My brother was recently in the market for a new laptop, and I helped him with the reasearch as usual. He ended up with a Macbook in the end, and being a first-time Mac user I of course helped him get started.
What I didn’t realize is that there are some essential applications I have collected over time, which everyone may not know about. They tend to make things much easier.
One of the “features” that need fixing in OS X is the way sleeping is implemented. When you close the lid of the computer, it enters sleep as usual, but it also does the hibernation step – meaning that it saves the contents of the memory to disk, in case of a power failure.
While this may have its benefits, I find it mostly annoying and it means being careful handling the computer until the disk has stopped spinning. Well, no more. There is a smart program called SmartSleep which makes it possible to reap the benefits of both sleeping methods at once!
The idea is that since you probably won’t need the hibernation functions until your battery is almost depleted, it will only be enabled when the battery charge becomes low (configurable threshold)! This means that the computer will go to sleep much faster in normal circumstances, and when the power is critically low, it will revert to the default sleep plus hibernate option. This makes it possible to resume the session even when the battery has been totally depleted.
Media! The Mac needs to be able to play the various media file formats out there, such as Matroska and Windows Media. Perian and Flip4Mac takes care of all your codec needs, and since they provide filters for Quicktime, you may continue to use your Quicktime Player or even iTunes for viewing this content!
The final application for this time is Growl, which provides a system-wide and well supported method of providing unobtrusive user notifications. This may not seems like a big deal, but it makes it easier to focus on what’s important.
Just one more thing! This isn’t an application, but it something Mac users should be aware of. If you have noticed that your pictures, videos or other things look washed out, it might be time to modify your gamma settings.
The default gamma on the Mac is set to 1.8, while most other use 2.2. Experiment with this and see what you prefer. G Ballard provides some more insight and howtos on this issue. There are even some rumors floating around that Apple will change the default gamma to 2.2 in the upcoming Mac OS 10.6 – Snow Leopard.