I’m in the midst of a switch to Mac from PC (thanks go out to vmware for making this transition slightly less painful). As a result I’ve been very slowly learning about all of the nuances of working on a mac, and trying to find solutions to problems I’ve already solved on Windows (what IDE to use; what email app; what chatting tool; what browser(s); etc).

Probably the hardest part so far has been getting used to this keyboard. Answer me this, mac-addicts: why is there no forward-delete key, but there are there two enter keys? Luckily I found this neat little app called DoubleCommand that allowed me to turn my small enter key (the one next to the arrows) into forward-delete. For a programmer, this was an absolute essential. But now I hear that the new mbpro keyboards have turned that key into a second option key instead (yikes). I digress.

What does this mean for my long-term love-affair with billg? Not much. I’m not throwing away those years of relationship building with Windows out of anger or frustration. I just wanted to try on a different pair of shoes for a while, and for the first time in a long time I won’t need to use Windows-specific applications for a few months. I can almost guarantee that I’ll be giving Windows 7 a shot when she finally graces us with her presence.

So, this is an open call to anyone who cares to recommend your favourite “killer app” on Mac. My eyes and ears are awaiting your input (ewww).

26 Responses to “Turncoating”

  1. Dorian

    Hey – I also acquired a Mac this year, so I’m in the same boat. I’ve found a couple apps that I like. Adium so far kicks butt as a chat app. I’m using uTorrent for all my LEGAL DOWNLOADS, but I’m not sure if I’m sold or not.

    My mac keyboard has 2 delete keys… one forward and one back. My forward delete key is to the left of the “end” key.

  2. luxus


    i know there are less developer apps at the moment :(

    espresso is pretty nice as a coding tool
    coda too

    versions is a good svn client

    quicksilver, launchbar are pretty nice apps launcher

    transmit or cyberduck for ftp

    plex for media center or boxee

    tweetie for twitter

    1password for password saving (for me a killerapp)

    evernote for notetaking

    the hitlist for tasks

    adium, ichat and linkinus(irc) for chat

    iterm as terminal

    littlesnapper for screenshots

    the unarchiver and springy for archives

    isale for ebay

    bluephoneelite for mobilephone access (sms and making phonecalls)

    perhaps u should post ur windows app u loved, so we can find the right apps for you :D

  3. Brad Touesnard

    What did you use for an IDE on Windows? I was going to suggest Komodo Edit (what I use) or Aptana, but they’re both available on Windows as well. I own a copy of Textmate and Coda, but I prefer Komodo Edit to either for development.

    I recently switched to Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Reader with Fluid App and couldn’t be happier. I use Firefox as my primary browser.

    I recommend using MAMP to setup your dev environment. The Apache and PHP builds that come with OS X are apparently a pain to update and maintain.

  4. Brad Touesnard

    @Dorian You should try Transmission App. It’s the best Torrent App I’ve ever used on any platform.

  5. Adrian

    on a laptop, fn + backspace will “forward delete”

    My essential programs for web development are:


  6. Mark

    @Adrian – I know that fn + backspace is forward delete. But that’s not good enough, imho.

  7. Adrian

    hmmmmm, I’d have to say thats a little petty.

    Do you dislike sholding shift to get a capital letter also? :P

  8. Colin

    Get Textmate and do not even bother looking at BBEdit, Coda, Espresso, or Komodo.

  9. Karl Katzke

    I agree with it being petty; it’s actually a pretty convenient keystroke once you get used to it. Even better though is learning or setting up keystrokes

    I ‘switched’ about 4 years ago now and haven’t gone back, despite still doing some .Net development and all the web and other stuff I do. It’s just not worth it. If I need to run something Windows, I can either dual-boot or I can use VMware or Parallels or Virtualbox.

    Macports is wonderful and I use it regularly to build and maintain a bunch of server dependencies. As a linux sysadmin and PHP developer, it’s nice to be able to have custom builds of PHP 4 and 5 a keystroke away.

    I use vim as my IDE/editor, and iTerm as my terminal program since the one that comes with OSX isn’t all that great. I’ve tried the Eclipse-based editors, and found that I need to make some changes to the JVM configuration so that they work effectively and were in general just ‘ok’. I’ve tried Coda, but it’s lack of close support for Zend Framework made it less desirable although I adore it’s subversion client in a way that’s probably illegal in 40 of 50 states.

    I guess my main thing is that I do linux sysadmin stuff for work. Having to think about linux or use windows as my desktop at home just makes me want to smash things. All my local development has gotten so much easier since I switched to using OSX because it’s like Linux but it doesn’t need configuration. The other thing is that migration between versions and machines gets ridiculously easy. No more “twice yearly enema” like my Win98 and WinXP machines always needed.

  10. Karl Katzke

    Oops. “Learning or setting up keystrokes to delete to the end of a line, skip words, etc — which you can do.”

  11. Mark

    You think it’s petty that I want a standard key instead of a duplicate/useless one?


  12. Joe

    TextMate for editing, SizeUp, and ExpanDrive connected to a VMware Linux server. No need for MAMP or macports :)

    And Control-D is a forwards delete.

