Many friends of mine, after buying a new Mac, have asked me what to install. Well, the generic answer and the most truthful is: “Whatever you need to help you do your job!”. It mostly confuses them, they seem unsatisfied by it, but… what answer did they expect, exactly?
I know what I’m using my laptop for. I know why I bought this model and up until now, I’ve collected a set of software that supports my activities. Here’s the list.
Daily – time tracking – $5.99
A little menu-bar app, that tracks your activities and asks you about what you’re doing. I like it, because it forces me to think about time tracking and what task I’m spending my time on. What I still miss is grouping of the tasks or being able to add tasks description for a certain project. Currently I’m merging tasks at the end of the month, developer is supposedly working of the feature. Fully keyboard shortcuts driven.
Alfred – personal assistant – free for basic functionality, upgrade for GBP 17 to 32
Enhanced Spotlight, with ability to add your own workflows, file processors, obtain data from external sources or script whatever else feature you want to. Three years ago it helped obtain any file/information needed with only a few keyboard strokes. From what I see and for what I use it for, it seems that Yosemites’ Spotlight will do just fine.
Dash – read all the documentation! – $19.99
Document set browser and snippet repository. Need a quick lookup for your favorite programming language, API methods, function parameters? Stores document sets offline, updates them regularly, easy-peasy!
Keynote, Numbers, Pages – office simplified – $19.99 each
Standard office tools for presentations, spreadsheets and typed documents, know also as iWork.
Sublime Text – text editor – free for evaluation, $70.00
Powerful editor, distractions free, fully python scriptable and plenty of plugins all ready to download. My first choice.
Coda 2 – web projects editor – $75.00
Web projects editor with built-in FTP support, for code deploying. Don’t use it much, I prefer Sublime Text and CyberDuck now.
OmniGraffle – workflow/charts designer – $99.99
Do you know MS Visio? Well, this is the closest Mac version.
PlantUML – scriptable UML/activity/sequence designer – open source, free
Don’t bother with the mouse and moving the boxes around, describe your case with a simple script language and let PlantUML layout the drawings for you.
XCode – programming IDE – free for Apple Developers
Build your Mac or iOS apps.
Day One – journal – $9.99 Mac app, $4.99 iOS app
Keep a personal daily journal on the web or mobile devices.
Lightroom – digital photography manipulator – $149.00
Need to organize, edit, non-destructively correct or enhance your photos? No other tool comes close to it.
Charles – web debugging proxy – $50.00
Great tool for web developers, if you have a lot of client-web server interactions in your apps.
SourceTree – git/svn gui – free
Simple, clean, easy to use, with GitFlow integrated.
Storage and backup
Dropbox, OneDrive – you should know them by now!
Cloud solutions for storage and backup.
Koofr – cloud storage and syncing – free trial
Koofr is the safe and simple way to store, backup and share your photos, videos and documents. Slovenian product. Reliable, secure, easy to use, great features.
CrashPlan – cloud backup – plans from $5.00/mo for one computer, to yearly family packs
Install, obtain a licence or batch license for multiple computers and let it do it’s magick. Encrypts, transfers files to the cloud and keeps versions of it when they change. Highly customizable regarding updates and versioning.
Shazam – music identification – free
Quietly sits in your menu bar and each time a piece of music is being played (in a video, movie, etc) it tries to recognize it and informs you about the artist/song. Very useful, since I do a lot of music scouting this way!
Ecoute – desktop music player – free
I didn’t like iTunes as music player. I used to use Winamp on my windows machine, but discontinued using it. It never fit on my Mac. Minimalistic, syncs with iTunes, keyboard shortcuts driven. They have also iOS player, but I’m not using it.
VLC – video player – open source, free
I believe VLC doesn’t need introduction. I’ve used it on my windows machine too. Network streaming, supports one hell of a lot of codecs, used also for ripping videos.
Calibre – e-books manager – open source, free
Need to manage your e-book library? Convert between formats, gather book metadata automatically, send books to your devices. Easy.
Handbrake – video converter
From time to time I have to transcode a video in a different format or reduce it’s size for mobile devices etc. This is the right tool to do it.
Pixelmator – image editing – $29.99
Next best thing ater PS that we were all used to piratize. A powerful editor, great image handling, all you could wish for. Once you get used to the tools shortcuts, you can copy the most used practices to new software and be able to handle most tasks you were used to do.
