The Apps We Use: Reid Leamaster

It’s a new week with a new set of apps we use daily. Much like Jacob, the first writer in this series, the apps I use vary daily with a few exceptions. But without fail, I will fire up my MacBook Pro and use a bunch of apps throughout the day. Some of the apps on my list are well-known favorites, others a little less known.

Putting together this list has been a joy; hopefully you’ll enjoy it too!

Day to Day Utilities I Can’t Live Without

There are a few apps that I would truly feel lost without them on my Mac. In fact, using a Mac without them just doesn’t seem right and in my mind, these apps should be standard on every Mac.

Alfred

Oh Alfred, I can't live without you.

Oh Alfred, I can’t live without you.

You have probably noticed that many of the writers here are fans of Alfred. As I have noted elsewhere, Alfred is great for managing plain text notes. I also use it for launching apps, searching files, browsing folders, opening bookmarks, uninstalling apps, looking up words, and adding reminders.  I’m sure there’s more I use it for, but that’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure looking forward to version 2 and the new things I’ll use it for then.

Price: Free or $22 for the power pack.
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or above.
Developer: Running with Crayons

 

BetterTouchTool

Better Touch Tool is a great utility that adds a lot of functionality to the trackpad. I probably use BTT most for window management. The set up I have been using for a while is three finger swipes left or right to half windows to either side, four finger swipe up to maximize the window, and three finger swipe down to center the window. I am also a big fan of tip tapping with two fingers to use the OS X application switcher.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or above.
Developer: Andreas Hegenberg

 

 

Pathfinder

Path Finder

This souped up finder app has been mentioned on Mac.AppStorm several times in the past. You can do so many things with Path Finder, it is hard to pick out a couple of features to include in a brief summary. I find the tabbed file browsing in Path Finder to be its most helpful feature. I know there are other apps and free alternatives that do this, but it “just works” in Path Finder. I also find the drawers very helpful. I open the left drawer to get extra file information and use the right drawer for recently used files.

Price: $39.95, Upgrade $19.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or above.
Developer: Developer Name

Productivity

There are a few apps I use to help me stay focused and keep myself working effectively. This is so important for many of us these days who don’t have a manger and rely on self motivation. Here are my favorite productivity apps.

Fluid Apps

I recently wrote an article on how I use Fluid with the Todoist web app to keep track of my tasks. With Fluid, you can put any web app in the menu bar for quick access. So even though I use a web app to manage my tasks, they are always just a click away in the menu bar. Pretty cool.

I also recently moved from Mail.app over to Gmail. I was fed up with the lack of functionality on the iOS version of Mail and wanted something that was more consistent across platforms. Gmail has been that app for me. I created a Gmail Fluid app and added a few user scripts to hide the adds and clean up the interface. Another reason I switched to Gmail is because of its integration with Todoist. With the Todoist Anywhere bookmarklet, I can add emails as tasks in Todoist and help keep my inbox clean. Oh, and I am also loving the Gmail shortcuts.

My Todoist Fluid app in the menu bar.

My Todoist Fluid app in the menu bar.

Price: Free or $4.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or above.
Developer: Celestial Teapot Software

Notes.app

The search for a perfect note taking system is never ending for me. I did the Simplenote / NValt thing for a while, then I tried plain text files in regular folders, and for a while I went exclusively with Evernote.  My system is quite a bit different now. Any note I write myself (that is, anything that is not clipped or copied) goes into the Mountain Lion Notes app.

Apple did a good job with the native Notes app in Mountain Lion. Its, fast, simple, supports folders, has rich text, and syncs well with the iOS versions. Now, if the iOS Notes app can catch up with a few of these features such as rich text editing and the ability to move notes around in folders, I will be all set.

The Mountain Lion Notes app is a big improvement over its predecessor that was integrated into Mail.app.

The Mountain Lion Notes app is a big improvement over its predecessor that was integrated into Mail.app.

 

Evernote

Evernote

Any type of information that I need to keep track of — other than things I type up myself — goes into Evernote. I am an avid user of the Evernote Web Clipper for Safari. I save articles into Evernote almost daily using this extension. When I am on my iOS device, I forward articles and snippets of information using the Evernote upload email address that comes with every Evernote account (for some neat tips on using Evernote more efficiently, see this article on our sister site MacTuts).

Evernote is also where all of my handwritten notes end up. I used to scan all my handwritten notes into Evernote, but now I write them up in the awesome iPad app Penultimate, which was recently bought by Evernote and now automatically syncs with the service.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or above.
Developer: Evernote Corporation

 

Safari

I realize Safari might not fit best under the productivity heading, but I do find Safari to be the most effective browser out there. One of the main reasons I use Safari is because Safari bookmarks are indexed by Alfred. I also find the Reading List and Reader features helpful. Chrome is always tempting me with its abundance of extensions, but for now, I am sticking with Safari. If Alfred 2 indexes Chrome bookmarks, I may just be making a switch.

I use Safari in-part because of the Reading List function.

Blogging

I use a specific set of tools to get blog posts out. I am still tweaking my workflow, but the following apps are often essential for helping me get posts out.

Texts

I recently reviewed Texts — a minimalist text editor that acts like a rich text editor, but keeps HTML in the background. This app is great for writing drafts of blog posts. The minimalist interface assists in helping writers focus on writing, and the fact that you don’t even have to think about Markdown syntax to create a perfectly formatted posts makes this my go to text editor for blog posts.

