13 Sources for Free and Shareware Mac Software
- 2006.12.12< - Tip Jar
If you've kept up with this column for long, you know that my desire for efficiency isn't just with regard to work productivity - I also love a good bargain.
When it comes to software, I'm willing to pay good money for what I need (if there isn't a free version that will do exactly the same thing). And I love supporting the shareware community, because I think shareware and demoware is the way that software ought to be.
But give me a piece of free software, an open-source gem, or a chance at a reduced price, and I'm there!
That's why I've been delighted to find a handful of great sources for regular "finds" with regard to free or inexpensive software, as well as a few once-in-a-lifetime specials. I'm excited to share these with you here.
Find It Here All the Time
There are some good websites to find excellent software for free or inexpensively. Sure, you can visit Apple's "Made For Mac" section and find a lot of great software. Most people know about VersionTracker and MacUpdate; even SoftPedia, Tucows, and C|Net's Download.com are fairly well-known.
But here are a handful of links that live in my bookmarks menu (and some of them in my bookmarks bar).
- OS X Apps is a catalog of applications for OS X. The goal here is to index every application available and post it on this website. Pretty ambitious - but he's done a pretty good job. You can get an RSS feed for additions as well.
- Pure Mac is a well-organized catalog of applications. If you're looking for something particular, this can be a good starting point (and, often, ending point).
- I Use This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it always about low-cost software - but it is a good way to get user ratings and reviews of a lot of different applications. If you're thinking about shelling out some cold hard cash for software, check with I Use This first. (RSS feed available.)
- Mac Games and More offers weekly "picks" of games and other software, with a particular preference for freeware.
- Open Source Mac is a brief list of open source software for OS X. This is not to be confused with OpenSourceMac, which is a more comprehensive list.
- KidiFree is actually an application - a free, live database that catalogs freeware by category. One snag for many of us: it's mostly in French!
Let Them Bring It to You
- MacZOT offers a daily special on a shareware or commercial application. Usually they present discounts of up to 50% off of the regular price for a full license.
- MacUpdate is offering a similar deal: MacUpdate Promo offers discounts on a single application each day.
- Cool OS X Apps is a blog that highlights several applications a week, on average. It's a good way to find some of the more obscure applications. (RSS feed available.)
- FreeMacWare, another blog, lists one new freeware application almost daily. I find that I get 2-3 downloads per week from this site. (RSS feed available.)
- O'Reilly's MacDevCenter has a blog, and they do a weekly posted called FFOSS Friday, which stands for "Freeware/Free & Open Source Software" Friday. The O'Reilly folks give a quick overview of 8-10 applications every week. They also bring a summary of other free stuff available around the Web on Fridays. (RSS feed available.)
Go and Get It
This brings me to the more fun aspect of my hunt for great software bargains: The stuff that usually costs money but, for some reason, is being given away for free! There are a handful of deals available to you right now, if you're attentive enough to go get them.
If you haven't seen MacAppADay yet, you should check it out. Starting on December 1, they began giving away free licenses to shareware and commercial applications and will continue doing so until January 1, 2007. Cookie Assassin, Yummy FTP, DevonAgent, and DevonNote are just a few of the great applications they've offered. They have a limit of 5,000 downloads for each application (so by mentioning this here I may be jeopardizing my own opportunities!), so check early and check often.
The folks that cooked up My Dream App have also launched MacHeist, which is a fun and challenging game with free software as the prize. Think of this as a real-life, tech-savvy, online version of Myst - incredibly intricate puzzles that will lead you all over the Web (and sometimes elsewhere) to track down the code that will open the vault. In the heist I did (which would have been impossible to complete but for the help I got from the forums), I scored almost $40 in software for free. As of this writing, there are at least two heists yet to come, while one is currently underway.
The biggest take is not software at all, but a lot of cool tech gadgets from Oh Gismo!, which is giving away over $1,500 worth of stuff. You have to see the list to believe it, but what they are giving away includes a $235 messenger bag, a $370 laser pointer, a $180 HP printer, and an iPod shuffle (yes, the new one) with an IncipioBud connector.
That's a lot of links, and between surfing these and giving one of the MacHeists a try, I've probably given you enough to do to last through Christmas!
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