Mac Software for Software Developers

A fellow developer who is getting his first Mac asked me what software he should get. Here is a list of Mac software that I, as a software developer, find useful.

First, let's look at what apps come in the box, at no extra charge:

  • Basic contacts, calendar, and email: Address Book, iCal, Mail
  • Word processing and text editing: TextEdit (handles text, RTF, and Microsoft Word DOC formats)
  • Automation and scripting: Automator, AppleScript Editor, bash, Python
  • Scientific and programmer's calculator: Calculator
  • Dictionary and thesaurus: Dictionary
  • Music and sound recording and editing: GarageBand
  • Desktop search: Spotlight
  • Instant messaging and video conferencing: iChat
  • Basic image processing: iPhoto
  • PDF reader and image file viewer: Preview
  • Webkit-based web browser: Safari
  • Backups: Time Machine
  • X Window System: X11
  • Command Prompt, telnet, ssh: Terminal

For basic Mac development, Xcode is the standard tool. For iPhone development, Xcode is the required tool. It includes a bunch of other tools (Interface Builder, iPhone Simulator, Instruments, Shark). Download it from Apple.

If you like something lower level, remember that Mac OS X is UNIX at its heart, so all the typical UNIX and GNU tools are there (gcc, vi, make, etc.).

Some other development-related tools that you might find useful are these:

Here are the other pieces of software that you should consider:

© 2003-2023 Kristopher Johnson