Entertainment and social
Apple Music isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, Spotify’s official desktop app represents the perfect alternative for those looking to branch outside the Apple ecosystem. The Mac app gives you access to the entire Spotify catalog much like its mobile counterpart, letting you search and listen to nearly any track, artist, or album free of charge. You can also use it to build custom playlists, or capitalize on personal recommendations that span jazz, hip-hop, rock, and everything in between.
Yes, DVD ripping is still a thing in the age of digital distribution. That said, HandBrake shines when it comes to converting media files and encoding videos, especially when you factor in how quick and effortless the open-source software makes the process. The well-known software also comes with a plethora of video-editing tools designed for splicing, adjusting framerate, and adding subtitles, among a laundry list of other useful actions that come second to its optimization presets.
Honestly, who still shops in brick-and-mortar stores anymore? Parcel is aimed at the online shopping aficionado, rendering it ideal for anyone who’s constantly expecting a package at their doorstep. The tracking app works with more than 250 services — including mainstays such as UPS, USPS, and FedEx — allowing you to see where your packages are at a glance with little more than a tracking number. Push notifications and Spotlight integration are just an added plus.
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Solid BitTorrent clients are few and far between, but Transmission ranks among the best. The lightweight app excels when it comes to download speed, and blends seamlessly with MacOS. It’s not the most robust client, but it’s easily the best choice for MacOS on account of its reliability and no-nonsense approach to Torrent downloads. It’s fast, lightweight, and makes life a little easier by simply getting out of your way. Transmission did have a security breach a while back, though, so make sure you only download the most recent version (2.92 or above) directly from the Transmission Project.
VLC media player is better than Quicktime in nearly every facet that matters, most notably speed and file compatibility. The open-source software supports pretty much every media file you can muster, from AAC to Theora, while offering speedy video conversion, extensive subtitle support, and a host of video filters that let you crop, de-lace, and customize playback. The intuitive interface isn’t half bad, either.
Adium is a multi-protocol instant messaging client that can bundle all of your accounts into one simple application. Just tell it which services you use — AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Facebook, etc. — and it’ll pull all of your contacts and organize them into a unified space with a clean UI to match.
Google Hangouts is second to Slack, a messaging client that has recently taken office productivity and discussion to an entirely new level. The service’s attractive desktop app features all the tools available in the browser-based version of Slack — i.e., private channels, Giphy integration, themes — along with better control over notifications and increased support for multiple teams.
Tweetbot 2 is for the power user who’d rather skip the outdated, official Twitter app for Mac in favor of something more capable. Like the last-gen version of the software, the newest iteration presents you with multiple columns and windows, along with tools to mute users, hashtags, and specific keywords. It also supports third-party apps such as bitly and Paper, and showcases a streamlined interface that pairs perfectly with the redesigned look Apple first introduced with MacOS El Capitan.
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