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Perhaps now more than ever before—thanks in no small part to the Mac App Store—the Mac platform boasts an abundance of free and low-cost software. While the quality of these programs varies widely, the best—the ones that give you great functionality for a low price—are products we call Mac Gems.

I review a couple of these products each week here on the Mac Gems Weblog, but more good stuff is released than I can hope to cover at that rate. So once a year I call in some favors to enlist my Macworld colleagues and some of our contributors to help me put together a special summer Gems event.

Today is the start of this year's event: GemFest 2011. Starting today and continuing through late July, we'll review a new Gem each day (except Sundays). As with the past few Gems marathons, some of the programs we cover will be simple, some complex. Some will be specialized, while others will be programs everyone should find useful. Whatever the case may be, each product will earn the Mac Gems label.

Most of the products we'll cover during GemFest 2011 will also be included in a special Mac Gems feature in the September 2011 print issue of Macworld—pick up a copy if you'd like to see them all in one place. And don't forget to browse the Mac Gems Weblog to read past Gems reviews.

My regular Gems column will resume in late July.

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.

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