I was trying to clean up my out-of-control collection of bookmarks -- all 8,223 of the boogers -- when I noticed something interesting about them... The interesting thing was that many of them were for sites that offered something cool or interesting for free.
I don't know about you, but I happen to love that particular "F" word. In fact, there is very little I enjoy more than discovering cool and/or useful Mac stuff available at no charge. And there is even less that I enjoy more than telling my readers about my discoveries.
Before I start, I want to admit that the sites I'm about to describe may not be the best sites of their type. But they are all sites I found over the years that I thought were useful enough to bookmark. So if you know a better one than the one I describe, feel free to drop me a line; my e-mail address appears at the end of this column. If y'all send me enough good, different, unique, or otherwise noteworthy resources for free stuff, I'll write another column about them in the near future.
Now, without further ado, here's where to find cool Mac stuff for free:
I'll start with two rather obvious sites, VersionTracker and MacUpdate. If you like free goodies these are the first two sites to visit; both have extensive collections of Mac software including tons of stuff that's free.
To scan for free software on VersionTracker, click the column header that says "License" as shown in Figure 1. That will sort the entries by license type. Now scroll down the page until you see the freeware offerings.
To discover free Mac software on MacUpdate, clear the Shareware, Demo, Updater, and Commercial checkboxes and check only the "Free" checkbox, then click the "Filter" button as shown in Figure 2.
In a similar vein but lesser-known and focused solely on freeware is FreeMacWare.com, which bills itself as "The Best in OS X Freeware."
It's not as comprehensive as VersionTracker or MacUpdate but still worth a look. Another reason you might want to check it out are its four companion sites: FreeMacBlog, FreeMacUnix, FreeMacMusic, and FreeMacPhoto. These five sister sites add up to a virtual smorgasbord of free Mac goodies.
This popular site offers thousands of free Mac fonts for your downloading pleasure. (What did you expect to find here? Free chopped liver?)
If you're a font hound you'll love this stellar collection of fine free fonts.
MacFonts is a gateway site that lets users rates various free fonts sites on a scale of 1-10. If you can't find what you're looking for at FreeMacFonts, this is the site to try next.
If you're looking for free clip art, this is one of the better sites I know of. It offers thousands of clip art images and animations, plus links to other free clip art sites. Highly recommended.
If you use Microsoft Office, you can download free clip art and other media to use with it from this page. There's a surprising amount of free content here and the quality is pretty high, too. If you're an Office user and want more art to use with Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, check out this site.
If you're looking for free audio files, you need look no further than the Free Sound Project. This site is a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, and other sounds released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License.
This is a site that features mostly free Mac games. (What else would it feature with a name like that?) If you're looking for free Mac games this site is a great place to start.?
I mentioned Pandora in Rants & Raves #63 back in June but it's so good I feel obligated to mention it again here. If you don't remember Rants & Raves #63, here's what I said about Pandora in it:
Wouldn't it be great if you could listen to a radio station that played new music you're almost certain to enjoy? Well you can, with Pandora. Created by the Music Genome Project, Pandora is uncanny in its ability to expose you to new music that you'll probably like. Just tell Pandora some artists or songs you like and it will create a custom radio station that plays songs you'll probably like, based on its analysis of nearly 400 song attributes. While the song is playing you can tell Pandora that you like it or dislike it; Pandora then uses that info to find songs you're likely to like. Oh, and did I mention that it's free? This is cool stuff -- don't miss it.
There's always something for free at the iTunes store -- it's just sometimes hard to find. The Free iTunes Downloads RSS feed is the solution. It keeps track of new free content as it becomes available at the iTunes Store. (Thanks to Dan Frakes, who mentioned this site in a post on Macworld.com.)
And that's all he wrote...