20 Apps That the Appstorm Staff Are Thankful For

Thanksgiving is already here, and as a thank you to all of our wondeful readers, we have prepared a special post with a few apps that the Mac.Appstorm staff is thankful for. Hopefully you’ll pick up a few new apps here, or at least some cool ideas for using apps that you already use. Here are the 20 apps that the Appstorm Crew is thankful for.

Matthew Guay: Editor

iA Writer

Some apps aren’t for everyone. They’re designed for people with certain needs and preferences. Instead of giving you every feature in the world, they give you a curated set of features designed to make you productive. That’s what iA Writer is. With one large, monospaced font in a clean interface, Markdown formatting and export, and iCloud sync with similar iOS apps, it’s got everything I need from a writing app. And nothing more.

Almost every word I publish gets typed in iA Writer, making it the most used app in my workflow aside from my browser. It’s one app I’m very thankful for.
Price: $4.99
Developer: Information Architects


I have no idea how I’d live without 1Password. I keep every site login (nearly 300 right now), software license, secure note, banking detail, and more in 1Password. I can use long random passwords easily since I never have to remember them, which at least should keep my accounts more secure. It’s absolutely essential to me.

Price: $34.99
Developer: Agile Bits

Preview (And Quick Look)

Preview is a hidden gem in OS X. It’s great as a file viewer, and I’m sure many of us already use it to read PDFs and take a closer look at pictures. The editing features, though, is where it really shines. You can quickly crop or resize an image, add text and annotations to PDFs, merge multiple PDFs into one file, and sign a document with your Mac’s camera. And more. It’s terribly useful, and one of the best built-in reasons to buy a Mac.

Price: Free (Included with Mac OS)
Developer: Apple

Pierre Wizla: Writer

Launch Bar

I do everything with LaunchBar: checking phone numbers, moving files, sending files by emails, adding color labels to files, appnding text to plain text files, running a timer, printing documents, performing web searches, looking up definitions in the Mac OS X built-in dictionary, ejecting USB sticks and disk images, and so much more. When I use a Mac where LaunchBar is not installed, I feel instantly sad, disappointed and frustrated when I hit Cmd-Space and Spotlight comes in.

Price: €24 – $30
Developer: Objective Development


If you’re like me, you should have noticed that Mac screens are really bright. This is especially obvious on my iMac where, even during the day, I set the screen brightness to the minimum. Since I’m already at the minimum, at night, it is definitely too much bright (and staring in front of a computer screen that bright is really a bad thing for your sleep).

This is where F.lux comes in. This tiny app tints your screen along the day and night, to follow natural sun light. During daytime, your screen looks unchanged. But when sunset approaches, it really slowly (the process can take as much as an hour or as little as a few seconds) tints your display with a warmer, less aggressive nuance of white/yellow. It is much more comfortable to look at your screen at night. When sunshine chimes in, your display is slowly put back to a normal, default tint.

f.lux is also really easy to set up. All you have to do is choose which nuance of tint you want (from an almost imperceptible ‘fluorescent’ tint to a really warm, yellowish ‘tungsten’ one). Thanks to geo-localization, F.lux finds where you are and automatically sets itself up with your local sunset/sunshine times.

Price: Free
Developer: f.lux software

Pedro Lobo: Writer


Alfred is simply the glue to all my workflows. I don’t use launchpad or the applications folder to open apps, I simply summon Alfred, type a few letters, hit enter and that’s it. I trigger its global hotkey and Alfred is ready to search google, duckduckgo or work with any other site I may need, this way I don’t have to go to the site and then search. I use it to find files quickly, no navigating the filesystem. I use it to append text quickly to notes, add events to calendar (via quickcal) lookup contacts. You name it, Alfred does it. If it doesn’t do it yet, chances are somebody’s made an extension (or I can try and make one myself) to fit a particular task.

Price: Free
Developer: Running with Crayons

Richard Moss: Writer


It’s fantastic for taking a quick screenshot of a section of an app to pop immediately into an article. But what I really love about it is that I can grab shots of a dozen different things — interview transcripts, screenshots that I need to reference, key facts, previous drafts, research material, and more — and then collage them all around the screen, leaving just enough room for me to see what I’m writing. All of these shots floats above everything, fading temporarily whenever I need to use an app or tool hidden beneath. Instead of constantly switching to and from apps, I get to stay in my text editor. For me that’s like heaven.

