Every I know has compiled a list of some sort, top 10 films, top 10 girlfriends, top 10 top 10s.

Here's my top 10. The Mac apps that are absolute essentials to the daily running of my Mac a little review of each app. To offer some context, I'm a web programmer dabbling in some application programming.

So, in no particular order:

I was going to rate each of these apps, but I found myself giving them all 5 out of 5. I will say that TextMate is my 100% top essential app, but I'll go in to more detail on that in a second.

So that's what I think - what about you? What apps couldn't you live without? Drop me a comment.

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  • What: Text editor for almost any programming language
  • Type: 30 day trial / around €40
  • Homepage: macromates.com

I am a huge fan of TextMate, so this review is going to be very bias. Firstly I don't go out of my to find software I depend on every day that I have to pay for, but after 30 days of trialing the software I was in no doubt that it was the editor I had been looking for.

Just some of the features (that I in particular use):

  1. Snippets - a piece of text that inserts in to your document. It can run code and use variables, includes placeholders and can perform transactions on the placeholders.

  2. Commands - a function, that could be triggered by a keyword then the tab key, that inserts or manipulates text using any programming language (e.g. ruby, or shell scripting or Perl).

  3. Keyboard nav - navigate your project or document with ease: jump to functions, quickly find a command (out of hundreds), auto-complete a variable or function within your script, auto-complete via snippets (you'll never type a right bracket or quote again!).

Strongly recommend browsing the help and watching some of the screencasts, I'm still learning new things about the app even a year on (check out the help file - it's full of useful info).


  • What: Multi-protocol chat app
  • Type: Freeware
  • Homepage: adiumx.com

MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Google, it's got it. Good looking, skinnable and totally customisable chat client.

Adium's site also hosts a huge collections of plugins - I enjoy the Shakespeare insults!


  • What: Missing date status menu* app

  • Type: Shareware / $19

  • Homepage: objectpark.net

  • The status menu is the menu in the top left.

Useful popup calendar for the status menu, driven entirely from the iCal calendars. Shows a little drop down of the month with a list (and search feature) of the upcoming events and tasks.


  • What: Keep one eye on your system's resources from the status menu
  • Type: Freeware / open source
  • Homepage: ragingmenace.com

Multi-featured monitor status menu app. I normally watch my CPU on my laptop, shown as a little ticking graph and usage percentage. Also includes memory usage, network traffic and disk IO.

The developer also offers the source code which makes some interesting digging around if you're interested how the app works.


The lucky people who have got their hands on the Intel Macs have the benefit of two finger scroll. Now, thanks to this preference app, we PPC users have the two finger scroll.

Full featured and customisable - you even have two finger click = right mouse button. Oddly, or sadly, the about tab doesn't show anything other than the version and the developer's name - but essential app none the less.

Sizzle Keys

  • What: Global shortcuts for iTunes
  • Type: Donate-ware
  • Homepage: yellowmug.com

Whilst in any app, I will press ctrl+cmd+space (my customised keys) to pause or start my music. I can skip, jump to a track, change the volume or drop the volume - like when I've got a phone call.

All shown in a customisable floater/bezel. My only grip is I can't click the floater to make it go away (though it's only shown for a short customised few seconds).


  • What: Status menu count of unread emails
  • Type: Freeware
  • Homepage: queuesoft.jp

I keep my dock hidden on my laptop to increase the screen real-estate, so this tiny status menu app tells me when I've got new mail.

Note that I've not tried Growl, but this is a fully featured notify type app that can do this job very well too.


Simple to use, drag and drop upload client. Supports FTP, FTP on SSL and most importantly SFTP. There are a number of other secure upload clients, but this is definitely the easiest to use.


A plugin for Mail that I installed almost two years ago and haven't looked at again. It sits quietly in the background filtering my incoming email and moving junk to the junk folder (marking it in red so I know JunkMatcher moved it rather than Apple's built in junk filtering).

It also has a powerful regex filtering frontend that you can modify to your own liking - personally I left it alone to do the job itself.


  • What: Video player of near-all formats
  • Type: Freeware
  • Homepage: videolan.org

Powerful multi-format video player. When QuickTime is being a little jumpy, I always switch to VLC for a smooth playback. It also renders better, in particular WMV files - when run in full screen in Windows Media Player can often look blocky, but VLC's full screen version is perfectly smooth.

Only gripe is occasionally it can't play some WMV formats - but 95% of the time it's perfect for the job.