Our Favorite Apps: What the AppStorm Crew Couldn’t Live Without

To help you get to know us, we thought it would be a great idea to showcase some of the apps that our staff uses on a daily basis. These are all the favorite or most useful apps for some of our regular contributors, editors and other staffers.

We asked everyone to list a few of their favorite apps and tell us why they love them. Come take a look at some of our choices!

David Appleyard: AppStorm Network Manager



This is an odd one, I know. It essentially changes the time in your menu bar to be “fuzzy”, rather than an exact date and time. This makes me worry less about the exact time, and you never catch yourself counting away the minutes in a daydream… It also adds something rather unique to your menu bar!



I’ve tried every GTD and task management app out there, and have finally settled on OmniFocus as being the absolute best of the bunch. I love the seamless syncing between devices, the way that you can schedule tasks, and the ability to enter dates like “tomorrow”, or “next wednesday”. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a power user, but it works perfectly for me!


This is a fork of the popular text note app “Notational Velocity”. It adds a few extra features, syncs wonderfully with Simplenote on your iPhone/iPad, and is the place I store everything that I deal with in a text format. Perfect for notes, drafting emails, and jotting down a few thoughts during a meeting.

Joshua Johnson: Mac.Appstorm Editor



I use Writeroom for a lot of my writing work. I love the distraction-free environment combined with the powerful feature list. I also really like that you can customize the color scheme. I currently have it set so that it looks a little more like the lighter interface of IA Writer (which is also great).


I take a lot of screenshots every day and couldn’t live without LittleSnapper. I love that instead of cluttering up my desktop, the shots go directly into an organizable image library. Realmac makes some really top-notch software and I’m a huge fan of their work.



There are a lot of web services like Google Docs that I have to keep an eye on daily for scheduling and the like, Fluid is an awesome app that allows me to turn these sites into apps that sit in my dock. Simple but brilliantly useful.


Managing a team of writers is hard work, it takes a good organization system to keep everyone on track with deadlines and progressing through their queue of articles. Historically, The Hit List was my go to app for this but lately I’ve been using Wunderlist because of the free syncing between the iPhone, Mac and web client.

Kevin Whipps: iPhone.Appstorm Editor



I wasn’t always very organized, but then I read David Allen’s book on GTD, and it led me down a much more efficient path. I tried lots of different apps before I did OmniFocus because they were cheaper, but once I finally spent the cash it was the best investment I’ve ever made. Not only is it fully customizable, but it syncs with every mobile platform I use, making it very versatile. I love OmniFocus, and if I could pick just one app to use forever, it would probably be this one.



It seems like I’ve always got one or two different clients who want to work with Google Calendars, while I’m just fine with my Apple synced options. The solution for me was BusySync, which not only works with Google Calendar but iCal and MobileMe as well, giving me the best syncing solution possible. Since I’m a photographer as well, it helps to have the weather displayed as well, and adding graphics makes it easier for me to see important things at a glance. It’s one of my top 5 apps for sure.

Tessa Thornton: Writer for Mac.Appstorm



I take advantage of Byword’s Markdown mode to write my Appstorm articles, I don’t usually use the full-screen mode (I’m usually going back and forth with the app being reviewed) but I really appreciate not having any distractions in my text editor. Byword lets you preview Markdown output, copy the HTML to your clipboard, or export the HTML file.


I use QuickCal to quickly add events to iCal using natural language. This has been a huge productivity and organization booster for me, because it makes me much more likely to add events to iCal that I might previously have been too lazy/busy to add.



In addition to writing for Appstorm, I do other freelance writing and web development, with different rates and details for each job. Billings makes it really easy to keep track of the work you’ve done and the payment you’ve received, and also makes invoicing really easy. Without Billings, I’d probably never get paid.

Conor O’Driscoll: Writer for Mac.Appstorm

Notational Velocity

Where would I be without Notational Velocity? This lightweight note-taking app is the perfect app to keep me productive and creative. Whenever I have an idea I pull up NV and jot it down. Pretty much all of my thoughts are in there: Great AppStorm article ideas, really bad jokes I’ve written, interview questions – You name it, it’s in Notational Velocity. What makes NV great is the ability to sync with SimpleNote, meaning that I can pull up my notes from my iPad very easily. I quite simply couldn’t live without it.



