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Essential applications for Mac OS X

Recently I installed from scratch a couple of machines, and as long I were needing my applications I generated this list of essential ones:


Free. Quicksilver is a launcher. When you call Quicksilver through the key combination Ctrl+space and you start typing, it suggests an application, document or file that contains that letters you typed in any place. Then you can open it, send it by email, reveal it on Finder and a long long etc... There are a lot of plugins to integrate it with more applications. See the overview for more info

Virtue for Tiger

Free. Virtue completes the missing virtual desktops in Mac OS X. Being a Linux user it is difficult to work without it. There are other applications doing this, but no one like virtue.



Free. A configurable and elegant notify window for incoming email with message preview. In the preferences you can specify for what Mail folders you should be warned when a new mail arrives. Let's imagine you receive tons of mail daily and you don't want to be distracted, then you activate Mail.appetizer only for the folder "Bosses"



Free. Textwrangler is a plain text editor for programmers. It has many interesting features such as syntax highlighting, remote edition (FTP/SFTP), strong search options, diff, encodings, etc...
If you want power there is a commercial version called BBEdit which I recommend. TextranglerHomepage

You can also use Smultron, Subethaedit (both free), TextMateTextMate or Skedit (commercials) just to mention some



Free. Lovely duck! My preferred ftp/sftp client. It has an easy and intuitive interface and allows you to edit remote files in your local editor as if they were in your very own machine. When you save them, they are uploaded back to the server.



Free. Who ever needed word? This is a port of the original OpenOffice with aqua menus and the key combinations for mac. The main problem I find in OpenOffice under X11 is the keyboard usage.



Free. For writing true documentation with LaTeX



Free. More ducks, this is a multiprotocol instant messenger. It works simultaneously with Jabber, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, GoogleTalk and many others... It is a pleasure to do tabbed chat :)



Free. Do you listen music? With SizzlingKeys you can jump between songs without using iTunes. A translucid window will be displayed with the art cover, song, and artist name every time there is a change.

If you go to Yellow Mug, it's worth to download a second free application called SnapNDrag letting you take screenshots and save them in the format you want.



Free. Textpander puts text snippets on the fly whenever you enter their corresponding predefined abbreviations.
E.g: I define ssign as a snippet with my full signature, so wherever I type ssign I'll get:

Best regards,

Albert Lombarte
Fake street 33,

Spirited Away

Spirited away menu

With Sprited Away [author, MacUpdate] you specify the maximum time of inactivity for your applications. When a program has been inactive for such a time it is automatically hidden by spirited away, so you don't have many annoying windows visible on the screen.

If there is any application you don't want to behave like this you only have to exlcude it in the top bar menu (See right image)

Spirited away doesn't have Dock icon nor interfere visually in any other place


Increase the ibook display resolution with a 2nd monitor

When you plug an iBook 12" to an external monitor you get two duplicated screens. As they are duplicated, the maximum resolution is imposed by your iBook, this is 1024x768 pixels, no matter your second monitor can do 1600x1200.

I bought an iBook 12" because it's really portable and lightweight, but for intensive work, a 1024x768 pixels resolution is absolutely not healthy . We need a solution!

That's how i'd like to work:
  iBook LCD TFT Monitor Usable screens
Before solution 1024x768 1024x768 1
After solution 1024x768 1280x1024+ 2

In order to remove duplication to let your 2nd monitor work with freedom you have to make some changes in the System Preferences/Screens panel, under the tab Align. But in small ibooks and other models, that option was removed by apple (to make your life easier?)/p>

There's still a chance to re-enable it, you can check if your mac model is supported and install the patch (at your own risk) Screen Spanning Doctor. After rebooting, you'll see the new tab.

Personally I tested the patch in two different iBooks G4 1.2Ghz and 1.4Ghz and everything went fine...


Desktop interface elements... unite!

I am one of those who prefer desktop interface consistency rather than having every couple of applications with different interface looks, depending on the gui framework they are built upon. Variety is the spice of life, but not on a computer desktop, please.

Mac OS X has always 'suffered' from this diversity of gui presentations, like the rest of Unix variants, and Tiger is even worse. We have some metal apps (Finder, Safari, ...) some Aqua (Mail 2) and some hybrids (iTunes 6), not to mention the java apps like Zend Studio, and so on. But in my opinion at least the Apple applications should have absolute interface consistency, being the design wizards they are.

