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Loved Macs but had to switch to Windows in 1999. In 2010, given the Unix based OS and prominence of the iPhone I purchased an iMac. It's been an ongoing process to match the software and tweaks I have for Windows 7.

To keep things clean, I use the following notation,

* - Can be manually dropped into the system without an installer and can be made portable (not reliant on the Operating System).
~ - Semi-portable. Can be setup without installer but will set itself in the Operating System.
32-bit - Only 32-bit version exists.

@ - Open Source
% - Free
$ - commercial product


  1. If fresh installing don't go for APFS Case Sensitive (avoid incompatibility app issues) nor APFS Encrypted (better to use Vault per ChatGPT which protects your personal data versus the entire drive)
  2. Finder,
    1. Preferences - Show all filename extensions
  3. View
    1. Show Path Bar, Status Bar, Sidebar, 
  4. Printer - Using native drivers will ensure updates are automatic.

Office and Day to Day

  1. Outlook for Mac - Search will occasionally stop providing updated results. Rebuild the spotlight index if you notice this happening.
  2. VLC Media Player - play DVDs and almost any video format
    1. To have multiple windows, run,

      open -n /Application/

      Note, the playlist tends to go over the same place so it's not obvious sometimes if it worked. Figure out a parameter to fix this later.

    2. Clear recent files in dock 
    3. Possibly remove the function of recent files in dock (still to try)
  3. Microsoft Office - Yeah you can't avoid it and using it since 2010 have not run into compatibility issues.
  4. Kuvva (yet to try) - Wallpaper changer that pulls down nice wallpapers.
  5. Secure Delete - Look for product. Apple dropped because they can't claim to guarantee with new ssd drives. Built into OS, drag files into garbage, then hold down apple key and right click, select "Secure Empty Trash".
  6. Avaste Free Edition - As of 2012 top ranking antivirus for my use (but I do not rely on on-demand checking). Downside is no scheduling but not intrusive.
  7. Avira Free Edition - As of 2012 2nd top ranking antivirus + can do automatic scheduled scans. Downside is disabling on demand keeps on resetting in Windows. No longer using.
  8. Resize BrowseResize Browser Windowr Window - Useful for consistent screenshots.
  9. Browser Stack - I use to change my country to see appropriate prices when browsing.
  10. Online Collage Maker - By Adobe and good enough for the free features.
  11. Canon Digital Photo Professional - Free tool to work with RAW CR2 files. To access top and bottom extra image parts of the CR2 image, Edit Image Button, Crop, Aspect Ration = Free, and change the selection.
  12. Cursorcerer - Hide Cursor Useful to for casting a temporary background on the TV.

