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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

Another glorious theft from Apple: The Mac AppStore

Last week Apple released its app store for the Mac, and already, a few people has asked me for my recommendations on the best free apps. They must have known I spent most of the day last Friday downloading and installing. Before I get to my recommendations, I just have to say I can’t believe it took Apple this long to create the app store.

How long has there been an app store for the iPhone? How long have other companies created platforms for installing software? I’m thinking specifically of what Steam has done for video games. Steam released its Mac client in May.For that matter how long has CNET offered download.com for the Mac or even Apple supported MacUpdate? That’s where I used to get all my freeware.

In other words, the capability to find and download all kinds of software for the Mac has always been there, but it took Apple to universalize it. As much as I hate Apple for stealing everyone else’s good ideas, I have to applaud them for pulling them off so much better. Before the app store, I had downloaded maybe a half dozen applications on my own (For those of you looking for recommendations, the list includes Onyx, Remote Buddy, Hyperdock, WineBottler, HandBrake, and StuffitExpander.)

In the last three days, I’ve at least tripled the number of programs I’ve added to my Mac. I’ve added so many that my dock barely fits on the screen anymore. (I’ll share some dock management tips later.) This is a testament to what Apple does best. The company has a knack for finding ways to make things, whether it be apps, information, menus, or music, easy to find and use. That’s it really. And that’s the glory of the app store. When I’ve got a moment of downtime, I can search the store or browse the top lists and probably find something that will help.

Here is what I’ve found and would recommend so far:

  • Shrook: My favorite free app so far has been this nifty little RSS reader. Look I know some are predicting the death of RSS, but to me, it’s alive, well and vital to my day. I follow a lot of blogs. I need to stay on top of how people are talking about journalism and technology. Shrook pulls all that together for me.
    I’ve used a ton of different readers, and for the longest time, Google’s was my go-to app, but I’m liking Shrook a lot more. First, it makes a distinction between unread and new posts which I really like. Second, it shows me updates that have been made to posts. It’s been fun for me to see the copyediting ESPN does to the Cross Checks blog. Finally, Shrook runs without pulling up my browser. I usually have so many tabs open that I enjoy having one less.
  • Evernote: I’m surprised I haven’t use this app before. It’s a simple way to keep track of things you are working on. It allows you to pull together pieces of a project easily and save them to the cloud. It also allows you to copy portions of websites to use later. This is something I do a lot. I’ll find an article I want to share with the class, and for the last year or so, I’ve been making a screen capture with Grab or bookmarking it in Firefox or Chrome. Then I can never find them again. Here’s hoping Evernote can make some sense of my browsing.
  • Swackett: This is a goofy weather app. Its fresh take is it tells you what you need to wear for the weather conditions. I know it’s a gimmick, but I’m using this app far more than I ever did the weater app in the dashboard or visiting weather.com.
  • Alfred: Mac OS X has always had one of the best search functions. It has made me lazy in organizing my files because I know I can just type the name in the search bar and the Spotlight will find it. Alfred ramps that up a knotch. Not only is Alfred’s presentation prettier than OS X, but I can open files and applications right from the bar (it just took a bit of research to learn I have to use “find” and “open” before the keywords.) I can easily pull up the search by hitting OPTION and the space bar.)
  • Other applications I’ve downloaded and enjoy include Twitter, Text Wrangler (for html editing), Kindle, and Caffeine (to keep my Mac from going to sleep.)

This post is already quite long so I’ll share my dock management strategies tomorrow. One tip, however: Most of the utilities I’ve downloaded so far run in the background. That gives them a spot in the top right taskbar so I can delete them from the dock. I also have a few questions about the app store and its future.

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  1. Tweets that mention Another glorious theft from Apple: The Mac AppStore | Give the 'Net credit -- Topsy.com - January 11, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by scrippsjschool, Hans K. Meyer. Hans K. Meyer said: @annamarie314 @mandarail Here are my initial recommendations from the Mac App Store http://t.co/WyxxWlD […]

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