DIY Magi: Great (and Free!) Gift Pack for New Mac Owners

With both shopping days and budgets running short, you may be wondering what to get your friends and family members who have either just purchased or will be receiving a new Mac.

With 1-8GB USB flash drives having a street price of ~$6-$15.00 and a plethora of highly useful free software for the Mac ripe for the picking, here is a guide to putting together a relatively inexpensive, yet most invaluable gift that will definitely keep on giving. If you have suggestions for items to include, post your ideas in the comments (it has to be free, remember!).

While TAB cannot distribute a pre-loaded DMG with these items (many have license “click throughs” before downloading and/or mounting), we can get you started building your present with this handy pre-built DMG file (ZIP), complete with custom disk image, background image and folder icons, all pre-layed out for you.

Core System Elements

  • Growl + Hardware Growler – Great way to receive system and application notifications.
  • iStat Menus – CPU, memory, enhanced date/time with calendar and more right in your menu bar.
  • Perian – “The Swiss-Army knife for QuickTime” that lets you play more media formats than you will ever need.
  • UnPlugged – Visual notification when your Mac becomes unplugged.
  • Quicksilver – Put almost every aspect of your OS X system components and applications right at your fingertips.
  • VirtualBox – Free virtualization tool for OS X which lets you run Windows, Linux or other operating systems side-by-side with OS X.

Must-have Utilities

  • Audacity – For all your sound recording and editing needs.
  • Fluid – Turn any web site into a desktop application.
  • HandBrake – Preserve and convert video media and files.
  • SuperDuper! – Don’t rely solely on Time Machine to preserve your data. SuperDuper! puts you back in control of your backups.
  • TextWrangler – Let’s face it, TextEdit just does not cut it for power editing. This baby brother of BBEdit is a great free alternative, filled with options and support for many programming languages.
  • Transmission – When you need a torrent, Transmission is the best way to get it.
  • VLC – If there is a video or audio file that VLC cannot play, it won’t be long before support for it is added.
  • Burn – Comprehensive audio, video and data media burning software.


  • ClamXav – Don’t join in the misconception that OS X is safe from the evils of the internets. ClamXav is a great, free anti-virus solution for OS X.
  • TrueCrypt – Create cross-platform, virtual encrypted disks to keep your private data private.
  • Wireshark – See what is really going in and out of your system/network. Great troubleshooting tool as well as a security-related app.
  • nmap – One of the most comprehensive network scanners available. Find out who and what is running on your network.

Communication/Social Networking

  • Adium – Centralize all your instant messaging, from .Mac to Facebook.
  • Firefox – Despite growing compatibility with WebKit, there are times when Firefox is needed to view a problematic site.
  • – Personalized radio stations.
  • NetNewsWire – NNW puts you back in command of your RSS feeds.
  • Skype – Free or cheap voice, video and text calls to anywhere in the world.
  • Twitterrific – The clean and classic way to tweet from your Mac.


  • Evernote – Store notes, web clips and more right from your browser or desktop.
  • OpenOffice – Full office productivity suite offering compatibility with Microsoft’s comparable suite.
  • Seashore – Powerful image editor based on GIMP.


  • TrailRunner – get into shape, track your cycling and train for that marathon.