Several years ago I assembled a list of links to give friends who asked me for good places to find cool Mac software. Of course my list included the venerable VersionTracker and it’s upstart competitor, MacUpdate, but at the time my favorite place to learn about new Mac software was a site called Chez Mark. Rather than listing every new release and update under the sun, Chez Mark would highlight a short selection of the “newest and the best” Mac shareware, with single paragraph descriptions that explained why this particular new utility or application or game or whatever deserved your attention.
Sadly, one week Chez Mark wasn’t updated on schedule, and to this day the “current” edition of Chez Mark remains Volume 9, Number 33 — August 18 – 24, 2003.
Fortunately there are a number of excellent new resources that have arrived to provide Mac users with inside tips and recommendations for cool software they might otherwise never learn about and try.
iusethis.com is a site where you get a chance to share your favorite Mac software titles by submitting them to the database, or voting for them if someone else already has. Each title has an ‘iusethis” tally next to it so you can quickly see which ones are most popular.
You can also register for a free account and the site will keep track of the software you use so the next time a friend who switches to a Macintosh asks “what do you use on your Mac?” you can point them to your page on iusethis.com. As an example check out the pages for Arne and Marcus, the developers of this unique site.
Cool OS X Apps is a wordpress-powered blog that posts a few titles each day complete with a capsule description and icon for each recommended piece of software. It’s a much friendlier interface for discovering new applications, utilities, widgets, and such than wading through the overwhelming daily update lists at VersionTracker or MacUpdate. I learned about the very cool Delivery Status widget here.
The software descriptions are more often reviews at MacApper that are contributed by a staff of volunteer writers who often are still in their teens and recent switchers to the Mac platform. This unique insight and perspective keeps the content fresh, interesting, and provides a healthy diversion from the mainstream Mac news sites that tend to publish rephrased press releases when announcing new software.
MacZOT highlights a single shareware title each day with the added bonus of offering it at a significant discount over the regular price, with the offer generally expiring at midnightPacific time. They also occasionally offer mystery bundles of assorted titles as special packages with cryptic content descriptions that generate plenty of speculation among the ZOT faithful. The deals are often tempting and you may find yourself clicking that “Buy Now” button just to pony up for those shareware titles you’ve used for years and have always been intending to register.
Those sites should help you become a seasoned explorer for cool new Macintosh software. If you have other recommendations feel free to post a comment.