Weekly Poll: What Apps Could You Not Live Without?

Imagine you’re walking out of the Apple Store with a brand new MacBook under your arm, or perhaps you’re carting out one of the brand-new wall mounted iMacs (yes, we’re wishing we had one of those — say, the top-speced 27″ one — too). You plug in your Mac, savor the familiar-yet-new startup ding, then connect to the internet. You’re ready to start loading up your Mac with the best apps, and you can’t wait to get it feeling like a productive machine.

Only this time, there’s a twist: you can only install 5 apps. That’s right: you can install anything you want from the net or the App Store, but you’re limited to using the built-in apps and up to 5 more apps you install. What apps would make the cut?

The past few weeks, we’ve been featuring roundups of our team’s favorite apps in the Apps We Use series, and we’ve got a ton more workflows to feature over the upcoming weeks. Some of us have extremely streamlined workflows consisting of only a few apps, while others have a ton of apps they use to get their work done.

If I could only install 5 apps on my Mac, I’d install:

  • Dropbox, since all my files live in it
  • 1Password, since I wouldn’t be able to login to almost any site without it
  • OmniFocus, which holds almost everything I need to do
  • Sublime Text for writing, since it’s great for plain-text writing as well as coding
  • Transmit for FTP, to publish articles to my site (which uses the flat-file CMS Kirby)

There’s a ton more apps I use daily and that I’d want to use, but these would be the minimum I’d need to keep working. Now, how about you? What 5 apps would you install if you could only have 5 apps on your Mac? Let us know in the comments below!


Add Yours
  • -Dropbox
    -Cinema 4D (3D software)
    -Adobe After Effects (motion design/special fx)
    -Ableton Live (music making)

  • – Coda 2
    – Punto Switcher
    – MAMP
    – Transmission
    – jDownloader
    – Adobe Photoshop
    – Corel Draw

  • 1. Alfred
    2. iTunes
    3. Caffeinated
    4. TypeIt4Me
    5. Adobe Creative Suite

    …did I mention Alfred?

  • 1. 1Password
    2. Adobe Creative Suite
    3. Alfred
    4. Dropbox
    5. Espresso

  • 1. Dropbox
    2. Alfred
    3. ControlPlane
    4. Postbox
    5. Omnifocus

  • 1. Alfred
    2. Sketch
    3. Sublime
    4. XtraFinder
    5. Github

    … and did I mention Alfred? ;-)

  • – Alfred
    – Flow
    – Bento
    – Evernote
    – RapidWeaver

    • Change RapidWeaver to 1Password

  • 1. Alfred
    2. Bean
    3. Dropbox
    4. XtraFinder
    5. Notational Velocity


  • – TextMate
    – LaunchBar
    – Evernote
    – Transmit
    – Pro Tools

  • – HyperDock
    – Fantastical
    – Alfred
    – Parallels Desktop
    – TrueCrypt

  • Chess
    Image Capture

  • -Forklift (FTP and so much more)
    -Ubercaster (best podcast production app I’ve used, sadly hasn’t been updated in ages)

  • – NotesTab Pro
    – Pixelmator
    – You Need A Budget
    – Sparrow
    – DropBox
    – CleanMyMac 1 or 2
    – Quick ‘n Easy Web Builder
    – iTunes
    – MAME OS X
    – Simple Comic

  • Hmmm! This is a funny question, as probably these apps are probably those so embed in my workflow that i barely notice them. You only see the damage when you move to a different computer.

    My list is probably:

    1. Launchbar
    2. 1Password
    3. TextExpander
    4. Moom
    5. Hazel

  • For general use on any Mac:

    * Alfred
    * 1Password
    * Moom
    * aText
    * XtraFinder

    On Macs I’d use for web design/development:

    * Photoshop
    * Fireworks
    * Sublime Text
    * Transmit
    * Skype

    On Macs I’d use for audio/music production:

    * Logic Studio / Pro 9
    * ReCycle
    * Peak Pro
    * Audio Hijack Pro
    * Transmit

  • 1. Evernote
    2. Reeder
    3. OmniFocus
    4. Path Finder
    5. Coda 2

  • 1. Alfred
    2. 1Password
    3. Textexpander
    4. Evernote
    5. Fresh
    6. the MailHub + Reminders integration
    7. Moom
    and several more

  • Things

    In no particular order.

