We regularly feature commercial software on AppStorm, so decided it was time to bring a roundup of completely free (and often open source) apps to your attention. If you’re on a budget, you’ll be pleased to know that a variety of great OS X software is available free.
Applications are broken down into various categories, with each one containing a ‘featured’ app and several other free solutions. I hope you find something useful, and do let me know if your favorite freeware app isn’t on the list!
There’s a reason why Firefox has stormed ahead over the past few years to take such a large share of the browser market. It’s fast, completely free, and works on any platform available.
A variety of different extensions are available, taking the functionality of the browser far beyond the basics. Whilst lacking the scorching speed of the latest Safari beta, it offers a brilliant alternative if you’re looking for a free, open source browser.
- Camino – A good looking Mac-styled browser, built on the Firefox engine.
- Safari – The default browser included with OS X, with a bunch of new features in the latest release.
- Opera – A powerful browser with a few new interesting features; speed dial, search shortcuts, and a tab trash can.
- Omniweb – Taking a different approach, and assisting you with online research
- Fluid – A site specific browser, allowing you create a separate app for various websites.
Email & Communication
Developed by the same people behind Firefox, Thunderbird is a worthy alternative to Mail.app on the Mac. It has a lovely interface, with in-built junk filtering and anti-phishing support.
With additions in the new version, it’s easier to prioritize and find your important email with tags. Extensions also work well, allowing various extra features to be added.
- Adium X – The ultimate instant messaging client
- Skype – For free computer-to-computer calls, and great video conferencing
- Eudora – A free email client. Great functionality, but a little dated.
- Colloquy – IRC in Mac style.
- Revolver – A free business/email package
- WideMail – Extend mail with a completely different view
Previously a commercial application, NetNewsWire is now completely free. It offers a bunch of advanced features, and an easy way to keep feeds in sync across different devices.
The app interacts well with a variety of other desktop applications for extra functionality.
- NewsFire – A stylish RSS reader
- Vienna – Providing features comparable to commercial newsreaders for free.
- Shrook – A next-generation news reader
- RSSOwl – Filtering, labels and completely cross platform
- Dashboard RSS Reader – Keep RSS information easily accessible via Dashboard
A relatively new entrant to the Twitter client market, Nambu offers a mail-like interface for Twitter messages. Easily managing several accounts, it has the makings of a solid client.
It’s completely free, and will soon support its own in-built URL shortening and picture hosting services.
- TweetDeck – Multi paned browsing, and very popular
- Twitteriffic – The classic Twitter client, with a great UI
- Twhirl – Friendly, colorful, and great multiple account support
- EventBox – For Twitter, and a bunch of other social media networks
- Tweetr – Easy file sharing and webcam support
Music & Audio
Quickly making a name for itself as a competitor to Last.fm, Spotify allows you to stream almost any song you can imagine via the internet. Access is free, though you’ll need to listen to a short advertisement every few songs.
I’m still fond of owning my own music, but Spotify compliments iTunes excellently.
- Songbird – A non-proprietary, cross platform, extensible tool with a great interface
- iTunes – The de-facto music player for OS X, Windows and iPod users
- Audion 3 – Now discontinued, but worth checking out
- Juice – A quality app for browsing and downloading podcasts
- Audacity – For editing and converting audio files
If you need the ability to play absolutely any video format, VLC is for you. It’s as versatile as a swiss army knife, and offers a brilliant alternative to QuickTime.
- Miro – Aiming to provide easily accessible, fully intergrated internet video
- Flip4Mac WMV – For enabling WMV videos in QuickTime
- Handbrake – The ultimate tool for converting video between formats
- Perian – An open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats
- DivX Player – A simple, free player for DivX files.
Recently featured in our photo client roundup, Picasa is designed and owned by Google. It offers a bunch of great features, and is also capable of sharing photos online.
If you’re not a fan of iPhoto, Picasa has an equally impressive interface, a solid way to organize photos, and various editing tools.
- iPhoto – The in-built photo app on OS X, with face recognition and geo-tagging support.
- Gimp – A free, cross platform photo editor.
- Seashore – Built on GIMP, with a slightly different user interface
- Flickr Uploader – A simple and free solution for uploading Flickr photos
- JetPhoto – Feature-rich and easy-to-use digital photo software
File Sharing & FTP
Transmission is a fast, easy, and free multi-platform BitTorrent client. It’s fast, incredibly simple, and offers the easiest experience I’ve ever seen for dealing with torrent files.
Not enough? How about encryption, a web-based interface, peer exchange, and UPnP and NAT-PMP port forwarding?
- Cyberduck – A free alternative to commercial FTP applications
- Filezilla – Great for accessing FTP servers, and completely cross-platform
- Acquisition – In-built torrent searching and integration with iTunes
- Tomato Torrent – A slightly dated but perfectly functional torrent manager
Office & Text Editing
OpenOffice is a worthy alternative to Microsoft Office, and comes at a far more attractive price. It supports word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases.
It works on all platforms, and stores files in an international open standard format.
- TextWrangler – A great, free, code editor for OS X
- Bean – A small, easy-to-use rich text processor
- AbiWord – A full featured, open source alternative to Open Office
- Smultron – Good looking, and great for web programming, script editing, making a to do list etc.
- jEdit – Aimed at technical users, an editor specifically for programming
A unified, extensible interface for working with applications, contacts, music, and other data. Quicksilver is a powerful shortcut tool, which allows you to manipulate files and work with applications – all without needing to open them.
Confused? I was at first! Read more about the app to find out exactly what it’s capable of.
- Growl – A great system-wide notification system
- Disk Inventory X – For viewing a graphical representation of what’s eating up your hard drive
- AppCleaner – Allows you to remove any trace of an application
- Smart Reporter – Be notified if your hard drive seems likely to fail
- FuzzyClock – A fun and slightly less formal way to display the time in your menu bar
Whilst 60 applications may sound like a lot, we’ve only touched the surface of what’s available for OS X. If this post has missed a tool which you regularly use, please let me know via the comments. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy a new budget-conscious Mac experience!