12 essential internet apps for your Mac

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Whatever you need to do online with your Mac, the chances are there's a free or inexpensive program to do it. Here are 12 of the best...

€30, Mac OS X 10.4+

Selling on eBay is incredibly popular, and yet the website's interface itself can be tedious and long-winded to use with any frequency. Enter


, a slick and fully featured eBay listing client for the Mac. Compose attractive auction pages using templates or your own designs, drag photos directly from iPhoto and upload your sale items much faster than before.

Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4+
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is today's preferred way of disseminating news headlines across the web. RSS readers are able to aggregate these feeds in one place and let you see and access them from a single window. NetNewsWire not only lets you do this, but also view the pages within its browser. It integrates with Spotlight, iCal, Address Book and iPhoto, and you can email links. To cap it all off, it's now free to download as well.

Freeware, Mac OS X 10.3+
There are several Mac browsers available as alternatives to Safari and the best is Camino, a lightweight but powerful browser based on the Gecko rendering engine. With simple but effective pop-up and advert blocking, as well as ways to control web page behaviour, it also features RSS feeds, spell checking, session saving and more. It's altogether more stylish, Mac-like and quicker than Firefox.

Freeware, Mac OS X 10.2+
Many web-based email providers only enable access to mail through a browser, which can be quite limiting. MacFreePOPs allows you to set up access between your email client, such as Mail, Entourage or Thunderbird, and such web-based email services. This lets you take advantage of the benefits of a dedicated mail client while keeping your old address.

$30, Mac OS X 10.3.9+
FTP is the standard way of moving data across to web servers – from iWeb, for example. Transmit is a fully featured FTP client with a range of advanced features, including iDisk integration, a special Dashboard widget, Dock integration, tabbed working and much more. This $30 tool is an extremely slick and, we're pleased to say, Mac-like way to smoothly get items between your Mac and remote servers.

Audio Hijack Pro
$32, Mac OS X 10.4+
Streaming audio over the web is commonplace, but what if you want to record it? It could be iTunes, iChat, RealPlayer, Skype or QuickTime that you want to capture for archiving or listening later. Audio Hijack lets you grab an application's audio stream and record, without interrupting it, to multiple formats, including MP3. You can set recording timers and even use effect plug-ins. Never miss a web radio broadcast again!

Freeware, Mac OS X 10.3+
Viruses and Trojans for the Mac are thankfully extremely scarce, and you're unlikely to run into one. However, that doesn't mean this situation will last forever, and there's always the risk of unwittingly passing on Windows viruses to PC users in email by accident. ClamXav is an excellent free virus scanner with regularly updated definitions and watch folder capability, so you can have peace of mind when it comes to internet nasties.

$25, Mac OS X 10.3.9+
Usenet is the web's oldest message board system, stretching back to 1981. As such, it contains tens of thousands of news and discussion groups on every conceivable topic, and it's still active today. So how do you make full use of that functionality? Unison is a client that lets you access these groups and download text, pictures or other files on any of a huge range of topics. Its slick appearance belies a very powerful program.

Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4+
This is one for news-addicted Mac users who like to stay up to date. NewsFire is an RSS reader for the Mac, which can manage any number of news feeds, podcast feeds, and anything else syndicated by RSS for that matter. It supports smart feeds matching criteria that you set, groups, searching, del.icio.us integration, and has an integrated audio player for podcasts and export to iTunes. There's no need to ever miss another breaking news story!

Freeware, call costs vary by destination, Mac OS X 10.3+
Skype was the first app to pioneer internet telephony on a global scale in a way that was usable and understandable to everyday users. Still the big kid on the block, it allows instant messaging and free calls to other Skype users. You can obtain Skype In and Out numbers to make/receive calls and voicemail from anywhere in the world at good rates.

£27, Mac OS X 10.4.3+
Web design and construction is still a fairly fiddly process for non-professionals, so it's lucky that there are programs like RapidWeaver around, making things easier. With a simple interface, it lets you build sites for blogging and podcasting, create Flash slideshows from your own photos, use customisable themes and publish straight to .Mac or an FTP server.

Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4+
Adium is an excellent multi-protocol, instant-messaging client that lets you collect all your IM accounts in one place. If you have friends on MSN, AIM, iChat and Jabber, you no longer need to open four programs to talk to them: Adium can display them all at once. It supports extensive customisation, file transfer, tabbed messaging and obscure messaging protocols.