Apps to get you started

1. iWork

£46 www.apple.com/iwork

Master your mac

Not one app but a suite of three, a free trial of the iWork productivity suite comes with your Mac and it's worth trying out to see if it's for you. You can buy each of the apps for £11.99 individually from the Mac App Store.

Comprising Pages, Keynote and Numbers, the apps are a cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Office and work with docs created in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Create it all from flyers to presentations using beautifully designed templates.

2. Growl

Free www.growl.info

Master your mac

When you use a bunch of apps a lot goes on with your Mac – more than you can probably keep track of.

Growl alerts you when various actions occur on your Mac, for things such as new emails to completed downloads. It works with Mac OS X and any compatible app to keep you informed with a subtle message each time an action occurs. The way alerts look can be customised and can be set to appear in different places on your screen.

3. Spotify

Free www.spotify.com

Master your mac

Why you'll love it… With so much music available, Spotify seems too good to be true for a free service. Share your favourite songs with friends, build playlists and discover new songs from a selection of more than 10 million tracks.

The app now works alongside iTunes, so you can listen to your library within Spotify and build playlists using your own songs and those on service. A premium version is also available.

4. Dropbox

Free www.dropbox.com

Master your mac

Why you'll love it… Share files between your Macs as well as your iPhone and iPad with Dropbox, a free filesharing service. It provides a shared folder on each of your connected Macs so you can access and work on docs wherever you are. You can even connect to it via the web and get hold of your files that way.

5. OpenOffice

Free www.openoffice.org

Master your mac

Why you'll love it… OpenOffice is an open-source office suite that runs on the Mac and is compatible with all major office formats.

The software includes a word processor, spreadsheet tools, presentation app and drawing software, this is a fully fledged suite that's easy to use and won't cost you a penny. You can download the full suite from the website or choose to have it delivered on a CD.

6. Adium

Free www.adium.im

Master your mac

Why you'll love it… If you've moved from a PC you might want to continue using Windows messenger or another IM service that you're used to. However, it's worth checking out iChat on the Mac, as frankly it's better. There's also AOL Instant Messenger and Google Chat.

So what do you do? You download Adium and group all of your chat services into one great application. You can even add Facebook chat to the service. And now you have a one-stop shop for all your instant messaging needs. There is also a vast array of skins and themes to make your chats really pop and alert you to incoming messages.

7. Twitter for Mac

Free www.twitter.com

Why you'll love it… If you're a Twitter obsessive and want to keep track of tweets, Twitter for Mac (formerly known as Tweetie) is a top solution.

The app offers a simple, Mac-centric interface that will sit on your Desktop and alert you of mentions and messages. You can add multiple accounts and search the latest trending topics from within Twitter for Mac; plus there's an iPhone app available that offers the same.

The desktop version is available for free on the Mac App Store.

8. VMware Fusion

$50 (£32) www.vmware.com

Master your mac

Why you'll love it… Sometimes it's inevitable that we have to use Windows, but that's no reason to ditch your Mac. As with Parallels, Fusion also enables you to run Windows on your Mac without having to reboot into a new operating system.

Using a variety of viewing options, you can access Windows as full-screen or in a window. You can even use Mac OS X and Windows together, running Windows apps on your Mac as if they were native to the platform.

You do need to apportion a decent chunk of your hard disk to Windows, so bear this in mind when you come to install the software.