The Mac Orchard collects together all of the most essential Internet-related applications for the Macintosh in one handy location, to facilitate your exploration of the many programs available.
Internet applications include all software whose primary function involves transferring data over the Internet for human consumption. This includes email programs and web browsers, among many other types of software.
The Mac Orchard is a bit different from other software archives or download sites you may have visited. Rather than providing a mere search interface to a mountain of software, it is designed to be explored so that you can efficiently compare related applications. Generally, people come to The Mac Orchard when they are looking for a piece of software to address a particular communication need — like an email application that supports Hebrew, a web browser that supports offline browsing, or a program for setting up an FTP server. The site groups related applications together for easier perusal and comparison. (More information regarding what makes the Orchard a bit different is covered in Frequently Asked Question #2.)
This Help page provides a brief overview of two components of the Orchard that you will use most frequently: the home page and application pages. For further information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions page.
The Mac Orchard home page is where you will typically begin your experience.
Across the top of the home page — and on every page of the site — are links to basic utilities that will help guide your experience from time to time (such as this Help section). These links include:
The "body" of the home page is broken into three distinct columns:
(Note to users of older Macs: As of the late 2005 redesign of The Mac Orchard, all of the Orchard's category pages focus on applications that will run on Mac OS X. If you are running an older Macintosh, most — but not quite all — of the applications that will run on your computer are grouped together in the "Classic" applications page.)
Below the list of category pages is a search box ( L ) that will enable you to perform a full-text search of the Orchard's entire collection of applications. This is useful if you want to look for all programs that pertain to a particular term that is of interest to you. For example, a search for "spam" will link you to a variety of applications across ALL of the Orchard's 16 categories, including email clients, spam filters (which, by the way, are listed on the email applications page), servers, and more.
This search capability is available from the right hand column of every page of the site.
Above the right hand column is an expandable menu ( M ) (also available from every page of the site) that will enable you to quickly navigate from one application category page to another. If you expand this menu, it will re-collapse when you load a new page in an effort to stay out of your way.
On the footer of the home page (and on every page of the site) is another group of links ( N ) to the Orchard's 16 application category pages that is useful if you don't want to scroll back up to the top of a page to use the expandable menu.
Each of the hundreds of applications listed on The Mac Orchard follows a standardized format.
Applications may be listed either in groups (such as on the 16 "category" pages) or by themselves. In either case, all application pages have the following elements in common:
Application pages may also include the following additional information in the right-hand column:
At the top of each application listing is the program's name ( U ). A golden apple next to the name ( V ) indicates that this application is worthy of particular attention (this is called a "Drew's Pick").
To the right of the application's name is a short list of basic information about the program, presented using a series of colored, graphical indicators ( W ). These indicators may include any of the following:
Software is released under a huge variety of licensing schemes, from "freeware" all the way on up to boxed, fully commercial offerings. With a few odd exceptions, software on The Mac Orchard tends to fall into the following categories:
Underneath the application's name is an indicator of the latest version number of the software, along with the date (if I managed to capture that information) on which this version made its appearance on the Orchard ( X ). It is not uncommon for there to be multiple "current" releases for software; for instance, there may be a current version for Mac OS 9 and a separate current version for Mac OS X. I do not specifically describe the nature of these "multiple releases" in this area of the application listing, but I do describe them in detail in the description and download sections that are presented immediately below.
The body of the application entry ( Y ) provides a high-level overview of the software, along with critical details about its functionality, including information on what's new in the latest release. Where possible, I try to provide commentary regarding what makes the software useful or different, in an effort to help you best distinguish the software that may be right for you. I also discuss special system requirement-related issues if they exist.
After this description, I include user reviews, which supplement my own information with insight from other Orchard visitors ( Z ). I provide all readers with the ability to submit their own reviews to me from within this section as well ( AA ). The reviews you submit are not automatically posted to the web site; I read and select only reviews that provide useful information that will contribute to visitors' understanding of the applications. These reviews may be positive or negative, but I do look for reviews that are well-articulated and succinct.
At the very bottom of each application is what I like to call the "business" end of the listing: the area where you can download the software itself ( BB ). Where possible, I try to make each download link as explicit as possible, noting the minimum operating system requirements (if they are an issue) or other pertinent information. When there are multiple "current" releases of an application (see above), I indicate the version number next to the download link.
There are a few other pieces of information that I include next to the download links to better describe their nature:
Pre-release downloads. At the very bottom of an application's downloads may be a separate area containing links to pre-release (sometimes called "alpha" or "beta") versions of the software. A stylized "Beta" label distinguishes this section. I provide these links for those who may be interested in testing new features in an effort to help authors iron out bugs and issues in these new releases, but sometimes these releases fix bugs that may make the "current" release(s) unusable for some.
That's about it! If you have made it this far, you are a very determined reader indeed. For information beyond what is included in this page — such as information about me or the reasoning behind many of the decisions I have made in putting this site together — please see the Frequently Asked Questions page. Thanks for visiting, and get browsing!
Can't find what you're looking for? Try a search:
Also, if you have an older Mac, be sure to check out the "Classic" applications page for more options.
Finally, take a look at ALEMIA if you think you know that name of an application, but aren't quite sure.
If you're having problems with a piece of Mac hardware or software (or with Apple's latest system update), author Ted Landau's MacFixIt is the only place you need to go.
Traditionally, Mac OS has been a fairly secure operating system. Mac OS X, however, introduced a UNIX underpinning that is more vulnerable to security holes than Mac users are accustomed to. Two sites are worth bookmarking to keep on top of the state of your Mac's security: Apple's very own security updates site and the SecureMac.com web site, which features regular articles on potential security vulnerabilities Mac users should be aware of. For security issues on all computing platforms, however, no site is more important than the CERT (formerly the Computer Emergency Response Team) web site at Carnegie Mellon University.
For the latest scoop on what's happening in the world of Macintosh, there is a triumvirate of sites that, together, will keep you truly current: Ric Ford's inimitable MacInTouch; the nicely-designed and complete MacCentral; and MacNN, which has become a Mac news powerhouse, covering rumors, tips, and stories relating to the Mac community at large.