Coda from the wonderful folks at Panic is, for me, the best text-editor for web development out there. It’ll auto-complete your tags for you, which saves so much time, and makes learning coding languages so much easier. The interface is, as you’d expect from a Panic app, stunning. In addition to all of this, it has a built-in FTP client, and great support for CSS styling. It’s not exactly cheap, coming in at $99, but it is well worth the price. Coda makes what might normally be a tedious task an absolute joy.



I live in the middle of nowhere in rural Ireland – It’s the sort of place where there are twenty times as many cows as people. This means that I can only get broadband from one ISP, and they enforce a painfully strict 30GB monthly download limit. SurplusMeter is the ideal way to keep track of your bandwidth usage. It’s not the most beautiful app around, but it does the job, and allows me to monitor every download I make in my meticulous fashion, making sure my surplus is always nice and high. It may not be of use to most, but it’s an absolute life-saver for me.


I love watching movies and TV shows on my Mac – I find it so much more immersive than on my TV. Unfortunately, iTunes’ movie support is abysmal, and Plex is the best solution I’ve found. It has excellent support for the Apple Remote, and a lovely interface to boot. I’m the sort of person who obsesses over perfect meta tags, and have been known spending hours fixing the capitalisation of song names in iTunes. Plex takes away all of that hassle, automatically generating meta tags from online sources, and has an almost 100% success rate. The perfect app to wind down at night.

Adam Williams: Writer for Mac.Appstorm



Admittedly, those who don’t need to take screenshots for their job may not find LittleSnapper too exciting or glamorous, but the app is a classic case of the much-lauded doing one thing and doing it well. Put simply, Little Snapper makes taking screenshots a breeze, with an intelligent capture system, multiple timed and non-timed options, an easy to use library and a low-memory app which can sit in your menu bar, ready to quickly capture high-quality images. I have used it for every article I have submitted to Mac.Appstorm.



I’m a very big fan of minimalist writing and productivity tools on the Mac and love both of Hog Bay Software’s two flagship apps, WriteRoom and TaskPaper. The first use of TaskPaper is a little bit jarring as one is not usually presented with such a spartan UI but after settling down and learning how to use the app properly I was a convert and all the other likeminded software cannot compare. Also of note is the app’s reasonable price and great sales technique. After all, one has to admire a company who will be so honest in their sales approach and state; “TaskPaper isn’t the right answer for everyone, also check out OmniFocus or Things. But give TaskPaper a try”


Though it shares a name with the pioneering guitar amplification company, Vox is also a very lightweight music app for Mac. I like iTunes a lot but even with a brutal system of weeding out the media I don’t listen to, watch or read, my library is somewhat bloated. Sometimes I just want to stick on some music while I work and when I do, I reach for Vox. Conforming to the style of minimalist UI norms which see it sit happily next to WriteRoom and TaskPaper in my dock, Vox offers an almost VLC level of file playback, with many different lossy and lossless formats types all supported in this neat little app.

Quintin Carlson: Writer for Mac.Appstorm

I love love love OmniFocus. I can’t live without it. I would literally lose my mind. Everything goes into it and magically, actions come back out. I can’t say enough good things.

Beyond that, I’m a pretty boring guy!

Jorge Rodriguez: Writer for Mac.Appstorm


I’ve talked about how much I love Evernote before, but I really can’t stress how useful I find the little app. I do everything with it, from recording audio to just writing down ideas for new articles. Well, I think I said enough about it in this article.

Notify Pro

Instead of using a big mail client like Mail.app or Postbox, I prefer to keep my emails stored on Gmail’s server and I just use this simple mail menu bar app to keep up with my mail without having to access any windows. I love the Growl notifications and the ability to send quick responses from your menu bar. I tried many similar apps before this one, and I can definitely declare this as the winner within its category.


If I had to decide on which app saves me the most time, it would definitely be jiTouch. When I first heard about the multi-touch trackpad being implemented in the new Macbooks a few years ago, I expected the trackpad to work very much like jiTouch makes it work. Switching tabs with two fingers, closing windows with three, and many more useful gestures are made available with this little app.

Kyle Callahan: Writer for Mac.Appstorm

IA Writer

After trying nearly every “minimalist” writing app on the market, I instantly fell in love with IA Writer. It looks and feels perfect right out of the gate, with a fantastic font in a perfect color laid on top of a relaxing back ground. It even includes a non-standard blinking cursor that, frankly, is more amazing than any blinking cursor has the right to be.



If you need to edit images but you’re not a professional image manipulator and you don’t have a gajillion dollars to spend on Photoshop, Acorn is the app for you. It feels like a native Mac app, contains all the features you might want, and exports into all the formats you need. It’s the perfect upgrade for the aspiring amateur.