Price: $5.99
Developer: Eternal Storms Software

Kyle Callahan: Writer


Before Numbers, spreadsheets were these horrendously ugly things that intimated you with an infinite array of cells before you could even type a number. After Numbers, spreadsheets became a way of capturing and presenting information in ways that made sense to anyone. I use Numbers to balance my checkbook, to track the progress of my hight school students, to grade assignments for my college students, to keep a daily writing journal, etc. I know it’s part of Apple’s marketing, but it’s also true: Excel might have spreadsheets for the office, but Numbers are spreadsheets for the rest of us.

Price: $19.99
Developer: Apple

Bill Morefield: Writer

Scrivener 2

I started using it about a year ago and it’s made a huge difference in getting writing completed and organized. It lets me write faster and I think better and I couldn’t imagine going back to Word for any kind of longer writing project.

Price: $45
Developer: Literature and Latte

Papers 2

It’s a bit specialized as it’s targeted toward academic research, but it saved me dozens of hours while I was writing my final thesis toward my Master’s this fall in getting my research organized, documented, and getting the references and bibliography into my final paper in the correct format with no hassle.

Price: $79
Developer: Mekentosj

Stef Gonzaga


I’m very thankful for Omnifocus. I started out with the iPad version and it’s been such a big help in managing my to-do lists and projects. I realized the full potential of this app when I used it on the Mac. My two favorite features are great organization through projects, contexts, and groups, and project types (Parallel, Sequential, single tasks).

Price: $79
Developer: Omnigroup


I can honestly say that I could not have survived work and university life without Dropbox. Whatever I need available on my iPad/Mac and vice versa I would sync through Dropbox. The kind of stuff I’d keep on my Dropbox account are ebooks, PDFs of my readings for class, backups made by apps like Chronicle and Omnifocus, camera uploads, and shared files for client work.

Price: Free
Developer: Dropbox

Reid Leamaster: Writer


I love the ability to text from my Mac and reply to texts just by clicking on a notification. This saves so much time compared to pulling out my phone and thumb typing. Oh, and I can receive texts from and send texts to any cell phone—can’t do that with Messages.

Price: $4.99
Developer: Eric Horacek

Scott Danielson: Writer


I know it’s not exactly new or unique, and I’m certainly not new to Evernote itself. However, I’ve recently started using most, if not all, of the Evernote companion apps. Evernote Food, Hello, Skitch, and Web Clipper have all played a significant role in dramatically changing the way that I work, as well as the way that I catalogue information on a daily basis.

To take it a step further, you can automate Evernote entries with IFTTT, and combined with data visualization apps (for data junkies like me) Evernote has become indispensable for me this year, where it was simply in my “neat” category in the past. So I suppose this holiday season, I’m thankful not only for the entire Evernote family, but also developers (and their apps) that recognize the potential to affect life in a very tangible way, and who build awesome things that do just that.

Price: Free
Developer: Evernote

Johnny Winter: Writer

Notational Velocity with Simplenote

To take all sorts of text notes is really useful. Access across devices, too.

Price: Free
Developer: Zachary Schneirov and SImperium


Useful for screenshots and annotations.
Price: $39.99
Developer: Realmac Software

Jacob Penderworth: Writer


For being the easiest way to rip all my DVDs and Blu-Rays to my external drive. It’s perfect for digitalizing all my films and TV shows, even if it’s not updated very often.

Price: Free
Developer: Handbrake Project


Because of how simple it is. I’ve been using it for more than a year now and it’s a necessary tool in my workflow. The iOS apps make it all the better, and their Dropbox and iCloud integration is fantastic. Surprisingly, there’s nothing more I could ask for from this app.

Price: $9.99
Developer: Metaclassy

Jorge Rodriguez: Writer

Scrawl + Evernote

Ever since I reviewed this simple note-taking app, I haven’t stopped using it. Even though I’m a huge fan of Evernote, Scrawl complements it pretty well, as having it always quickly available on the menu bar makes it really quick to access. I jot down quick things throughout the day in it, and at the end of the day I copy them to Evernote, where I elaborate on them and organize them.

Price: $0.99 / Free
Developer: Allen DunahooEvernote


Found is similar to Spotlight, but it can search through your Evernote, Gmail, and Google Drive accounts, as well as your computer. Being able to bring it up quickly with a keyboard shortcut makes finding your documents a really fast process, and I can’t elaborate enough on how much time this app has saved me.

