View Full Version : Favorite (Non-3D) Mac Apps?

08-31-2006, 07:49 PM

As you know, I'm a curious guy. I've been a Mac user long enough to give an hour talk on the similarities between DAs and Dashboard.

But I still wonder if I'm missing something--if someone else has stumbled across the next killer app, and I just don't know about it.

My personal philosophy is that apps should be specialist apps. I've always felt that the more one app tried to do everything, the worse it did at whatever it was originally designed for. Instead, it should play very VERY nice with other apps.

So I'd like to know what other apps you like. Think of it as a chance to let your peers in on what they've been missing, or at least something to do while you patiently wait for the Universal Binary ;-)


09-01-2006, 02:21 AM
My most favourite app still is Painter, it's a pure gem and puts a smile on my face every time I use it :) .

One program that might not be so well known that I really like is DAZ|Studio. You may think about Poser content what you want, but Studio does what it sets out to do (importing Poser content, posing and morphing characters and props, setting up scenes) really well imho. It has a nice interface (somewhat similar to the Lightwave UI ;) ) as well as a nice modular application design including a free scripting SDK, a renderman compatible render engine (3delight) and they offer both FBX and Collada exporters.

Unfortunately there seem to be no usable FBX or Collada importers for Lightwave :( - the Autodesk importer is hopelessly buggy and out-of-date :(

But you see, both very specialised apps, so I share your opinion :) .

Edited to add:
Forgot one app: Eclipse! That's a big doh!, because being a professional software developer that's the app that actually allows me to pay my bills!

09-01-2006, 02:35 AM
also if not mac specific... photoshop! ...and of course, itunes and ichat - i love them both, because even if those are simple apps, they are always fun to use :)


Darth Mole
09-01-2006, 03:43 AM
I've been a big fan of After Effects since, oh, version 3.1 maybe? I just like what you can do with it, more than anything. And it has some very cool plug-ins (www.trapcode.com makes most of the best!).

Cinema 4D - heresy I know. C4D is generally stable, has some awesome tools and a decent built-in renderer. The sub-D tools are easy and smooth, it has the best hair of any app I know and the new MoGraph module is also very cool. And being a bit of an underdog, it plays well with others - the Photoshop and After Effects (plus other compositors) connections are excellent - I've been asking for the same in LW for years. If (when) C4D gets its CA act together, I think it will be a very serious contender.

Apple's iWeb is fun, and very easy to use. I hacked an okay website together in a few hours. I look forward to seeing future revisions of this, with some fancy new tools!

Apple's Soundtrack is an amazingly fun tool, too. Especially when it was free with FCP. I guess Garageband is the same deal - I just prefer the look and feel of Soundtrack Pro.

09-01-2006, 05:07 AM
quicksilver - changed the way i used my mac instantly

09-01-2006, 05:21 AM

As you know, I'm a curious guy. I've been a Mac user long enough to give an hour talk on the similarities between DAs and Dashboard.

But I still wonder if I'm missing something--if someone else has stumbled across the next killer app, and I just don't know about it.

My personal philosophy is that apps should be specialist apps. I've always felt that the more one app tried to do everything, the worse it did at whatever it was originally designed for. Instead, it should play very VERY nice with other apps.

So I'd like to know what other apps you like. Think of it as a chance to let your peers in on what they've been missing, or at least something to do while you patiently wait for the Universal Binary ;-)


so what are your's? :)

Captain Obvious
09-01-2006, 06:11 AM
OmniWeb 5.5 is the best browser EVER.

Adium is a great instant messaging app.

09-01-2006, 06:26 AM
I'm giving AfterEffects my thumbs up. As said before, Lightwave needs better hooks into this app plus the other compositing apps like Shake, Commotion, etc etc.


09-01-2006, 07:39 AM
2 apps for 2 reasons.

1. Fontographer. hands down the absolute best adherence to Apple's HI guidelines in os 7-9 (pre X)era. it was so well done and so thoroughly taken care of, that actual development for it stopped 4 years BEFORE Classic was announced, and it still ran without issues in the classic environment. Quality software, that stands the test of time. and it also lets you do some mighty amazing things with fonts. they read and followed the bible on robustness, and HI.

