SLIDESHOW

Macworld Editors' Choice Awards: Software

Of the hundreds of Mac apps we saw in the past year, these 13 were our favorites.

The 2009 Eddys

When it came time to select the best Mac apps of the year, we started with the list of the roughly 250 Mac programs we reviewed over the past 12 months. After much discussion, we whittled that list down to just 13 that we deemed worthy of our Editors' Choice Award. And the winners are... (For hardware, see "Macworld Editors' Choice Awards: Hardware".)

BusyCal 1.0

BusyCal looks a lot like iCal. But it does things iCal can only dream of. It seamlessly syncs with Google Calendar out of the box, shares calendars via Bonjour, and supports multi-person editing. BusyCal did did more than revive the calendaring category; it established itself as the category leader.

Dropbox

There are plenty of ways to sync your files, but Dropbox really gets it right. You install a free app, put files into a Dropbox folder, and that's it: Those files are automatically synced to your other computers and your iPhone (with the free iPhone app), and they're available from the Dropbox Website.

Bento 3

Bento continues to set the standard for personal database programs. Bento 3 added iPhoto integration, network sharing, and 128-bit AES encryption. Best of all, FileMaker did the right thing for upgraders: Instead of charging them full price ($50) for the new version, it gave existing users a $20 rebate.

Things 1.0.4

Mac users all have their own ways of keeping track of what they have to do. Some use plain text files, other use full-blown project managers. But of all the task-management programs we’ve seen, we think Things 1.0.4 strikes the best balance between power and usability.

PDFpen 4.5

SmileOnMyMac’s $50 PDFPen fits neatly between OS X’s free Preview and Adobe’s $449 Adobe’s Acrobat Pro: It does way more than Preview, and offers some of the same features as Acrobat Pro at a fraction of the price. PDFPen may not be the sexiest product among this year’s Eddies. But it’s certainly one of the most useful.

ClickToFlash 1.5

Flash is the Web technology you love to hate; it slows your browser to a crawl, chews up battery life, and is reportedly the leading cause of application crashes in OS X. You can’t block Flash completely; sometimes it’s useful. That’s why we love ClickToFlash, the Safari plug-in lets you choose what Flash content you view.

Braid

Every few years, a game comes along that pushes Mac gaming in a new direction. This year, that game is Braid. The premise is simple: You guide a character through obstacles, collect puzzle pieces, and rescue a princess from a monster. But the longer you play, the stranger that story gets. Braid is a genre-defying masterpiece.

RipIt

DVDs can be a hassle: They are easy to lose and damage, take up a lot of shelf-space, eat up battery life when you play them on a laptop, and (because of copy-protection) aren’t easy to watch on an iPhone or Apple TV. By letting you rip the DVDs you own to a VIDEO_TS folder, RipIt addresses all of those problems in one easy-to-use app.

Logic Express 9

Apple’s Logic Express 9 is a workhorse bargain. This year’s edition added some excellent new features, including the Amp Designer, Flex Time, Pedalboard effects, Varispeed recording, and a Drum Replacer. Logic Express 9 provides professional quality tools with professional grade flexibility, making it a great step up from Garageband.

Acorn 2.1

If you don’t know graphic layers from layer cakes, Acorn 2.1 could be your ideal image editor. It offers multi-layer editing, vector shapes, and snazzy filters. It lets you take screen grabs of your entire screen, then treat each application window as a separate layer. Acorn may not have everything Photoshop does. But for many of us (and for $50), it’s everything we need.

Picasa 3.5

Picasa frees you from the need to keep all your photos in one consolidated library. Instead, it scans your system and finds image files wherever they’re saved, then lets you work on them in any other photo-app you want. That light-handed approach makes it a refreshing alternative to iPhoto.

Painter 11

Painter has been around for a long, long time. But Painter 11 is an Eddy-worthy upgrade, with more speed, a slew of new brushes, resizable palettes, PNG support, and more. The sum of those changes is a fine improvement on an already fine product; Painter remains the definitive painting program for the Mac.

FontExplorer X Pro 2.0

Whether you’re a creative pro or a casual user with a more-than-casual interest in fonts, you need something more than OS X’s Font Book. For our money, that something should be FontExplorer X Pro 2.0. It displays more detail and allows greater control than other font managers, yet t’s also fast, customizable, and surprisingly simple to use.