Clean Start with a New Mac

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2010-04-24) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

I finally got a new 17” MacBook Pro to replace both my aging 15” MBP and Mac Pro. Essentially, I see it as the MBP is my new desktop, and if I need to be truly portable, I’ve got the iPad — partially to help minimize the amount of physical possessions, and partially because my old 1st-gen MacBook Pro was woefully out of date. I don’t think I’ve ever held on to a laptop for three years running, but looking back on it now, I’m sort of proud that I did.

Moving forward with the new machine, I made the decision that I would not just automatically transfer my user data over from the old machine, but actually pick and choose the apps and data that I would move over. I’m sure there’s a ton of cruft in my old machines, probably going back a decade or more, so what better time to make a clean start of it?

So, in the interest of recommending the apps that I found invaluable enough to reinstall right away (not to mention creating a reminder for myself for future reference), here’s the apps I found myself installing within hours of opening the shiny white box:

  • Handbrake to rip DVDs. Used mainly as a test of the new 2.66 GHz i7’s abilities.
  • Dropbox for easy local access to my Dropbox account. Free with Dropbox.
  • Mailplane for decent desktop Gmail access. $24.95.
  • Growl for notifications — especially handy when paired with Prowl for iPhone. Free.
  • iStat Menus to keep tabs on my Mac’s vitals, not to mention a great time/date replacement for the menubar that allows easy viewing of iCal events. Interesting to note that iStat displays the CPU stats for the i7 as a quad-core, even though it’s truly a dual-hyper-threaded dual-core. $10.
  • LaunchBar app launcher and script trigger. $35.
  • 1Password, which has become indispensable for not only password management, but for managing all sorts of sensitive information. In my experience, syncs flawlessly with a shared database file on Dropbox. $39.95
  • Tweetie, my current desktop Twitter client of choice, and presumably soon to become the official Twitter for Mac client, with Twitter’s recent acquisition of Atebits. $19.95.
  • Versions Subversion client for development. €39.
  • VLC media player. Also required to decode CSS-protected DVDs for ripping with Handbrake. Free.
  • ClickToFlash Flash blocker/manager. Free.
  • Knox, which allows you to create encrypted vault files on your Mac. Great for protecting sensitive client information. $34.95.
  • TextExpander typing shortcut and template utility. $34.95
  • Yojimbo information organizer. A great place to dump all that research material and snippets that you don’t know what to do with, so you can tag and easily find them later. $39.
  • Transmit, still the best FTP, SFTP and Amazon S3 client I know. $29.95.
  • TextMate, my text editor of choice for everything except what’s best done in Xcode. €39.
  • Hazel, a brilliant utility that automates cleaning my desktop, my downloads folder, and many other file management tasks. $21.95.
  • Little Snitch to keep tabs on communications launched from other apps (which may or may not be telling you when they phone home). $29.95.
  • Skitch screen capture an annotation tool. Free (for now — seems to be eternally in beta).
  • Awaken timer and alarm app, which helps me with the Pomodoro Technique. $10.
  • CoverSutra iTunes shortcut controller and client. $19.95.

Of course, this doesn’t include the big guns (Adobe Creative Suite, Final Cut Studio, Modo, Aperture, iWork, OmniApps, and sadly, Microsoft Office) that I’ll start installing tomorrow, but it’s a good representation of the little utili-apps that I use every day.