The Week in OS X Apps: Giving thanks

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Sometimes it’s tough to keep up with all the Mac-app updates and new releases, especially over the holidays. Your friends at Macworld have put together a selection of notable new arrivals.

Acorn 3.5: Gus Mueller’s most excellent graphics editing app has received an update with lots of bug fixes and a number of new features, such as the capability to extract and save a single layer from an image. Scripting fans have also gained a few additional APIs that let them interact more closely with the app. Although not a match for heavyweights like Photoshop, Acorn is more than capable of satisfying the vast majority of everyday image-manipulation activities—plus, unlike most of its competition, it’s dead-simple to use, and it will set you back only $50 (updates are free for existing users).

Adium 1.5.4: If the Messages app has got you down, chances are you’ve sought refuge in the ever-popular Adium, a free and open-source instant-messaging client that’s been a mainstay of the Mac community for years. The project’s latest release, 1.5.4, brings a few improvements. The most significant is better notification support thanks to compatibility with Growl 2.0 and, more important, OS X Mountain Lion’s Notification Center—a piece of welcome news for anyone tired of having to switch windows every time a new instant message arrives. A number of security fixes and performance improvements round out the release.

BusyCal 2.0.1: There’s no such thing as perfection, as all developers find out the moment their software gets in the hands of more than one person. Faced with this reality, developers are usually hard at work on updates as soon as an initial version ships. That’s probably what happened to the developers at BusyMac, who just released version 2.0.1 of the company’s flagship product. As can be expected from this kind of release, most of the items in the release notes include some variation of “Fix,” and that, of course, is great news. BusyCal (4.0-mouse rating), which costs $30, is a standout calendaring app that helps you get your life organized by integrating your schedule with all sorts of additional information (like weather data) and showing it to you in a variety of different formats.

Evernote 5: With over one hundred new features, including the capability to organize notes by geographic location, a completely overhauled interface, better keyboard integration, and full-screen support, the new Evernote 5 is likely to have something for everyone. The note-taking powerhouse comes with built-in sync that supports a variety of devices and operating systems. Basic features are free, while more advanced usage will set you back $5 a month or $45 a year.

iScrapbook 4: As any person over 35 knows, memories are not forever. That’s probably why people have always liked to collect photos and mementos from their life and the lives of their dear ones. Chronos’s iScrapbook 4 is a great way to permanently save your memories on your Mac for future generations to enjoy. This $50 app incorporates over 60 different features that range from the capability to help you organize your picture, to formatting text over a path, to adding all sorts of decorations to your scrapbook pages, to, of course, sharing everything with anyone you like. A $90 family license is also available, as is a $30 upgrade for owners of previous versions of iScrapbook.

Oosfora for Twitter: It’s a testament to how important Twitter has become that, despite the company’s continued attempts at sabotaging them, third-party developers are still working on innovative clients for the popular social network. Case in point: The folks behind Oosfora for Twitter have just released version 1.3, which introduces support for Retina displays, integrates with Mountain Lion’s Notification Center, fixes several bugs, and adds a number of performance enhancements. If you like Twitter and mourn the discontinuation of the official client, Oosfora will set you back only $5 while providing many useful features, such as support for multiple accounts.

Skype 6.0 Hotfix: Notice something different in your favorite communication tool? The popular (and now Microsoft-owned) Internet telephony and messaging client has recently received a facelift, a version bump all the way to 6.0, several new features, and, at least in my unscientific tests, an update that seems to work better than its predecessors. Most important for the purposes of this article, the company has also released an important “hotfix” that fixes a very specific crash on dual-display Retina-display Macs running Mountain Lion.

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