10 Top Mac Apps For The Enterprise

These cool tools make it easy to manage your Mac.
DataViz's MacLink Plus Deluxe is one of those just-in-case tools. It can open pretty much any file format. However, I don't use it so much for "unknown" file formats, although it's fantastic for those, but more for really odd versions of things, like ancient versions of MacWrite or old Microsoft Works files. MacLink Plus does only a couple things, but it does them really well, and I suppose that's all you can ask of any application.


Parallels Desktop for Mac
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Parallels Desktop for Mac is a virtualization program, which allows Mac users to run Windows simultaneously alongside Mac OS X.

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Once in a while, a product comes along that radically changes not just how you perform a specific task, but how you view your computer in general. On the Mac, it's Parallels and Virtualization from Parallels. There have been types of virtualization around for decades on the Mac. But before the Intel Macs, they were slow and something you used only when you had to. With the Intel Macs, virtualization moved from the lassitude of Virtual PC to the real-world usability of Parallels.

I use Parallels a lot, and I don't just use it with one operating system. Currently I'm running Windows XP, Vista Business, and Ubuntu under Parallels, and they all work well. If all Parallels did was provide a solid VM setup on the Intel Macs, it would be a good product. But it keeps doing more. With the next version, it'll have "Coherence" mode, which allows Windows apps to just "appear" on your Mac OS X desktop without needing the Windows desktop container window in your way. You also get the ability to keep Windows apps in the Dock, and it will work with BootCamp partitions. There's no accelerated 3-D support yet, nor support for running on Mac OS X Server, but Parallels says it's coming.

With Parallels, I can do almost anything I want with my Mac, without having to add a Windows partition. Not that I can't do that. With its BootCamp support, I can run my BootCamp installation of Windows inside a Parallels VM as well--the best of both worlds. Not bad for a product that costs less than $90.

While I love Parallels, there are things it's not suited for. One of them is being a lightweight way to manage multiple remote Windows servers. For that, there's Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection Client. A small application (it takes up only 912 Kbytes on my hard drive), it's a huge force multiplier, in that it lets one computer run many servers from any location on the network. It's what I use for everything from Active Directory management tasks to administering my WebSphere and DB2 servers.

While it sounds a lot like Apple Remote Desktop, it's not a remote control application. Remote Desktop Client is, instead, a way to have a remote graphical logon to a Windows system. It's a tool I use throughout my day, every day, to get real work done, and best of all, it's free. Can't beat that with a stick.


More Mac Apps
Find out about other great Mac apps in Top 22 Mac OS X Products: Part One and Part Two

A few people who've heard me rail about the deficiencies of Apple's Workgroup Manager will wonder about this one, but the truth is, for all the things I don't like about Workgroup Manager, there's a lot of stuff I do like. If I had to pick one thing, I'd say access control list handling. Yes, I can and do use the command line for dealing with ACLs, but Workgroup Manager gives me better tools for ACLs in a pretty solid GUI. It's not just applying and changing them. It's also being able to quickly see how various ACLs apply to specific users or groups. I also find it more convenient to use Workgroup Manager for creating new ACL directories or modifying ACLs for specific directories. In this case, I definitely prefer the GUI.

The other big reason for my appreciation of Workgroup Manager is Sarbanes-Oxley. I work in a SOX environment, so being able to implement auditor "recommendations" quickly is important, and Workgroup Manager is a big part of that, as are forcing the use of password-protected screen savers, forcibly disabling that inane Open Safe Files setting in Safari, and adding required text to the logon screen. I get all of that done with Workgroup Manager, and much easier than I would otherwise. Like everything else on this list, it does what I need it to do, does it well, and makes my life easier.

Read about a dozen additional tools and apps in Top 22 Mac OS X Products.

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