The Greatest Macintosh Application of All Time – The Reader

When we decided to do a My Mac Staff team piece for the Greatest Mac App ever, we did it as a fun piece and to see what our readers would think of our selections. Well, the response from readers was immediate and offered a whole new group of suggestions for the Greatest Mac App ever. You will find both pro and con responses to the article, and a whole new look at what apps some of our readers think is deserving of the title, “Greatest Mac App.”

Aldus PageMaker

Man, all the suggested candidates are wonderful; and, while PhotoShop may be the baddest and longest running app to change the way we all work, and Thorsten Lemke’s GraphicConverter, the most “of the people, by the people, for the people,” my vote is for Aldus PM. Talk about empowering everyman. It was truly the beginning of the revolution.
Chris Fenger


No contest: BBEdit.

It’s powerful, fast, easy to use, inexpensive and configurable.

The company listens to its users. The program is well supported by its builders and its user community, and when you ask for support you are talking to programmers, not a call centre.

BBEdit has been constantly updated with new tools without ever getting bloated, and the updates have been affordable. And there’s even a decent free version.

Proof? Even mighty Dreamweaver acknowledges BBEdit’s excellence by providing an “Edit with BBEdit option” with tight integration.

(I have no affiliation with BareBones except as a satisfied customer)
Tim Hicks

BBEdit has my vote. It does everything and does it well. It is always stable, always trusty, and ever mindful of performance and memory requirements. In today’s bloatware and processor hungry apps (and OS’s) BBEdit is a pearl. Not too mention THE BEST and FRIENDLIEST support staff in the world. Plus the price is great, 39 bucks for upgrades, can’t complain.

Claris Em@ailer/FullWrite Professional/MORE

It is hard to pick only one program, as there are multiple criteria.

I’m writing this on Claris Emailer, so that has to be one that I would
state as the greatest in its class.

As far as word processor, nothing still compares to Fullwrite
Professional (ver 2.06). Does 90% of what Word does, a few things Word
can’t do, 99% of what a writer needs, and does it all in a 1 Meg size
application. And with an elegance that is the same as the original
MacWrite. If you mostly write, then that is the greatest program ever
written. And incredibly fast on today’s Macs.

And finally, MORE. A great presentation program and the greatest outliner
and idea generator ever written. And last updated in 1991. Symantec
reached the point where they had nothing more to add to it.

And all these programs still run fine in Classic under 10.2.
Steve Finder

FileMaker Pro

Greatest Mac App Is… (drumroll)…

FileMaker Pro!

It can do an amazing array of things – from a simple contact keeper, to a corporate database system. You can use it successfully with very little training, or you can study up and make it do things no one would ever have imagined.
Steve Kayner


The Greatest Macintosh Application of All Time is the Finder…
Imagine trying to use a Mac without the Finder…
Pete Prodoehl

I think the greatest Mac app of all time is the Finder. For me, the
Finder has always captured the full experience of using a Mac. It’s had
a major influence on how people compute. Nearly every other operating
system with a graphical user interface has attempted to replicate the
intuitive way the Finder manages the file system.

Look at how Mac users reacted when Apple changed how the Finder works
under OS X! Many of the features that people felt were missing from
10.0 can be attributed to the Finder.
Denny Hyde

Wow, I can’t believe anybody didn’t mention the Finder. The Finder is what makes the Mac a Mac and sets the standard for elegance and ease of use that all other Mac apps are judged by.
John Burger

Finder Pop

It has to be Curly’s FinderPop. This makes moving around my Mac as effortless as flying – using hierarchical menus from every folder you come across (including the Desktop and any drives). And this happens when I’m saving files as well – I can’t remember when I last double-clicked on a folder name…

Sadly, with OSX this is to die… If only Apple could resurrect this gem (and buy a few pints for Curly)…
Rupert Stubbs

Greatest Mac App?

I think the “Greatest App” column has completely missed the boat. C’mon, there *is no* single greatest app. The whole *point* of a computer is that you have a wide array of functions you can perform with an equally wide array of apps specifically designed to do specific functions. We all know what happens when a developer tries to make an app a “see all do all” piece of bloatware. It becomes something like Netscape, Office, or AOL’s interface.

Well, okay, if that rationale isn’t good enough, try this one: the greatest application is the one you use that gives you the quickest access to all the other apps you bought the computer for in the first place.
Lee Bennett (staff member of About This Particular Macintosh)


You’re all wrong.

If you’re judging by how far ahead of its time it was, and how it
changed everything the only answer is HyperCard. There’s still nothing
like it. And it was just simple client/server layer away from being the
WWW. So close……..
Steven Fuchs

The application that had the biggest impact on the greatest number of people, giving them unbridled freedom to make their Mac computer do what they wanted, was HyperCard. This stealth developer’s tool masquerading as an address book gave enormous power to plain folk, delivering on the marketing phrase The Power To Be Your Best. Instead of beating the user over the head with calls and APIs like other development tools, HyperCard offered buttons and graphics and understandable ideas like “mouse over.”

Although all of the applications previously cited have had an impact on some portion of the Mac Universe, there are some I’ve never launched even once out of curiosity, and I’ve been using Macs since July 9, 1984, a day I’ll never forget. But HyperCard, once free with your new Mac, was too handy and flexible to ignore. I’d wager than over 95% of all Mac owners that got HyperCard in the box or got it separately played with or used it. Many still depend on it. It is a shame that such a forward-looking object-oriented tool has been left to slowly disassemble into a pile of bits on the shelf.

One day, perhaps Project Builder will mate with a drag-and-drop coquette and have a non-programmer friendly offspring, Child of HyperCard.
Mike Pickard

Without a question, HyperCard.

