Google on Mac OS X

There are a number of applications and services that I regard as important and having them readily available is vital for me. I don’t want to be responsible for administering the data or the applications. With HTML5 in varying degrees of implementation in a number of browsers, it is becoming more the case that web applications can be desktop applications too.

There are of course always good candidates for native applications and ideally they should help to faciliate web applications or integrate to the web or the cloud.

As you would expect, Google provides many services and a large majority are web orientated. This post focuses on Google services and applications and how they can be utilised on Mac OS-X. Google have a landing site for mac applications and mac code.


Given that the web is critical to the success of Google its not surprising that they created a browser too. Google Chrome has moved the browser market forward ensuring that focus is put on security, performance and reliability, making the browser more suitable than ever before for applications. Its adoption of HTML5 and the offline capabilities in the specification has made the case for web applications that can be desktop applications a reality.

Prior to HTML5, there was Google gears which provided extensions to browsers to facilitate offline web applications. As with HTML5, there is a reliance on the web application to utilise the available resources.

Now that Google Chrome supports extensions (plugins) on Mac OS-X I have made it my default browser.

Web Applications

On a regular basis I use Google Mail, Google Reader and Google Calendar. All of these applications make use of offline capabilites, either through Google gears or HTML5.

Google Mail also has other services embedded in it, such as contacts, chat and tasks.


Google Quick Search Box (QSB) is a great search and launcher replacement for spotlight by the guy who wrote Quicksilver. I turned off the spotlight menu keyboard shortcut in the spotlight preferences so I can bind Command + Space to QSB.


Google Notifier sits on the menubar and provides notifications for email and calendar. It also provides quick options to open emails, compose emails and add calendar entries amongst others. There are a number of extensions for Google Chrome that provide similar notifications, however, the browser must be open to see them.

Google Notifier allows plugins, and wafflesoftware have created a plugin called Google Growl to make use of Growl. Its pretty simple to set up, you just need to change the Google Notifier Preferences to not show popups or play sounds and therefore rely on the configuration in growl.

Google Earth

Google Earth is great. I’m sure there lots of great uses for it but I just love flying around and looking at interesting things.

Desktop Application Integration


Google Mail supports IMAP (and POP but that is not bidirectional), allowing good integration with pretty much any mail program with IMAP support. Using POP with Apple Mail covers the details for Apple Mail integration.


Google provide a setup program called calaboration to initialise the calDAV settings for iCal. I’m not fond of the way the calDAV integrated calendars are shown in iCal, so I’m looking for alternative solutions.

I like the look of Spanning Sync which can sync using the native iCal files as well as contacts, however, it costs money and data is passed through their servers. The licence is also linked to a single account and I want to be able to sync multiple accounts, although this can be worked around by having a master account and sharing your other calendars with it (e.g. from your work or home accounts).


Adium is a generic chat client with support for google chat that also integrates with Growl.


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