PopcornTime – torrent video streaming – free
Pick a movie, grab some popcorn and enjoy. It is being streamed directly from torrents. No, you do not “own” it later, you cannot send it to your buddies and sometimes, if the movie is really “fresh” from the theatres, it might still be a cam recording. But great if you can wait a week or two to enjoy the latest.
uTorrent – torrent downloader – free
Best experience and control in torrents clients. Ready to do it’s work right after install. But you can still mess with it later. WebUI, scheduler, feeds control at your disposal.
Version 3 started with ads, bit since I’m running it in the background… on a different computer…
Subtitles – subtitle finder/downloader – free
Drag your favorite series episode or movie onto the app and it searches the repos for the subtitles. No hassle, it gets it right most of the time. Like, 99%. Really.
Latest version inserts the “call to sponsors” in the subtitles somewhere within the video “quiet part”.
Tweetbot – twitter client – $17.99 for Mac, $4.99 for iPhone, $2.99 for iPad
It is beautiful and simple to use. Great features although desktop version lags with feature updates, just a bit. I use it on both my desktop and mobile, which is almost completely gesture controlled.
LimeChat – IRC client – free
Sometimes we use it at work, for group meetings or quick coordination.
Skype – IM client – free
I’d call it a “legacy” IM client. Everyone has it and most of us hate it with every update even more. Don’t call me there, find a different channel. 🙂
Caffeine – prevent energy saving mode – free
Want to temporarily disable power saving mode, screen dimming and screen savers? It sits in your menu bar and you can toggle it with a click!
f.lux – adjust screen color temperature according to the time of the day – free
Bright screen glow becomes too much of a burden for the eyes when the day approaches the evening, darker times. This app will gradually adapt your screen colors to warmer, less intensive and contrast tones. If you work all day long, the change is subtle, you hardly recognize it. After a few days you get used to it and appreciate it. Can be disabled for specific apps (videos and photos look funny! :).
Breeze – set window layout/position – $3.99
Want to quickly achieve some order with your apps, their windows and maximize the screen real-estate? Predefine window layouts in different positions and resize/move them with a single keyboard shortcut.
1Password – password and other private data manager – $49.99 windows, $49.99 mac (there’s also bundle options!), iOS free with in-app purchase
If there’s any information that I’d like to keep private, I let 1Password manage it. Login passwords I usually don’t even know (it generates them for me an stores them), bank account numbers, personal data, document scans etc. It integrates with browser add-ons and makes my internet login/registration processes easy. It can sync the data across devices via Dropbox. I rely on it heavily and use it across all platforms.
TunnelBlick – OpenVPN GUI – free
Tedious to set-up for non-tech people (I guess) but handles OpenVPN seamlessly.
CyberDuck – FTP, sFTP, WebDAV, OS Swift client – free
Simple to use, handles my needs. Mostly a drag-and-drop operation.
iTerm2 – ssh terminal – free
Tabbed ssh terminal, with some UI candies. Try it out.
Karabiner – keyboard customizer– free
Want to reassign your keyboard strokes to something different? Very powerful, simple to script.
MacKeeper – optimize, clean and secure a computer system – package range from EUR 39.95 to 89.95
A bundle of utility apps ranging from cleaning superfluous files, managing uninstall “left-overs”, file recovery, internet security features, apps updater, anti-theft features, and others.
Parallels Desktop – virtual computer manager – EUR 79.99
Want to run Windows or other operating systems within the Mac OS? Virtualization at it’s best, integrated with native os.
SnagIt – image and video recorder + markdown – free trial, licenses from GBP 34.95 up
Want to create a screen-cast, capture video with webcam or get a screen shot and edit it/mark it down? Share easily, perfect for extensive user support or documentation.
3d modeling and printing
Blender – 3d modeling and rendering – free
Blender is a powerful tool to start any project, yet simple enough for beginners in 3d modeling.
OpenSCAD – solid 3d CAD modeller – free
Write scripts that combine and transform solids, then save models and use them elsewhere. Great for quick prototyping.
SketchUp – simple yet powerful 3d modeller – free with PRO options
Do you need to model a 2d or 3d object? It doesn’t matter, it takes only instants to transform one into another. Mathematical precision at your fingers with great tools and visualization options.
Slic3r – G-code generator – free
At the moment the most suitable slicer for my 3d printer. In constant development, yields solid results.
What about you?
What are your preferred tools and what do you use them for?
Storage: Box (www.box.com)
Entertainment: GOM player
3D Modelling: Onshape (web based – excellent), Solidworks