In 2006, Apple introduced the MacBook to replace their iBook and PowerBook laptop computers. The product line has seen continuing innovation since the introduction. As of late 2012, Apple was offering 13-inch MacBook Pros both with and without Retina displays, 15-inch MacBook Pros with both display options, and 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs.
The longevity of the MacBook line is a testament to its value, but a computer is nothing without its software. The “best” software is always a subjective decision, depending upon your needs, preferences and budget, but a quick outline of some popular products can get you started on picking your own “best apps” collection.
Office Productivity Software
Apple’s office software suite includes the Pages word processing program, the Numbers spreadsheet program, and the Keynote presentation package. Microsoft’s office suite includes corresponding programs: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The Microsoft office suite owns the lion’s share of the market, and are de facto standards, but the Apple suite reads and saves programs in Microsoft-compatible formats. The two offerings are functionally equivalent, although Microsoft’s offerings seem to offer a little more in the way of semi-automated macro capabilities.
The Macintosh has long been adopted within the media production field, not least for the ease with which you can use it to make movies. Basic editing capabilities are met very well with iMovie, part of Apple’s iLife software suite. Professional level capabilities can be found in the Final Cut software programs, or in the Adobe Premiere packages. Final Cut is the most widely adopted program for professional users, but the packages are just about equivalent and your personal preference will be the deciding factor.
The past few decades have seen tremendous change in the landscape of graphics production software. There used to be many software companies with competence in one or two areas, such as desktop publishing, paint programs or photo editing. Now there’s one preeminent solution for professional graphics processing: the Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe’s Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop are the industry standard solutions for drawing, desktop publishing, and photo processing capabilities, respectively.
Your MacBook can also be used to record audio – everything from recording narration with your MacBook’s internal microphone to controlling an entire suite of recording studio equipment. Audacity is freely available software, downloadable from the site found in the References section, and it’s far more capable than you might expect from a free program. If producing music is your desire, then Apple’s GarageBand is an excellent option. With hundreds of music loops available, GarageBand can quickly help you produce your own great-sounding songs. If you need more professional capabilities, Adobe SoundBooth might be the option for you.
Safari is the most common browser for the MacBook; part of the competitive advantage of Safari is that it comes with your MacBook. Firefox – the browser developed and maintained by the Mozilla non-profit organization – is a popular alternative to Safari. The Google Chrome browser is touted as a fast alternative to the others. The selection of “best” is personal, based on the type of interface you like.
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