Archive for the ‘Software – Mac’ Category

Mac A-List Updated

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Just a quick note to everyone know that I haven’t forgotten the blog, and I hope to post some more in-depth things in the near future.

In the meantime, I’ve just updated the Mac A-List, which tracks the best software for the Mac according to Scot. It’s a significant update with several additions and subtractions. Among other things, what do I use with Twitter? Find out. And now that I’ve tested VMware’s Fusion to go along with my examinations of VirtualBox and Parallels, how did that turn out? One of those three is not on the Mac A-List.

Fixing a Firefox user profile, and Foxmarks

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

SNB reader John Volborth wrote to me with a Firefox problem. My solution worked for him, so I thought I would pass it along:


I haven’t used Firefox in a while because of a problem I’ve been having. It won’t let me gather any apps. This is the error message:

Could not initialize the application’s security component. The most likely cause is problems with files in your application’s profile directory. Please check that this directory has no read/write restrictions and your hard disk is not full or close to full. It is recommended that you exit the application and fix the problem. If you continue to use this session, you might see incorrect application behaviour when accessing security features.

Is there any help you can offer me? Thanks.


I’m not clear on what you mean when you say “it won’t let me gather apps,” but more than likely you have a corrupt Firefox user profile. To solve the problem, you’ll need to delete every file in your Mozilla installation and do a clean install of the latest version of the browser. Some of these files hide in places you might not think to look, so it’s important to follow directions on how to fully remove profile.

Updated: The A-List of Mac Software

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Yesterday I updated my listing of the best Macintosh apps, tools, and utilities in the first significant update in over a year. The research is ongoing, but I just didn’t make the time to update this page, known as The A-List of Mac Software. There are quite a few new additions to the list. I’ve also knocked some long-standing stalwarts off the list (programs I remove are also listed under the Considered but Rejected subhead.

My plans for the A-List include continuing to update it as I evaluate and add programs to my essential list of Mac apps, and also to broaden the information offered on the list with information like what each app costs, if anything, and a little summary of reasons for selection.

I’m pretty ruthless about ripping products off the A-List when I’ve decided they’re no longer valid, are outdated, or have been beaten by a competitor. You’ll notice that in some product categories, there is more than one contender. In that case, I like them both and am still considering between the two.

The A-List is based on real-world research. In other words, I’m not setting up bench tests to assess Mac software. I’m living and working with these products, and when they succeed or fail in real world use, that’s when I make changes to their status on the A-List.

Feel free to send me suggestions for new Mac apps to consider. There’s a specific email address for doing so toward the bottom of the page.

Eudora Users: Odysseus Is Probably Our Best Hope

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

A new email package called Odysseus being developed by software design house Infinity Data Systems (IDS) is the new great hope for millions of Qualcomm Eudora users who were abandoned by the telecom company last year. Unlike Mozilla’s Penelope (Eudora v.8) development project, which is attempting to surgically graft Eudora-like functionality onto Mozilla’s Thunderbird email package, Odysseus is being rewritten from the ground up as the brand new successor to Eudora. It will offer cross-platform support for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

I spent a few hours earlier today reading through IDS’s Odysseus forums learning as much as I could about the company’s development plans. I came away very excited about IDS’s plans, design concepts, and goals. What I like best, in fact, is that while the plan is to start with a subset of Eudora features in the first release, the developers clearly know and love Eudora. Also, though, they’re not afraid to make changes. Eudora has been a hurting unit for several years — especially on the Mac platform, where some of the thinking has been quirky at best. The Windows version surpassed the Mac version quite a while ago and is more up to date. But Eudora in general is best thought of in 2001 terms. Some fresh thinking is definitely a good thing.


DiskWarrior Makes ‘The A-List of Mac Software’

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

I continue to test and either reject or approve Mac software for The A-List of Mac Software. The biggest change since the last issue of the newsletter is the advancement of a very hot disk utility to the A-List. DiskWarrior from Alsoft came highly recommended to me by several IT pro readers who manage Macs. They were dead right.