Third parties have provided solutions to this problem for a few years, the most famous Unsanity and its Shapeshifter product. I used it during the Panther days, and I installed a shapeshifter theme that turned every app into the metal interface. Pretty solid and consistent, I liked it a lot and used it for months, the only gripe being that my desktop turned maybe too much grayish. When I upgraded to Tiger I was happy with the novelty of the new gui tweaks here and there, and so I didn't want to install my shapeshifter metal theme anymore. Also, shapeshifter themes tend to change way too much things in my opinion, I just want a consistent gui that also recalls being Mac OS X :-)

Enter the freeware software UNO from Pedro Grilo:

UNO derives from the Latin word for one and stands for 'as one'. UNO is the root of Unity. UNO is a theme that brings the sunken unified toolbar/titlebar look&feel to every single window on your system cocoa or carbon, metal or aqua and already unified windows as well). On an higher level, UNO's main goal is to enhance aqua interface consistence, by making all elements look&feel 'as one'. Unity!

And it does exactly what it says! In other words: Finder, Safari, iTunes and the rest of the cocoa apps all look the same now! This is gui consistency heaven now, thanks Pedro :-)


Installing and configuring PostgreSQL server on Mac

You can use the Fink package system to install postgresql if you are already using Fink (inside a terminal: sudo fink install postgresql and then configure the server).

OR you can install postgresql, with the clean solution offered by Marc Liyanage.

I prefer the 2nd option. If you also choose that, follow carefully the installation instructions and you'll have PgSQL working in minutes.

If you'd like to have 2 scripts for manually starting and stoping the database create the files:

Starting script (

su postgres -c "/usr/local/bin/pg_ctl -D /usr/local/pgsql/data -l ~/postgres.log start" (line wrapped)

Stop script (

su postgres -c "/usr/local/bin/pg_ctl -D /usr/local/pgsql/data stop" You need execute permissions in these scripts [by chmod 755] and you can invoke them with ./ and ./ commands within the terminal. Note that the postgres password will be prompted.


Configuració de Mac OS X per veure el programari en català

A la versió Tiger del sistema Mac OS X no es va incorporar finalment el sistema operatiu en català. Tot i aixó, hi ha programari de tercers que està localitzat al català. Per veure'l en el vostre idioma peró, cal que feu una sola vegada les instruccions que a continuació us proporcionem. Si ja us sentiu molt cómodes amb el mac, i per no fer-vos esperar més, cal que entreu a les preferències del sistema / internacional i escolliu el català com el primer idioma de la llista. Si per contra voleu veure com es fa pas a pas, seguiu llegint, i mirant... :)

Pas 1: Obriu les preferències del sistema

A la barra superior del Finder, cliqueu sobre la icona de la poma i després sobre Preferencias del sistema


Pas 2: Obriu Internacional

Cerqueu la icona d'internacional en la nova finestra i feu-hi un clic.


Pas 3: Comproveu que el català no sigui a la llista

A continuació s'us obrirà una llista d'idiomes disponibles. Comproveu que el català no sigui a la llista, si apareixés el primer no cal que continueu llegint, si nó feu clic al botó que diu Editar lista


Pas 4: Incorporeu el català

Baixeu fins que trobeu Català i marqueu-lo per a que es mostri. Feu clic en OK


Pas 5: Poseu-lo com a idioma per defecte

El català us sortirà el darrer de la llista. Heu d'arrosegar-lo fins a dalt de tot perquè quedi el primer de la llista. Si no estigués el primer, cada cop que arrenquessiu un programa, el OS X comprovaria si està disponible en l'idioma que hi ha per damunt del català i el mostraria en aquell idioma i segurament mai arribarieu a veure un programa en català.


Pas 6: Necessiteu tancar la sessió per aplicar els canvis

El sistema us informarà que necessiteu tancar la sessió per veure els programes en català.Per fer-ho torneu a la barra superior, cliqueu la poma i sel·leccioneu Cerrar Sesión


Fi: Gaudiu del programari en català

Ara ja podeu obrir els programes que tenen suport pel català, com l'Adium o el Cyberduck (a la foto), etc...


Notes complementaries...

  • Aquest canvi NO és perillós pel vostre sistema i només afecta al usuari actual.
  • Desafortunadament, tot el programari no està disponible en català. Així que només veureu els programes en català si estan disponibles.
  • Seguint aquestes passes feu que si un programa està disponible en català el mostrarà abans que en castellà o en anglès.
  • Hi ha programes que contenen en el paquet un sol idioma, com el Firefox, i haureu de descarregar la versió exclusiva catalana des d'internet. El mateix passa amb el Thunderbird o l'Nvu.

A continuació s'us obrirà una llista d'idiomes disponibles. Comproveu que el català no sigui a la llista, si apareixés el primer no cal que continueu llegint, si nó feu clic al botó que diu Editar lista La versió més actualitzada d'aquest document la deixem penjada a Softcatalà


Installing X11 on Tiger

If you need X11 on Tiger for running applications like OpenOffice, WingIDE... you'll need the installation DVD or image. Mount it and install the package:


It's also available when you install Tiger under the advanced option, but hey,don't waste more time looking for a download on apple site, the Panther days are over.