Article: The Third Annual Back to School Software Picks

by on August 6, 2004

When I wrote for Low End Mac, one of my articles was entitled “Back to School Software” and covered some essentials. Last year, I did a roundup, but it somehow got lost in the archives. This year I decided to take a look at useful software that is either cheap, free, or included with most Macs. These ten programs can also be enjoyed by those who are past their schooling.


Meteorologist by HEAT

Meteorologist is a freeware application which puts the current temperature and weather conditions in your menu bar. Fully customizable, including the display of the menu bar item itself (whether you want just the temperature, the temperature and an icon, or more) and what items appear in the pull-down menu, Meteorologist is a great addition to any Mac user’s Applications folder.

Calendarclock by Peter Maurer

Do you use iCal? If you do, this donationware program replaces the menu bar clock with a new, more customizable clock and a pull-down mini calendar. Calendarclock integrates with iCal to show upcoming to-do items and appointments.

Fugu by Andrew Mortensen

Fugu is a free FTP program, which is merely an aqua front-end for the built-in Unix FTP client in OS X. With a simple, clean interface, Fugu resembles many other FTP clients. Useful for anyone who has to upload a personal page to their college web servers.

SubEthaEdit by TheCodingMonkeys

SubEthaEdit is a text editor, free for non-commercial use, and allows multiple people to work on the same document over a Rendezvous network or the internet. With basic, but powerful features, everyone can collaborate with this useful little app. SubEthaEdit is also highly useful for coding web pages or programming, as it color codes tags and other commands.

OnyX by Jols Barriere

OnyX is a highly useful utility for performing routine maintenance tasks, enabling hidden customizations, and checking your Mac for problems. With an easy-to-use interface, OnyX allows to find what you need to use right away. The best part is that it is free.

iTunes by Apple

iTunes is a must, whether or not you use a Mac or PC, buy songs online or not, or use an iPod or not. Besides coming with every new Mac, it’s free for any others that will run it, and can be downloaded for Windows. The need for special burning software for archiving your music library is eliminated, as is any other additional software. With a set of decent speakers, any Mac can crank out the hits all year long.

Keynote by Apple

The most expensive program on our list, Keynote is good to have if you ever need to do any kind of presentations with your own Mac and want to give them a “wow” factor unseen with the stuff on PowerPoint. More often than not, the how of the presentation will end up being the topic, as you can create stunning animations and graphics. The QuickTime exporter also comes in handy.

Photoshop Elements 2.0 by Adobe

Anyone who does image manipulation, and wants more than iPhoto’s built in tools should look into Photoshop Elements, the cheaper, more limited sibling of Photoshop CS. With a price tag between $50-$100, it doesn’t exactly fall under or free or nearly free category, but it’s usefulness makes up for that. It’s a program we find ourselves launching multiple times a day – and not because of crashes.

TextEdit by Apple

TextEdit is a very simple word processor included with OS X. Early versions can open and save RTF files, but the version included with Mac OS X 10.3 can deal with RTF and Microsoft Word documents. Basic formatting tools and a spell checker are included. For anyone who just wants to type a few assignments or take notes in class, TextEdit might be enough.

Logorrhea by Spiny

Logorrhea organizes all logged iChats in an easy-to-browse window. Other than that, this application does nothing else, but shouldn’t doing one thing properly be enough?

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