Macs benefit from good utility software just like Windows PCs do.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

Stop paying for software:
Top 10 free utilities for Macs

July 19, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard

   The best way to save money is to stop spending it. That's the idea behind my new series on the best free software for Windows and Macs. This week I'm recommending the top 10 free utilities for Macs.
   Macs benefit from good utility software just like Windows PCs do. Here's my Top 10 list. All of them are totally free.
   AppCleaner program uninstaller, from www.freemacsoft.net/AppCleaner. AppCleaner can automatically remove associated files such as preferences when you drag an application to the trash. Other features help make this program a standout.
   Monolingual foreign-language remover, from monolingual.sourceforge.net. Monolingual removes all unnecessary foreign language menus and support files, saving hundreds of megabytes of disk space. It keeps all English language files.
   DockColor OS X dock background color changer, from dockcolor.en.softonic.com/mac. If you have Leopard (OS X 10.5 or higher), you can add a cool effect to the dock with DockColor. No more boring backgrounds. Your Windows friends will be amazed.
   MacJanitor system cleaner, from http://macjanitor.en.softonic.com/mac. It gets rid of temporary files and does many other cleanup tasks. Your Mac normally does this itself, but MacJanitor makes sure these cleanup jobs aren't forgotten.
   SuperCal monitor calibration utility, from www.bergdesign.com/supercal. Short of buying an expensive stick-it-on-the-screen device that helps adjust your display, this is the best way to get your monitor calibrated. Using it takes time, but the results are spectacular. Be sure you read the instructions that accompany each step.
   WakeOnLan, from www.readpixel.com/wakeonlan. This will wake up (or force into sleep mode) any computers on a local area network (a LAN). This way you can remotely get files off a Mac that's sleeping, or put your kids' Mac to sleep remotely when they've gone to bed themselves.
   SuperDuper! system backup and recovery utility, from www.shirt-pocket.com. Free version works as well as the paid one, but doesn't have automated actions. SuperDuper! (yes, the "bang" is part of the name) makes fully bootable cloned disks from your main Mac drive. I've used it to save my bacon a number of times.
   Audacity audio recording and editing software, from www.audacity.sourceforge.net. This program, which records and edits sound files easily, made my Windows Top 10 list, too. (It's available for both platforms.)
   VLC audio and video player, from www.videolan.org/vlc. Another Win/Mac beauty, for both platforms. Plays just about every kind of audio and video. You'll never wonder what your sister-in-law e-mailed you ever again.
   Skype conferencing software, from www.skype.com. For video calls via computer if your Mac has a Webcam (most laptops do). It works fine with just a microphone, too, for audio-only calls. Calls are free, and Windows users have the same software, so your college kids have no excuse for not calling to chat every week.