12 Mac Apps for Running a Freelance Business

Running a freelance business requires you to be an expert at everything – from communicating with clients to meticulously tracking your time and expenses. Doing all this manually can be dramatically time consuming, and it’s easy to make mistakes – nobody is perfect. Fortunately there are a range of Mac applications which can lend a hand and assist in the day to day running and organizing of your business.

This overview will focus on two key areas:

  1. Invoicing, Accounting & Time Tracking – Tools to ensure that you’re on top of finances and invoicing, whilst devoting most of your time to work you enjoy
  2. Organization & Utilities – Applications for managing thoughts, research and speeding up the day-to-day use of your Mac

Invoicing, Accounting & Time Tracking

Billings 3

Billings 3

Billings

Billings allows you to manage clients, projects and time within a simple and well integrated interface. Time tracking is well thought out, and details reports can be generated to determine how long a particular project took. The app comes bundled with a selection of great looking invoice templates, and an iPhone companion app is currently in development.

Price: $39.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
Developer: Market Circle

Money

Money

Money

Money allows you to handle… money – both for your personal life and business. Various tools allow you to create budgets, invoices and spending reports. Cover Flow is used to make the interface look pretty, and it’s an eye catching application.

Price: $39
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later
Developer: Jumsoft

On The Job

On The Job

On The Job

Despite the crazy bee icon, On The Job is a great app for managing your clients and your time. It offers support for multiple currencies, automatic invoice creation, custom hourly rates and four main types of cost: Timed, Fixed Cost, Quantity, and Mileage. Versatile, with a lovely interface.

Price: $39.99
Requires: Requires OS X 10.5
Developer: Stunt Software

Billable

Billable

Billable

Billable is keeps track of the billable services you perform for a client and then lets you create and manage invoices based on those services. It doesn’t quite have the same interface polish as the previously noted apps, but does come slightly cheaper. I love the ‘Paid’ stamp applied to invoices which are settled.

Price: $34.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later
Developer: Clickable Bliss

iBiz

iBiz

iBiz

iBiz is the most expensive app in this category, but does have a good range of features. You can associate documents with iBiz to track the time you work on them (particularly useful for freelance writers), see a useful overview of your whole business at once, and the app integrates with almost everything else on your Mac – Spotlight, iCal, Address Book and Automator.

Price: $49.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
Developer: IGG Software

Organization & Utilities

Things

Things

Things

A simple and effective way to manage your time and organize tasks. Great for ensuring you don’t get bogged down in different projects, and scheduling to-do items for a future date. It comes with a companion iPhone app, and we posted a review a couple of days ago.

Price: $49.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
Developer: Cultured Code

Text Expander

Text Expander

Text Expander

If you find yourself regularly writing the same thing over and over again, TextExpander can help by providing customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings and images. It’s great for email signatures, commonly used paragraphs of text, and inserting the current date and time into documents.

Price: $29.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 and above
Developer: SmileOnMyMac

Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox is a great way to backup important files, and share them with clients. It creates an additional folder on your Mac which is automatically kept in sync with a copy in the ‘cloud’. You’ll probably need another backup solution as well, but this is a good start.

Price: Free for 2GB Space
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 and above
Developer: Dropbox

Quicksilver

Quicksilver

Quicksilver / LaunchBar

Both these utilities help you use your Mac in a quicker and more efficient manner. Providing all kinds of shortcuts for searching, sending emails, and navigating the web. They take a while to get to grips with, but both can make you a speedier and more effective freelancer.

Price: Quicksilver (Free), Launchbar (€24)
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4+
Developer: Blacktree / Objective Development

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. It’s great for collecting all your thoughts, notes and inspiration in one place.

Price: Free, Paid Premium Version ($5/month)
Requires: Requires OS X 10.5
Developer: Evernote Corp

1Password

1Password

1Password

If you use the web for freelance work, using secure passwords is vital. 1Password takes care of all your online passwords so you can use strong and unique passwords for every site and never forget any of them! Automatic entering and anti-phishing tools keep your online activity safe.

Price: $39.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher
Developer: Agile Web Solutions

Growl Notifications

Growl Notifications

Growl

Put simply, “Growl lets Mac OS X applications unintrusively tell you when things happen”. It provides a central notification system so all applications inform you of an event in the same way. Great for ensuring you aren’t distracted from your work, but stay informed at the same time.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
Developer: Growl

Conclusion

Whilst I’m sure you won’t need to use all of these applications, many can be really useful to ensure you stay focused and feel in control of your freelance business. I’m a huge fan of Billings, Growl and Things – three applications which keep me focused and productive.

In future weeks, I’ll be taking a look at the applications which can help for a specific area of freelancing. Whether you’re a designer, writer, developer or musician – your Mac can prove to be far more powerful than you’d expect with the right software.

Obviously, this list isn’t comprehensive. If you know of any more apps which can help with running a freelance business, please share – I’m always looking for new software to keep me free to do the work I enjoy most!