  • 1. Reeder (I may not be living for long.)
    2. iTunes
    3. VLC
    4. Ehon

    Why is everyone so in love with Alfred? Spotlight works just fine for me. Anyone have a suggestion for a media player that’s better than VLC?

    Also, I think I’m pretty old fashioned based on my app picks.

    • I felt the same until I got the powerpack. Now, with Alfred, I can translate text into any language, paste plain text that’d been copied with formatting, find links to apps on the App Store, get info from Wolfram|Alpha without going to their site, play iTunes music without opening iTunes, create plain text notes right from the search box, and much more. It’s nothing short of amazing, in my opinion :)

    • I love Reeder too, and they posted on their Twitter that Reeder won’t be going away. They’re finding a solution around the Google Reader problem. =)

      So looks like you’ll live after all! =)

    • Regarding VLC – I recently gave up VLC and made the switch to MPlayerX with no regrets! It loads faster, the shortcuts are more intuitive, it’s updated fairly often, its available on the mac app store and it’s more “mac-like” I’d encourage you to check it out!

    • Even in it’s lite form, Alfred is better because it learns what you use + it’s far more flexible (e.g. open files command is separate from open application, direct search in web engines such as Google, Wolfram Alpha or any other etc.).
      Check out XBMC or Plex if you want a real media player.

    • What makes Alfred so useful is the Power Pack. Integration to 1Password is brilliant as well as what you can do with workflows in Alfred.

  • Can’t say my five are too original..

    1. 1Password
    2. Dropbox
    3. TextExpander
    4. Justnotes
    5. Fantastical/Calendar

    6. Moom
    7. Droplr

  • Alfred

  • Alfred

  • Evernote – second brain
    MindMode Pro – thinking
    Flying Logic – thinking
    MS Office – working
    Day One – journaling

    Other important tools:
    Lastpass – password manager
    Reeder – RSS reader (hope it provides me a transition from Google Reeder)
    Mail – actually, quite good mail program
    Things – ToDo list

  • SmartScroll-> I use a TrackPoint Keyboard with my Mac.
    Bartender ->Maybe I don’t need it with only five apps, but it’s on my must list.
    VMware Fusion

  • 1. Alfred
    2. Dropbox
    3. Evernote
    4. Sparrow
    5. Reeder
    Fantastical, Things, Adobe CS6, BetterTouchTool, DayOne, Chronicle and iTunes

  • 1. TextExpander
    2. Moom
    3. ProLexis
    4. 2Do
    5. R-Vitamin

  • 1. Textmate
    2. Pathfinder
    3. MAMP Pro
    4. Adobe CS
    5. Logic Pro

    Radium, Transmit, Default Folder X, Cinema 4D, DevonThink, Scrivener, Notebook, Postbox…

  • – iTunes
    – Safari
    – Alfred
    – Photoshop CS6
    – Reeder

  • 1 password
    Some incarnation of BBEdit, but I’ll gladly replace them as soon as a viable alternative appears because I sincerely hate their business model.

    • Check out Textwrangler if you haven’t. Free on App Store.

    • TextMate (2) is free now and way better than TextWrangler. It’s in alpha-ish right now but I’ve found it quite stable. Also check out Sublime Text…3 I guess? But their business model (charging for a small upgrade not terribly long after 2 came out) is questionable also.

  • My top10-Apps I don’t want to miss anymore:
    1. Alfred
    2. Adobe Photoshop
    3. Avid Pro Tools
    4. Coda 2
    5. Evernote
    6. Spotify
    7. 1Password
    8. Reeder
    9. Adobe InDesign
    10. Adobe Lightroom

  • Dropbox – Here I sync iTunes, iPhoto and 1Password. Not to mention my save folder for all browsers and skype on all systems.

    1Password – To access all passwords and licenses.

    Alfred – Took a huge step forward with recently released v.2,

    Skype – Last years it’s taken over all my IM and conversation needs.

    Reeder – For now :(

    Twitterific – For me the best middleground between good looking Twitter and useability.


