What’s running on your Mac right now?

Written by: Jack Hodgson

Categories: Editorial

What's running now?

Looking at the application dock just now it occurred to me that that was an interesting collection of apps. Maybe not. But for better or worse, here they are (show us yours too if you like):

Grab — We start right out with an oddball. This is the standard screen grab utility that comes with the Mac, and I basically NEVER use it. But it’s open now cause I couldn’t get any of my usual tools to grab the application dock. But Capture->”Timed Screen” did the trick. I quit it the moment after I took the shot, and probably won’t see it again for a long time.

Finder — Ah the Finder. At Merlin Mann’s suggestion, I tried Path Finder for awhile, but Finder is good enough for me. I’ve even gotten used to the left-hand-icon-sidebar of Tiger. Although I really wish we could get consistent about what a single- vs double-click does on an icon.

ImageWell — I only found this app since MacWorld, and now I wouldn’t want to live without it. It makes incredibly simple the process of grabbing, scaling, doing simple editing, and then uploading, of images for my blogs. I love it!

Transmit — FTP client. I’ve used more different FTP clients over the years than just about any other type of app. Interarchy, NetFinder, Fetch, Cyberduck, others I’m sure, now Transmit. Transmit is working well for me right now. I have no desire to change. And I hate to damn-with-faint-praise, but I can’t promise I won’t switch again. It’s me.

BBEdit — BBEdit is one of the 3-4 apps that are running on my Mac ALL THE TIME. Years ago I gave up doing any of my writing in MS Word. Now I write prose, code, journals, proposals, scripts, invoices, drafts of emails & blog posts, lists, reminders, just about everything, in BBEdit. It has a weird combination of simplicity and power. Hard to explain. But it’s the place where I write, and I write a lot.

OmniOutliner — I’m evaluating using this to organize my to-do list in a GettingThingsDone sort of way. The jury’s still out. OmniOutliner was included on my MacBook. I think it’s the full version, and not a demo. I’ll be bummed if it expires.

Calculator — I use this often, but don’t usually leave it running. It’s still open from a recent session of arithmetic.

Ecto — For posting to most of my blogs. I could probably set it up to post to this one too, but I haven’t yet. It’s a terrific tool for easily creating, formatting, and uploading blog entries to all the major blogging systems. One quibble: I bought a license for it a couple years ago. Then, in one of my system upgrades and/or machine migrations, it forgot that I’d paid, so now I use it in Demo mode and it periodically pesters me to pay (again). It’s easier for me to reset the demo timer (I’ll never tell how), than to try and find the registration info. My-bad.

Terminal — Every now and then you have to do the Command Line thing. Running on my Mac about half the time.

Software Update — Not usually running on my Mac, but last night I was checking to see if I have all the OS X patches installed prior to the early (and awesome!) arrival of daylight savings time. I also installed the new iTunes, more on that soon.

Quicktime Player — I’m part way through watching the latest episode of Diggnation. I could watch it in iTunes, but for some reason there are things that I prefer to watch, or listen to, in Player. Anybody else feel that way?

Mail — This is another of the apps that is always running on my Mac. For years (and years, and years) I was a Eudora user. Mail Version 1 was pretty bad, but when Mail v.2 came along it got a lot better. So I switched. I tried Thunderbird for awhile, and didn’t like it. Tried BareBones’ Mailsmith for awhile, and liked it, but not $100 worth, vs. FREE for Mail. Full disclosure, I also use Gmail for some of my mail. Both Gmail and Apple Mail have their plusses. But they’re two completely different things. Apples and Oranges, so to speak.

SpamSieve — This spam filtering program is awesome. I installed it a couple months ago when Mail’s spam filter inexplicably stopped filtering (still don’t know why). I tried the free demo of SpamSieve, paid the fee, and never looked back. Learns fast and very accurate. Highly recommended.

Firefox — Another app that’s running all the time. I run Safari as the default browser on my desktop (secondary) Mac. But on my MacBook (primary Mac) I run Firefox. I’ve tried most of the Mac browsers, and many of them are very good. But I’m comfortable with, and have all my bookmarks in, FF.

iTunes — Runs about 50% of the time. Use it mostly to listen to podcasts while I work (or pretend to be working). Just upgraded to the new version 7.1. I’ve yet to notice the difference. Although I leave iTunes running even when not listening to something, it’s one of the first apps I’ll quit when I need to recover memory or performance for some other purpose.

Awaken — This is something I’m evaluating for a possible posting. It’s a timer app that lets you program regular repeat reminders, as well as set a one-time timer. It seems to work just fine. Otherwise the jury’s still out. More later, maybe.

So those are the apps I’m running right now. I’m tempted to think of what apps I use that are not running right now, but then that would defeat the whole purpose of this posting.

What apps are YOU running right now?. Show us here

There are 12 comments on What’s running on your Mac right now?:

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  1. rick | Mar 09 2007 - 06:53

    Hey. Great posting. And thanks for including the links for the Apps. Yes, I prefer to use Quicktime when I download video directly from the web, but for all other audio and video y use iTunes. I am surprised you don’t have iCal running all the time.

  2. Jason | Mar 09 2007 - 08:36

    Ruh roh – where’s Quicksilver on your list?

    Quicksilver is a must for people who wish to be more productive and more adept at controlling their Macs.

    As for Quicktime PLayer – with the Perian plugin (www.perian.org), I prefer QT over VLC for all my media.

