In the PC universe, Microsoft Excel is the first and last word in spreadsheets. Excel for the Mac provides total compatibility, but you may also be interested in more streamlined alternatives.
NeoOffice (www.planamesa.com, free, shown in Figure 33) includes Calc, which fuses all the power and compatibility of OpenOffice with the glossy, user-friendly look and feel of the Mac OS X Aqua user environmentfor free.
Figure 33. Calc, the spreadsheet application in NeoOffice, wraps most of Excel's features in a beautiful Aqua interface and is absolutely free.
Mariner Calc (www.marinersoftware.com, $59.95) starts faster than Excel and requires less of your precious hard drive space after it is installed. It reads and writes Excel files, and its tables can be dragged and dropped into other Mac applications (such as Pages) with ease.
81. Useful Utilities
After I switched, I discovered several Mac-only utilities I now depend on every day.
TextExpander (www.smileonmymac.com, $29.95, as seen in Figure 34) saves keystrokes by expanding user-defined abbreviations into text you specify. (Example: simply typing sig can summon your standard email signature.) After installation, unlike AutoComplete on the PC (which works only in browser address bars and fields and MS Office), it works in every Mac OS X application on my computer.
Figure 34. TextExpander speeds typing by replacing user-selected abbreviations with passages of saved text. It works in every OS X application.
iClip (www.inventive.us, $19.95) enhances the Cut/Copy/Paste clipboard, enabling me to save text, sounds, images, and movies in a screen-side clipboard recorder. I can drag and drop these (and other frequently needed clippings) into any Mac program.
Growl (www.growl.info, free) interacts with dozens of Mac programs, notifying me of everything from the arrival of email to the successful uploading of a blog post.
82. Voice Over IPFree Phone Calls
With thousands of people depending on Skype's free PC to PC calling, the lack of a Mac Skype client was, frankly, a little embarrassing.
All that changed in September 2006 with the release of Skype for Mac (www.skype.com, free). Like the PC version, Skype for Mac places free computer-to-computer calls with up to 100 participants, free video calls, and low-cost calls to landline phones. Unlike Skype for Windows, the Mac version sports a bright, candy-colored Aqua interface and tight integration with Address Book and Entourage.
Add Call Recorder for Skype (www.ecamm.com, $12.95), and you'll be able to record calls to AACs or MP3s.
83. Virus Protection
As of September 2006, macvirus.org's Mac virus database has 26 entries. Most of these are rated "low risk" to home users and corporations; some are no longer in circulation.
By contrast, in the same month, symantec.com's PC virus database listed 72,846 entries. (Now there's a reason to switch!)
Even though your risk of infection, damage, and data loss is greatly reduced on a Mac, it's still a good idea to install virus protectionespecially because one of the most trusted Mac virus scanners is free!
Open-source ClamXav (www.markallan.co.uk, free) can be set to scan automatically for infected files. Brand-name shoppers can always pay for Norton AntiVirus for the Mac (www.symantec.com, $49.95), which, like its counterpart on the PC, automatically updates protection, scans files, and monitors systems for unusual activity.