  • – Alfred (speeds up my life)
    – Espresso (all my coding, all my projects)
    – iAWriter (I write everything in here)
    – Transmit (Best FTP for me so far)
    – 1Password (My Password mind)
    – MoneyWiz (Never run out of cash)
    – Todoist (All my tasks – never forgetting anything)
    – Reeder (Please please please solve the Google Reader problem)
    – Dropbox (All my files)
    – LittleSnapper (This tool is in use many times a day)

  • 1. MPlayerX
    2. Alfred 2
    3. Scrivener
    4. 1Password
    5. iFFMpeg

  • Scrivener – Software people would invade countries for !
    Devonthink Pro – If you have serious document management needs its the one, but please can we have customisable meta data now
    PdfPenPro – Fast & essential pdf editor
    Acrobat X Pro – slow, expensive and horrible pdf editor. Doesnt conform to any of the std mac conventions but the big daddy of pdf for the (increasingly fewer) tasks PDF Pro cant handle
    Pycharm – for writing code in python to make all these tools work together
    Grandtotal/Timings – You have to bill for all your work but I do wish timings sync was more reliable
    MS Word – the standard if you are exchanging text documents and reviewing with other people
    Curio – Project management, outlining – its like goo which fills the spaces around everything else
    Dropbox, Totalfinder, Bettertouchtool-The basic essentials

  • – Alfred
    – Things
    – 1Password
    – Dropbox
    – Day One

  • Pro Tools

  • 1. dropbox
    2. sublime text 2
    3. forklift
    4. handbrake
    5. itunes
    Though this is taking into account that apache and php is on the mac still and it can be altered from command line.

  • General use :
    – Alfred 2
    – 1Password
    – Spotify + Remoteless
    – Drive + Boxcryptor
    – Sparrow (and waiting for mailbox app and .Mail on OSX)
    – VLC

    Development :
    – Eclipse
    – Terminal
    – MySQL Wrokbench
    – Photoshop

  • The popularity of Alfred never fails to stagger me bearing in mind Quicksilver can do way more, has more choice of interface, is under just as active development, support wise is second to none and is free. Every so often I go check Alfred out & conclude it’s Quicksilver for little baby children lol.
    Dwellclick or Popclip – as it’s the same dev if these rules applied universally Im sure he’d combine them.

    • Quicksilver was my first. Then LaunchBar was inside an Apps bundle and I was enjoying the ride until I discover Alfred. It was what I was looking for. It’s popular because of the same thing Apple iDevices are popular… Simplicity. Inside is a complicated monster but it doesn’t scare you as Quicksilver and it doesn’t confuse you as LaunchBar.

  • iTunes, I still use it daily even though the “upgrade” is garbage, imo
    Turnover, the best manual bmp tagger (automated ones are unreliable)
    Bean, free word processor
    LastPass plugin, better than 1Password but the mobile version is useless
    Skitch, the old version—Evernote’s rebuild is tragic
    NeoOffice, because I gotta get work done

  • Hatchedit (calendar sharing)

  • 1) Path Finder
    2) Soho Notes
    3) iClipboard
    4) Alfred
    5) Text Expander

    I’ve been installing this five apps since OSX arrived.

  • Alfred
    Sublime Text 2

  • Alfred
    Total Finder

  • 1) Drop box
    2) 1Password
    3) Sublime Text
    4) Total Finder
    5) iClipboard

  • 1. Alfred (I forget this is even an app because it feels like it should be part of OS X)
    2. 1Password – I wouldn’t be able to log into anything without it.
    3. Things – It keeps my life running smoothly.
    4. Reeder – My source for my staying in touch with what’s going on.
    5. A web browser – I default to Safari, but if I’m troubleshooting with a customer, I need to be able to switch to Firefox or Chrome.

  • -nvALT
    -Total Finder
    -Default Folder X
    -Text Expander

  • I’m a photographer.
    1. photoshop
    2. spotify
    3. reeder
    4. day one
    5. sparrow

  • 1. CloudApp
    2. Dropbox
    3. aText (earlier, TextExpander)
    4. nvALT
    5. Sublime Text

  • Just for fun, after 56 comments, here is a quick survey of the most mentioned apps with their counts :

    Alfred 56
    Dropbox 18
    1 Password 17
    Reeder 11
    Evernote and iTunes 8
    Transmit 7
    TextExpander and Things 6

    100 apps had 1 count. A total of 143 apps where cited.