I understood the sentiment of the person who wrote that he did
everything that he wanted to do in just one application: AppleWorks.
Also the ones who lauded their choices as the first of their respective
kinds. Those are the reasons I loved HyperCard. It was my database, my
paint program, my customized text editor, and my recreational
programming environment. First of its kind? You bet. Free (for a long
time) … considered by many as part of the operating system. A source
of ideas for the Finder (I think of scriptable folders as a lame,
half-hearted attempt at putting HyperCard buttons onto the desktop; the
Go menu in the OS X Finder arguably came from HyperCard, and more).

The best evidence of how important HyperCard is is the fact that Apple
tried to kill it and couldn’t. SuperCard, MetaCard, PythonCard,
HyperStudio, Revolution, and iBuild Pro are all closely based on it.
AppleScript is a stand-alone (and less easy) version of its language,
HyperTalk. AppleTalk Studio is Apple’s new attempt to fill its niche.
And, in addition, pressure from users made sure that HyperCard is still
in maintenance mode at Apple, so it will continue to work in OS X’s
Classic environment.
Gareth Jones

I read your article of 9/24/02 regarding the greatest Mac applications ever, and I thought I’d throw in my two cents. ClarisWorks, Emailer, and Photoshop are all important applications, but I don’t think any of them actually deserve “greatest application ever” status. These are all tools that:
A) complete ordinary tasks
B) help professionals do their work
C) have a single fundamental target/function

For your consideration, I submit HyperCard as the best Mac application ever. HyperCard brought us the best selling game of all time (Myst), and helped countless teachers/artists/professionals/etc. create equally countless pieces of indispensable software. In addition, it introduced an entire generation of kids to the basic logic skills required for programming and in fact, creating anything. Linking modules (stacks), pictures, sounds, and text in a way that has never been surpassed, HyperCard is truly the greatest Mac application ever, because it:
A) helped the user create a solution for almost any problem (address books, games, edu-tools, etc.)
B) had no limits on who could (and just as importantly, would) use it
C) gave the power of technological creation to the masses.

It doesn’t matter to me if you publish this now, but I thought it was an important statement to make in light of the responses you got previously.

I obviously came late to this party, but let me throw in my $.02 (Cdn – that’s a minus figure in American money)

HyperCard. I’m flabbergasted no one has mentioned it. It was/is unique in all of computerdom. I was asked to teach a computer studies class that had a programming component. Not a tall order – except if you’re an English teacher with no background in computer science.

HyperCard saved my butt. The kids and I were constantly amazed at the things this free (then) program could do. Databases – no problem. Simple animation – no problem. Interactive multi-media presentations – no problem.

If I had to learn Pascal, which what was then on offer, I don’t know what I would have done.

And all this was a decade ago.

Why, oh why, won’t Apple do the right thing and support this little program?
Terry McCune


I really enjoyed the article on My Mac.

As for my vote, I’d have to say my favorite application for the Mac would be iMovie2. Thanks to this wonderful program, I can finally import all our family’s old VHS video and edit it. I should add that iDVD2 gets runner-up mention, simply because I can take these old home movies and burn them onto a DVD. I’m constantly amazed by how powerful these applications are!

For hardware, I’d have to say the iPod. It’s indispensable!

Keep up the terrific work! 🙂
Krishna Sadasivam

Internet Explorer

Interesting article. My choice, and the application that I used to
become aware of you and your discussion …. Internet Explorer (sorry
that it is made by Microsoft, but I am not prejudiced)
Julian Kaye


I can’t agree more with most of your choices of Greatest Apps of All Time. I don’t think ClarisWorks or CanOpener qualify — at least from my personal experience/use — but the others, especially PageMaker, GraphicConverter, Illustrator and Em@iler, are right on the money. I still miss Em@iler, GraphicConverter I use 20+ times a day still, and PageMaker is still the most intuitive DTP program ever — Quark and InDesign are more powerful, but have steep learning curves. Illustrator is simply in a class by itself, in that it helps fuel hi-end graphic design (no, MacDraw and Canvas don’t qualify), and Photoshop of course has undeniably changed how visual design, in all mediums, is done.

I’d add StuffIt Deluxe in there as well, as it was the first “intuitive” compression program on any platform – nowadays it’s just so-so, but years back it was indispensable and so much better than the zip & tar tools on any platform. Nuff said. Fun article. 😉
Nicolas Solberg

All of the suggestions already made are wonderful apps… but I think that we’ve all overlooked one utility. The one that I’ve had since my original Mac in ’84 when I was in elementary school. And I still use it on an almost daily basis still: StuffIt.

Aladdin has always been on top of the compression business. I never would have survived high school with my 20MB external HD attached to my SE with out the space saving ability of this app. Since then I’ve used it to help back up my important data (papers, college essays, random ramblings and scribblings) on smaller drives and without it, none of us would be able to have participated on all of the alt.whatever news groups, get software updates or transfer any information online during the days of the 28.8 modem.

I don’t know of a Mac today that doesn’t have this little utility in a prominent spot. This is truly the greatest app of all time because everyone uses it, not just designers and creative types, but students and programmers and even those elusive Mac gamers.
Andy ‘ Tig ‘ Wartluft


The one that I have been using since way back when on a so-called fat Mac is WriteNow, the first insanely great word processor for the Mac. It is extremely fast, intuitive and does everything I wish a word processor to do. I still run version 3 on my FP iMac under 9.2.2 in emulation mode. It now runs much faster than it did on my Quadra class Mac. It is one reason I shall never purchase a Mac that doesn’t allow me to boot OS 9!
Roger Angel

Russ Walkowich


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