Equivalent Mac software

I spent a lot of time last week finding equivalent software on the Mac for the ones I used to use on Windows.

DVD Ripping

Having children means having a lot of kids DVDs that get played very often.  We’ve unfortunately had a few DVDs get scratched by the kids and so I started backing them up, to be played through my PS3.

In Windows, I used a combination of DVD Decrypter, Ripit4Me and then AVS or DVDShrink to backup my home DVDs.  I wanted something simple to use that could encode in xvid with reasonable quality.  Some of my DVDs were purchased from the US, so ability to rip DVDs of other regions is important too.

Unfortunately, it seems that the range of DVD ripping utilities is less on the Mac.  I’m currently experimenting with Rip It and Handbrake.   Handbrake seems pretty good and one test run I did with the PS3 template worked without any problems.

MP3 Ripping

Music plays a huge part of my life, and being a Swing DJ, easy and fast access to any track part of my collection is essential.

In Windows, I used the tried and tested EAC + LAME combination.   This combination would be able to grab track names off the internet, securely rip my CDs and then encode them in the best MP3 settings.   Since I playback my music on my iPhone and iPod, and most of my Swing music is scratchy old 1930s-50s stuff, I am not too concerned about lossless.

So what do people on the Mac use?   iTunes seems the “standard”, but unfortunately that doesn’t have secure ripping or use LAME.   After some searching,  I’ve settled on using XLD which uses the LAME engine for MP3 encoding.   It seems to still have actively development, it has advanced ripping and can encode in a variety of formats.

Video Codecs and Playback

If you watch any movies or TV shows on your Windows computer, you probably have heard of the K-Lite Codec Pack.  It’s the best way to make sure your computer has all the necessary files to play back any video files.  It also includes the advanced Media Player Classic.

Is there an equivalent on the Mac?  The Quicktime Player seems to be the standard Mac video player.   So if we stick with that, how about the codecs?   The general consensus is that all you need is Perian and the Windows Media Components for QuickTime.   This should let you playback most videos.

Email

I recently switched from Outlook Express to Thunderbird on Windows.  Fortunately, this made the switch to Mac really easy, as there is Thunderbird on the Mac too.

I’m still toying with switching to use Apple’s OSX Mail program as it has seemless integration with the OSX Address Book.   Unfortunately, I can’t get Google Contact syncing working at the moment with it.

Web Browser

Macs come with Safari out of the box of course.  But Firefox is my browser of choice.   Being available on both Windows and Mac made my switch very easy.

Downloading Photos

I’ve recently been experimenting with BreezeSys Downloader Pro.  I love being able to control the exact naming scheme for the folders and photo files that I’m downloading from my camera.

Unfortunately, this software isn’t available on the Mac, but I’ve since found that many of the commercial photo editing products out there already have this functionality built in!  I’ve been living in the dark ages!

MP3 Library and Playback Software

To manage all my MP3s on Windows, I’ve been using MediaMonkey.  It’s an excellent piece of software and can handle and manage large MP3 collections with ease.

When DJ’ing at Swing Dancing functions, I use 2 instances of Foobar2000 with their outputs set to different sound devices.  This lets me monitor/audition on one, whilst playing back on another.

The bad news for me is that neither of these 2 MP3 programs are available on the Mac.  Yes there is iTunes – but it’s fairly limited in terms of MP3 file management, and on the Mac, you can’t even have 2 instances with 2 different outputs!

I’m trying to resist VERY hard the temptation to install Windows and run these programs, either through BootCamp or on a virtual machine.   Surely there has to be something else on the Mac?   I’ve started reading up about Traktor but it seems overkill for what I need to do.

On a good note, I have my Airport Express working again!  After all the problems I was having on my Dell laptop, iTunes is streaming music wirelessly from the MacBook Pro to my stereo!

Other Software

Office Suite – When I bought my MacBook Pro, I also purchased the AppleCare Protection Plan for extended warranty.  Luckily there was a deal to get Microsoft Office 2008 for free with this!   This has solved my Office suite problems!   Although, I might retry OpenOffice on the Mac as I had been using this on my Windows laptop for a while.

Skype – It’s available on the Mac!

TweetDeck – Also available on the Mac!

Summary

DVD Ripping – RipIt and Handbrake
MP3 Ripping – XLD
Video Codecs – Perian and Windows Media Components for Quicktime
Email – Thunderbird
Web Browser – Firefox
MP3 Library Management – iTunes??  or run MediaMonkey in Windows (nooo!!)
Office Suite – Microsoft Office or OpenOffice
Video and Voice Calls – Skype
Twitter – TweetDeck

I know there are other alternatives, but I hope this list might help others who make the switch.

Things still left to do

  • Games (I want to continue playing Guild Wars!)
  • Sync’ing my contacts and calendar from Google and my iPhone to the Mac
  • Sharing music and photos from my MacBook Pro to my wife’s MacBook
  • Getting my Canon MP500 scanner to scan documents into the MacBook Pro
  • Connecting up with the Tivo, downloading videos and converting them to DVD or storing them to be played back through the Tivo or PS3
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