Do not agree!  Here are reliable alternatives to smaller Apple software

Do not agree! Here are reliable alternatives to smaller Apple software

One of the best things about Apple Macintosh computers is that they come with a full suite of applications that let you be productive right out of the box. These are full-featured programs, not trial versions that bother you to keep using them.

But what if you don’t particularly like what Apple has to offer? While most longtime Mac users tend to cling to Apple’s own software, newbies or those who don’t like the usual suspects can find better alternatives.

For example, I’ve never been a big fan of Mail, Apple’s email program, and I don’t like Safari, the web browser. I found a couple of great apps to replace them, and this week I’ll give you a hint.

And as a bonus for anyone on Windows who’s an Apple Music user – or who has a library of songs downloaded from iTunes – I’ve found a promising replacement for the much-maligned iTunes for Windows.

Spark by Readdle

Free, sparkmailapp.com

I lost access to Microsoft Office for Mac as soon as I retired because I used it at the mercy of my corporate overlords. I’m not a fan of macOS Mail and dare I say it? – I really like Outlook. But I’d rather not pay for it.

This sent me on a quest to find a decent free app; I found it in Spark, an email client for macOS, iOS, and Android, with Windows and web versions in development. Spark was built from the ground up as a multi-platform application, and the developers based in Ukraine have done a good job of making it easy to use on desktop and mobile devices.

When you install the app, you are prompted to set up a Spark account and then begin the process of adding email accounts. Once you’ve installed and set up Spark on one platform, all you need to do when setting up on another is sign in to your Spark account. All your email accounts and settings are transferred to your new device and you’re ready to go.

Spark follows the design style of Outlook, with mailboxes and folders on the left, an email list in the center, and a reading pane on the right. The app encourages you to use a single mailbox, but if you prefer to manage them individually (and I do!), you can display each account’s mailbox in the left column. You can set up your accounts with smart inboxes where Spark AI sorts and prioritizes for you, or you can use the standard approach that shows everything.

There are many other great features, including a built-in calendar, fine-grained control over notifications, delayed sending, follow-up reminders, and more. Best of all, it’s fast and responsive. I’ve never been blocked, which I can’t say about the Apple Mail app or even Outlook.

It’s free, but Spark has a paid version with collaboration features for teams.

Edge from Microsoft

Free, microsoft.com/en-us/edge

I know some of you Mac users cringe when I recommend Microsoft’s web browser, but hear me out. Many people with Macs use Chrome because it runs on multiple platforms. And Edge is built on the same code base, called Chromium, with versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. For me, Edge outperforms Chrome and Apple Safari for two reasons.

First, Edge gives you more control over tracking prevention with three different settings: Basic, Balanced, and Strict. It also allows you to enforce these strict settings when you’re using the Edge InPrivate browser (most other browsers’ private mode doesn’t prevent tracking). There is a similar Balanced/Strict security setting that provides additional protection against malware and poisoned websites.

And all of its privacy and security settings, including deleting cookies and web caches, are in one place.

The second feature is my favorite thing about Edge. This allows the various browser tabs to be displayed vertically, on the left side of the page, rather than horizontally. If you have many horizontal tabs open at the same time, you know that the tabs will eventually shrink in size until you can read their titles. But arranged vertically, you can always see the titles of the pages.

Even if you’re an avid Safari or Chrome user, it’s worth giving Edge a try to experience the joy of vertical tabs. Multiple browsers coexist nicely on a Mac, so Edge won’t replace your default web app. But I bet you will be tempted.

Free on Github, $1 in Microsoft Store, cider.sh

In this polarized time, we can all agree on one thing: iTunes for Windows is The. The worst. Slow, crash-prone, and in dire need of an overhaul, it’s a necessary evil for anyone with a Windows PC, an Apple Music subscriber, or managing an iTunes-acquired music collection.

Some time ago, Apple disabled iTunes on Mac in favor of the Music app. Windows users are not so lucky. But an open source project called Cider brings some much-needed relief. Available for Mac and iOS devices, the app provides a user-friendly experience for both your existing music library and your Apple Music streaming account. However, one huge caveat: this is a very early alpha version of the software, so bugs and crashes are guaranteed. However, the potential is huge.

Cider is music-focused and doesn’t try to be the swiss army knife for all media like iTunes does. It also prevents you from syncing, backing up, or updating your iPhone or iPad. But its musical focus makes it clean and intuitive, giving you access to both your own library and Apple Music components, including Radio 1, music streaming, custom radio stations, and podcasts.

Dive into the settings and you’ll see interesting features that, while not all might work correctly yet, give an idea of ​​Cider’s goals. An application can, for example, customize its sound to mimic high-quality audio equipment or the “warm” tones of analog stereos. If you’re installing a beta mobile app for iOS or Android, you can send the current state of your Cider app to the mobile app, allowing you to pick up where you left off.

I would recommend purchasing Cider from the Microsoft Store for a dollar which will update the app. As it develops, it looks set to become a true successor to iTunes.

dsilverman@outlook.com

twitter.com/dsilverman

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