10 Mac Apps for the Geek Inside You

Obviously, the very fact that you’re reading AppStorm makes you a pretty cool customer… But it’s hard to deny that there’s something wonderfully geeky about software. I’d be the first to admit that when I see a shiny new app appear from nowhere, my heart skips a beat. And it takes a certain type of person to get excited about the updated release of an FTP program.

So here’s a roundup for all our fellow geeks! Let’s take a look at a handful of Mac software that lets you tinker, dig a little deeper, and generally appreciate some of the technical aspects of your shiny Apple machine.

GeekTool

GeekTool

GeekTool

Ever wondered how people get those interesting calendars, clocks, and other widget-type graphics on their desktop? There’s a good chance their using GeekTool. This isn’t remotely as user friendly as OS X’s Dashboard, and it certainly requires that you get your hands dirty with a little scripting.

Fortunately, we published a great step-by-step guide to using GeekTool a few months ago. You’ll have a desktop that’s the envy of your friends in no time at all.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5

Quicksilver

Quicksilver

Quicksilver

Despite a wide range of different shortcut utilities/app launcher popping up in recent years, the longest standing (and most configurable) launcher is Quicksilver. An enormous range of plugins give you a really versatile setup, that means you’ll rarely need to take your hands away from the keyboard.

If you like using your computer to be as efficient as possible, Quicksilver is definitely worth checking out. Although it’s no longer under active development, there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Automator

Automator

Automator

Apple touted Automator as one of the killer features in OS X Tiger, but I don’t think it’s ever really taken off as a feature known about, or used, by most consumers. For the Mac user with a geeky side, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Automator lets you easily create scripts, Finder plugins, or standalone applications that perform a set of pre-defined actions. You could resize an image, rename a series of files, or do almost anything with a combination of different plugins and AppleScript.

Price: Free
Requirements: Built into OS X

Colloquy

Colloquy

Colloquy

Traditionally, chat clients on the Mac have been anything but glamorous. Colloquy is an advanced IRC, SILC & ICB client which aims to fill this void. By adhering to Mac OS X interface conventions, Colloquy has the look and feel of a quality Mac application.

IRC isn’t really the playground of a usual Mac user, but it’s still a brilliant resource for those wanting answers to more technical questions. Colloquy on the Mac is the way to go.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher

AppFresh

AppFresh

AppFresh

AppFresh helps you to keep all applications, widgets, preference panes and application plugins installed on your Mac up to date. All from one place, easy to use and fully integrated into Mac OS X. AppFresh works by checking the excellent osx.iusethis.com for new versions and lets you download and install available updates easily.

I’m sure that the inner geek in you always wants every application you own to be constantly up-to-date with the latest and greatest version. AppFresh is a good way to ensure that this is always the case.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher

Trackpad

Trackpad

A Touch of Trackpad Magic

Your MacBook trackpad (and the back of that fancy new Magic Mouse) is a blank slate. It’s simple, sleek, and elegant. The problem is that the ability to track multiple touches and swipes isn’t really used to its full potential by default.

There are plenty of applications and utilities that can really boost the functionality of your trackpad and Magic Mouse – our roundup will help you pick the one that’s best for you!

ClickToFlash

ClickToFlash

ClickToFlash

One of my all-time favourite utilities, ClickToFlash serves one simple purpose – it blocks any Flash from loading in your browser, and replaces it instead with a simple “Flash” box. If you decide you want to load the Flash content, just click it.

You’ll find that nine times out of ten, the Flash content wasn’t what you were actually looking for, and you’re simply saved an annoying video or advertisement. Safari feels quicker, your battery lasts longer, and the world is generally a better place.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher

Visor

Visor

Visor (& Terminal)

Terminal is the one and only way to really get behind the scenes of OS X. You can change settings, run scripts, explore your full filesystem, and connect to remote servers with ease. If you’re a true geek, Terminal is something that you’ll dip into on a regular basis.

“Visor” lets you bring up a Terminal window with a single keystroke, removing the need to launch a seperate application. Elegant and incredibly useful if it’s an app you use regularly.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher

MainMenu

MainMenu

MainMenu

A slightly simpler way to get behind the scenes of your Mac and perform different functions is MainMenu. This sits in your menu bar, and proves access to a range of actions for cleaning up your Mac and generally keeping everything in tip top shape.

