When Apple’s new big cat first appeared at the Word Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in August of 2006 and then pounced on the scene in October of 2007 it sent shivers down the spines of some small and large developers in the Mac community. Here I list some of the best Mac freeware applications that I feel have been seriously undermined by Leopard or killed altogether.
Leave me a comment if you can think of a freeware application that you no longer need due to some of Leopard’s new features.
Adium: iChat 4.0 brought some great new features and included a few which made me realize, somewhat sadly, that I didn’t need Adium anymore. Some of those main features are tabbed chats, support of Google Talk, auto-accepting chats either via Chax or this way, more choices in message appearance, and a vastly improved appearance. Furthermore the new version of Chax allows for a unified contact window, automatically accepting files from trusted contacts, and even Growl support.
Quicksilver: Now that Spotlight automatically highlights the first result (rather than ‘Show All’), it is essentially a built-in launcher. I KNOW that Quicksilver can do much much more than just launch applications, find files, and lookup contacts, but most people used it for just that. The decline of this app is further exacerbated by the lead developer’s uncertainty about the future of QS, which you can read about here.
VirtueDesktops: I had high hopes for VirtueDesktops and used the app in Tiger for the benefit of multiple desktops despite a few bugs. Then once the word ‘Spaces’ came out of Steve Job’s mouth, VirtueDesktops’ developer, after careful consideration, decided to cease work on the project. I have been fairly pleased with Apple’s Spaces, except for a few bugs and annoyances, that is.
*Overflow: I admire stuntsoftware for sticking it out with Overflow, but I’m afraid Apple’s Stacks will be the doom of this application (unless they can sue Apple). However, Tiger users should definitely check out Overflow as it is a great app. *Not technically freeware but because the Grid view of Stacks is so similar to Overflow, I included it anyway.
Chicken of the VNC: This was a great free solution to remote desktop management in previous versions of OS X, however, Leopard’s ScreenSharing application that has been built into Finder has made this obsolete for me. Chicken of the VNC might live on in certain situations such as connecting to Ubuntu or other Linux machines.
CenterStage: Front Row has now come to non-Intel and older Macs with Leopard. Not only is Front Row included in Leopard regardless of Mac type, it is a new and improved Front Row similar to the version found on Apple TV. I’m sure some diehard fans will continue to use CenterStage, but the reason I downloaded it (my old G4 Mac Mini) is now gone.
iTerm: The terminal that came with Tiger was just terrible, especially for someone who spent a fair amount of time at the command prompt. So for years I relied on the great freeware terminal application iTerm. However, Leopard’s Terminal.app is much improved over Tiger’s. Complete with tabbed sessions and customizable themes, the new Terminal allows me to be happy at the command prompt without needing iTerm.
Journler: I realize Journler is multifunctional (beyond just notes) thanks to its support for media and date tracking of entries. However, I mostly used Journler for keeping all of my notes in a handy and searchable location. Enter Leopard’s new Mail.app which supports a new Notes feature. Once I figured out how to change the hideous font that is the Notes’ default, I decided to move all of my notes out of Journler and into Mail.app. An added bonus is that now I can place the notes on an IMAP mail server (such as Gmail) and access them anywhere.
iBackup: Time Machine (TM) is the new king of incremental backups. Love it or hate it, TM ships on every Mac now and is super simple to setup and use. Some people might think that Time Machine also makes applications such as SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner obsolete as well, however, I don’t believe that to be true. Making an exact duplicate of a hard drive is not what Time Machine was intended for. On the other hand, third party incremental backup programs such as iBackup are essentially unnecessary in Leopard.
Firefox 2.0: Before you call me crazy, note the ’2.0′. While Firefox is bolstered by its wealth of add-ons, Firefox 2.0 is soooo slow and unstable in Leopard that I began using Safari. Safari 3 is obviously less customizable, but it makes up for that in its speed and stability. To be honest the only feature I miss from Firefox is the Google Browser Sync add-on. I in NO way think that Firefox is dead or dying, however, if Firefox 3.0 doesn’t arrive soon Firefox will begin to lose market share. Here’s to hoping that Firefox 3.0 can reinstate my faith in Mozilla and return me to the open source browser club.
Update – Some readers seem to think I am implying that Leopard’s built-in applications have the ‘equivalent’ features of the third-party alternatives. That is not what I am saying. Rather, I am saying that the need for the above applications has been undermined by some of Leopard’s features.
Update 2 – Thanks to everyone for their input. Reaction to this post has certainly been stronger (and in some cases more negative) than I expected. I began thinking about this post when I realized there were a number of third party applications that I was no longer using. The first ones that came to mind were VirtueDesktops, Adium, Overflow, and Quicksilver. I wrote the post out of sympathy for small developers that spent countless hours wrangling code for the good of the community. I felt bad that as Mac users upgrade to Leopard they might not feel the need for some of the applications created by third party developers. Perhaps I could have made this more clear.
Be sure to checkout my followup post, A list of Mac freeware still necessary in Leopard or read Sam’s take on the situation here.