My essential Mac applications, part 4

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). Last week I talked about programs 1-5, 6-10, and 11-15. Today, I'm discussing apps 16-20.

16. Scrivener (OS X, $(removed)) I've used Scrivener to write my two most recent books (Made By Hand and Rule the Web), and I'm completely sold on it. First of all, Scrivener is a top-notch word processor especially made for long-form writing. For each book, I created a chapter outline, which I was able access from a column on the left. It's a simple matter to rearrange the order of chapters, and I did this frequently throughout the writing process of my books. The full-screen editing format is a wonderful distraction-free way for me to write.

Second, Scrivener offers excellent research collection and organization tools. I was able to keep all of my notes, audio interviews, videos, and webpages that I came across in an organized outline that was also accessible from the left column.

Once I was finished the manuscript I used Scrivener to export the text as a Microsoft Word document in the format required by my publisher. This is one powerful application.

My wife is currently using Scrivener write a young adult novel, and she uses Scrivener's research tools to keep track of the characters in the novel. She uses the corkboard view to arrange virtual index cards, each containing a character description and back story.

I haven't yet tried out some of new features the that Scrivener offers, such as synchronizing project text with mobile apps such as SimpleText (which sounds really cool).


17. Switch (OS X, free) After looking around for a utility to reliably convert sound files of various formats into MP3 files, I came across Switch. This simple utility has successfully taken every sound file format I've thrown at it, and produced MP3 files. (Yes, I know about ffmpegX but I don't like it as much as I like Switch. YMMV.)


18. SuperDuper (OS X, $(removed))

Every evening at the same time, SuperDuper makes a scheduled bootable clone of my iMac's hard drive. I've been using SuperDuper for a number of years now, and it has saved my butt at least once a year (either from catastrophic drive failure or my own stupidity). The key strength of SuperDuper is that it makes a bootable backup, so if your system's hard drive fails, all you have to do is boot from the backup and you are back in business.

After SuperDuper makes its first backup (which can take hours), subsequent backups take just a few minutes because SuperDuper compares the differences between the source and target hard drives and updates only the changes.


19. Things (OS X, $(removed)) As far as to do lists/task managers go, 50 bucks is a lot of money. But for me, Things is worth the price. I use it to set up the projects I want to work on (the upcoming issue of Make, projects I'm working on for Boing Boing, personal and home projects, and other stuff) and then toss in all the tasks I need to do to complete each project. It's easy to set up recurring tasks, and I can tag, sort, and prioritize them to my heart's content. Each morning I like to click the "next" button and go through the list of stuff I have to do. Things also has an iPhone and iPad version, which syncs with the desktop version. Unfortunately, it doesn't do cloud syncing, and you have to pay extra for the iPhone and iPad versions. The company that makes Things promises to have a cloud syncing version sometime soon.

20. Transmit (OS X, $(removed)) I don't have a lot to say about Transmit, but that's probably a good thing. FTP application should be boring. Transmit does its job well and unobtrusively. I've created a droplet so I can drag images from a folder on my computer onto Boing Boing's file server, and I rarely use the application for any other purpose.