It takes a problem to be won over by a utility product. And that’s exactly what happened. The problem was a disk error that Apple’s Disk Utility was able to identify but unable to repair. There was no apparent problem with my hard drive. No symptoms. SMART checked out fine. It didn’t appear to be a physical problem with the hard drive, but rather a corruption of the data on the disk. I tote my primary machine back and forth from work everyday, and even though I’m extremely conscious of how important that piece of hardware is, and I back it up, well — there are few guarantees in life. And none of them is related to computers.

So, that was the problem. It took me a while to warm up to the $100 DiskWarrior because you have to boot it from the CD, and it takes forever to load. But it’s worth it. Because once up and running, DiskWarrior’s Directory tool made short work of it. Afterward, Disk Utility happily reported no problems.

The next disk problem will be a job for TechTool Pro by Micromat, which is also on the scheduled-for-evaluation list.

Some other notes: I guess I’m becoming more of a Mac guy. I removed Intego’s VirusBarrier X4 from my two most-used Macs. I think it’s a great product, and I’m leaving it on the A-List. But like most Mac users, I just don’t feel the need for this utility right now. I’m not making a formal recommendation with that announcement — just owning up to a reality. There are no viruses on the Mac. It’s possible there will be someday. But I’ll worry about that then.

I’m also adding a program to the evaluation list. It’s called Yank, and it’s another Mac uninstaller tool. I really love AppZapper, but it occasionally misses things that get tucked into out of the way places. When I uninstalled VirusBarrier, AppZapper left behind a context-menu item. Yank doesn’t rely on search to find files left behind when you delete the main program file. It creates a log when you install. What about programs installed before you installed Yank? Matterform offers a file-sharing service for sharing Yank uninstall scripts for specific programs that you can download and run. Not sure that’s going to be a big help, though. The first three programs I searched for weren’t there. Still, I like the idea of a more complete uninstall. Could be I’ll use both AppZapper and Yank. We’ll see.

I’m having some second thoughts about skEdit as a text editor. It’s still my preferred HTML editor on the Mac. But I may go back and check out TextMate again. It’s been very heavily recommended by readers who have written to me with A-List suggestions. Even more so than BBEdit, whose UI I’m not fond of.

Status Report: The A-List of Mac Software

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

After the April issue’s giant update to The A-List of Mac Software, the past couple of months have been a bit slower on the Mac software testing front. I’ve received several disk and system repair utilities that I’m playing with — including DiskWarrior, Drive Genius, and TechTool Pro. So far so good on those three. But more time is needed to fully evaluate them. (It just takes longer to run into problems on the Mac than it does on Windows.)

I’m also looking at software-launching and UI-shortcut programs, such as Quicksilver, LaunchBar, and Butler. I’ve looked at the first two, and so far, I prefer Quicksilver.

My only real gripe about Quicksilver’s basic program-launching functionality is that you need two sets of keystrokes to launch something. The first opens the QS Execute box, and the second launches a specific program. On the Windows side, there’s a program called ActiveWords that gets it down to one set of keystrokes, and I miss that.

So far I’ve explored only about 10% of what Quicksilver does, so I’m still working through the features and spending time with it. Next up will be Butler, which I haven’t even installed yet.

What’s wrong with LaunchBar? Nothing much was right or wrong about it for me. I just didn’t find it that convenient. Ideally, I could launch Safari by just typing “sa” at any time, anywhere — without having to initiate something or click anything with the mouse. Not only didn’t LaunchBar come close to that ideal, but I just found myself forgetting to use it. And when I did use it, it didn’t really save me time.

The A-List series has generated an overwhelming pile of email that I’m nowhere near finished sorting through. If you’ve sent me suggestions, please be patient. Not only are there a lot of messages to read, but looking at the software takes a lot of time. I’m going to be using the Mac for many years to come, and I’ve got a lot of great software suggestions to explore.

You could probably help by sending me only the one or two best apps you think I should know about.