Throughout Mac OS X Power Tools, I introduce you to a good deal of software, from both Apple and third-party vendors. These products tend to be my favorites for the tasks at hand; I don't guarantee that you won't like something else better, but you can rest assured that I've tried out almost every option available at the time of this writing and presented you with what I feel is the cream of the crop. Occasionally, when two products do things differently enough that I feel it's more a matter of preference than quality, I'll point out a couple of titles so that you can choose for yourself.
Whenever I mention a product, I provide you with a URL to get more information about it (or to download it). However, as you surely know if you've spent much time on the Web, URLs change, and a few of the URLs included in this book are probably going to have changed by the time you read it. If the URL for a product isn't working, I recommend using one of the OS X software websites such as http://www.versiontracker.com/macosx/ or http://www.macupdate.com/ to get an updated URL. Both sites let you search for software by title, and will provide you with a link to the developer's website and, usually, a download link.
When I describe a particular software title, keep in mind that my comments are based on the product at the time of this writing; software is updated regularly, so there's a chance that a feature I say doesn't exist actually does by the time you read this (or vice versa). In fact, one of the exciting things about OS X is that new and updated titles are being released on a daily basis!
Some of the software I cover is commercial—software you have to buy to use. Other titles are freeware—the developer has released the software for your use at no charge. However, a good deal of software falls under the categories of shareware and donationware. Shareware are titles that allow you to use them for some set amount of time (e.g., 15 days or a month) in order to evaluate them. If you find that you use them, you're expected to pay for them (using the procedures the developer has provided, usually through a secure payment system like http://www.kagi.com/). Sometimes payment gets you additional functionality, as well. Donationware is similar to shareware, except that the software is fully functional when you download it, and instead of requiring a payment, the developer asks for a donation if you find the software useful.
As a former shareware author/developer myself, I can't stress enough how important it is to actually pay for the software you use. Shareware and donationware developers generally do what they do because (1) they love to do it; and (2) the traditional software distribution systems are prohibitively expensive. Yet neither of these reasons means they don't deserve to be paid for their work. The quality of many shareware/donationware titles is comparable to, or even better than, that of "commercial" software you would buy in a box at a store. In addition, in my experience, many shareware/donationware developers provide better support to their customers than many commercial developers do. Getting paid not only rewards them for what they've done; it also encourages them to keep going.
Basically, if you end up trying out a piece of software I mention in the book, pay for it (or, in the case of donationware, donate a little something). It's good for the developers, it's good for the Mac platform, and it's good for your software karma.
After trying out so many software titles, I've come up with a few suggestions for developers for improving the way they distribute OS X software. Check out the book's website to see if you agree.
While I'm on the topic of software, I wanted to mention a couple of tools I've grown incredibly fond of over the past seven months. I generally don't spend much time thinking about writing tools. Or if I do, I'm thinking about them only because of all the problems they cause (as was the case with the word processor used to write this book). However, I used two new tools in the writing of Mac OS X Power Tools that truly enhanced the creative and organizational process. First, the content database DEVONthink (http://www.devon-technologies.com/products/devonthink.html) made organizing and searching through the daunting amount of information I collected and created for this book far easier than I thought possible. Second, the outlining app OmniOutliner (http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnioutliner/) has over the past seven months become my new "writer's best friend." It's not only a great outline creator; it's also an amazingly flexible outline editor, which was especially important as I changed the way I organized the book at least once a week. If you're a writer, I encourage you to check out these two tools.
In addition to these new tools, like most Mac writers I'm grateful for Snapz Pro X (http://www.ambrosiasw.com/), the OS X version of the venerable screenshot standby. OS X has some impressive screenshot capabilities (which I discuss in Chapter 7), but they're no match for Snapz Pro X's feature set and flexibility.