GemFest 2009

GemFest 2009: All-time favorite affordable software

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With yesterday’s review of Plex, we wrap up our GemFest 2009. If you’re interested, you can see a complete list of the applications in our GemFest. You can also see a complete listing of these Gems in the August 2009 issue of Macworld. Our regular, twice-a-week Mac Gems column will resume on Thursday.

We’ve reviewed hundreds of affordable applications over the years, from tools with just a few key features to complex software that can compete with more-expensive programs. Some of the Gems we’ve found are applications we can’t live without. As a grand finale to GemFest 2009, here’s a list of some of our all-time favorite Mac Gems.

Got an affordable program that you can't live without? Tell us about it by posting in the comments section.

1Password ( ) An excellent way to store and manage Internet passwords ($40; Agile Web Solutions.

AppleJack This clever utility ( ) lets you perform a number of troubleshooting procedures at startup, without requiring a Mac OS X or third-party CD or DVD. Free; The Apotek.

Default Folder X ( ) Adds much-needed improvements to OS X’s Open and Save dialog boxes. As the name implies, it lets you assign a default folder for each application. In addition, it makes recently used and favorite files and folders, as well as open Finder windows, easily accessible. $35; St. Clair Software.

Document Palette ( ) You can create a new document in the current folder via a keyboard shortcut—just choose the type of document from the palette that appears. Payment requested; Cold Pizza Software.

Growl ( ) This notification tool runs in the background of your Mac. It can alert you of finished downloads, the arrival of e-mail, incoming chats, and a lot more. Free; Growl Team.

Handbrake ( ) makes it easy to rip DVDs to your hard drive. Free; Eric Petit.

LaunchBar LaunchBar ( ) A launcher utility that makes you more productive by letting you control your Mac via the keyboard, reducing the amount of time you have to spend clicking around with your mouse. €24; Objective Development.

MondoMouse ( ) Give your cursor capabilities it never had before. Move, resize, or identify windows without having to first switch to them. $15; Atomic Bird.

NetNewsWire ( ) One of the best RSS readers. It stands out for its extensive feature set, easy-to-use interface, and ability to sync your feeds across multiple devices. Free; NewsGator Technologies.

SuperDuper ( ) Helps you create a fully bootable backup of your system. $28; Shirt Pocket.

TextExpander ( ) Can save your fingers hours of typing each month by assigning abbreviations that automatically expand to full text snippets when you type them. $30; SmileOnMyMac.

TinkerTool and TinkerTool System ( ) Takes much of the risk out of using tweaking utilities by separating safe actions from potentially risky ones. €7; Marcel Bresink.

Witch ( ) If an application doesn’t respond when you press Command-`, it’s time for Witch, which restores proper window-switching behavior. €10; Many Tricks.

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest Gems? Sign up for the Mac Gems newsletter for a weekly e-mail summary of Gems reviews sent directly to your inbox. You can also follow MacGems on Twitter.

Our 186-page Mac Gems Superguide is a veritable greatest hits of Mac Gems. It's available as a PDF download, PDF on CD-ROM, or as a printed book. Learn more about the Mac Gems Superguide.

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