Similar to the Windows question, but for Mac OS X.

I am looking for others' list of program that absolutely must be installed to a fresh install of Windows before going any further. I hope to compile a list here to use as reference for all new Windows installs/restores.

See this Question.

I am also looking into automating this, but actually looking for the most recent version from each site. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated!

19 Answers 19


Here's my list:

  • Firefox*
  • Adium (IM Client | Multiprotocol)*
  • JollysFastVNC (VNC Client)*
  • X11*
  • Xcode*
  • Macports:*
    • mtr*
    • wireshark*
    • iperf*
    • NMap*
    • Screen*
  • Cyberduck (FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Cloud Files & Amazon S3 Browser)
  • iTerm
  • Growl (GUI Notification system)
  • HandBrake (Everyone loves to rip)
  • Remote Desktop Connection 2.0*
  • Bean (Powerful, yet tiny word processor)
  • Screenlock
  • SimplifyMedia (Share/Access your music - anywhere)
  • Xpad (Tab-based notepad solution)
  • VLC (Media Player)
  • Perian (Support for many video formats)
  • xterm
  • Gmail Notifr (Supports multiple account)*
  • Geektool
  • Boxee

... and last, but not least: The Mr. Sparkle screensaver (*LOL)... and others.


  • yep! wonderfully complete list with a few ( previously unknown ) additions. Could you possibly add "boxee and remote desktop connection" rather than me adding a "exactly as L0C0B0X's list" + these answer? – Judioo May 8 '09 at 4:00
  • Done and Done... Thanks, I had forgotten about RDC... I hadn't heard about Boxee, looks sweet! *downloading – l0c0b0x May 8 '09 at 8:30

Here my list (I'm rather new to the Mac, but I recently switched from a Mac mini to a Macbook Pro, so I had this list ready):

  • Firefox (+Plugins: Firebug, Delicious...)
  • iTunes
  • Skype
  • Evernote
  • NetNewsWire
  • Adobe Reader
  • XCode
  • Printer Drivers
  • TweetDeck
  • AppRefresh
  • Google Earth
  • Parallels Desktop
  • Remote Desktop Connection (Microsoft)

A useful resource to find new software: http://osx.iusethis.com/top


I set up a new Mac a couple of weeks ago. As far as I remember these were the first four things I installed:

  • Quicksilver
  • Xcode
  • TextMate
  • Firefox

As far as automating installs, you may want to check out AppFresh, which links with your osx.iusethis.com account and tries to download and install missing or updated applications.


Chicken of the VNC, which is coincidentally the best named piece of software, ever.


In addition to some of the others listed, OmniOutliner and OmniFocus.

  • If you're in IT, the Omni products are pretty useful for network diagrams, etc – username May 16 '09 at 20:18
  • Transmit - probably the best GUI FTP/SFTP/SCP/WebDAV/.Mac/Amazon S3 client
  • Http Client - really simple but quite useful
  • Textmate - +1 for this awesome text editor
  • Versions - a nice svn GUI
  • AppZapper - "The uninstaller Apple forgot"
  • Colloquy - IRC client
  • Adium - multi network IM
  • Flip4Mac - windows media plugin for Quicktime
  • Quinn - Tetris (with multiplayer)
  • Superduper - bootable backups
  • VodooPad - personal wiki
  • Pixelmator - stunning image editor. not as featurefull as PS but way way faster
  • SequelPro - MySQL GUI
  • Firefox - of course
  • Chicken of the VNC
  • Tunnelblick - OpenVPN client as the built in one can be a bit flaky
  • Xcode - this is how you get all gcc and all that lovely unixy stuff
  • iStat - a hardware/network stats dashboard widget

I'm a web developer so my list is probs biased that way and honestly I could do 98% of what I do with Textmate and Terminal (which is pre installed)

I also do a BootCamp (Windows) install then do a VMWare install using BootCamp as the image. This will be a really sweet setup when the Windows HFS+ drivers are released.


You NEED TextMate for programming of any sort.


I don't know about "Must Install", but here's a few of my favorites:

  • Adium
  • Fluid
  • Skype
  • VMWare Fusion
  • Remote Desktop Client
  • VLC
  • Firefox
  • 1Password
  • Soundflower
  • LineIn
  • Audacity
  • Inkscape
  • Skitch
  • uTorrent
  • NetBeans
  • Apple's Developer Tools
  • MacPorts
    • bash_completion
    • wireshark
    • emacs +carbon
    • git-core +bash_completion +doc +svn
    • mercurial
    • various other development tools
  • Firefox (though I personally use Safari, I always have Firefox installed for testing purposes and for the few sites that are compatible with Firefox but not Safari)
    • AdBlock Plus
    • NoScript
    • Firebug
  • Adium
  • Colloquy
  • Perian
  • VLC

I'm not really sure what you mean by "must install", but these are all things that I pretty much always install.

  • +1 for AdBlock Plus: god yes, i couldn't live without it. – username May 16 '09 at 20:19
  1. MacPorts
  2. Firefox
  3. iTunes
  4. Skype
  5. iStat. Monitors CPU, memory, disks, network, battery, temperatures, etc.

Those are my top 5.


It's been mentioned twice on this thread, but osx.iusethis.com is the go to site for this. Basically it lets people track which programs they use. Individuals can share those lists and the site aggregates the usage counts to produce popularity rankings (mentioned by splattne). AppFresh will use your profile to automatically install or update those apps on your computer (mentioned by Will Harris).

The site basically has many many answers to your first question (which apps), in the form of user profile. And AppFresh is the answer to your second question (how to automate the installation).

  • MacVim
  • Firefox
    • AdBlock Plus
    • bbcodextra
    • FireFTP
    • Stylish
  • Chrome Beta (a recent addition)
  • iTerm
  • MacPorts
    • coreutils
    • findutils
    • vim
    • mutt-devel
    • getmail
    • ssmtp
    • mairix
    • gnupg
    • less
    • par
  • Subversion
  • Perl 5.10
  • Ruby 1.9.1
  • Haskell Platform (now with binaries for Mac - GHC and the libraries)
  • VMware Fusion
  • MindNode
  • Dropbox (another recent addition)
  • Skim (great for reading pdfs and putting notes on them)
  • Growl
  • Quicksilver
  • iTerm
  • SubEthaEdit
  • iStat
  • Firefox (plus Hyperwords and SeatBelt)
  • UnRARX
  • VLC
  • Perian
  • Macports
  • Adium (the beta 1.4.x supports IRC, so I ditched coloquy)
  • Transmit
  • VMWare Fusion
  • Ubuntu VM to mimic server setups for webdev.
  • Windows XP VM (memory HOG!)
  • TextMate (only editor I can really work with. I use it for all my software development tasks)
  • MacPorts
  • Git
  • gitX (Native UI for git)
  • Subversion
    • Versions (Native UI for Subversion. It just won an Apple Design Award at this year's WWDC conference.)
  • Nambu (Twitter Mac OS X native client. I hate AIR applications.)
  • Firefox
  • Xcode
  • Perian (codec package)
  • fink
  • Xcode
  • Chicken of the VNC
  • NeoOffice
  • XQuartz to fix the futsy X Window system Apple supplies

I'm actually going lightweight, hate to clutter the OS. My list is:

  • Xcode
  • homebrew (an effective alternative to both Fink and MacPorts)
  • Textmate
  • 1password
  • Evernote
  • Twitterrific
  • Timeboxed (a small tool for tracking time).
  • Things
  • Skype

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