5 spiffy Mac tools

As I mentioned recently, I purchased a Mac last month. Mainly I'll be using the Mac for content creation, but, that doesn't mean I can't use it for a portable development system as well. Last night I invited Todd over for dinner and in exchange I had him help me set up Apache, MySQL & PHP. As luck would have it,he had done some homework ahead of time and had found the first spiffy tool, MAMP. MAMP is a “One-Click-solution for setting up your personal webserver”. The description did not disappoint. After a quick download and install, we were up and running in a matter of minutes.

We spent some time reconfiguring Apache to allow for hosting several sites inside the htdocs directory that, after a quick entry in the HOSTS file, can be accessed by simply typing: http://[dir-name]/ – This is the same basic setup I had on my previous development solution so the transition to the new system will be quite easy.

Tool #2 is for working with graphics and is called Pixelmator. I've usually stuck to the Adobe line of products. Since my needs are pretty basic (resize, crop and some mild design), I've always used Adobe Photoshop Elements on the PC, but when shown the Pixelmator site, it seems that I'm going to have more than I need when it comes to features. With a $59 price tag, I don't think I can go wrong here.

The third cool tool I was introduced to is called Adium. This is an instant messenger program that handles ICQ, YIM, AIM, MSN and a host of other messenger programs all in one. I've got contacts across all of these platforms and it's no fun having to run 4 apps just to be able to chat with them all.

On the Windows side I've used Trillian for years as my multi-platform messenger program, and until quite recently there hasn't even been a hint of a Mac version. This has recently changed and they are taking signups for Alpha testers for the new version. I've signed up and am hoping to become a tester soon.

Cool tool #4 is Quicksilver. This one is way cool. At first glance it's a simple launch pad for programs, directories and files. Hit a hotkey combination on your keyboard, type the first couple letters of the program/directory/file name and get a list of everything found that matches. Click the desired listing and it opens up. However, once you dig a little deeper you'll find that it's also a control base for setting up hotkeys for other programs as well. For example, I was able to set up hotkeys for itunes. With the click of a couple keys I can raise/lower the volume, pause/play a song, or, bring up a search window to find an album, artist or song. These hotkeys work no matter which program you are currently using.

The 5th tool is Textmate. After about 3 minutes on the Mac I realized it's lack of any sort of decent text editor. On the Windows side I've been using UltraEdit since version 1.0 and am quite spoiled. So finding a product to stand up to it didn't seem like an easy task. While I haven't used it long enough to say it's handled everything UltraEdit handles, I can tell you that it cover all of what I considered to be the basic requirements: Search/Replace in files, customizable syntax highlighting, auto-indent, automatic bracket matching & column selection.

If this list isn't enough, Carl was kind enough to pass on this list of “super OS X menubar items“. There are several on this list that I plan on trying out in the very near future.

If there are other Mac tools that you think a noob Mac user (that's me) can use for web development or content creation, drop me a comment. I'd be happy to check them out.

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  1. Carl Sziebert on October 18, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Check out Transmit (FTP) and Coda (Web Development) from Panic Software. I couldn't do without either one. If you do anything with winblows machines, get yourself a copy of their RDC client, then grab RDC Menu to manage multiple connections. If you do anything with regular expressions I'd suggest checking out RegExhibit.

  2. Mike G on October 22, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Oh, and you have to get virtudesktop, makes it just like running X. I guess this is only good for those of us without 10 monitors…

  3. carl galloway on November 3, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Any chance you could post your hosts file. I do a lot of template development and it would be great to access my test sites the same way as you.

    Also, I use textwrangler for coding (html, xml, php etc.), it's also free software.

  4. John on November 9, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Hey Carl, the process for doing what I've got set up requires a few extra steps that I may have glossed over in my description. This weekend I'll put together something to explain how I've got it working, because this will definitely make your life easier when it comes to developing blog themes. I've done a bit of theme tweaking as well and it's way nicer to do it locally rather than having to work on a live site or via the WP theme editing system.