Tom's Mac Software Picks 2013

Mac Apps With Exceptional Value

Tom'sHere at About: Macs, I look at new or updated Mac applications almost every day. Over the course of a week, there are usually some pretty good apps that I think deserve a bit of notoriety, as well as a few that, well, to be polite about it, aren't quite ready for real-world use.

When I find a well-designed, well-executed Mac app, I add it to my list of potential candidates for Tom's Mac Software Picks. My picks are all quality apps that also offer exceptional value, and cover many categories, including utilities, graphics, education, productivity, games, and development.

Each software pick is first announced on a Saturday in my daily blog, but since blog posts tend to slip down into oblivion, I also include a brief description of each pick in this list.

The lists are organized by the year the software was first mentioned in my Saturday blog. This list covers 2013, but you can find more picks in the following lists:

Published: 2/1/2013

Updated: 3/21/2015

McCad EDS-Lite

McCad EDS-Lite from Vamp, Inc., is a set of engineering design automation tools that cover schematic capture, simulation, and PCB design. Best of all, McCad EDS-Lite is free. Don't worry too much about the "Lite" designation; the tools have the same features as the professional level suite of design tools. The difference is the imposed limits on the number of schematic sheets, parts, and nets that can be used on a single design. For the most part, these limitations shouldn't interfere in small home projects, or as a learning tool for electrical engineering students.

SoundSoap 3

SoundSoap is an audio noise reduction system that can eliminate noise, pops, crackle, hiss, and background noise from recordings, tapes, and LPs.

SoundSoap is available as a standalone app and as a plugin that works with many of the most popular audio and video workstations, including Logic, ProTools, Final Cut Pro X, Premiere, and many more.


DoubleTake is an easy-to-use stitching app for creating panoramic images. DoubleTake automates much of the process of getting the edges just right, but it also has controls that you can use to make seams vanish before your eyes. If you would like to try your hand at creating panoramic pictures, give DoubleTake a whirl.

ArtRage 4

ArtRage 4 is a painting and drawing app for Macs, PCs, and iOS devices that provides one of the most realistic painting environments available. This is particularly true if you use a graphics tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen that mimics the pressure applied to brushes, pencils, ink pens, palette knives, and other tools of the trade. ArtRage 4 may quickly become your favorite painting application.


Tweetbot is a full-featured Twitter client that allows a great deal of customization. Tweetbot supports multiple accounts, lists, and syncing via iCloud; it also has an impressive search system.

If you're looking for a Twitter client with more capabilities than the standard Twitter client, give Tweetbot a try.

Star Walk HD

Star Walk HD is an iPad app for locating celestial objects. Although we don't usually include iPad apps here, Star Walk HD gets the nod this week because of its ability to help you locate a new visitor to our solar system, Comet ISON.

Comet ISON may be the comet of the century or just another comet; we have to wait to find out. But in the meantime, Star Walk HD can help you see the comet, which is just now becoming visible to the naked eye.

HoudahSpot 3.8

HoudahSpot 3.8 is a front end for the Spotlight search engine built into OS X. HoudahSpot has been updated to support OS X Mavericks and the new Finder tags. With HoudahSpot, you can gain easy access to all of the underlying capabilities of Spotlight, without having to use special tricks or remember arcane commands.

DiskMaker X

DiskMaker X can create bootable OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion installers on a blank dual-layer DVD, which lets you easily install OS X Mavericks on any Mac that has a DVD drive.

Pixelmator 3.0 FX

Pixelmator has been a favorite app here at About Macs for many years, and the winner of multiple Readers Choice Awards. The newest version, Pixelmator 3.0 FX, has a new editing engine that is fast and extremely responsive to almost any task you can throw at it. Pixelmator also has some jaw-dropping new features that may well make you wonder why you ever considered that expensive image editing app.

Sandvox 2.8.6

Sandvox is a web site development app that can help you build large web sites or simple blogs, all with your own personal touch. Sandvox provides web design tools for both casual users and pros. With its full WYSIWYG support, you can quickly create a site. Then, if you wish, you can dig down with the HTML tools to add special capabilities and features.

Comic Life 3

Comic Life 3 is a comic book panel editor that allows you to quickly create a comic book from your photos and artwork. It provides all the panel creation tools you'll need, including banners, fonts, balloons, and captions.

Comic Life lets you create a story to go with family pictures or doodles. It's also a great storyboarding app for budding videographers.

Acorn 4

Acorn 4 from Flying Meat, Inc. is one of the most advanced image editors available for the Mac, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Even better, it’s easy to use and can handle almost anything you can throw at it.