  13. Mark

    Hey, thanks to everyone for the suggestions. So far I’ve tried:

    coda – nice app, but not enough killer features (intellisense would be nice)
    cyberduck – haven’t really had a chance to play with it yet, but the price is right :)
    komodo edit – I’m used to komodo in windows, so this is an easy win.
    MAMP – got me up and running SO fast.
    Transmission – I hope it doesn’t kill this computer like it does my wifes.

    I’m going to keep going through everyone’s suggestions. Thanks again.

  14. Jeff

    Adium for chat.
    Textmate for development.
    CSSEdit for CSS development.
    Tweetie for Twitter.
    Little Snitch for network monitoring (a must have)!
    Little Snapper for saving inspirational stuff.
    AppZapper for removing programs you don’t want/need/use anymore.
    Dropbox for keeping files in sync across multiple computers.
    Use spaces and corner hotspots. Learn some shortcuts, and you will soon be very happy about your switch! I will never go back to Windows!

  15. Jeff

    Oh and one more thing, remember the space bar to preview files. Just click a file once, and press the space bar, awesome!

  16. Matthew

    A few that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    – Sequel Pro: http://sequelpro.com/
    – MacVim: http://code.google.com/p/macvim/
    – CoRD: http://cord.sourceforge.net/

    Thanks @luxus for mentioning Cyberduck! I never heard of it and now regret spending money for Transmit :’(

  17. [-Stash-]

    Double Command saved my life and my fingers – it even works on 10.3 (yes I’m forced to use it and it hurts).

    Makr, it’s not petty to demand a proper delete key, it’s just those who’ve never known anything other than mac who think so :P Just get any (USB) keyboard you like and use it instead, then use Double Command to remap the keys to be more mac default. Of course, I could then whine about the so-called UK key layout, but then someone else might call that petty too, so I shant :P ;)

    iTerm is very nice, I second that opinion.
    Dropbox, also amazing (doesn’t work on 10.3 – wah!).

    Also, make sure you don’t use those horrible, nasty mac mice. Get yourself a decent Logitech/MS/Razer (pic your poison) and setup the extra mouse buttons as the Exposé desktop/app/all windows functions. It really makes life easy when you’re working with a graphics/mouse driven app.

    P.S. Windows 7 is good (fast, stable, attractive, less in-your-face), but I still miss Exposé the most about Windows.

  18. mumpitz

    Is there an app like Double Command for Windows and Linux. I’d like to order the control-, windows- and altkey as they are ordered on a mac :D

  19. [-Stash-]

    I’ve never used any myself, but Google came up with this –> http://webpages.charter.net/krumsick/
    You could always do it with AutoHotKey / AutoIt if you don’t mind getting scripty with it ;)

  20. Mark

    There’s also: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?s=104e68607c7d4f6acf0486cbad543c6f&showtopic=58373

  21. Adam

    TextMate (macromates.com) is an excellent… not an IDE, to be sure, but more than just a text editor. Give it a try.

    Also, Changes (changesapp.com) is a nice companion for just about any version control system.

    AppFresh (http://metaquark.de/appfresh) is good if, like me, you’re the type of person who’s obsessive about keeping every piece of software on your computer up-to-date.

    Check out MacPorts (macports.org) or Fink (finkproject.org) if you want an easy way to install and update open-source Unix software. MacPorts is derived from BSD’s Ports system, whilst Fink uses Debian’s dpkg/apt package manager. I prefer Fink, but I keep MacPorts around too because it sometimes has packages Fink doesn’t.

  22. Benjamin__

    Many hard-cores swear by Textmate, which is great, but I’m a hard-core that swears by Coda. It’s awesome.

    The Hit List for task management

    Billings 3 rocks

    Extendmac Flow is a nice new FTP client

    I am addicted to using Fluid for many of my web apps. I highly recommend checking it out.

    There as so many kick-a** shareware apps for mac, but unlike the world of windows, you probably should expect to pay for nearly every one of them.

  23. Michael

    Transmit for FTP
    Textmate for code
    Versions for SVN
    Adium for chat
    Mail for mail
    iStat Pro widget for systems monitoring
    NetNewsWire for news
    Tweetie for twitter
    Appzapper for cleaning shit up
    Bukkake for your eyes and ears

  24. cg

    Coda – coding, CSS, site management, SVN and FTP — does it all…
    Fugu – FTP
    Smultron – text editing and coding (very quick for larger files)
    svnX – SVN
    AppCleaner – Application deleter
    HandBrake – DVD utilities
    ClamXAV – antivirus
    DarWine & ies4osx – IE6 test platform
    MAMP – local LAMP server
    MySQL Administrator – does what it says

  25. cg

    forgot OpenOffice.org 3 – now works natively on Intel Macs, and it’s a great replacement for MS Office.

  26. Alan Bristow

    Enjoy the switch and thanks for the loveliness that is Vanilla.

    I added a quick+dirty list of Win→Mac stuff over here: http://www.8164.org/the-switch/ (my comment 4 Jun 2009 – 3:33 pm).

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