    What about TextExpander (nee Textpander)? It’s an awesome app that saves tons of repetitive typing of common things like addresses, the fax number you can never seem to remember, whole lines of html or other code, etc. It’s a must-have. TextExpander is something like $30 but wholly worth it.


  3. jackhodgson | Mar 09 2007 - 09:45


    Very good point about Quicksilver. I (kinda arbitrarily) limited my post to things that were visible in the application dock. I do run Quicksilver all the time. I was a little bit late to that party, I only installed it a couple months ago, but now I use it constantly. Another hidden app that’s been running more-or-less full-time recently is Twitterific. And I have the little MenuMeters thing running that shows CPU and memory load up on my menu bar. Also SoundSource for quickly switching audio in and out sources.

    As for TextExpander. I’ve created an extensive set of “Clippings” in BBEdit (they were formerly called “Glossaries”) which I use for all sorts of text insertion, and shortcuts. I may post something here about some of the BBEdit Clippings I use the most.

    — Jack

  4. jackhodgson | Mar 09 2007 - 09:50

    Full disclosure: As a result of my mentioning “Awaken” in this posting, Jerry Brace, of Embraceware Software, sent me a complimentary registration code. Thanks Jerry.

    I’ll be continuing my look at this app and post something here if it merits.

  5. aplardi | Mar 09 2007 - 12:42

    Personally, I love Firefox but always find myself wishing I could switch to Safari or Shiira. I have a fairly large list of reasons why I wouldn’t be able to switch, but using Firefoxy helps make Firefox a lot more usable. It may not give Firefox OS X widgets, but it’s better than mixing the classic Windows look with Aqua.

    Note: Firefoxy has not been updated, when patching Firefox 2, just answer Firefoxy saying you have version 1.5, and you should have no problems.

  6. Ralph | Mar 09 2007 - 01:05

    Here is a quick tip to capture the dock as you said you had problems doing so.

    Just do Command-Shift-4 then drag from left to right and it’ll capture it to a file.

    If you’d like to do just certain window items do Command-shift-4 then hit the spacebar.

    Hope this helps someone.

  7. Felipe | Mar 12 2007 - 03:34

    Good post…

    But about the firefox, I used it when I was using windows (bad times) and loved it. But for my PowerBook G4, it does not make its paper. There are some bugs and the scroll is little bitt odd… Don’t know why…

  8. Mark S | Mar 14 2007 - 10:08

    The pre-installed version of OmniOutliner is the full version. Apple does not have the habit of putting demos on new machines (except for the Office 2004 Test Drive).

    I’m debating switching to it too, or at least trying it for regular work. I’ve been using Circus Ponies Notebook for taking notes in class for a while and really like it. I highly recommend taking a look at it. You can get a full 30 day demo at http://www.circusponies.com/.

    I’m also trying out OmniGraffle for brainstorming and quick diagrams for my notes since Notebook doesn’t provide this feature.

  9. jackhodgson | Mar 14 2007 - 11:44

    Mark S,

    I’ve always been under the impression that the copies of Pages and Keynote that were preinstalled are demos.


    — Jack Hodgson

  10. Mark S | Mar 14 2007 - 11:27

    Oh, forgot about those. Yup, those are demos too unless you pay for a license when you buy your Mac (and I did). Ok, and I guess I should mention Filemaker Pro if you bought a MacBook Pro or MacPro.

    However, aside from those few, everything else is the full version.

  11. Kate | Mar 15 2007 - 11:30

    Excellent post! Thanks! I usually have iChat running since many of my friends now live far away. I also love Spam Sieve. Wish Apple would incorporate a filter back in.


  12. melanie | Mar 20 2007 - 08:09

    Apps that are always running on my ibook (although i am actually buying a new macbook TODAY (YAY!)):

    itunes- i just installed the 7.1 and i am curious what the difference is too! i love itunes, i have it open even if nothing is playing, but i’m always adding songs, or tinkering with playlists (a must when you have over 3000 songs)

    mail- i agree that v. 2 is much better than the first. i get a lot of crap mail through my blog,as i’m sure you do, but so far i haven’t felt the need to get an additional spam filter. i will keep spamsieve in mind should there be any developments on that front though

    iphoto- i take a ton of photos, and am constantly uploading, editing them, and publishing them to my .mac account. i like keeping all of my photos in one place.

    photoshop- i love this program to death. it is so addicting (and expensive). i use this for resizing photographs, coloring my illustrations, creating photo collages, and creating prints of my artwork.

    twitterific- a new found addiction…i can’t stop tweeting on twitter.

    firefox- i use blogger to publish my blog, and this is the only web app that allows me to enjoy all of bloggers features. there are other benefits to firefox, and i do use safari as well, but ff is definitely my primary browser for the above mentioned reasons.

    ichat- i don’t use this as much as i used to (in the college days), but it is still the best way for me to keep in touch with my friends living outside of NYC.

    grab- i use grab all of the time ususally to create thumbnails of my photographs or illustrations. i could use other programs to do this (hello photo shop), but grab is so simple and easy. the only downside is that it saves the images in tiff format and i have to re save it in a jpeg format…it takes two seconds, and it could be that you can make it save initially in a jpeg format and i just haven’t figured that out. what i’m trying to say (badly) is i do use the application quite alot.

    finder- use it non-stop, i don’t think i need anything else.