Essential Utilities

  1. I adjust Keyboard Preferences in conjunction with the next 4 tools.
  2. Better Snap Tool (App Store $2) - Get Windows 7 like snapping in addition to being able to use keyboard shortcuts to snap windows wherever you want. Also has loads of other features. Went through lots of tools like SizeUp before getting to this one. I use the following options,
    1. Keyboard Shortcuts
      1. CTRL-WinKey-Left = (this interferes with nudge for powerpoint) put window of left half - note this breaks Home of text doc shortcut on Mac (Winkey-Left is used by Mac OS for beginning of line)
      2. CTRL-WinKey-Right = (this interferes with nudge for powerpoint) put window on right half - note breaks End of text doc shortcut on Mac 
      3. WinKey-Up = center on screen using custom "snap area" of x=480, y=115, w=1,600, h=1,280 and move snap area to bottom right beside trash, click colour and make snap area invisible - but it breaks moving up a folder
      4. WinKey-Down = restore to previous position
    2. Additional customize,
      1. Extras - Double-click a windows titlebar - maximize
      2. Customizations - Uncheck "Restore old window size if window is dragged away again"
  3. Keyboard Maestro (App Store $36) - Powerful shortcut utility. Very useful for me because I use an IBM keyboard. Common things I setup,
    1. Ensure Engine is set to run even if editor exists and also go back in and checkbox engine to start on login.
    2. Tin's OS Controls Macros - Configured for everything except at Groups Level exclude Terminal (want CTRL-C to work normally) and VMWare Fusion which interferes with more advanced keys,
      1. CTRL-V = clear out formatting before pasting | Filter Clipboard with Remove Styles, Type the Apple-V
      2. Home = WinKey-LARROW - Mac reserved combo, move to beginning of line instead of beginning of document | note use excludes so this does not collide with using same key in VMWare Fusion for Windows
      3. End = WinKey-RARROW - Mac reserved combo, move to end of line instead of end of document | note use excludes so this does not collide with using same key in VMWare Fusion for Windows
      4. Since I use Windows Virtual Machine at the same time so often)
        1. CTRL-C = copy
        2. CTRL-Z = undo
        3. I do more like CTRL-LARROW, END to make highlight text with keboard and skipping words work like Windows. Will write more, but it's all in the linked - Tin's OS Controls Macros
        4. ...
      5. To import the macros, File, import macros disabled and enable by clicking on the group Tin's OS Controls and clicking the checkbox at the bottom of the window.
    3. Pause = IBM keyboard; I wanted Winkey-Home - increase brightness (contacted author and he may eventually fix)
    4. ScrLk = IBM keyboard; I wanted Winkey-End - decrease brightness (contacted author and he may eventually fix)
    5. WinKey-L = Lock to Login Window
    6. CTRL-Break = CTRL-C in Terminal since I've over-ridden above
  4. Spark with the Plain Clip Plug-in - Free but less powerful version of Keyboard Maestro. Not needed if you buy Keyboard Meastro.
  5. The Unarchiver@ (App Store) - handles common formats such as rar that the built in compression software does not.

Fix Home and End Key

Yet to try. This absolutely drives me nuts as a programmer. Home should go to the beginning of the line and end to the end of the line. On the Mac OS home takes you to the beginning of a document and end to the end of a document.

Yes, you can use Apple Key left Arrow and Apple Key Right Arrow (but I override this to move my Windows). However, as a programmer using SHIFT to highlight it starts becoming awkward.

One solutions is to use key mappings but it does not work across multiple applications.

If you used the gui to add any custom key bindings the ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict will already exist. Otherwise create it by launching Terminal,

cd ~/Library/
mkdir KeyBindings
touch DefaultKeyBinding.dict

Create the file or add to the file (if it already exists),

        /* Remap Home / End to be correct :-) */
        "\UF729"  = "moveToBeginningOfLine:";                   /* Home         */
        "\UF72B"  = "moveToEndOfLine:";                         /* End          */
        "$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* Shift + Home */
        "$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:";       /* Shift + End  */

This fixes things for more editors and applications. However, Browsers have their own wrinkle.

Download Mirror Website for Reading

Microsys A1 Website Download - Download an entire website. Superior to HTTrack when it comes to websites required authentication. You can login manually to start your session then initiate the download. Just make sure to exclude the logout link. In the 90's I used Teleport Pro which even back then was more feature rich. I have not looked at it since though.


qBittorrent - Lighter weight than Transmission yet with very similar features including a remote web interface. Unless you're a super power user this is the one to choose.

Transmission - Used to be my favourite, but given two malware attacks in 2016, I'd caution using it. Used in Ubuntu for a long time and it works great. Also nice is a web interface to manage your torrents from other computers or devices.


Microsoft has a free RDP program for the Mac to connect to your Windows systems.

CBR - Comic Book Reader

Simple Comic - This is the first one I found. Really nice and simple app. However, found a bug in how it handles splash pages due to numbering in the CBR community. See bug filed here Somebody please let me know of an alternative.

ComicZeal describes this bug well and fixes it. Unfortunately it is only for the iPad.

Jomic - Their revision history v0.9.9 shows compensation feature for splash pages. Needs Java, has a bad interface and it does not fix the page re-ordering.

ComicBookLover - tried it, does not fix the issue. I sent them an email, Nov 2011 asking them to fix this.

Control Multiple Systems

ShareMouse* - Looks better than Synergy. Took 5 minutes to setup...  but when I tried, Oct 2011 still buggy.

Afloat - Keeps windows on Top

Afloat is a program that can keep your windows "afloat" on top of other windows. Mac OSX lacks this functionality and Afloat does a great job of keeping windows always on top. You can also play with transparency settings. What this program really does it install a SIMBL Plugin. If you want to uninstall it, simply locate /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins and remove it.

