In this article I’ll take a look at the best Mac software available in 2011. I’ll focus on two primary areas that affect almost everyone today, browsers and office productivity apps, and then take a look at the impact of the Apple’s new Mac App Store.
“What’s the best Mac browser” is a tough question, as technologies are constantly changing, and the capabilities of Mac browsers depend on their plugins. But at the time of this writing my favorite three Mac browsers, in sorted order, are:
Firefox Google Chrome Safari, from Apple
While Firefox is a bit slower than Chrome these days, there are hundreds of great, mature Firefox plugins available for you to choose from. These plugins can help turn Firefox from an ordinary browser into a browser that can do all sorts of things, including block pop-up ads, hide other ads, download photos and videos, and much, much more.
Google Chrome is the new kid on the block, and therefore it tends to be faster than Firefox, but doesn’t have as many plugins available.
I don’t actually like Apple’s Safari browser very much, but it’s one really terrific feature is its “Reader”. With the press of a button, the Reader reformats your view of a web page so it’s much easier to read than normal.
Depending on your needs and personal preferences, the best office apps these days are:
Microsoft Office Apple iWork Open Office
If you like the look and feel of Microsoft Office, and compatibility with Microsoft Windows Office files is important to you, Microsoft Office for Mac can be a good choice. A few years ago I wouldn’t have recommended Office because of its high price, but these days the price has dropped to under $100 or $200, making it a much more affordable price for your Mac.
The thing that has made Microsoft drop their Office prices is the iWork suite of office apps from Apple. Over the last few years iWork has improved dramatically while also keeping their prices very low. If you just want to buy Apple’s spreadsheet program named Numbers, it’s currently available for $19.99, or you can buy their iWork suite of apps for one Mac for $79 or less, or buy a five-user family pack for less than $100. These are the Mac “office” apps I use.
Finally, if you prefer your office apps be free, take a look at Open Office. While these office apps feel clunky to me, their price of “free” has its own appeal.
The Mac App Store
In the last ninety days Apple has changed the Mac applications landscape dramatically by offering all sorts of great third-party Mac applications from one convenient storefront. Through the Mac App Store you can find all sorts of great Mac apps, including:
Presentation apps like Keynote. Image editors like Pixelmator. Drawing apps like SketchBook Pro. Fun Mac apps like Angry Birds. Many, many more.
The Mac App Store works a lot like iTunes, and if you want to use it, you need to download the Mac App Store application to your Mac. You can download this application from Apple at this URL.
Best Mac Software – Summary
As mentioned, Apple just changed the “Best Mac Software” landscape, and in the near future you won’t have to search Google or Amazon for the best Mac software. Instead you can just look at the Mac App Store to find the top-selling Mac software apps, which should make life much easier for developers and end-users.