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Free Apps that make your Mac go Zing!

By Matthew David

There is a lot of noise about the apps you can get for your iPhone. But what about the Mac, the system that got most Cocoa developers excited? Well, you are in luck. There are thousands of applications for the Macintosh. Some of the best are small and free. In this article you will get review the best of the free applications on the market.

The first application that should be on your hot list is aLaunch (http://mactips-lib.net/m/software/alunch/en/main.html). The role of aLaunch is simple: enable you to get to more applications faster while keeping your Dock more under control. Let's face it, we have all fallen into the trap that Dock provides - too many icons leading to a mess at the bottom of the screen. The simple interface of aLaunch keeps all of this under control.

Name Changer
If you work with large numbers of files, such as digital photos or large numbers of video files, then you are familiar with the cryptic names digital cameras will often give your images. With Name Changer you can batch convert hundreds of file names very quickly. You are also not limited to just digital images but any file type. For instance, you can convert JVC MOD video files in the blink of an eye.

Do you torrent? Of course, I mean, do you do legal torrent downloads? If you do torrent files then the best free torrent application is Transmission (http://www.transmissionbt.com/download.php). The interface is simple and easy to use. Additionally, it is really easy to create your own torrent files with Transmission.

Does it drive you nuts when you are in the middle of an iChat video conference and suddenly your screen dims and gets ready to go to sleep? To prevent your computer from thinking it is idle you can use Caffeine (http://lightheadsw.com/caffeine/) to keep the system awake. All you  have to do is select from the drop down how long you want the computer to remain active and you will not need to suffer the irritating problem of your Mac going to sleep on you again.

Dockspaces (http://www.nscoding.co.uk/) enables you to customize the dock as you move from one Leopard Space to another. As you can imagine, this app only works on Leopard, but for the Leopard user (which is most of us) this is a really useful extra tool. Now you can customize each space specifically to your business needs. For instance, one space may be for personal activities with a dock that is specific to these activities (iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie); a second Dockspace can be configured for business related funtions (Word 2008, Excel 2008); and a final space can be customized for your design tools.

Yes, your Mac comes with Safari, but FireFox (www.firefox.com) is also a great Web browser. More importantly, if your client has a Web site then they are more likely to be viewing their site with FireFox then with Safari.

Need a better Text editor? TextWrangler (http://www.barebones.com/products/TextWrangler/) is it. You can use TextWrangler for simple text editing but it will easily scale all the way up to complex application code coloring. A great alternative to Apple's TextEdit.

Need the swiss army of video viewing tools but can't wait for QuickTime X? Then you need VideoLAN (http://www.videolan.org/), or VLC as it is often called VLC allows you to easily video from many different file formats.

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Matthew has written four Flash books, contributed to a dozen Web books, and has published over 400 articles. He is passionate about exposing Internet's potential for all of us. Matthew works directly with many companies as a business strategist coaching IT architects and business leaders to work tightly with each other towards common goals.
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