Behind the Bargains

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As Software Bargains Week enters the home stretch— system-enhancement utilities get their turn in the spotlight today following profiles of communication, productivity, and creative programs—maybe you’re curious about the research that went into this project. How does someone go about finding 60 top-notch, low-cost utilities, anyway?

Glad you asked.

In July, we put out a call went to dozens of Mac software experts and asked them to tell us about their favorite budget-friendly programs. That began the process that resulted in our November 2004 feature, “Even More Software Bargains.”

Macworld editors and long-time writers suggested more than 100 applications—that left us with some cutting to do. We ruled out some programs that weren’t tops in their categories; others got cut because they weren’t the least-expensive option. Some candidates hadn’t changed enough since the last time we reviewed them to warrant revisiting. Still others were already slated for review at another time. That left us with 60 programs, all either free or low-cost, and all excellent applications.

One of my favorites of the bunch—and I gotta admit nostalgia is a major factor—is the free Cosmic Painter ), which brings me back to a youth spent creating trippy paintings with my Spirograph. On the more practical side, I also appreciate the free Print Window Standard version 3.0 from SearchWare Solutions. (We reviewed version 2 in the 2003 Software Bargains story. Print Window lets me print a file directory list in a Finder window, but it goes way beyond that. I can control a ridiculous number of variables, from including icons (or not) to making my own headers to expanding subfolders from Print Window.

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