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Perfect Alternatives to the Mac App Store

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With Apple's recent Snow Leopard upgrade to version 10.6.6, the Mac App Store officially wedged itself onto our systems. The Cupertino-sanctioned online software shop acts as the iTunes App Store for our laptops -- offering free and paid desktop programs up for the download.

Back when the Mac App Store was announced in October, developers had a mixed reaction to the service. On one hand, lesser-known programmers would have a greater exposure and, since Apple hosted the apps, problems over payments and bandwidth would be virtually eliminated. On the other, both iPhone and Mac developers are now under the heavy thumb of the App Store review board. Software which was once left up to a cut-and-dry user decision is now beholden to Apple's 18 Commandments.

And for Mac users who despise unnecessary bloat, the Mac App Store's default installation seemed to defy the "user choice" it ostensibly supports.

However, there are ways around the obligatory service. Lifehacker reports that although they're not officially supported by Cupertino, uninstall wizards like AppCleaner or AppZapper will remove all traces of the Mac App Store -- even reverting the App Store menu entry to the old "Mac OS X Software page" entry.

And should you change your mind, the Mac App Store can be reinstalled by Combo updater for 10.6.6 or, of course, just waiting until Apple releases later OS X versions.

But after the Mac App Store's gone, what's left? Which online outlets can deliver Apple software with a clean look, developer descriptions, and user reviews?

Well, CNet's provides an extensive library for Mac, Windows, and mobile devices. Softpedia also has its charm. And MacUpdate caters to the Apple crowd with up-to-the-minute apps and user ratings.

However, while it's not strictly for software, the aforementioned Lifehacker regularly list apps both handy and indispensable and writes up informative entries as to why the programs would be best suited for you. Lifehacker's weekly Hive Five polls the readers for the best apps in a variety of topics, including Best iOS Newsreader, Best Text Editor, or Best DVD Ripping Tool.

Of all the software outlets, I learn more about what's available and recommended from Lifehacker than what the Mac App Store could ever accomplish.
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