It doesn't work very well (rather its not that compatible) with OSX Lion. I find that it really only works with Chrome and a few other windows. Hopefully future updates will make it more compatible but for the programs it does work for, it does it well. You can press Control, ⌘ + A to toggle sticky window on or off. Control, ⌘ + PLUS or MINUS to change transparency on the fly.

Second Tier Essentail

  1. Snagit - screen capture utility. Most used feature, autoscroll, which scrolls to capture all contents of a window.
  2. Paparazzi - Free screen capture but only for browsers.
  3. GoFullPage - Chrome Browser extension to capture entire webpage

Secure Your Data

MacPass -  a central place to keep your important data with one master password or master key file. I find this better now than KeePassX and using version 0.7.12.

KeePassX * - a central place to keep your important data with one master password or master key file. If you are using the Windows version at the same time, you will want to make sure to pick an older version of KeePass that matches KeePassX's data format. As of March 10, 2013 my version of KeePassX uses KeePass KDB (1.x).

Mac OS X Spare Bundles - native OS capability to create an encrypted expandable file that is mounted as a disk image.

Communication Utilities

Termius (free version) - Do not use the App Store version - you can't SFTP files to your desktop - and instead use the dmg download. SSH Manager that allows multiple keys, tagging, sorting and all the trimmings. If you've already started using the app store, note to export your "hosts" setup as you lose it. Registered for the free version and it does everything I need. It looks to also allow port forwarding but yet to have tested it out.

Still to test: 

Something as nice as BitVise Tunnelier for port forwarding.

ExpandDrive (create a map drive over SSH for easy development). ExpandDrive hands down is the best tool I found yet for Mac and Windows.

Developer Utilities

Proxy Country and Device Tester - See how your site reacts to geolocation and different devices.

Graphic Design

Napkin (appstore)  - Looks like a good Page Annotation utility with nice call-out features.

Nik Collection 1.2.11 - Black and White and Bokeh Effects + more. A very popular Photoshop Plugin and Standalone, this was made free by Google in 2016.

Photo Convert 5 - So far the simplest and best priced I found for WEBP support. Also a free non-batch version available for average users and to try it out. But no image resizing even in the purchase version.

XnConvert - Do many image formats, resizing and image adjustments. The best I've seen but more complex initial setup. However, if you do the initial setup and setup hot folders, it can be easy for non-techies to use. Free for home users.

Power User

Homebrew - package manager to download Linux command line tools in a controlled manner (it does not put things everywhere). After Homebrew is setup (instructions when using normal accounts), I install,

  • wget
  • exiftool - clean out gps and other meta data from image files

MacPorts - if you need to stick to older Mac OS X versions. In a multi-user normal account environment setup as follows,

  • Install as your Admin Account through the GUI
  • The install add to the shell '/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:" for the admin user
  • Updates and installation of modules should be done through this account

Install your first module,

# confirm macports is working
port version
# which will show a version back
Version: 2.7.2

# install rsync as the Mac os X is very very old.
sudo port install rsync

# confirm you are now using the newer rsync from macports which now be 3.x instead of 2.6.x
rsynce --version

You will likely see a GUI pop-up to install x-code libraries. Choose yes to this. Only when this is done, then choose yes to "The following dependencies will be installed:".

For normal users, add to their shell environment file .zprofile script to use MacPorts

# MacPorts Installer addition on 2022-08-19_at_15:23:55: adding an appropriate PATH variable for use with MacPorts.
export PATH="/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH"
# Finished adapting your PATH environment variable for use with MacPorts.

Log into that user and check if there is already a .zprofile file,

cd ~
ls -al

In the output of the ls command look for the file. If it exists, you should edit it with an editor.... (still to write the instructions).