We hope this roundup of amazing apps has helped you get to know the AppStorm crew just a little better. I guess we would say that you can judge a Mac user by his/her Applications folder!

What do you think of our choices? Do you use any of these apps? Which ones are your favorites?


Add Yours
  • Personally I can’t live without Reeder, Photoshop, Echofon and Safari. That’s about it really.

  • My favorites are:


  • I couldn’t live without: Photoshop, Mail, Safari, Nambu and Preview!

  • Gruml for me is the best RSS reader. Pixelmator for image editing and Thunderbird for my Google calendar.

  • The iA writer link goes to jitouch’s website.

    Nice post. Thanks.

  • i used to really like Notify. I bought it and shortly after, the dev started working on other projects and quit working on Notify. He’s got a real attitude and has been kinda rude if you bring it up too. Really sucks coz it really was a good app. Now, against things like Sparrow.. It’s just lagging way too far behind in features..

    • guess I could have listed my favs while I was here.
      Alfred – must have.
      xGestures – global mouse gestures
      Growl – can’t believe nobody mentioned this.

    • Agreed. He should sell the app so someone else can continue development.

  • 1/ Scrievener
    2/ timeline Beedocs
    3/ Safari
    4 / Soho notes
    5/ Postbox

  • 1) Reeder
    2) Adium
    3) Wunderlist
    4) Aperture
    5) Photoshop and Illustrator
    6) Coda

  • Wow, so of the Mac Appstorm readers must be web people yet and nobody has mentioned Snippets, TextExpander, Transmit, Alfred or any Twitter clients. Surprising. After Alfred, which I simply can’t live without, the top apps would be, in no particular order:

    1. Coda
    2. Transmit
    3. Byword
    4. Postbox (although Lion’s Mail 5.1 looks good)
    5. Twitterific
    6. Snippets & TextExpander I use about as often as eachother

    • Err, *some* of … sorry.

    • I think we all just assumed Alfred was a given, I’m pretty sure most of us use it! I also use Coda, Transmit and Byword.

    • TextEpander is a huge one for me, Transmit as well!

  • First things i install on a mac:

    Camouflage – hides desktop objects and adds finder from a click on the desk.

    Itsy – twitter.

    Fraise – text editor, use it for html and css.

    IA writer – yeah i had to put out that price..

    Alarm clock 2 – wake up!

  • MarcoPolo (old one but very useable profile settings changer based on location)
    Reeder (of course)
    Daisydisk (for an ssd it’s a necessity to control space and know where it’s wasted)
    Totalfinder (why did no one said this?couldn’t use macosx without it)
    UMplayer (for the lack of the best media player around ->SMplayer, and no its not VLC, this is pretty good specifically for non native english speakers, hint subtitles autodownloader and more)

    Not in any specific order

  • Jorge Rodriguez… I too love Notify Pro. Unfortunately, the developers from Vibealicious (Kyle Van Essen and Joel Levin) have ceased development as of May 11, 2011 (http://vibealicious.com/blog/). Much to my dismay, the app no longer runs smoothly under Mac OS X Lion. The message preview works once, then dies thereafter. The only way to get it back is to relaunch Notify, but only works one time. Kyle and Joel, please, please, please jump in and repair this one glitch!!! I would be grateful beyond words!

    • I did notice it has some glitches while running on Lion, but for the most part I’ve found it useable. I do find the preview thing very annoying, though.

  • 1Password
    Safari with full screen

  • Oh yeah, here are my faves:

    Sequel Pro

  • I’ve forgotten Little snitch.

  • Keyboard Maestro – one of the most useful, powerful, and least-known apps out there

    Notational Velocity
    Sublime Text 2

  • I wanted to love jiTouch, but it caused some serious issues when I used Photoshop. I no longer remember exactly what those issues were, but they had me pulling my hair out. I still miss the three-finger-tap-open-in-new-tab.

    • BTT (better touch tool) will do that and a lot more, for free, and so far OS working beautifully in Lion.

      Installed it today on realizing the M.Trackpad had no middle-click equivalent. (& and that the 2-finger swipes for forward and back didn’t work in Chrome, only Safari) BTT => problem(s) solved!

      • *is working beautifully in Lion

  • Really enjoyed this post. Downloading omnifocus now, been a things user for years. Gonna give it a whirl.

  • Wow. can’t use most of the items mentioned lol. oh well to each their own. I can’t live without:

    1) mail
    2) itunes
    3) text wrangler with zend coding
    4) cyberduck
    5) text editor

  • 10 Apps I couldn’t do without..

