New Mac owners: Start here!

If you're one of the lucky folks to get a brand-new Mac as a gift, we have all the software you need to get started. Check out some of our favorite Mac apps, from launchers and search tools to RSS readers and games.

So, you were one of the lucky people to receive a shiny new Mac for the holidays. We're all jealous! But if you're reading this, you've probably already spent some time getting set up and checking out all the cool features and programs that come with your Mac--and now you want more! Out of the box, your Mac is loaded with cool apps to get you started on stuff like uploading and organizing your digital images, creating a music library, making your own movies, and surfing the Web. (You're here, so it must have worked!)

While new Macs come with a ton of goodies already, there are a number of cool apps Mac users count on every day that aren't included in the initial setup. To get you started, we've rounded up 10 must-have downloads for your new Mac. From Web browsers and useful utilities to fun and games, these top Mac downloads are perfect for your new computer and a great way to start exploring the world of Mac software at CNET


Sure, Safari comes preloaded on your Mac and it's got a lot of great features, but it's not for everybody. The folks at Mozilla developed Camino from the ground up with the intention of creating a light and fast browser that plays nice with the elegance of Mac OS X. Though its not as feature-rich as its older cousin Firefox, users looking to keep it simple (with class) should try Camino.


Do you like hot keys? If you're the type of person who likes to load Web sites, apps, and files quickly, check out this solid utility. Simply bring up the tiny Quicksilver interface to type a few letters of your chosen app, file, or Web site to get a list of possibilities--without your fingers ever leaving the keyboard. If you want a quick way to launch anything, this is the app for your Mac.

Google Earth

A fully interactive globe on your desktop? What's not to like? Use Google Earth to point to a place on our planet and zoom in to see satellite imagery, detailed maps with street and location names, and much more. The recent addition of street level views adds to the fun with more and more major cities getting added all the time. Frankly, if you want a fun, interesting, and educational free program, Google Earth is a must-have download.

VLC Media Player

QuickTime supports several file types on its own, but if you've ever spent time on the Internet you know QuickTime doesn't do it all. If you have a pesky video file type that won't open in QuickTime, VLC Media Player is the answer. Packed with features for playing DVDs and almost any video, this free app is more than worth the download time and you'll never have to worry about whether you can watch a particular video on your Mac again.

GraphicConverter X

Good image editors are hard to come by, and popular professional ones can cost in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. GraphicConverter X is a longtime Mac-user favorite, supporting the conversion of a huge number of file types with plenty of tools for just about any image-editing project. The shareware nag screen is sure to annoy you after a while, but you have to admit, $34.95 is nowhere near as painful as hundreds of dollars.

Adium X

Not everybody uses the same chat client so iChat probably won't work with all your contacts. Adium X is the popular Mac chat client that works with most of the popular services seamlessly. This means you can connect with and sign up for Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ, AIM, and many more all from within the same program. If that's not enough, maybe we should mention it is free.


If you're a Web designer, pro blogger, or even just looking to start up your own site, Coda has the comprehensive toolset you need. Boasting one-window Web development, Coda offers an integrated file browser, fully-featured text editor, a CSS editor, preview functions, and a built-in terminal--all within the same interface. Big Web-design apps are too expensive for most users, but Coda is only $79.95 to register--and you get to put it through its paces before you buy.


Free long distance? No problem with Skype. This Internet telephony app lets you freely contact anyone around the world as long as they also have the free Skype client. Simply get your long-lost cousin to download Skype and you're all set. Sign up for Skype paid services so you can call landlines. This app is a no-brainer for international callers who don't want to pay big long-distance bills.


Get the news your way with one of the best RSS clients we've seen for Mac. NetNewsWire offers a slick 3-paned interface shows your favorite news outlets on the left, headlines on the right, and expanded stories on the bottom if you see something you like. Adding new feeds couldn't be easier and you can set how often NetNewsWire updates its feed list so you always have the latest updates. NetNewsWire is easily one of the best and most intuitive ways to get the latest news on your Mac.


Most great first-person shooter games for Mac are the type you need to buy online or at your local video game shop. Nexuiz is the attempt of some generous developers to make a free, multiplatform, online deathmatch game for everybody. It still has a couple of problems and bugs to be fleshed out, but for sheer high-energy shoot-'em-up mayhem in a free game, you're going to have a hard time finding one as fun and challenging as Nexuiz.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.