20 January 2015, 05:32
Macheist is an umbrella organisation that seems to exist to bundle Mac apps at discount prices, and also donate to charity by doing so. The latest offering is Macheist Anarchy, which costs just $15. I took a punt.
Here’s an ultra-quick review of what you get:
Little Snitch: Arguably the gem in this bundle. Adds an outgoing firewall to your Mac, so you can see (and block) apps that phone home (that is, apps that ping the developer across the Internet for various reasons — usually to do with checking license registration). It works great but you’ll spend a lot of time in the first few days authorising Apple background services, of which there are a lot. Why isn’t there an option to automatically accept these? All I want the app to do is catch NEW apps I install attempting to make hidden Net connections. I trust Apple.
VirusBarrier: Antivirus app. I’m confident that OS X’s built-in Xprotect defences are good enough but sometimes become paranoid enough to run a scan when odd things happen on my Mac (usually massive network activity for no reason). I use ClamAV for this but I suppose I’ll now use this instead. Hopefully it won’t try to install low-level extensions or background processes, like some AV apps.
uBar: Adds a Windows-like task bar at the bottom of the screen, in place of the Dock. For heaven’s sake, why would you want to do this? If you miss the Windows interface, then switch to using Windows. A complete waste of time.
Speedy: App and file launcher. Doesn’t work on my Mac because I use an external monitor, which apparently is a problem they’re working on. I guess being involved in MacHeist introduces a lot of new users, and if nothing else provides a thorough set of bug reports across lots of different usage scenarios. Anyway, if it don’t work then it’s useless.
Default Folder X: Hooks into file save/open dialog boxes to provide additional functionality. I’m loathe to use apps that replace system components because they’re basically hacks, and most operating systems are naturally adverse to such things — they might work fine for a few days/months but then something’ll go wrong and you’ll spend hours trying to work it out before remembering that you installed such a hack ages ago. As it happens Default Folder X slows down the appearance of the file save as dialog box — just a second, but that’s annoying when you’re trying to work. Nice idea. Shame about the implementation.
Parallels Access: Remote access software. Lets you tune into your Mac apps and desktop from your iOS or Android devices. I tried it and it didn’t work too well — it was unable to switch away from one app into another, even though it said it did. Hardly a terrific introduction. I might try it again but I’m a little worried that all data is routed through Parallels’ server (out of necessity admittedly) and the privacy implications thereof.
Cocktail: System tweaking, cleaning and optimisation tool. Useful for occasionally clearing caches and so on.
Total Finder: Replacement for the system Finder that originally sold itself on the back of adding a tabbed interface, but nowadays lacks a unique selling point now that tabs are a default feature in Finder. Again, I don’t really like using system add-ons that are essentially hacks, and I’d need a compelling reason to use this. There really isn’t one.
Postbox: Mail client. Sounds promising but I really love the Continuity feature of Mail within OS X — start a message on your Mac, then continue it on your phone (or view a message on your phone then open it on your Mac). That’s the future. I checked to see if Postbox has an iOS counterpart but it doesn’t, so no handoff is possible. Continuity really is a necessity within Mac apps nowadays. EDIT: I tried Postbox and it downloaded my existing Gmail in a crazy way, somehow dating several very old messages as new, and mixing sent messages with my In Box (and also dating them as if they’d arrived today). Useless.
CodeKit: IDE for web development. I do hand-code HTML sometimes but this seems overkill for what I do, which is handled by TextMate and Forklift (both from previous Macheist bundles, I believe!). But why make life complicated?
Hi there, I’m the developer of uBar. I would just like to point out that uBar is a Dock replacement that can be configured as either a taskbar or a dock. You may find that you like it when configured as a dock.
— Edward · Jan 21, 10:19 AM · #
Hi Edward — I took a look at uBar and I’ve got to say it’s a real achievement — a solid app that works really well. That said, it really is a Windows task bar for Mac, and I’m not sure how it can be configured to work as a Dock. Do you mean you can add favorites? I couldn’t find a way to unpin it from the left or right But most reviews I looked at do say it’s a task bar for Mac, and indeed so does your website. I’m glad it exists and think there’s a real need for it but I still think that if people are missing the way Windows works then they should probably use Windows. :-)
— Keir Thomas of Mac Kung Fu · Jan 22, 01:45 AM · #
Hi Keir, thanks for saying so. In the preferences you can unpin left and right sides, set window grouping to always, and remove application titles. At that point, uBar acts like a very minimalist Dock. You can look at the bottom of this screenshot to see a more Dock-like configuration: http://brawersoftware.com/temp/ubar2_001_labelled.png
— Edward · Jan 23, 09:06 AM · #