Perfect Apple Apps

I have to admit an unhealthy admiration for two apps that come free with OS X. Both received upgrades with Leopard which makes me happy. Unlike their closest counterparts in Windows these are truly useful apps that approach perfection. A perfect app is one that does what it’s designed to do quickly and efficiently. Best of all they come with OS X 10.5 Leopard so there’s Leopard compatibility issues.


The first is TextEdit. Coming from Windows I saw this as a notepad clone. In the beginning I only used it when it opened by default to edit simple text files. I was wrong. TextEdit is a fairly powerful word processor. It’s said that 80% of the people only use 20% of a Word Processor’s features. I’d venture to guess that 80% of that 80% would be happy with TextEdit (don’t ask me what that works out to – wait, I can use Spotlight as a calculator – that’s 64% of Mac users).

I doesn’t do version tracking, page layout or other heavy lifting, but it does do things like formatting text, supporting styles for ease of formatting, spell and grammar checking, and can embed tables, pictures and movies. It now adds the ability to jump to a line number although lines aren’t actually visibly numbered.

It also supports modern Microsoft Word formats (97/2000/2003/2007) although unsupported features will be lost when loading the file. It also supports Open Document(odt), Rich Text (rtf & rtfd), HTML and Web Archive formats.

I figure TextEdit is done by a programmer who can’t be fired, maybe he has pictures, but he pissed somebody off. So they sent him to a basement office and they told him to work on a text editor because that other OS has one. He’s since dedicated himself to showing the Pages team what a real word processor is.


My introduction to Preview came when it fired up to open a PDF by default. I didn’t need Adobe Reader to read PDFs, if it did nothing else it would already be perfect. But it did even more. It could also view numerous image formats and due some mild editing such as cropping. Now it can mark up and annotate PDFs. These changes can be viewed by other PDF viewers. It also adds the ability to extract images from backgrounds and multiple images can be opened in the same preview window without having to select them all at once. Some useful enhancements that avoid feature bloat.

Any other gems buried in the OS?

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