Every now and then, a web site called MacHeist packages up a handful of popular Mac shareware and offers the entire bundle for a significantly discounted rate. Despite criticisms from developers, MacHeist is an obvious win for consumers looking to score some great shareware on-the-cheap. Now MacHeist is back with another bundle offering 12 Mac apps for a measly $49. To be honest, though, this time around I'm not terribly impressed with the options, so I'm rounding up no-cost alternatives to the current MacHeist bundle (minus the three games) that will give you most if not all of the functionality of their shareware counterparts for a grand total of $0.
Get Aurora 3 or Alarm Clock 2 Instead of Awaken
Awaken is an alarm clock whose features include iTunes playlist support, volume fading, Apple remote support, and scheduled alarms. So are Aurora 3 (original post) and Alarm Clock 2 (original post). The difference? They're both freeware. (Aurora 4 has gone shareware, but they're still generously offering the freeware version 3 free of charge.)
Use Mint Instead of Cha-Ching
Cha-Ching manages your money, helps maintain your budget, and alerts you of upcoming bills (original post). Web site Mint does the same thing and more, but again, it does it all without costing you a penny. Mint does raise security concerns to many people because of its presence on the web, but if you're comfortable with the idea of managing your money on the web, Mint is ready for your money.
Download Any Number of Apps Instead of CoverSutra
There are some things, like MP3 players, where it's hard to get anything but the best—most of us just want an iPod. But when it comes to something like an iTunes interface helper app, even if the shareware CoverSutra is the best, is there anything that makes it that much better than freeware alternatives like DeskTunes (original post), You Control: Tunes (original post), or the other handful of menu bar apps with iTunes integration? For my money, the answer is no. It's sort of a different app altogether, but I'd also highly recommend DockArt (original post).
Can Anything Replace DEVONthink?
DEVONthink is an excellent tool for keeping track of all the various bits of digital information scattered across your computer, and to be perfectly honest, I couldn't find anything in the freeware realm that does what DEVONthink does. But that doesn't mean you haven't! If you have a good alternative solution, let's hear about it in the comments.
Use Jumpcut or Quicksilver Instead of iClip
Use Quicksilver or Stacks Instead of Overflow
Overflow is like the Windows Start menu for the Mac, except you have to pay extra for it. Granted it has a few features that make it a touch more useful, but in the end you'll be much better off using an app like Quicksilver to quickly find and launch apps or documents. If you want a nice icon view of your applications, you can also just drag your Applications folder into the Dock and use Stacks as a Start menu in Leopard.
Download KeePassX Instead of Wallet
Use Anything Instead of WriteRoom
I like the idea behind WriteRoom—I mean, we all got a little carried away at the idea of a completely distraction-free word processor when WriteRoom hit the streets. So carried away, in fact, that developers went ahead and built tonnes of them (obviously a single-feature word processor can't be all that hard to build). That means that rather than paying for WriteRoom, you could use the cross-platform JDarkRoom (original post) or web-based options like Writer (original post) or DarkCopy (original post).
Use OnyX Instead of XSlimmer
Xslimmer frees up space on your hard drive by removing unnecessary code or language packs from your applications. I'm not saying that OnyX (original post)—the open source alternative I'm suggesting—actually does this. But what OnyX does is clean up similar things from your OS X installation as a whole, and frankly, that's about as far as most of us are willing to go to save a few megabytes of space.
Can These Really Live Up to Their Shareware Alternatives in the MacHeist Bundle?
Like I said, the MacHeist bundle is a boon for consumers under the right circumstances. The first MacHesit bundle, for example, was full of really incredible shareware. I'd argue that the quality has diluted in the latest bundle, so if you're tempted by a few of the apps but don't really feel like paying for the lackluster bundle, these freeware alternatives might do the trick. On the other hand, if you really like the majority of the programs and you'd prefer the support and polish of commercial apps, the current MacHeist bundle might be worth it for you. I'm still hoping for the day that MacHeist comes out with a bundle that truly inspires this software cheapskate to pry open his wallet (which I did for the first bundle).