Likely .zprofile does not exist, so simply copy from the the admin's account which already has the right permissions setup,

cd ~
cp /Users/setup.admin/.zprofile ./ls -al# look for this,-rw-r--r-- 1 tin.pham staff 243 Aug 19 15:13 .zprofile

Mac OS X Native Terminal & Commands

Right-Click Terminal at GUI Folder - Go to Preferences, Keyboard, Services and enable "New Terminal at Folder"

caffeinate - disable sleep until CTRL-C is pressed

SSH Server with Key Based Authentication

Enable ssh login through the UI by clicking "System Preferences", "Sharing", checking "Remote Login" and allowing access to your preferred accounts.

Then try user password authentication and also try Key Based Authentication as outlined in the Ubuntu articles (the instructions are compatible).

Only after you have ssh key authentication working go to the final step to further harden to not allow passwords.

Tested on OS X 10.12.4 and 10.9.3,

Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config or in older versions there may be, /etc/sshd_config using a sudo enabled account,

PasswordAuthentication no

No need to restart ssh daemon. New sessions will require a key,

sudo launchctl stop com.openssh.sshd
sudo launchctl start com.openssh.sshd

For older OS X you might need to run,

sudo launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ssh.plist; sudo launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ssh.plist 

Running Home Servers with Ubuntu

If running home servers with Ubuntu, consider installing avahi-daemon to make name resolution of machines simple. The Ubuntu machines available via hostname.local  to your Macs.

Determine Mac Build Date

You can determine your Mac build date and a bunch of other information by using your serial number and hitting various websites that provide this service,

Alternatively you can download the application coconutID.

Clear or Disable Recent Items in Lion's Dock 

If you right-click on your dock you will notice a history of recent items even if you set the application to clear or not retain history. Simon Heimlicher wrote a good article

Make Bootable Mountain Lion Disk

Rejected Application - I went to delete Transmit and it still left files in /Users/tinpham/Library/Application Support/Sparkle. Not impressed.

Evaluating and Searching

Any help and suggestions would be appreciated.

Editor like Notepad++

Notepad++ is the BEST general purpose fast loading editor to replace notepad that I have ever used. Unfortunately, it is built only for Windows. Here are the key features I use and looking to replicate on Mac OS X,

  1. Fast load with drag and drop - remember this is supposed to be a Notepad replacement not a full IDE like Eclipse.
  2. Box selection - this feature is really useful for parsing data in a pinch.
  3. Syntax Highlighting for XML ect...
  4. Auto Formatting of XML, HTML, XHTML etc...
  5. Search inside of files with a good GUI.
  6. Match tags
  7. UTF-8 with BOM and no BOM.
  8. Free (would be nice).
  9. Collapsible Text aka Folding based on selection
  10. Collapsible Text based on code blocks
  11. Create bookmarks.
  12. Indent - remove indents.
  13. Code Completion for my favourite languages (HTML, XHTML, JavaScript, JSP, Java, Perl).
  14. Smart Spell Checker that ignores code
  15. Match brackets

Nice to have

  1. Load large files
  2. Customizable menu
  3. Cross Platform

So trying things out starting from Alternative To and Google. Will test each of these out and see if they meet my above requirements.

Trying Out 2015

Reading reviews order is,

  1. Sublime - waiting a looong time for v3.
  2. Barckets by Adobe - polished but slightly slow
  3. Atom - copies Sublime but still young

I've now settled on Atom. It's no longer "young" when I started and is very fast. The only thing is the defaults are overall complex for what I need as a basic editor. So here's what I do.

  1. Say no to installing Git Integration and disable it Atom > Preferences > Packages > Core Packages > GitHub Integration > Disable
  2. Hide the project panelAtom > Preferences > Packages > Core Packages > tree-view > Disable

Trying Out 2014

Sublime - well they has a very slick website. Trying out Jan 16, 2013 version 2.0.1 Build 2217,

  • (tick) 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 (tested html mixing in javascript), 14, 15
  • (error) 4(but you can quickly set it... maybe they did this to speed up load time), 6 (looks like there's a plugin, 8 (but one license for all platforms)

UltraEdit - I remember it back in the day. Not as fast as NotePad++ at the time but it was just as feature rich.

TextMate - recommended by what appears to be a hard core developer. Trying out Jan 16, 2013 version 1.5.11 Build 1635,

  • Loaded html file which it did not recognize to load appropriate syntax highlighting. Almost automatic fail. Went to look for setting it manually took too long. 

