Essential (Mostly) Free Mac OS X Downloads

Posted on 26 March 2008


<<this type of guy>>


<these  types>>

UPDDATE: A great big list of Mac OSX Apps

from HyperJeff

  • A huge list, some of which is free…so I’ll include it.

File Transfer

Azureus from

  • A BitTorrent client under the GNU Public license.

Text, Page, and Web Layout

TextWrangler from

  • Superlicht text editor for web designers, programmers, etc. It’s distributed under a proprietary license, but it’s free.

NeoOffice from with X11 or XDarwin

  • Office suite replacement. I frequently use this in place of that “other” office suite. I use it instead of its progenitor ( because it seems to be more elegantly ported for MacOS X.

Office OpenXML Converter from

  • Converts those hideously annoying .docx and .pptx files into the good-old .doc and .ppt readable with Office 2004.

KompoZer from

  • A free application that claims it is a “complete web authoring” solution, combining file management and a WYSIWYG editor. I’ve read that many think it is a real alternative to Adobe’s Dreamweaver.

Scribus from

  • Page layout software, not unlike Adobe PageMaker in purpose, but released under the GNU Public License.

Inkscape from

  • Vector graphics editor, not unlike Adobe Illustrator, but using the XML specified SVG format. Released under the GNU Public license.

Audio Editors and Encoding

Audacity from

  • Digital audio editor under GNU Public License and featuring effects, multiple plug-in compatible architecture, and multitracking.

Max 0.8b from

  • Disc content ripper and converter. According to the site, it “leverages open source components and the resources of Mac OS X to provide extremely high-quality output.” In effect, it’s good and it’s versatile. Essential.

OggDrop X from

xiphQT from

  • xiph QuickTime components allows iTunes, QuickTime player, and other QuickTime-based software to use the Ogg container format, as would be necessary to listen to Ogg Vorbis files in iTunes. See OggDrop X listed above.

Senuti from

  • Transfer songs from your iPod back to your computer. Again, not really free–but supported by donations alone.

Jack and a2dpcast, details from

  • Audio connection kit that supports a2dpcast, a bluetooth audio broadcaster. Not flawless or easy, but cool.

Audio Hijack Pro from

  • Technically not free, but the first ten minutes of use are gratis. After that, white noise is superimposed over the audio output. To make up for potential loss of reputation, they offer a few nice genuine freebies, too. Checkout Nicecast as well. Haven’t used it, but looks promising; a GNU application of this type would rock!

Physical Media

HandBrake from

  • DVD to MPEG4 converter under the GNU Public license.

MacTheRipper from

  • Freeware DVD extractor. Not for extracting copyrighted content, of course.

DVD Imager from

  • Create disk images of video and data DVDs from VIDEO_TS folders.

Burn OSX from

DVD Media Inspector from

  • An application that provides information about disc media, including disc manufacturer id and lots of other data. Some burnable media is more prone to error than others, and this can help identify the manufacturer of your disc.

Bitmap Images and Image Editors

Picture Namer from

  • Sick of getting that folder full of files named DSCN002358x.jpg? This will easily do the batch renaming trick for you.

GIMP (with X11) from and X11 from the MacOS X Installer disk.

  • Image editing software under the GNU Public license. Fantastic!

Picasa Web Albums Uploader from

  • Free from google. It’s super-slick if you use iPhoto to build galleries and want to upload them to Picasa.

Video Players, Encoders, and Decoders

VLC Media Player from

  • A media player that supports LOTS of formats and is released under the GNU Public License. If you’ve got a media file that’s valid but that no other software will play, VLC can probably handle it. It can also stream content over networks (the source of its name), play back many incomplete or damaged files, and play back DVDs and VCDs!

MPlayer OSX from

  • A GUI front end for the MPlayer command line media player.Released under the GNU Public License. It’s an alternative to VLC Media Player. Requires (and helps ease) the installation of a few other add-ons.

ffmpegX from

bbDemux from

  • Small and simple app to separate MPEG or VOB container format files into their component video and audio files.

File Compression and Backup

Carbon Copy Cloner from

  • Not really free, but this shareware is supported by donations and is fully functional.

7zX from

  • File compression software which uses the 7z format. It claims 30-70% better compression by size than ZIP.

UnRarX from

  • Extracts RAR archives. It’s not so exciting, but sometimes necessary.

StuffItExpander 12* from


TinkerTool from

  • Reminds me of PowerToys for windows; it’s also a little bit like typing “msconfig” at the run prompt. Nice additional controls for the finder, startup items, etc.

smcFanControl from

  • A small app that allows you to monitor and control your fan speed. Super useful for those red-hot MacBook Pros.

SuperCal from

  • Display calibration software; no hardware measuring devices required! It’s not really free, but fully functional. The author asks for registration to support further development.

Skim from

  • Read and annotate PDFs with this more functional alternative to Preview.

Update: MacFUSE from

  • Mount NTFS volumes.

Update: NTFS-3G from

  • Mount NTFS volumes.

Remote Desktop/Desktop Sharing

Chicken of the VNC from

  • VNC client for remote access to macs. Way cool.

Fugu from

  • GUI front end for SFTP. Use it to create secure SSH tunnels in concert with Chicken of the VNC to securely remotely control your Mac.

Dashboard Widgets

iStatPro from

  • A dashboard widget that provides details about temperatures, read/write operations, disk capacity, memory, and much more.


  • A small and powerful alternative to Apple’s default dashboard widget calculator.


Propellerhead Reason Demo from

  • Not really free, but the demo is largely-functional for 20 minutes at a time and is unbelievably fun to play with. Make your own electronic music and beats. Similar, but more functional, than the older Rebirth RB-338.

FlightGear from

  • Full featured flight simulator. Tons of locations, aircraft, and add-ons. Plus, it’s just cool to see who else is flying at the same time: (Dual monitors strongly recommended!)

Google Earth from

  • Far too cool for words. Just download it and see.

Doukutsu-Cave Story from

  • Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead mentioned this game on their blog. It’s worth the download just for the music, which, after one listen, will play in your head for days to come.

MacOS X 10.5 Leopard from

  • Maybe I’ll include this once all of the kinks are worked out. At the moment, 10.4 Tiger is working for me.
Posted in: IT and Computing