2. Alias SketchBook Pro. no offense but... screw Painter. Alias does with a small set of tools what painter can't do with (what are they up to now... 300?) SBP was designed around Alias's brush technology, as a FAST natural media simulator. instead of trying to get frilly looks, paper textures, and advanced multiple bristle brushes... they focused on the tools that an advertising illustrator would use, and on the almost exclusive interface offered by a tablet PC. the result is an offbeat UI, with fantastic response, and an amazing feel. I've put a traditional illustrator (lacking any computer experience) on this program, and they almost wet themselves. without any instruction, this program is straightforward and easy to use. it works with the skills you build learning to be an illustrator, and it gets the interface out of your way. in other words, its humble, and all about the work. its a shame, because i think Autodesk, doesn't realize what they have in it, and it may get the axe.

09-01-2006, 08:54 AM
I'll just second some of these, Photoshop (pre CS, stable, fast and no hardware ties) Cinema4d (near uncrashable, fantastic tools but the interface and workflow aren't my taste and I think it's overpriced - especially the upgrades!)

Sketchbook pro is a fantastic app, I really should buy it sometime because I love it's feel. It goes to show an unusual interface CAN work if it's well thought out.

Artrage is nearly as good and MUCH cheaper.

09-01-2006, 09:28 AM
Here are a few utilities that I use regularly:

Butler (http://www.petermaurer.de/nasi.php?section=butler), SnapzProX (http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/), and PrintWindow (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/12161) (because even after all these years the Mac Finder still can't print a bleepin' folder window adequetly :compbeati )

And a few free apps that are useful:
TextWrangler (http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/) and Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/mac) (has a few bugs but it's still a useful multitrack audio program)


09-01-2006, 09:48 AM
I like to use REALbasic, Xcode makes my head hurt with all those c's: c+,c++, ccc+++, java and what not :p :p

The best thing about it is you can create cross-platform programs and oh yes the UB version should be out anyday soon.

I also like QTVR object movies of my LW objects and here's something I've been making for myself because all those really go well together. The screencapture is a bit blocky but that's my G3 iBook and not the program itself :D


The one who hates multiple movie players open at the same time :D

09-01-2006, 12:17 PM
It's fun and quite simple to get going with. Check out dvGarage's plugin Conduit for adding node based compositing.

Noise. Noise. Noise to make the dog howl.

09-01-2006, 12:25 PM
Abiword (http://www.abisource.com/): a free word-like text editor.
Celtx (http://www.celtx.com/): free Scriptwriting/Screenwriting software. very good!
Doom (http://legacy.newdoom.com/): free first episode of original doom game (ported to mac, of course).
Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/): free ms office-like suite.
which brings me to X11 (http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/x11/): runs ported unix apps in OS X (including Open Office for now, though that will change soon).
Jer's Novel Writer (http://jerssoftwarehut.com/): a great program for large creative writing projects (like books, for example).
MacOSaiX (http://homepage.mac.com/knarf/MacOSaiX/): free and makes those cool image mosaics.
Process Wizard (http://www.lachoseinteractive.net/en/products/processwizard/): free and gives user list of processes with priority slider and ability to kill (even background processes).
RBrowser (http://www.rbrowser.com/): free FTP client with paid upgrade to SSH stuff (i just use the ftp stuff though).
R-name (http://www.tulip.sannet.ne.jp/tayo/): free batch renamer with good options.
Smultron (http://smultron.sourceforge.net/): free code editor with syntax coloring and line numbering (and ability to save with PC style line endings).

09-01-2006, 01:45 PM
My Favorite apps:

SuperCard ( http://www.supercard.us/ ). It's my addiction, the first thing I install on a new Mac, and the only app I have launched on startup. I have, and use, many of the others out there. I'm anxiously awaiting the UB version of RB as well, and wrote a pretty lengthy article for MacAddict many years ago on REALBasic. The irony there is that I wrote a collection of 9 articles on various languages, but the last one, about SuperCard, they wouldn't run. The other 8 guys were advertising in their magazine. Coincidence? Hmm....

Network stuff...
Interachy ( http://www.Interarchy.com ) This app saved my rear more times than I can count. When I did the Universal Binary port of iVGA for NewTek earlier this year, the Interarchy network traffic monitor was invaluable. Far better than TCPFlow and TCPDump, which I used for the first half of the port. Interarchy's FTP is about on par with others I've used. I would say Fetch is my favorite other FTP client. I like Transit, but I feel they ripped off the UI from the PC universe, where Transit-like apps are a dime a dozen. Or at least they were back in the 90's.