Price: $22
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later

Growl

Growl

Growl

The final app in today’s roundup is Growl. There’s a good chance you may have this installed on your system without knowing about it, as it’s bundled with many popular Mac apps. Growl is a notification tool, that can be invoked by any application at any time.

It’s very customisable, and comes with various different styles. Whether you want to be informed when you receive an email, when a download finishes, or literally anything else, Growl is brilliant. For more information about which apps work with Growl, check out their list of supported apps.

Price: Free
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher

Share Your Geeky Apps!

Which software do you love for creating a more useful, customized, and in-depth Mac experience? Are you a Terminal fanatic, or would you struggle to figure out how to show or hide the Dock?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to discover a few new applications to help make my life easier!


  • jenn

    Nice apps, however, please note quicksilver is once again under active development and the current beta they have works pretty good on snow leopard. http://www.blacktree.com/

    • http://gogogdgts.com bob

      Yayyy isn’t that just awesome!

    • Steve

      IMO, Alfred is better.

      • Dave Woodwater

        Seconded.

      • Kamayle

        Thirded

      • Evan

        Fourthed

  • Kanth

    Cinch

    Cinch is a powerful window management tool. You can make any window fit to your screen including apple’s own apps safari, itunes, etc.

    By far, the most easiest and convenient one !

    Also, the fact is, that it runs in menubar.

  • Dustin

    Onix, best tool to speed up and clean OSX for free! http://www.titanium.free.fr/pgs/english/apps.html

  • Dustin

    Back in Time

    Transcend Time Machine restoration possibilities. Back-In-Time offers an easy access to all the data backed up by Time Machine.
    Features that you can do with Back-In-Time only:

    Show how many versions of each document are available, and when they were saved.
    Show items that were deleted.
    Drag and Drop to copy items anywhere.
    Open multiple browsers at the same time.
    Handle multiple Time Machine disks.
    Access Time Machine data from other Macs.
    Preview different versions of each document.
    Can delete items in Time Machine backups.
    And much more…

  • http://thegraphicmac.com Jim

    DefaultFolder – the best piece of shareware for the Mac, Evvvvvaaar!!

  • http://andrewburgess.ca Andrew Burgess

    It’s nice to find that, after only using a Mac for ~3 months, I’m using most of these. Great Roundup!

  • Jason R

    Alfred, app launcher and web search thingy to replace Quicksilver (for now)
    http://www.alfredapp.com/

    • http://helloxie.com Zhuoshi

      I second this. I have found Alfred a lot better than all the other app launchers.

      • http://twitter.com/iTomath Thomas Furlonger

        I completely agree, Alfred is awesome and the development is coming along nicely. Much prefer it over Quicksilver.

    • Evan Grisel

      I absolutely love the app Alfred.

  • Donny

    I use QuickSilver, Growl and Visor every day…

  • Donny

    And I also want to recommend TotalFinder, created by Visor’s author.

  • qert

    I’d have to say I prefer Linkinus over Colloquy. Of course, unlike Colloquy, though, it isn’t free.

    • Simon

      What is IRC or a better question can colloquy work as a chat app that connects to different protocols?

  • Patrick

    I love Quicksilver, but i miss the Triggers functionality from it on 10.6 :(

  • http://www.moosedesign.com MooseDesign

    It makes me sad that Growl notifications for Mail is broken in Snow Leopard. Anyone have an idea of when that will be fixed?

  • Anonymous

    “IRC isn’t really the playground of a usual Mac user”

    What’s that supposed to mean? It’s that kind of thinking that causes TUAW to post a GUI equivalent every time they mention a shell command.

    Out of curiosity, for whom *is* IRC the playground of?

  • Anonymous

    Colloquy has too many bugs for my liking. MacIrssi falls much more into the Geek category (as well as the stable category).

    Visor is also buggy – try DTerm. This has nearly reached killer app status for me.

    Platypus is handy to have lying around too, as is Prism.

  • Martin

    Bodega i find, is a great up for keeping you up to date with apps old and new, plus it looks great, and is a great free haven for a one stop shop for paid and free apps.

  • http://www.nrgsoft.com April

    NRGship UPS is a great program for ecommerce providers looking to ship UPS from their Mac…UPS only offers a Windows solution!

  • http://twitter.com/angelceballos Angel Ceballos

    Great roundups and great collection!

  • http://www.adventistanswers.com GYC

    excellent choices, thanks for the info :)

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