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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Top Ten Programs To Download On A Mac

Top Ten Programs To Download On A Mac

We give you a rundown of the best free programs to download on a Mac.

Step 1:
Mac OS X comes with Apple's own web browser, Safari and while it's a very good browser, a lot of the internet was designed to run with Microsoft's Internet Explorer instead, so sometimes you'll come across problems getting certain websites to run properly.
Step 2:
Internet Explorer
The simple way around this would be to download Internet Explorer for the Mac - and you can do that at The trouble is, Microsoft stopped fully supporting the Mac version of Internet Explorer back in 2000 and frankly while it's still worth having as a backup, it's now out of date.
A better option is Mozilla's Firefox browser, which you can find at It's similar to Internet Explorer so it's generally more compatible with the internet than Safari is, and on top of that it's an open source project, which means that it's kept up to date by hundreds of people around the world.
Step 3:
MSN Messenger
OS X also comes with iChat which is Apple's own instant messaging and video chat program. It works with the most popular messaging services (including AOL and Jabber) but it doesn't work with Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger (or MSN Messenger as it used to be known), which many PC owners still use. You can get a Mac version of Microsoft Messenger at and while it doesn't have as many features as the PC version, it will let you talk to Windows Messenger users and will also keep on your Hotmail account.
Step 4:
Another service that replaces iChat is Skype. Again, I'm recommending this as many PC users have it and if you want to talk to them, you're going to need it. You can download it at If you bought your Mac in 2006 or later, it will have a built in iSight camera for use with iChat, but it can also be used for Skype, which gives you free video chats over the internet and lets you make cheap international phone calls to conventional phones. If you don't have an iSight camera, there's a list of compatible plug-in webcams on the Skype website - and the ability to use plug in cameras is something you won't find in natively iChat.
Step 5:
OS X's default video player is Quicktime, and while it's pretty good, it can't handle many of the popular video file formats you might come across, so you should download VLC Media Player from This program is not only better at playing video files than Quicktime is, but it'll also cope with almost any file format you throw at it - except for the latest versions or Windows Media and RealPlayer files.
Step 6:
Windows Media Player and Flip4Mac
Windows Media Player. Microsoft stopped supporting the Mac at Media Player number 9 - they're onto version 10 on the PC. You can still download Media Player 9 for the Mac at but they've also teamed up with software house Telestream to offer their Flip4Mac program for free. Flip4Mac adds Windows Media Support to Quicktime and works well, if a little slowly.
Step 7:
Real Player
The last of our video programs is Real Player, which you can get at While VLC already supports this kind of file, you get better playback and internet video streaming with the standalone program.
Step 8:
Audio Hijack
Audio Hijack lets you record the sound output from pretty much any program running on your Mac. What that means in practice is that you can record internet radio, DVD soundtracks or streaming audio broadcasts and save them to do with as you will. What makes Audio Hijack really special is that only records from one source at a time, so your recording won't be spoilt by system beeps or messenger alerts if they happen. Audio Hijack also features a few tools for improving the sound of poor quality recordings. You can find it at The free version only lets you record 10 minutes of audio, but that's enough for most uses and it is then up to you if you want to spend the £9 or so it takes to get the full version.
Step 9:
One area that OS X has always beat Windows in is appearance. Backlight is another tool that will give your desktop the looks to leave Vista users green with envy. Download it from and it will use your current screensaver as you desktop background. It may not sound like much, but having the Flurry or those soothing beach scenes sliding smoothly across your desktop beats dull old wallpaper any day.
Step 10:
Stuffit Expander
OK, I slightly boring one this, but useful none the less. Stuffit Expander is a free program that makes it easier to expand many of the compressed files you'll download from the internet. It used to come bundled with older versions of OS X, and although the internet and Macs in particular are moving towards .Zip and .DMG as a standard for compressed files, Stuffit will come in handy whenever you come across anything different. Get it from

VideoJug: Top Ten Programs To Download On A Mac

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