Picture stuff...
Aperture ( http://www.Apple.com/aperture/ ) is amazing. I love it. I don't have a really solid reason to have it, but I love it anyway.

PhotoShop is my tool of choice for most digital artwork. I really like the natural brushes and paints in Painter (though I've always hated that triangle color picker). Come to think of it, my first freelance job was paid for because Painter supported Pantone colors, which allowed me to print flyers that perfectly matched a clients' store front colors (this was in the early 90's). I love the KPT-esque UI of SketchBook Pro, and if Apple ever releases a tablet Mac, I'll be using it a lot more. SuperPaint is still my favorite paint app though.

For the UI junkies out there, Kai Krause had a vision for how computers should organize data, and the interface to KPT Soap was the digital incarnation of it. Interesting metaphors in there, especially for its time.

I love iChat's simplicity. I have Adium as well, but I'm finding I use it less as I have been using iChat's multi-user video chat feature. Also, sending files between iChat and Adium users seems to be problematic. Adium's icons are wicked fun though. Skype just annoys the [email protected]*&! out of me, but I understand its appeal.

I've spent a fair amount of time designing websites, so I don't have a favorite browser, as I end up using them all, most of the time. And my favorite site design tool is... I don't really have one. Kinda mad at all of them right now, actually. I like NetNewsWire for RSS subscriptions, though.

For experimental design, I really like Quartz Composer. And no, you are not allowed to ask what that means in terms of LightWave's development. Not yet anyway.

I am a big fan of things integrated into the Finder. I'm really glad we finally have contextual menu zip support, and FTP access. I wish I could UPLOAD to FTP from the Finder, but I suppose that dream can wait.

And of course, iStill. Can't live without it.

QuickSilver is my favorite all-around OS 'alteration'. I wrote an app that did a lot of QS's tricks, back in the OS9 days, called WebbToys (specifically, the file/app launcher). It's not around anymore though, and I probably won't be resurrecting it any time soon. Sometimes it's easier to pay for someone else's shareware than it is to write it yourself.

OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle are the choice project management tools around here. My favorite game was Halo, before I had to slice holes in the CD to keep myself from spending any more time online.

I used to have a giant folder of AppleScripts, but those all broke with OSX. I'm slowly rebuilding it. I'm a huge fan of automation, wherever possible.


09-01-2006, 01:54 PM
For experimental design, I really like Quartz Composer. And no, you are not allowed to ask what that means in terms of LightWave's development. Not yet anyway.

Well ****. I've been kicking around some thoughts on just that topic. I'll wait in suspense then. :thumbsup:

09-04-2006, 05:57 AM
Photoshop, hands down best image app going and i still get suprised by what i can do with it and i've been using it for 15 years 8 of those retouching, though it could still do with some really decent distortion tools (like they used to have on the silcon graphics machines, oh and squizz was pretty handy)

Realflow, my current fave toy especially as i work for an ad agency that works on alot of drinks clients so it has got us out of some holes, really slow at times and there still isn't an upgrade to the latest mac yet (the pc one came out near the start of the year) but it does liquids and gas like no other and i like their attitude to actually telling you what the bugs are and if they know of any workarounds for them.

utilitiy wise Onyx is very handy at doing those things with the OS that i don't like sticking ym fingers in, cleaning up, permisions etc.

Oh, and for image capture i can't find a fault with CaptureOne Pro, yes i is a bit like iphoto and apeture and photoshop can import some raw files but it is great for batch processing and working with large high quality digital raw files and the stuff photoshop cant handle and is the only software (as far as i know) that works with some of the high end digital backs file types.

09-04-2006, 08:51 AM
After Effects - lovely workflow, fantastic UI in the new version (7).

Flash - I don't use it very much these days since I stopped being a web designer and got back into "proper" graphics ;) Flash is one of the most well thought out programs I've used. Comparing it to Director is like comparing System 6 with OSX.

ZBrush. Yes, it is weird. But it is consistent once you get your head around its non-traditional way of doing things. Incredibly powerful organic modelling tools and a nifty interface too.

I tried the demo of Conduit - it's really freekin' sweet, though sadly utterly hamstrung by the fact it doesn't support any external image filters (so you can't do blurs - one of the most useful standard filters for glows, edge blending). If the next version supports core image units it'll be a killer app and I'll buy it for sure. Lovely interface - its UI for the nodes is attractive, elegant and intuitive and makes Shake look like poop.

