As part of my ongoing migration process to the Mac, I need to find software to replace the stuff I normally used in Windows, so I thought it would be interesting to log most of the software that I can remember I downloaded over the past week to give it a try.
Pictures - Aperture seems more than nice program for pictures. I am test driving it for a month to decide if its huge cost is worth of my uses for the program. It seems no more worth the cost than Adobe's Lightroom, though. I only wish I could keep on using Picasa in the Mac (Google do something!). Aperture has a plug-in to work with Picasa, but it is a paid piece of software, which is definitely not worth the 25 bucks they charge for it. If all else fails, I will be forced to use iPhoto, which is not even close to Picasa, or try to emulate it with Darwine, that is, if it works.
Video - You need loads of codecs, and I found that most of the stuff that I needed can be had in one package called Perian. Still, I am deeply disappointed with iTunes, since for all the boasts of Mac fanatics that a Mac just works I was sad to see that iTunes does not even support OGG audio files, not to mention Windows Media Audio and other Microsoft standards. My point here is not to make a judgment of value on their formats, they might as well be crap, but it turns out that I have media in that format, and I want to use it not only in the Mac, but in my iPod. Another sad point is that I found nothing like LameDrop (at least for free) for the Mac. Finally, if you can put up with using multiple programs for multiple codecs, there is always VLC media player, or worst of all Windows Media Player for the Mac.
Communication - Two programs are fundamental, Skype for VoIP, and Adium for instant messaging. I was pleased to see that Adium is the Mac equivalent of Pidgin, which I absolutely loved in Windows. I was not so pleased to see that Skype gives so little attention to its Mac user base, since the Mac version is still 2.7, whereas in Windows they are already beta testing Skype 4. Also on the subject of communication, there is CoRD, a remote Desktop Client for Windows that works pretty well, with occasional crashes when you have a shitty connection, like me with Virgin ADSL.
LaTeX - I was really really disappointed in finding out that Mac OS X has no native installation of LaTeX, so I went with the first one that Google told me about, MacTeX. On this front, I will have to confess that the Mac is all disappointment, and the Windows versions of this package is way superior. I am talking, of course of MikTex, which is vastly superior than the TeX distributions I saw for the Mac. The first thing you notice is that you have to download the entire thing in the Mac, one Gigabyte of packages that you might not necessarily (and probably do not) need, whereas MikTeX lets you download packages on demand, as you include them in your document. MacTeX has no update mechanism whatsoever, so if you want to update your TeX distribution, you better stick to the annual updates for the TeX live distribution. As far as IDEs go, it is also a disappointment, as there is nothing close to WinEdt by a long shot, and while MacTeX kindly guides you towards TeXShop, this program is nowhere near WinEdt, so I ended up using Parallels Desktop, which is a necessity if you, like me, find that there is some Windows software without equivalent in the Mac, and besides, since I paid for WinEdt, I want to use it. Finally, to manage BibTeX references, I can always rely on the faithful and Java-based JabRef, for which I have only praise.
Productivity - One software that I am still getting to grips with is Quicksilver, which essentially lets you work with the keyboard most of the time to do all sorts of commands over files and programs. My friend tells me this is the eighth wonder of the world, but I am still using it in a similar fashion as Spotlight.
Compression - Another front in which the Mac is a bit lacking is in decent interfaces for compressors and decompressors. Most compressed files will be invariably extracted to your hard drive if you double click them, which I personally find annoying, since I may not want to extract everything and their dog out of large compressed files. I have always been an avid RAR user, and have bought a license to WinRAR, but unfortunately, they only provide you the command line client for the Mac. So this license fee is gone for me, and now I am using SimplyRAR, which seems an outdated tool, but looks enough like WinRAR for me to get used to in the short term.
Internet - Safari is not bad, but I have been using Firefox since it was first release, I remain loyal to it, especially its customizations and its bookmarks synchronizer, which I have come to rely on. Besides that, to help manage downloads from your SSH connections, I highly recommend Filezilla, instead of having to rely on the command line, which is a pain in the ass.