In March of last year, I saw this cool post from Keir Whitaker about his essential Mac and web apps. Almost a year later, I’ve finally got around to sharing my own list of apps. Unlike Keir’s, I’m only including native Mac Apps.
This isn’t the complete list, but it includes the apps I’d be lost without.
- Visual Studio Code:
Last November after working with Atom for over a year, I decided to try out Visual Studio Code. I’ve really enjoyed the experience. Without actually running any tests, VS Code feels faster than Atom. I’m really enjoying some of the Packages (or Extensions as VS Code calls them) that are available. I also think it’s great that I can install the Atom keymap and use all the keyboard shortcuts I’d gotten used to.
I tried out Hyper for a few months and was pretty happy with it. I loved how easy Hyper made it to version control my preferences. You’re reading about a huge geek here, I version control everything I can. But, Hyper was really buggy for me. It was also slow. Plus, I couldn’t get Hyper to look the way I wanted it to. So I’m back on iTerm. Unfortunately, there’s no way to version control my iTerm preferences (or I haven’t found it).
Here’s an app that I’m not all that happy with, but it’s the best of the worst you know? Newton caught my attention and I love the design, but it can’t archive from a folder/label. How does an email app not have that feature? That would seem to be critical. When I reached out to the Newton team about this, they didn’t seem to care. So I’m stuck with Airmail for now.
I purchased TextExpander back in 2012 and have never regretted it. It saves me a lot of time. Over the years, I’ve added more and more snippets that prevent me from unnecessary typing. I even wrote about some of my favorite snippets. And here’s the thing, I love TextExpander not so much for the typing, but for the fact that I don’t have to remember specific formats.
iA Writer is where I do all of my writing on the Mac. I like writing without distraction, and this app makes it possible. Obviously, it’s not the only app that promises this, but their built-in preview is great and I love how they format my Markdown as I write. I only wish I could change the font I write in.
I’ll be honest, I don’t get as much out of Keyboard Maestro as others, and as I probably should. Still, to me, it’s a critical app. I use it most to manipulate text. For example, it formats Markdown links in the correct way and properly capitalizes my headlines for me.
I’m in the process of writing a full review of Things 3, but in the meantime, I’ll say that I’ve come to love this app. It’s the only todo app I’ve ever actually used after a few days. I can’t pinpoint if it’s the app or the stage of life I’m in, but whatever it is, Things 3 helps me get things done and remember to do things I used to forget.
1Password is by far my favorite app. It’s organized so much of my online life, not to mention secured it. 1Password has lived on my Mac since 2013, and now Kelly and I have a 1Password for Families account.
This is a recent addition to the Mac and was very helpful. TripMode allows you to select what apps have access to the internet, especially useful when you’re tethering or on a slow network.
Who knows how long I’ve been using Alfred, but it’s one of the first apps I download on a new Mac. To make a long story short, Alfred helps me input events into my calendar, eject drives, search GIFs, search for RubyGems.org, create slugs, launch apps depending on what task I’m working on, and much more. If you’re interested in a separate post about my favorite Alfred extensions, let me know.
The Calendar app on the Mac is a mess (and on iOS, but that’s a separate article). I used BusyCal for a while, and it was okay. In 2012, I didn’t feel their app was that much better. When Fantastical came about, I fell in love. At the time, it was just a simple menu bar app that listed the day’s events. Fast forward almost six years and the Flexibits team continues to make Fantastical even better.
Gifox is a handy menu bar app that records your screen and creates a GIF of that recording. This app has been insanely useful in GitHub pull requests. I’ll often record an interaction for the person reviewing the PR. This has proved to be helpful to ensure things are working as they’re supposed to.
Window management on the Mac is terrible. I never understood what the little green button did, then they changed it to the fullscreen button. As someone who works with multiple displays, having my windows organized in the right way is important. Moom even lets me send windows to a different display with a quick shortcut.
If you’re like me, you have many menu bar apps. That also means that at some point you run out of space. Even if I wasn’t running out of space though, I like my menu bar to only have the critical apps or functions I need. Bartender has helped me keep things tidy.
When I’m writing the codes, I find myself needing to sample colors. This nifty menu bar app (see a pattern here?) allows you to summon it with a keyboard shortcut and then puts the color on your clipboard. Frank gives you sixteen different options for what syntax you want that color in. Crazy awesome.
Tweetbot is easily the biggest reason I still use Twitter. I don’t see any of the weird behavior present in the native Twitter apps. The only thing I miss because I use Tweetbot are polls. Oh well.
If you enjoy wallpapers, Kuvva is a perfect menubar app that changes your wallpaper periodically. You can set it to change your wallpaper daily or even every thirty minutes. Rachel was the one to tell me about this one.
I think it’s a good idea to use a VPN if you’re not on a secured network. Hell, it might be a good idea to use a VPN even if you are. My tinfoil hat aside, EncryptMe (formerly Cloak) makes it incredibly easy to use a VPN and to give them money with the variety of pricing options. One of the plans is bound to suit your needs.
What about you? What are some of your favorite or crucial apps? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.