Triumph Audio Editor

The Triumph audio editor is a bit different than standard Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). Using layers, Triumph lets you build up effects, EQ, and other editing parameters without having to render the audio to hear your edits. You can even use multiple audio files, all in different formats, to create a piece. You don’t have to render the audio to a common format until you’re satisfied with your project.

If you need an audio editor with a wide range of features and a clean interface, Triumph deserves a look and a listen.


Dupin lets you quickly find duplicate tracks in your iTunes library. But it doesn’t stop there; Dupin also gives you the tools to examine and select which track is the keeper and which one deserves to be trashed. Dupin will also repopulate your playlists with the keeper tracks when duplicates are removed.

If you find yourself with more duplicate tracks in your iTunes library that you can easily clean up by hand, give Dupin a try.


Composure is a fun factory of silly photos. Take one or more of your images, add background layouts, frames, and filters to get the image looking properly silly, and then add the piece de resistance: stickers. Want to see what your cat or your spouse would look like with glasses, a mustache, or a pirate hat? Composure makes adding such details to photos about as easy as it gets.

Midnight Mansion HD Episode 1

Midnight Mansion HD: Episode 1 is a classic platform game that lets you explore 5 different haunted mansions in search of treasure. As if being haunted weren’t enough, each mansion is filled with secrets, traps, puzzles, and a collection of residents that are out to get you before you can get the treasure.

The graphics, sound effects, and game play are top-notch, and the adventures will keep you entertained for hours. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Geekbench 3

Geekbench 3 is a top-notch tool for benchmarking Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS systems. The new version includes 15 new benchmarking tools that will help you measure performance and get real-world results.


CustomMenu is a Menu Extra that lets you build a custom menu system that you can use to access any app, file, or folder on your Mac. You can even access apps that are already running (other than full-screen apps, which don’t provide access to the menu bar).

CustomMenu is versatile, as well as easy to set up and manage. Making changes to the menu is so easy that you may spend more time deciding where to place a menu item than deciding which ones you want to add.


Snapheal is an image editing app designed for retouching photos and removing unwanted elements. It performs its magic with easy-to-use tools; no complex setup is required. It also works well with iPhoto and other image management systems.

Calendar Plus

Calendar Plus is a menu bar calendar that provides quick access to iCal, Google Calendar, and Facebook events, as well as a 7-day weather forecast. Having Calendar Plus in your menu bar allows you to quickly view upcoming events and commitments, or simply check a specific date without opening an app or going to a web site.

Zombies Ate My Friends

Zombies Ate My Friends is a light-hearted romp through the zombie-infested town of Festerville. Your job is to rescue the survivors while keeping your own brains from showing up on the dinner menu.


If you need to know current or upcoming weather conditions, WeatherMan can provide the information in great detail. Weatherman is accessible from the menu bar or as an app with multiple windows that let you dynamically track weather conditions.


F.lux is a color management system that can tweak a display’s white balance for daytime and nighttime use. Changing your monitor’s white balance from a cooler daytime range to a warmer nighttime setting can help reduce eyestrain as you work with your Mac. F.lux lets you pick two different white balance settings, and then switches between them at sunrise and sunset.


Caffeine from Lighthead is a small app that can keep your Mac awake, even if your Energy Saver preference pane is set to let your Mac take a nap. Caffeine sits in the menu bar, so it’s easy to access when you need it. You can set the “awake” time from 5 minutes to indefinite; the menu bar icon lets you know if Caffeine is running.


TotalFinder is a Finder plugin that brings tabs, a dual-pane view (called DualMode), additional Finder views, and quite a bit more to the Mac. Because it’s a plug-in, TotalFinder doesn’t replace the Finder; it just adds more features.

Popup Window

Popup Window allows you to drag frequently used folders to the side of your screen, where they become small tabs. You can then quickly access a folder by just clicking its tab. Popup Window supports drag-and-drop, so you can move items in and out of tabs. If you want to boost your workflow and clean up your Desktop, Popup Window is a handy and inexpensive solution.


Monosnap is a free screencast and screenshot utility that makes it easy to create a screencast, especially if you’re a beginner. Its screen capture capabilities are also very good; you can quickly grab full-screen, windowed, or custom screenshots. The screenshot feature has a built-in 8x loupe that lets you refine the selection of an image before you capture the screenshot.


PhotoBulk is a bulk processing application that can take the drudgery out of performing repetitive processing sequences on multiple images. PhotoBulk supports watermarks, resizing, and image optimization. It’s easy to set up and use, and performs its basic tasks quickly and well.


Evernote is one of the most popular cloud-syncing, note-taking and organizational systems for Macs and PCs, as well as iOS and Android devices. If you need to stay connected to your notes and data, Evernote may be one of the best cloud-based systems available.