Price: Free
Developer: Found Software


About a year and a half ago we prepared a post with some apps that we couldn’t live without, and we got some great response from our readers. We hope that this article works as a newer and revised version of that post, with some picks from our newest members of the staff, a few newcomer apps, and some others that still remain our favorites.

We hope you’ve found a few new apps here that you’ll enjoy. From the whole AppStorm team, Happy Thanksgiving!


Add Yours
  • Plenty of the listed apps are essential to me. Yet i believe that you’ve forgotten a few if you don’t mind me saying.

    TextExpander: i’ve never filled forms and used markdown so quickly as now;
    ClipMenu: best clipboard manager in town and such a necessary tool for writers;
    TotalFinder: It blends so well in your day-to-day it is forgivable to forget mentioning, yet it does what Finder should be doing by itself;
    Hazel: I couldn’t believe that you’ve missed this one. It keeps your folders clean, organized, labelled. It gets most of the boring stuff done. Just as TotalFinder, it becomes such part of your quotidian you might forget about it. But whenever you step on a mac without Hazel you’ll notice how messed up it may be.

    Great stuff, i love to read these recommendations.

    • Thanks for your comment.
      Of course, I would have loved to include TextExpander and Hazel, that I couldn’t live without, especially the latter!
      But I was asked to pick only 2-3 apps, and preferably uncommon ones.
      Hazel is a given, for me, so I chose to put some spotlight (no pun intended, or a very bad one! haha) on F.lux. And, the Mac.AppStorm staff seeming to be an Alfred camp, I wanted to show my different point of view by highlighting LaunchBar.
      Although lots of people talk about TotalFinder and other Finder replacements, I’ve never felt the Finder to be that bad and, most importantly, I perform almost all of my files operations with LaunchBar (an article comparing Alfred to LaunchBar in that case is on its way, by the way, so stay tuned) so I don’t really need to use the Finder.
      Be sure to read and comment our weekly poll about apps you’re thankful for! ;-)

      • Also forgot to mention that LaunchBar has a really handy clipboard history feature that can hold up to 40 different entries and even delete sensitive data after pasting it.

    • As with Pierre, I could have mentioned so many little apps, but would quickly render this roundup an impossible read. The truth is though, where would I be without 1Password, Evernote, nvALT or just notes, any of my writing apps, iTerm to name just a few I use on an hourly basis.

      • Hey, thanks for keeping the conversation flowing.

        I’ve been testing Flux thanks to this article and the experience has been quite nice. I’ve read several reviews saying it is great before, but i never understood the utility of its function. Now i do.

        I didn’t know about the Clipboard function of Launchbar. Objective Development does superb applications, but i feel they’re all way too expensive for my budget. Still, i’m anxious for your article :)

        Considering Pedro’s comment. I just can’t get along with Evernote. Or any “Anything Bucket”. Whatever document i need to place there, i’d possibly rather keep it on 1Password. I use Pocket to read urls afterwards. To complete the experience, i just need a decent Bookmark manager.

        The clipper never satisfy me and it is my most common resource. I wish i could engage with Evernote, but that doesn’t seem to happen.

  • I like most of the apps in the list, but personally couldn’t stand f.lux. I found the yellow really hard on the eyes. I’ve been using Midnight ($1.99 in the MAS) for a few weeks now and I find it much easier on the eyes, and totally worth the price. Plus, you can frig with the screen brightness whenever you want instead of being tied to time zones and sunset/rise times.

    • Thanks for your comment, Ali. I was not aware of Midnight, will check it out, for sure!
      In the daylight, setting the brightness close to the minimum is enough for me, that’s why I’ve found F.lux to be enough for me. I agree that sometimes, I feel the ‘tungsten’ color too yellow, but in that case I simply switch to ‘fluorescent’ that is much more subtle.

  • Pretty good essential app list. Every time I begin another project with Scrivener, the first word that comes to mind is amazing. I don’t know if this happens with any other app. You also listed some other favorites I have that come close to amazing: Evernote, Dropbox, Launchbar, 1Password (which I do not know what I would do without).

  • There are lots of person who are really good in web designing and web development so this are some nice application.handbreak,byword this two apps i like the most.

  • It blends so well in your day-to-day it is forgivable to forget mentioning, yet it does what Finder should be doing by itself;

    • aaaaaaddddd

  • That is not the default Handbrake icon–where can I get it? The pineapple and cocktail icon makes no sense to me…

  • I love lists like this! I already use about half of the apps that you have mentioned and I am looking forward to exploring and learning about the other half.