    OmniOutliner Professional.
    Little Snapper.
    Little Snitch.

    • Yeah Little snitch, and transmission (what do you those for?…. :D) forgot those ones!

      • Little Snitch to block Facebook and other sites from my browser when someone is borrowing it. Not as tedious as going through the OpenDNS process or creating a new account on the computer with Parental Control.

        Transmission for downloading some games here in the PH, most of the games are delivered through Torrents, since the connection here is really bad. (I’m not talking about those big names, like E.A or so distributing their games through torrents, but rather those local MMORPG games)

  • Nice to see Vox here. I started using it last year, and I’ve had no desire to go back to something bigger and library-based. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with Lion yet :(

  • Is it just me, or has jiTouch become unusable in Lion? Doesn’t seem to work at all anymore?

    Have tried mailing their support, but no reply as yet.. :( Really missing it…

    • Some gestures have conflicts with the Lion ones, so just disable those. I’ve kept only the ones I use the most (tab switching, tab closing, open link in new tab, etc.) and they all work fine with Lion.

      • Doesn’t seem to be the case for me.. Have disabled all new default mouse features and still jiTouch doesn’t respond to ANY of the few options I normally use…


  • For me:

    * Dropbox
    * TextMate
    * nvALT
    * iA Writer
    * Things
    * Alfred
    * Twitter for Mac
    * Xcode
    * Photoshop

  • I really love this article. It gives a nice personal take on the apps featured; as well as showing the app in a practical and everyday setting.

  • My top apps are:
    Google Chrome
    iStudiez Pro
    Day One

    I’m always searching for new and productive apps.

  • Seriously, none of you use Quicksilver? It’s like a far versatile & powerful version of the Alfred Powerpack with a dozen different interface themes & is under constant active development.

    If I didn’t have Quicksilver I’d probably need ~ 20 other pieces of software to replace it & unquestionably if I could only have piece of third party software it would be this.

    Also, unlike Vox which freezes after a few minutes use under Lion, it’s completely compatible with the latest version of OS X.

    • For me, Quicksilver requires far too many keystrokes. With Alfred, i can type away, and it automatically knows what i want. Like when i start entering a mathematical formula, it displays the result. Quicksilver has to be told “i want to enter a mathematical formula” first. Also, Quicksilver resets the whole command when using backspace, so no chance retyping just one letter when you make a typo. The fonts are very tiny and barely readable (okay, thats an exaggeration).

  • My favorite Mac apps:

    Transmit 4

    Byword used to be my favorite distraction-free writing app, but when I noticed that it doesn’t block out Growl notifications, I’d only use it when writing journal entries.

  • Notational Velocity

    I’m not using Alfred as much as i’d like to, but i could really really use the Powerpack features. I’m just waiting till they make them available through the App Store.

  • Wunderlist
    Twitter for Mac
    App Cleaner
    CloudApp and/or Droplr
    iStat Menu

  • ** Launchbar ** It seems like I’m the only one using it instead of Alfred. Though it doesn’t work as quick as before on Lion, I couldn’t live without it !
    ** 1Password **
    ** Reeder **
    ** TotalFinder ** Still don’t understand why those feature aren’t developped by Apple.
    ** Things ** They are reaaaaally slow implementing their cloud service, but more features than Wunderlist, and I more simple/efficient (to me) than Omnifocus.
    ** Evernote ** Syncs between devices, allows to share notes, … I use to have NV but now prefere Evernote.
    ** Moom ** Recently bought it and already love it ! I have two screens (laptop + external) and it was sometimes annoying to deal with windows. Now… so easy !
    ** Dropbox ** As a student I haven’t (yet ?) find an easiest way to share files.

  • My favorites:
    1) Reeder
    2) 1Password Pro
    3) Skitch
    4) Textmate
    5) Alfred

  • Apps and Web Apps:
    1. Chrome
    -Anesidora (Pandora)
    2. Final Cut
    3. Cyberduck
    4. Photoshop
    5. LogMeIn
    6. WeTransfer.com

  • Just wanted to say: IA Writer doesn’t link to the correct app. It links to JiTouch’s website.

  • I’m really looking for a simple/easy/minimalist app for note taking. It would be accessible with a hotkey. I could type/cut/paste whatever AND then I could export it (the note) to wherever/whatever it was a note to.
    I find it very difficult to explain a kitchen sink when everyone is trying to sell Manhattan hotels and an army of room service.