My Mac Apps

Someone I know is getting a MacBook Air tonight and as I was pulling together a list of ‘suggested apps’ for her I realised it’s been a while since I posted about what I use so I thought I’d just share it all with you. I know, I know, you can thank me later…

Admittedly there is nothing revolutionary here, although personally it’s interesting to see that OSX Yosemite has removed my usage/need for some apps I used to rely on – the last time I did this was a couple of years – bye bye Alfred (replaced by a vastly improved Spotlight Search), Adium (replaced by Messages app), Growl (Notification Center), and Sparrow (GMail in browser).

I’ve also switched to Safari full time. The ONLY thing I miss is the ability to set my bookmarks view as ‘Home’ but other than that, it does everything I need. It also has extensions for 1Password and Evernote Web Clipper which help cement those applications places in the lists below too.

So here it is, a list of apps I use regular on my own MacBook Air.


  • Google Drive – FREE – much as I love the Apple versions I find the familiarity (aka ‘feels a bit like MS Office’) of the Google apps covers everything I need for simple documents and spreadsheets
  • Todoist – FREE/Paid Premium – took me a long time to settle on a To Do list app and whilst Todoist still lacks a couple of features, it’s nicely designed, works on multiple platforms and, importantly, it works for me.
  • Evernote – FREE/Paid Premium – It took me a while to really get into using Evernote but it’s now become a key part of how I work/live. I use it to store all sorts of things, a backup to my ailing memory.
  • Simplenote – FREE – simple text/note app, syncs with iOS app. Feels ‘lighter’ than Evernote so I use it for transistory information, useful during meetings or on calls. Anything that I need to keep is tidied up and moved to Evernote.
  • Fantastical – £15 – I’d be lost without my calendar, but iCal is less than great, this makes using the calendar quick and easy, syncs with my Google Calendar (and the 9 other Google calendars I’m subscribed too), and my work Exchange server. I use the iOS app too.


  • 1Password – £40 – Works on multiple browsers and on my phone, saves me remembering multiple passwords and will generate ‘better’ passwords for me too. Life saver!
  • Moom – £10 – gives me window positioning and sizing, customisable and fast.
  • BetterTouchTool – FREE – I love the touchpad, multi-touch gestures are changing how I work, this add-on lets you take that to the next level, still figuring it all out!
  • Bartender – £10 – file under, why didn’t Apple fix this? Removes a LOT of visual clutter (it’s the small bar on the top-right of my screenshot above).
  • Caffeine – FREE – one click to stop your Mac going to sleep until you say so, handy for viewing movies etc.
  • Keka – FREE – file archiver (ZIP/UNZIP) deals with most archive file formats, nice and simple.
  • Witch – £14 – window switching made easy, a must have if you are moving from Windows.
  • VLC – FREE – video player, supports a multitude of formats.
  • Skitch – FREE – fantastic app for screenshots and image tweaking. Part of the Evernote set of apps.
  • uTorrent – FREE – for downloading torrents. Duh.
  • AppCleaner – FREE – for when I want to remove some of these apps, it’ll find all the related files and get rid of them too.
  • Hazel – $29 – a simple way to keep your Mac tidied. Watches folders then runs rules, very powerful and very useful.
  • Flycut – FREE – Clipboard manager, nice little popdown menu of the last [x] copied items.


  • Pixelmator – £23 – A bit like Photoshop because sometimes you need a little more power than the standard editor gives you. Not yet tried the iPad version as I don’t do that much graphic editing.
  • FileZilla – FREE – FTP client. I don’t have need for anything fancy, I’ve used FileZilla for years and it does everything I need.
  • TextWrangler – FREE – powerful text editor. Mostly used for checking code snippets.

Cloud services apps

  • BackBlaze – £4 per month – I recently switched away from Crashplan which would drag my internet connection to a halt. BackBlaze seems simpler but provides the same service. Cloud based backup.
  • Dropbox – FREE/Tiered – quite simply I don’t know where I’d be without this service. Hosted files, apps on all my devices. Drop something in a folder and it’s synced everywhere.
  • Spotify – FREE/Paid Premium – because sometimes listening to random playlists created by someone else is all you wanna do!
  • Pocket – FREE – I moved from Instapaper to Pocket largely because, at the time, Pocket seemed to be further ahead and have more integrations to other apps I used. These days it seems Instapaper and Pocket are separated mainly by marketing/buzz.


  • Day One – £8 – Journal app, only downside is no web app, syncs with iCloud and/or Dropbox.
  • ByWord – £8 – my writing app of choice these days. I compose blog posts and other random writings in it. Syncs to Dropbox, and the accompanying iOS apps are great.
  • Calibre – FREE – eBook management, for my Kindle, it’s a bit clunky and not the prettiest but does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • TweetDeck – FREE – Because Twitter.

And there you have it. Outside of this list I use iTunes (I KNOW!) and MS Office if I need to open any files for work purposes but I’m lucky enough to have a separate laptop for work.

Written By

Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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