Four free apps to give your new Mac a little boost

Apple has announced its annual Back to School promotion, which includes an online rebate for $199 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch. But, though your new Mac is great out of the box, here are a few free applications you might want to add right away.

Apple has announced its annual Back to School promotion, which includes an online rebate for $199 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch. But, though your new Mac is great out of the box, here are a few free applications you might want to add right away.

Even with the education discount (and rebate during the promotion) an Apple computer is not a cheap expenditure. But that doesn't mean you should go off to class with a bare-bones machine. Check out these applications and utilities to help get better performance from your Mac.

  • Perian. The first thing I do with anyone's new Mac is download and install Perian, "the Swiss-Army knife for QuickTime." Perian is free and open source, providing many video codecs that are not included with QuickTime. Perian runs native inside QuickTime, so you won't even know it's there. With the amount of video available online, Perian lessens the chances that you will run into a format that your Mac can't handle.

  • Open Office. Most users heading back to school will need some sort of productivity suite to get important papers written, presentations made, and numbers crunched. The tried and true standard Microsoft Office and the up-and-coming iWork (from Apple) are two of the best prescriptions for that need. Those, however, require a little extra cash. If free is your budget, check out the open-source Open Office. With an ever-evolving support and development team, Open Office is a formidable substitute for its costly counterparts.

  • OnyX. Titanium's Software is the company behind the excellent Mac maintenance tool, OnyX. OnyX runs all sorts of common maintenance scripts, checking your start-up disk, clearing system caches, configuring hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Safari, and much more. Should your Mac start acting odd, OnyX is a great utility to have in your troubleshooting grab bag.

  • Adium. Of course, one of the most important things when you're in school is keeping touch with your friends and family. As you will most likely be spending a lot of time glued to your Mac getting all your homework done on time (ahem), you will want to have a robust messaging and communication application. Adium is just that. Adium connects to AIM, MSN Messenger, Jabber, Yahoo, MobileMe, Facebook, and Twitter.

These are just a few of the free options available for your Mac. What are some of your favorite free applications that would be perfect for students? Let us know in the comments!


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About the author

    Joe is a seasoned Mac veteran with years of experience on the platform. He reports on Macs, iPods, iPhones and anything else Apple sells. He even has worked in Apple retail stores. He's also a creative professional who knows how to use a Mac to get the job done.

     

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