Essential Mac extras include a membership with FREE TechTracker from CNET.  This free service allows you to check in on any software development company updates and automate installation and monitoring of each Mac’s software update needs, beyond the Software Update feature from Apple that monitors ONLY Apple’s own SoftwareKeep. This can make the Mac (and Windows PC) experience better and personalized.

I also recommend and use Stuffit Deluxe as the product and engine that compresses and extracts files, to and from Macs and Windows PCs.

While viruses are not a big Mac concern, at least for now, you just can’t be too careful. Though I know many Mac users do not bother with antivirus protection and don’t think about it, I use and recommend Intego VirusBarrier on my Macs.  Just in case. OR, you may wish to use Intego Security Barrier, with more protection (than you need), but, it comes with the recommended full “cloning” backup software I use and recommend called Personal Backup.  In either case, download a free trial, try it or them for 30 days FREE, and then buy it if you like it. It WILL NOT SLOW YOU DOWN OR ANNOY YOU.  Recent news reports show that the bubble has burst and that we Mac users are beginning to become targets for malware.  No matter. My advice is the same; GET ANTIVIRUS PROTECTION and enjoy your computer. This is not license to behave irresponsibly online, however.  DON’T open attachments from unknown persons, for example. In addition to the excellent Intego product mentioned above, I can now also recommend a newcomer to the Mac side, but no stranger in my Windows recommendations.  ESET, my recommendation for Windows computers, now makes a Mac product called ESET Cybersecurity for Mac, and I’ve found it to be a lightweight insofar as using system resources is concerned.  You may wish to flip a coin in deciding for one over the other. I believe both products to be effective at their similar task. In fact, it is often difficult for ME to choose between one or the other.  Let me just add that ESET’s product is based on their award-winning engine used and lauded for the Windows platform.

Some users prefer the FREE Mac antivirus software called Sophos.  I am always a bit leery of such free protection, but I know users who love it.  I neither recommend nor suggest against it.

IF Windows is your choice and you buy a Windows PC, or if you already own one, or install Windows on your Mac, the only sure-fire Windows antivirus program I recommend at this time is, and this is very firm, NOD32 from ESET.  It just flat works and will not slow down your PC.  Try it free for 30 days, but remember to remove any and all existing antivirus software first. It’s simply the best antivirus program you’ve never heard of.  I’ve also installed it on my Windows 7 PCs, as well as trying others, the big names and some lesser-known brands. Stick with ESET NOD32 for the least annoying, best performing, won’t-slow-you-down antivirus available.

On the Windows side for FREE antivirus protection, there is Microsoft’s own Microsoft Security Essentials. It is beyond my pay grade to suggest for or against it.  I truly don’t know, which is why I continue to use ESET NOD32.  Maybe facts will reveal that FREE is as good as paid software in this area. I DO know that a failure will result in more work than you want or need, which is another reason I am happy to go with what I am certain offers protection against having to do unspeakable work to eradicate malware.

Other Mac essentials include Meteorologist, a free program that allow tracking of many, many cities’ weather for up to nine days’ forecasts in the top menu of the Mac’s screen.  Neat little thing!  When Mac users happen upon some types of video files, they are not natively friendly to Macs, so I use, VLC to view them.  Free, of course.  Flip 4 Mac is software that translates Windows Media files to seamlessly open in Apple’s QuickTime.  Get the free version, as it’s all you’ll need. Some audio formats are not Mac-friendly out-of-the-box. Don’t fret!  If you come across FLAC, OGG or other goofy formats, ALL2MP3 for Mac is the can opener/translater you will want. Simple and lightweight, it is free and easy to use, or feel free to look for others.  One that is more geek-like is XLD, and you might like it better, also free.  I use both.

When it comes to Internet browsers, it’s a personal thing. Macs come with Safari, also available on Windows computers, but not everyone loves it.  Fortunately, there are others from which to choose, or, like me, you can get them all, free of course, try them and decide.  I like Google Chrome.  Get Opera and Firefox, as well.

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