Over the past month I've had the opportunity to use many of the applications that came bundled with my MacBook Pro. In this post I'll try and give the non Mac OS X users who are reading this article a little of the flavor of these applications.
I have to be honest and admit that initially I hated the Finder app. It reminded me of too much of the long forgotten Program Manager from the pre Windows 95 days. It seemed far too overly simplistic and clunky. However, over the weeks I've had a change of heart over the Finder. Once I got used to its layout I found that it was quick and simple to find whatever I was looking for. Maybe over time as more files were created and applications installed Finder would become more cumbersome.
Finder offers three different views of files and applications - as icons, as a list and in columns I'm finding myself switching between icon view and column view regularly. Column view is particularly good for navigating through files and applications organized in folders.
Safari is the web browser that ships with the Mac OS X. This is a pretty basic browser and I installed both Firefox and Opera and never really looked back after that. Safari might be fine for basic web users but if you do a lot of surfing or blog or participate in online forums, or if you're used to one of the other major browsers, Safari is going to be too basic for your needs.
I've read rumors that Apple is planning on releasing a Windows version of Safari, but to be honest I really can't see much point in this.
Pretty basic application that fails to impress or inspire. The only really advanced feature is that you can connect to a cellphone using Bluetooth.
Another pretty basic application that's designed to act as a appointment diary. It's pretty easy to add appointments to the calendar but I hate the way that the size of the application changes as you switch views from day to week to month.
I love the DVD player. It's simple and it just works. It doesn't hog too much system resources and you can play DVDs while doing other things. I also love the fact that you can resize the video window while a DVD is laying and the scaling is smooth and there's no juddering of the playback.
I've found this application to be very useful over the past few weeks. All the screenshots that I've taken have been taken using Grab. It's quite basic and doesn't have cool features such as automatic file naming that I'm used to using in SnagIt but it works. However, if i was keeping the MacBook getting a decent screen capture would be high priority.
Post-It Notes for your Mac. Pretty handy. I've been using Post-It Notes software on my Windows machine for years and rely on them (quite often my desktop is covered in notes) and so it was a pleasant surprise to find a similar app on the Mac (although Vita users will see a similar tool on that OS now too).
GarageBand is application that allows you to record music and podcasts on the Mac. I tinkered with GarageBand a fair bit and it's quite an interesting application but it's way out of my league. I went through many of the tours and tutorials for GarageBand but I just didn't have a need for it. however, it seems like a great way to put together a track.
If you want to get into podcasting, GarageBand seems like a good route to take as it seems to offer much greater power than anything that ships with Windows. There are hundreds of sound effects and jingles that you can chose from and features such as speech enhancement.
If you like editing home movies then I think you'll love iMovie HD. This is a very powerful video editing suite that give you access to pretty much all the tools you need to create the perfect movie.
iMovie HD offers you easy access to professional features such as themes, video effects and a sound studio.
Another upside to iMovie is performance. The applications is both fast and responsive and also seems to be nice and stable. The last thing that you want to happen is to have the system crash in the middle of an editing job.
iDVD is a powerful DVD authoring suite that lets you convert your home movies into DVDs. You can add special features such as menus, chapters and slideshows and also include HD content and create widescreen presentations.
There are a number of features that I like about iDVD. First, it comes complete with a stack of themes to get you started, and these are pretty neat looking themes mind you, not tacky looking ones. There are themes for both standard 4:3 format and widescreen 16:9. Another really nice feature is the enhanced map view that iDVD offers of your DVD layout. In this view you can see which scenes lead to which and quickly reorganize them or even delete unwanted scenes. Nice.
Overall, I've been very impressed with the applications on the MacBook. Some are quite basic but other are very sophisticated indeed. In particular, the iLife '06 software suite contains some very impressive and powerful applications. If you're into editing home movies then I feel that iMovie HD alone could clinch the deal and turn you to the world of Mac.