And now for apps I DON'T like :)

Photoshop. Actually that's not fair, I do like PS, I just feel that it's evolved in the wrong direction since about version 5. I can't forgive adobe for screwing up the "colour dodge" blending mode in version 6 and not keeping a "Classic color dodge" mode like they do in After Effects. No application upgrade should EVER lose functionality or tools. And it's amazing how clunky the PS workflow is now - you can really see the age of the application. PS should have become a proper non-destructive object-based design tool since version 7. And the fact that it's only only just started supporting 16 and 32 bits per pixel (with minimal filter support) is truly shocking and shows how little understanding there is in their dev team of the importance of maintaining colour fidelity. I guess this treacle-slow evolution is what happens when you become the de-facto image edting app and hold a virtual monopoly status on the market - like quark did with DTP.

Sad but true - these days I tend to do my photo-editing in After Effects.

09-04-2006, 09:09 AM
Adobe Illustrator - rocks
Photoshop - still Rocks
but my favorite is Macromedia(Adobe) Director. I can't wait until it is upgraded. Rumors have it that early 2007 they wiil have a new over hauled one. BTW for those that don't know it it imports LW and you can write some cool games & manipulate your models as well as it's many other outstanding features.

09-04-2006, 10:55 AM
I have to give props to Commotion. It was discontinued by Pinnacle but 4.1 still works... well. Its one reason I opted for a G5 Quad. I've demo'd the apps that claim to do the same thing and nothing has come close.

MetaSynth is a cool, one-of-kind. A Mac only music painting app.

And the flip side:

Quark- How to squander a market lead by fouling your application and consumer relations simultaneously.

Macromedia- Macromedia had enough discontinued apps to fill a MacMall catalog solo. I have a partition of their apps for legacy projects and I hate them for it. They were particularly brazen with the "special deal" and "discontinued" bait and switch. I was happy as can be when Adobe bought them out.

09-04-2006, 12:38 PM
They discontinued Commotion? Major bummer, that is probably the one app that I would have gone to if something weird happened with After Effects. :(


09-05-2006, 02:22 AM
Well, my two (that hasn't been mentioned yet):

ArtRage2 (http://www.artrage.com/), good, cheap and "fun" paint-app

TextMate (http://www.macromates.com/), truly great coding environment

If you like Supercard, give Revolution Studio (http://www.runrev.com) a try. Like Supercard but you can compile standalones for Mac, Unix and Windows. :)


09-05-2006, 06:08 AM
Really just for Mac OS: Final Cut Studio. Mmmh :)

Unfortunately, my favourite software, Fusion, is still not available on Mac.


09-05-2006, 07:21 AM
Hi Thomas,

It's a really, really, small world.

I'm not a fan of RR. But that's not a topic for this board. The most heated debates I've ever seen have stemmed from RR<->SuperCard discussions. Most of the issues I have with them though, are issues I have with Lux as well. So there's no way for me to explain about the former without sounding like I'm taking shots at the latter.

It's funny you bring them up though--both RR and Lux use the phrase '...at the speed of thought'.

Carl Sagan used to make fun of people who used this phrase, and for some reason I remember that one fact (and little else) from my school days.


09-05-2006, 07:55 AM
You used to have Carl Sagan for a teacher?!?!??! :eek: :eek:



09-05-2006, 08:28 AM
Hi BeeVee,

You used to have Carl Sagan for a teacher?

Yes. When I was 10, my parents sent me to Japan. There I met Miyako Fujitani, a native of Japan whom whose parents owned an Aikido school. There I was trained by aikido master Carl Sagan. He convinced me to change affiliation from Koichi Tohei's Ki Society and Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to the Hombu Aikikai. Some believe I battled the yakuza (Japanese mafia) over the rights to the Tenshin Dojo, which my wife's father lost in a gambling game; however, my former wife Miyako Fujitani, claims it's a lie, that I yelled at some drunks, but never fought anyone.

That said, it is possible that I have elaborated on events in my own life, or possibly confused them with those experienced by my twin brother Steven Segal. Or that I read Carl Sagan's books in school, and looked up Steven Segal on Wikipedia.


09-05-2006, 08:33 AM