Software Bargains Week

There’s this odd perception out there that Mac users are the spendthrifts of the computer world—ready, willing, and able to spend several arms and legs on a Macintosh instead of a couple hundred bucks on whatever box of bolts PC makers are slapping together these days. (Just ask most any PC user—they’ll be glad to enlighten you on how you like to throw money around.)

If anything, I’ve found the reverse to be true; there’s nothing Mac users appreciate more than a good bargain. The Mac platform enjoys the support of a multitude of shareware developers who create wildly inventive, incredibly useful programs available for just a few dollars (assuming they cost anything at all). We’ve devoted an entire section of Macworld (and an attendant weblog ) for hunting down low-profile, low-cost products that dramatically improve your Mac experience.

Along those lines, we’re declaring this Software Bargains Week at Macworld.com. Macworld editors and contributors have rounded up some of their favorite utilities that you can use to perk up or perfect your Mac without having to break into your piggy bank. Today, programs that bolster the Mac’s creative powers are in the spotlight. Later this week, we’ll highlight programs for getting organized, communicating with others, souping up your system, and working with the World Wide Web.

The 60 software bargains we’re sharing this week are our picks. But we’d love to hear some of yours. To get the ball rolling, here are some low-cost applications currently sharing space my hard-drive that I just can’t do without.

* Logorrhea, Spiny Software; free (donations accepted): We’ve covered this utility before (well— several times, actually), but it bears repeating: Logorrhea is a great way for keeping track of stored iChat transcripts. The free program lets you browse chats by user name, date and time, and even phrases that may have come up during your online chat—an invaluable feature if instant messaging is as much a part of your communications repertoire as e-mail and phone calls.

* Clutter, Sprote Rsrch; free: I grabbed this utility a while back because of its ability to download album artwork from the Web, but really, Clutter does much more than that. It lets you place an album cover on your desktop; double-click the cover and iTunes starts playing that album. It’s a great alternative way to access your music collection. Is Clutter essential to my productivity? No, but it’s there on my Dock, right between iChat AV and BBEdit, nevertheless.

* OmniOutliner, The Omni Group; $30: This is one of those rare products that can do a lot of different things very well. I use it primarily to organize ideas, articles, and projects, and OmniOutliner has managed to impose order on the chaos of my mind.

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