Text Wrangler and the Commercial version BBEDIT - Recommended by this blogger with comments suggesting others too. Trying Jan 16, 2013 BBEDIT version 10.5.1 Buiild 3250,

  • Stopped at 1. Not able to drag and drop in new files. Also don't like the interface.

Editra - showed up in more than one review.

JEdit - Used to use this a far back as 2000. Being Java based it was slow, however, maybe it's fast now on modern iMac.

Komodo free and Paid Version - Looks promising.

Emerald Editor - Successor to Crimson Editor.

Notepad++ Port - Well it uses WINE so it's not native code... try if I can't find an equivalent.

Did Not Pass

Coda - Not designed as a fast light weight editor.

CSS Editor

MacRabbit Espresso looks promising.

NTFS Write

All solutions listed so far seem to have chances of corruption or losing data. - not sure if free. - free and commercial version with more features (used by Cheryl).

Remap Keys

Looking at more utilities to take advantage of my keyboard shortcuts, - this one lists Griffin Proxi as a verified solutions to remap keys and a few others. - this might allow me to remap keys and take advantage of my ibm keyboard. - fixing the end key

SSH Manager

I am not happy with any options so far. So I have been using the command line ssh client with the config file. Maybe I need to write my own. - Looks promising with a tree view. Does not look like I can customize the shells. Unable to open multiple connections at once. The interface was clunky. Not impressed. - this one I can customize the shells, but the bookmark + groups instead of tree view does not look as nice.

Mounting SSH as a Drive

Expand Drive - Is the best one out there right now for the Mac. As of Expand Drive 2.3.1 and Transmit 4.1.7 we found Transmit to be slow in comparison. Also your Expand Drive license works for both PC and Mac.

Comparative Analysis

 Click here to expand...

Similar to Expand Drive - - but SLOW. Also have to right click to mount as it is not the default. Not impressed so far. But it does have a saving grace. There is an option to put it up on your upper right task menu and mount drives that way. For the mounting of drives, panic actually uses a open source software, macfuse.

Free, recommended by Garth and the actual underlying layer used by transmit for mapping drives - - Example, sshfs gdahlstr@ ~/mnt/UAT/batur1app4-URS/ -oauto_cache,reconnect,volname=batur1app4-URS

Also, this link seems to say you can use sudo with sshfs

Dec 15 - I've also tried Transmit 4.1.7 and it is still slow. At $34, I would not recommend using this. I also have had problems running MacFuse because as of right now, the 64-bit kernel is unsupported. There are hacks to get around it, but it hasn't worked for me so far.  – Duncan

Open Source Programs

Recommended by Garth for command line tools -

Dock Enhancement - get live preview when hovering over dock icon like Windows 7.

Website Editors

Coda - Tried version 1.7.5 in 2011. By same makers as Transmit. Has really nice interface and uses Transmit for mapping. Has almost everything except ssh client windows are not embedded in the editor.

Configuration Tips

Here are the configuration changes I mace to the Mac OS X.

Enable Dock Modification

Apple Menu - Dock - Turn Magnification On

Adjust Finder

View - Show Path Bar
View - Show Status Bar
View - Customize Toolbar and then drag the "New Folder" icon onto the toolbar. Click Done.

Adjust Expose

Control-UpArrow - Show all open Windows which I remap to CTRL on right side of keyboard.

Must Used Shortcuts

Here are the shortcuts I use the most.

Windows Management

Control-UpArrow - Show all open Windows which I remap to CTRL on right side of keyboard.
Contrl-DownArrow - While on an active Application Window will show only the Windows for that application

WinKey-BrowseLeft/BrowseRight - Near my IBM's arrow keys allows me to switch browser tabs.

Text Editing

AppleKey-RightArrow - Jump to End of a line. In browsers this acts as forward in history.
AppleKey-LeftArrow - Jump to Beginning of a line. In browsers this acts as backward in history.

Download Sites

Read a few reviews and they seem decent and interesting - - Apple's official store has both free and commercial software. - has reviews. - this looks promising not only for Mac software. - looks like a good list.

Good roundup of products -

Developer's roundup -

Pretty nice list presented well -