Unclutter is a virtual pocket that holds files, folders, notes, and the current contents of your Mac’s clipboard, all in handy panels that hide in the menu bar. Unclutter is easy to use. It’s out of the way when you don’t need it, and quickly accessible when you do.


PhotoSweeper is a utility that can find duplicate or similar images stored on your Mac. With support for iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom libraries, as well as photos stored in folders, PhotoSweeper may just be the cleanup tool you need to get a handle on your photos.

Delicious Library 3

Delicious Library 3 is a very cool cataloging app that can help you keep track of all of your books, videos, music, and just about any other type of media. With support for barcode scanners, webcams, and iOS devices, Delicious Library 3 almost makes the cataloging process fun.

Audio Hijack Pro

Audio Hijack Pro allows you to record audio from your Mac and save it as an audio file in one of many formats. You can record audio from almost any source your Mac can play, such as iTunes, DVD Player, YouTube, Messenger, Safari, or Skype.

Pathways Into Darkness

Pathways Into Darkness is a nostalgic trip back to the days of 1993, System 7, and one of the original 3D first-person shooters for the Mac. The current version was rewritten for OS X, but plays and feels just like the original.

TinkerTool System Release 2

TinkerTool System Release 2 is a handy system utility for diagnosing, repairing, and fiddling around with your Mac's OS to get it working just the way you like it. TinkerTool System also includes an emergency tool that can be used with the Mac's Single User startup mode to easily repair drives, files, and user account information.

Xcode 4

Xcode is the go-to development environment for Macs and iOS devices. Xcode has everything you need, including code editors, UI development tools, and debugging and profiling tools, and is by far the preferred environment for developing the next great app.


Feedly is one of the best RSS replacements for Google Reader, which is enough of a reason to check it out. But even if you never used Google Reader, Feedly is one of the best RSS readers available for the Mac. It features an easy-to-use interface, a pleasing visual layout, and it's easy to customize. Feedly can keep RSS feeds on all of your devices, including Macs, iOS, and Android devices, in sync.

Email Archiver

Email Archiver allows you to create PDF copies of Apple Mail or Outlook for Mac emails. Email Archiver doesn't make any changes to your existing email system; it simply creates PDF versions of each email and stores them in a folder you choose. This is a great way to ensure that you will always be able to access your email messages, now and in the far future.

Name Mangler

Name Mangler is one of the handiest file renaming utilities available, with two features that set it apart from many of its competitors. Name Mangler can work with a very large number of files quickly. It also has an easy-to-use interface that allows you to create simple or complex rules to perform file renaming.


Songbird is a free media player that can play music, videos, and podcasts. Songbird can sync with your existing iTunes library and provide you with new sources of music to purchase. Songbird works with iOS and Android devices as well as the Mac OS.

Autodesk Inventor Fusion

Autodesk Inventor Fusion is a free 3D CAD application for the Mac. It has powerful features that allow you to bring a simple 2D drawing into a 3D world. Inventor Fusion comes with 2D drawing tools, rendering tools to help poke and prod a 2D drawing into a rough approximation of a 3D model, and a complete 3D rendering system to bring polish and panache to your finished project

LibreOffice: Tom's Mac Software Pick

LibreOffice is an open source office suite available for multiple OSes, including Mac OS X. There are six core apps: word processing, spreadsheet, drawing, database, presentation, and math equation editor.

LibreOffice also integrates with CMIS-based content management systems and supports online storage of LibreOffice documents, for easy collaboration with other users. And you don’t need to worry about other Office file formats; LibreOffice can access all of the popular ones, including Microsoft Office.


XBMC is an HTPC media center app that can turn your Mac and an iOS device into the control center of your home entertainment system. It has many outstanding features, including support for many of the latest standards for audio and video playback. You can also set it up as a DVR/PVR to record your favorite shows.


Audacity is a free multi-track audio editor that has a large selection of effects, sound generators, and analysis tools that can make your next audio or multimedia project a breeze to put together. For those of you who are new to multi-track audio editors, Audacity's web site includes many tutorials on common and uncommon tasks that you can perform with its tools.


BackupLoupe from soma-zone provides a detailed look at your Time Machine backups. You can look at overall backup statistics, find files buried deep in your backup data, even discover when each version of a file was backed up, so you can easily select a version to restore.

If you use Time Machine, add BackupLoupe to your arsenal of backup tools.


InfoClick is the search system that Apple should have included in its Mail app. With InfoClick's guided search process, you'll be able to find that elusive email that you know is in your Mail app somewhere.

Should I Sleep

Should I Sleep is an easy-to-use utility that can prevent your Mac from taking a snooze when there is still work to be done. By using various sensors, Should I Sleep can detect if you're still at your desk working, or if the Mac is busy with tasks that shouldn't be interrupted; if so, Should I Sleep will prevent sleep from occurring.