My essential Mac applications, part 3

I recently bought a new iMac computer, and I installed about 30 different applications on the first day. They are applications I consider essential (or at least mighty desirable for my purposes). On Wednesday I talked about programs 1-5, and on Thursday I covered programs 6-10. Today I'm describing programs 11-16. Next week I'll describe the other 15 applications.

easycrop.jpg11. EasyCrop (OS X, $11.95) David told me about this utility, which he uses to crop pictures before running them on Boing Boing. I downloaded the demo version and after using it for a few minutes I went ahead and bought it. Now when I need to crop and resize a photo, I drag it into the EasyCrop icon, tweak the rotation if necessary, specify the area I want to crop (I've set up a width and height constraint for the cropped images so that they are always the right size) give it a name, and then drag the live preview of the cropped image into an FTP droplet to upload to Boing Boing. That's it; mission accomplished.

ical-viewer.jpg12. TimeWorks (OS X, $9.99) TimeWorks used to be called iCal Viewer, but the developer had to change its name because it included "iCal," and I guess Apple got mad. In any case, TimeWorks displays my iCal data as colored boxes on my desktop that drift towards a vertical finish line (which is the current time). This is an intuitive way for me to get a time-based feel for what's coming up on my calendar. I can look at iCal viewer by pressing the F8 key, and I also have it set up as my screensaver. Clicking on one of the boxes brings up the iCal application and highlights the day on which the event takes place. (I'm still using the iCal Viewer version and I don't plan to upgrade to TimeWorks. I've been using it for years and I don't need anything from it that it doesn't already offer.)


itivo-logo.jpg13. iTivo (OS X, free) iTiVo lets me download television shows from my TiVo to my iMac. It also converts the video files to a variety of formats, including the format that works with the iPhone, the iPad, and Apple TV. I use it mainly to download kids' programs so my seven-year-old daughter has something to watch when we go on a long car drive or a flight. One of iTiVo's nice features is the ability to subscribe to television shows, so that episodes automatically download. The application also syncs the episodes with iTunes. An experimental feature that removes television commercials from the episodes is available, but I haven't tried that yet.

Unfortunately, iTiVo is not as useful today as it was a couple of years ago, because more and more networks are putting a copyright protection flag on their television programs, making it impossible for iTiVo to download the programs from my TiVo. Does anyone know of an application that can work around the stupid copyright flag on TiVo?

listen&type-logo.jpg 14. Listen&Type (OS X, $20) When I interview someone for a magazine article, I generally use a digital recording device, such as my iPhone or my Olympus WS-110 digital voice recorder. I used to play these digital files using QuickTime or iTunes, but it was a pain in the neck to transcribe the speech into text because I had to keep switching back and forth between the audio player and the text editor.

In 2004, a Boing Boing reader named Mason told me about Listen&Type. It's a great way to play back recorded interviews for transcription. Here's why: (1) I don't have to switch back and forth between iTunes and a text editor to stop and start the recording. Listen&Type lets me set up keyboard commands so I can stop and start the audio without leaving my text editor. (2) I can skip back 5 seconds by entering a keyboard command, a feature I use a lot. There are some other functions, too, such as marking, but features 1 and 2 made me an instant and lifelong fan of Listen&Type.

ripIt-logo.jpg15. RipIt (OS X, $24.95) I like HandBrake and have it on my iMac, but RipIt is so easy-to-use that it's my main way for converting DVDs to files that I can play on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. It really couldn't be simpler to use: I insert a DVD into my iMac's disk drive and click the "Compress" button. RipIt goes to work, ripping the movie file, compressing the file into a format playable on mobile devices, and copying it to iTunes. The great thing about watching movies that have been processed with RipIt is that my family and I don't have to endure all the pre-roll crap they force you to watch on a DVD by locking out the skip-forward function on the remote. Also, I don't have to deal with the clunky navigation interfaces that DVDs use to select different scenes or access special features. I just want to watch the damn movie. RipIt is a godsend.