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Handpicked Software for Mac OS X

by Robert Ellis. 180 pp. plus CD-ROM. Futurosity, 2002. $17.95.

       There’s something irresistable about Handpicked Software for Mac OS X, a guide to the best new freeware, shareware and commercial software for OS X. Author Robert Ellis’s descriptions and bottom line summaries make it easy to browse the categories, learn about and compare applications, and discover some affordable alternatives to big name products. His cheerfully subjective choices and commentaries bring a refreshingly egalitarian spirit to the book. It’s no surprise that Ellis is an active Macintosh user group member. To prepare the book, Ellis sifted through hundreds of applications that run natively under OS X and chose the programs that best fit his criteria of value, design, and utility. His recommendations are intended to help readers decide not which program is “the best,” but which is best for their own particular needs. Choices range from heavy hitters like Corel Graphics Suite, Final Cut Pro and AppleWorks to exciting built-for-OS X applications like Watson and Stone Studio, and finally to a terrific selection of innovative freeware and shareware programs. Each product is clearly described so the reader can understand what it actually does. The CD-ROM includes many of the applications, including tryouts of commercial software as well as full freeware and shareware applications. This is a real boon for the majority of us who rely on dial-up internet connections. My favorite selections are the little freeware and shareware programs that do one thing well. Tea Timer, an elegant freeware countdown timer featuring a left– or right–handed teacup, has already found its way into my Mac’s dock. Handpicked Software is aimed at people who are new to the Mac or new to OS X. Most all of us fall into one category or the other, and most all will benefit from owning this affordable, informative guide. Highly recommended.

– Elsa Travisano

Copyright ©2002 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the September 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.