There's nothing more vital to your Internet experience than the most powerful, most up-to-date Internet applications. The Mac Orchard a detailed compilation of what I feel are the most popular and most important Internet applications available today. I do bias my coverage toward shareware and freeware applications because I believe that the authors of these applications can use all the support they can get for the vital programs they produce, but the most worthwhile commercial applications are included as well.
First off, The Mac Orchard is not a general-purpose software download web site. I only cover Internet applications on these pages.
Secondarily, another thing that makes The Mac Orchard different from many other software sites you may have visited is that each program contained within it is something I have hand-selected for inclusion. Companies and authors have no automated (or even semi-automated) way of adding applications or updating their applications' listings to The Mac Orchard (although they may email me to suggest an application for inclusion). Additionally, most authors do not email me any information regarding their software updates (although I never refuse offers to supply this information). Instead, I check for application updates myself using software that checks each application's web or FTP site(s) on a daily basis.
The Mac Orchard is more like a "specialty" store that focuses on Internet software for the Mac than a "supermarket" or "mall."
I do this because I love it, not because there's money or fame in it. Anyone who knows me knows that I couldn't stop caring about cool Mac Internet software if I tried.
Each application has a brief description and evaluation, along with a link to make it easy to download. Current version numbers are indicated beneath the title heading. Reviews submitted from users follow the basic application descriptions. Where appropriate, I've also indicated links to current beta versions of applications. Please note that, where a beta version is the only version currently available, no particular distinction is made. See the Orchard's help page for more information.
Have your own say: Since there is no way I can test all of the applications included on these pages in a fair and reasonable manner, I am currently soliciting reviews. These reviews should complement what is already included, and should be as concise as possible--preferably no more than a paragraph or two. While I will choose what does and does not get put onto these pages, your reviews will be attributed to you by name. I hope for these pages to become the ultimate resource for all Mac users trying to determine which tools are best for them. Please submit your reviews to me, and be sure to include the name to which you would like your review attributed. If no name is given, I will use the name indicated in your email header. Reviews that I cannot attribute will not be included.
If you sent in a review a while ago and it still hasn't shown up, there could be a few reasons: 1) The review contained no substantive information, or contained information that was substantively incorrect; or 2) the one time during each month that I update the reviews among the Orchard's pages has not yet arrived. That's right--once per month. Although reviews are still a very important part of the Orchard, I focus my daily efforts on tracking software more than editing and posting reviews.
Even though it's actually part of what I do for a living, web development is, to me, a completely separate topic that deserves its own specialists and web sites. There are certainly many good ones available, and I don't feel compelled to reduplicate the efforts of others (there's enough reduplication of efforts on the web already!) WebmasterMac is is a good site for Macintosh web developers. MacTech magazine is also an unusually helpful resource for lots of Mac networking and Internet development tools.
I consider these to be in the same category as web development tools, except they're of even more specialized interest (and there are literally tens of thousands of them, with large sites dedicated to covering them).
Plug-ins are not Internet applications in the typical sense. With a few exceptions - which are all listed in the Helper applications section - I generally leave these up to some other pages that cover them well. Additionally, newer browsers will help you download any required plug-ins automatically.
While occasionally I do cover an application's add-ons if they perform a valuable function that another standalone piece of software can't provide, I just don't have the time to cover every one of them. In many cases, such as Andrew Starr's Eudora add-ons page, another person has done a wonderful job so I don't have to. I always try to indicate this in an appropriate page on the Orchard.
I get asked about, and told about, this one all the time. At present, there are enough different bookmark organizers out there to make a category larger than any other--as the saying goes, they're a dime a dozen. But that's not the real problem. Many of these programs are no different from address books that can handle URLs--they're no more "Internet applications" than games, calendars, and disk utilities. In addition, many bookmark organizers do little more than what the built-in bookmark tools of many applications can already do. I have to draw the line somewhere. For similar reasons, I haven't included a number of other kinds of software, including email import/export programs, password managers, and so on. The Orchard focuses instead on programs that make actual TCP/IP connections to other computers, along with a base set of standard helper applications.
You don't need them, because your Mac already has this feature built-in. Just go to your Network preference pane (on Mac OS X) or TCP/IP Control Panel (on older Macs), and have a look.
The Mac Orchard is not a complete list of every Mac Internet application available; these are just the most popular and vital tools that a broad spectrum of people need and use regularly. It would probably be impossible, and truly a mess, to attempt a complete listing of any kind.
Additionally, I don't include the myriad of command-line tools for Mac OS X, since they are either updated by Apple through software update or are available through other sites dedicated to tracking such software, such as the excellent Fink project.
Not every application is available in every language, and even when they do, it's hard to know if they're good translations. I really have to leave it up to Mac users in other countries to list these resources. But for French versions of many of the Internet applications on The Mac Orchard, refer to Jean-Pierre Kuypers' excellent Logiciel Internet Macintosh en français.
The entries among the Orchard's pages are limited to TCP/IP-based applications (and helpers). Windows networking is not unlike AppleTalk networking in that it is proprietary and doesn't (necessarily) involve TCP/IP at all; other sites cover these items particularly well already. Many excellent Mac/Windows networking solutions exist, such as Thursby's DAVE and the open-source Samba. For starters, check out the MacWindows.com Network applications page.
To check file sizes every time an application is updated would really slow things down; as it is, I have little time to make my daily check for new applications (before a full 10-hour work day) and there's little added benefit to file sizes, since they usually appear instantly just as soon as you begin a download. If you don't want to continue, just cancel. If you do, well, you know the rest.
I don't anymore.
