – Spaces. Instead they had this Mission Control thing that was meant to do the same thing. Sure, you had virtual desktops and all that but you couldn’t order them in the same grid that I’d gotten used to. Total Spaces solves this problem and it means that you can used the virtual desktops in the same way you could with Spaces. Total Spaces works with Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks.
This is a really nifty app that brings information about your computer to your menu bar. I use their date widget which is a lot better than the regular one, battery information, memory information, CPU information and network information. You can customize exactly the kind of widgets you want and how they will look. Highly recommended if you want to monitor what’s going on with your computer!
By now I guess you all already know what this is. Basically it’s cloud storage at a certain folder on your computer. When you place files or folders within this folder they automatically get synced to the Internet, in this case Dropbox servers hosted on Amazon S3 I think. Sure, there’s Google Drive as well but I prefer this one as I’ve gotten used to it. It’s easy to copy the public link if you place files in the Public folder and you automatically get photo albums if you place folders with photos in them in the Photos folder. Not to mention that pretty much everyone uses it so it’s great once you want to share a folder with someone.
Panic is one of my favorite developers of Mac applications. Transmit is an application that basically does your FTP stuff but it also has support for so much more and the interface is lovely with support for tabs, possibility to mount endpoints as volumes on your desktop and so on.
The aforementioned Panic also develops this app that is a godsend for us web developers. Sure, there are many alternatives and many that are equally good but I like the straightforwardness of this application. It also has a nice interface of course, as with many Mac applications. To be honest with you I haven’t moved over to version 2 yet, but all in due time. If you just want to get started coding and you’re not so into configuration and having everything exactly the way you want, you can’t go wrong with Coda. Otherwise I recommend checking Sublime out.
Another web developer must have. This is a free application and it makes talking with your MySQL database servers a real bliss. Import, export, query, creation, user management – it’s all done with ease and the interface is superb. Tab supported of course. And connection via SSH tunnel. Not sure it gets better than this unless you pay. Web alternative being phpMyAdmin.
I’m not 100% sure why I actually installed iTerm instead of using the regular Term application that comes with OS X. I think it was because the regular one lacked some functionality that I needed. Split panes is kind of nice for instance. In any case, if you’re not content with the one that comes bundled with the OS, try this one out!
Carbon Copy Cloner
This app is a godsend. It’s basically a backup software but I’ve been using it for making images and complete backups of my computer. Say for instance that you want to copy an installation of OS X to another computer, this application makes this super easy. Just plug an external drive to your computer, copy your bootup drive with CCC and then you’ll be able to boot using your external drive on any other computer. It also makes migration easy if you for instance are moving to an SSD drive. I’m sure you can do all of these things with regular command line trixory but it’s a lot easier this way. Plus it has some more nifty features as well.
For file backup to the cloud you can’t go wrong with Crashplan. I’ve detailed this application in a previous post but basically what this does is backing your selected files up to a specific destination. That destination can be an external drive, another computer on your network, another computer on the Internet (read a friend) or of course the cloud. It’s really cheap for unlimited amount of data backup as well and it keeps track of versions and so on.
Disk Inventory X
It doesn’t matter how big your hard drive is, it eventually gets filled up, right? Happens to me all the time. In that situation you either buy a new, bigger hard drive, you archive or you delete files. In either case it’s always good to know what files are taking up all that space and here Disk Inventory X comes to the rescue. It visually shows you what files are the biggest space bandits and you can then proceed to do whatever you want with them.
If you’re like me, and you like to fiddle around with different operating systems and environments, you’re going to love this app. It makes running a guest OS in your environment of choice a real breeze. I’ve been virtualizing Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Ubuntu using this software and it’s been working great every single time. And yeah, it’s free!
If you have lots of backuped up movies *cough* and you want to share these on your home network and possibly with your friends on the Internet this is the app for you. It has a server which runs on the computer where you have all your files, and it has clients with with you connect to the server to view your media files. There’s also a really neat web client that makes streaming possible to your favorite browser. Native clients exists for Mac, PC, Android and iOS. It’s super really!