I used to make this distinction because: 1) I believe in the shareware and freeware system; 2) Commercial software companies already have budgets for publicizing and distributing their software; 3) Demos really don't give users the same opportunity for evaluation as shareware and freeware do; 4) revisions of demonstration commercial software are very hard to track, since they are usually made with little notice or care, and features change without warning or description. Commercial software distribution follows a completely different set of rules than that of shareware and freeware.
That said, the lines between shareware and commercial software have truly blurred since the Orchard began, so the redesign of late 2005 desegregated the commercial applications. Now, all applications are grouped appropriately, and license information is included when it's available.
I add applications to the Orchard all the time. Sometimes, when I discover an application that isn't really new but is new to the Orchard, I'll add it without an announcement. I hope this keeps people exploring. Like picking apples in a real orchard, careful exploration often uncovers the sweetest fruit. The Mac Orchard was designed to be explored.
Over the last decade, several applications have gone by the wayside, and that's too bad. A complete list of applications that have been eliminated from the Orchard over the years is available on the Orchard's application graveyard.
Since network administrators frequent the Orchard's pages quite a bit, this topic pops up from time to time. Since these involve proprietary protocols usually used in closed (i.e., corporate) networks, they don't really fit into what the Orchard is all about - in the same way that general AppleTalk applications don't fit. However, information on Novell, Citrix, etc. can be difficult to come by, especially for the Mac user who needs to convince his or her IS department that it is possible for that old Mac to be a worthwhile client on the corporate network. Information on Mac support for these systems may be found at the following places:
See "Drew's Picks" for more information.
Send me an email. Tell me a bit about the software, highlighting what sets it apart from other offerings. Please specify if it is shareware, freeware, or commercial software. Provide a download URLs and a home page location (if applicable), as well as a URL for your program's version history. The Orchard only lists those applications that have relevant functionality for a wide range of folks, and which provide that functionality in a well-designed and well-implemented package. Remember: your submission must be Internet-related in order to be considered. Please carefully review this FAQ to get an idea of what I do and don't cover. I keep a particular eye out for software that fills a needed void in the Mac's Internet capability.
I continue to devote time to The Mac Orchard for one reason: I still believe that the Mac is the best Internet client platform in the world--and it's a darn good server platform, too (Mac OS X in particular). The applications among these pages are among the finest in the world--and that's cause for celebration. Do you want to help this cause? It's easy: keep using your Macs, and keep supporting Macintosh Internet software developers. They deserve your attention, support, and feedback. The Internet is ostensibly the single most important aspect of computing today. The Macintosh deserves to remain a source for Internet application innovation.
In early 1995, I began doing consulting work for an ISP in the Southern Tier of New York State, helping Macintosh users get connected to the Internet--a job that didn't require a full-time employee. Why? Two reasons: 1) there were, of course, fewer Mac users than PC users, but, more tellingly, 2) Mac users had a much easier time setting up and getting connected than PC users.
In my everyday dealings with Internet users of all sorts, it quickly became obvious that Macs had a serious advantage over PCs when it came to Internet use, and it was all in the applications... the applications! When the best PC newsreader was WinVN, Mac users had NewsWatcher. When all PCs had for FTP and Archie was WS-FTP and WS-Archie, Mac users had Anarchie. And TurboGopher. And Fetch. And MacWeather. And Value-Added NewsWatcher. And more.
And when PC users had all kinds of trouble getting connected, Mac users got there with nary a hitch.
Whenever I showed Mac Internet clients to my PC or Unix compatriots, they couldn't top the speed, functionality, and overall quality of these applications. I was astounded myself. Yet people were scurrying left and right to buy Windows PCs to get on the Net. I met more than a few people who had regrets after doing so.
Over a short period of time, I really became concerned that, if Mac users weren't made aware of all of the great software that was coming out daily for their use and benefit, the platform would truly suffer. After all, if you don't know that there's a new version of a piece of software you regularly use that adds a feature you always wanted, what good was it?
Hence the Orchard.
In November, 1995, I began conceptualizing the web site that was to become The Mac Orchard. I had a fairly ambitious plan: to create a resource similar to one that PC users had known for a long time in the form of Stroud's Consummate Winsock Apps List: a constantly-updated, ever-growing collection of essential Internet applications. If Windows users were obsessed with keeping track of the latest versions of all their Internet apps, why should Macintosh users be deprived of this pleasure?
The Mac Orchard went live on December 17, 1995. Thousands of hours of work since its inception, the Orchard now includes links to over 500 different applications--that's more than six times the number it started with when it debuted. This increase is, in part, to my gradual discovery of some astounding applications that I hadn't heard of when I started. But it also has come because Macintosh Internet software development continues to grow. I'd like to think that The Mac Orchard has, in some admittedly small way, contributed to this. But I'll really never know.
Well, I grew up on Long Island, NY, and moved away as fast as I could. After earning a bachelor's degree in classical rhetoric from the State University of New York at Binghamton, I jumped right into a computing career (naturally*), working as an MIS director for a publishing company in Binghamton, New York. In the 1990s, I served as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of ThrottleBox Media, Inc., in Johnson City, New York (producers of the ThrottleBox Player), and today I am Chief Technology Officer for DxID, LLC in Rochester, NY.
* Actually, this is not as much of a leap as it sounds. I grew up with computers, starting with Commodore PETs and a PDP-11 in the early 1980s, and became the proud owner of a Commodore VIC-20 sometime soon thereafter. With 3.5K of available RAM and no storage capability of any kind, I soon became proficient in high-resolution game programming with Commodore/Microsoft BASIC and 6502 machine code--so proficient I forgot to do my chores.
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.