Texts is a great text editor for creating blog posts.

Texts is a great text editor for creating blog posts.

Price: $15 for a limited time.
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or above.
Developer: Texts Software

 

SnapNDrag

SnapNDrag is a great utility for quickly taking screenshots. It provides four options for taking screen shots: Selection to manually select where to take the screenshot, Window to take a shot of any open window; Screen to capture your whole screen, and  Timed for those shots that you need to take after a certain amount of time. One of these options works for about 90% of the screenshots I need to take.

Price: $2.99 or free.
Requires: Mac OS X 10.7 or above.
Developer: Yellow Mug

 

Ondesoft Screen Capture,  LiveQuartz, and ImageSmith

Every once in a while, I need to take a screenshot that requires something different than what SnapNDrag has to offer. In those cases, I go to OndeSoft Screen Capture ($29.95). Ondesoft is useful for taking screenshots of menu items, individual panes of application windows, and taking shots of multiple open windows. For any screenshot that requires some extra editing—such as combining a couple of images in one screenshot—I use LiveQuartz by RahpSoft ($4.99). LiveQuartz is a powerful image editor that won’t break the bank.

This a a recent screenshot I created using Ondesoft Screen Capture and LiveQuartz.

This a a recent screenshot I created using Ondesoft Screen Capture and LiveQuartz.

Image Smith is a utility for batch editing images. Rather than resizing, formatting, or cropping (among other things) images one by one, Image Smith does it in batches. Needless to say, this is a big time saver.

Image Smith allows users to save a lot of time by batch editing images.

Image Smith allows users to save a lot of time by batch editing images.

“Real Work”

My day job requires a lot of document creation, presenting, research, and data analysis. These are the apps I use to get that work done.

Ulysses

For longer documents or book length works, I use Ulysses. Choosing between Ulysses and Scrivener was an agonizing decision for me. Eventually I went with Ulysses because I felt that the focus on semantics ultimately did help my writing. Additionally, the export options meet my needs and the customization made the geek in me happy.

I use Ulysses for longer manuscripts.

I use Ulysses for longer manuscripts.

Price: $11.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or above.
Developer: The Soulmen

Pages

I am a Pages over Microsoft Word guy. Word has always been buggy for me — documents over 20 pages tend to cut off paragraphs at the end of pages, footnotes often disappear, and tables often behave oddly. Pages, on the other hand, is not buggy, launches fast, and has a better interface. Plus, creating tables is much less headache inducing in Pages. All of the people I work with use Word, and I find Pages to be compatible with Word most of the time.

Price: $19.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.7.4 or above.
Developer: Apple

Keynote

I also prefer Keynote over Powerpoint for creating presentations. The way master slides work on Keynote is brilliant and allows me to quickly create slides exactly the way I want them. As compatibility between the iOS and Mac versions of Keynote has improved, I have started creating presentations on the Mac and then using the iPad to present.

Price: $19.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.7.4 or above.
Developer: Apple

VMware Fusion

I boot up my virtual machine for one application, MaxQDA.  In my opinion, this software is the best out there for analyzing qualitative data and is currently only available on Windows. VMware Fusion works fine for running MaxQDA. I was using Paralells 6 until it broke with OS X 10.8 and while Fusion is a touch slower, I have had no problems with it. I was very excited to find out last month that MaxQDA will soon be coming to the Mac! Woo-hoo! It is also worth noting that MaxQDA is the only qualitative data analysis software, that I know of, that has a companion iOS app.

Price: $49.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.7 or above.
Developer: VMware

Sente

For keeping track of research citations, nothing beats Sente ($34.95 to $129.95 Third Street Software). It definitely has some shortcomings — I can’t search inside a PDF, really? There is also currently a serious bug with iCloud documents. However, the ability to create a works cited list using some simple tags in the text of a document is almost worth the price of the app by itself. If you need to keep track of a lot of citations, this app is certainly worth a look.

Sente is a reference manager that simplifies the process of citing sources.

Sente is a reference manager that simplifies the process of citing sources.

What About You?

Phew! That is a long list, but I sure did have fun putting it together. What do you think about the list? What am I missing? Which apps need to be replaced on the list? We’d love to hear from you!


  • Simon Lamarre

    I would add Papers (from Mekentosj). This is the go to app for keeping track of PDF and citations.

    • Reid Leamaster

      Yeah Papers is nice, I gave it some serious consideration before deciding on Sente.

  • Kalsten

    As a biologist, I use Papers for managing my journal articles bibliography. It is just awesome. You can look and find papers even inside the software, or import your pdfs, and the software itself match the metadata. Also, it enters de references, in the format you want, in your Word/Pages documents, manage the reference list, etc.

    I really love it.

  • Gledson Rabelo

    My Top List: LaunchBar, Voila, Tweetbot, Reeder, 2Do, Chrome, Sidekick, TextExpander, Should I Sleep, BetterTouchTool, PathFinder, VMWare, Coda2 …

  • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

    If people like the idea of “Image Smith app” in this article (an app for batch crop and formatting) I recomend this one better: http://www.acqualia.com/picturesque/
    It is cheaper and does more. Did I mention it has an Apple Design Award? Go get it! I bought it since its debut and as a web designer and developer I use it a lot!

  • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

    Utilities apps I love: http://goo.gl/bSvyH

    Producivity apps: http://goo.gl/uUb8f

    Graphic Design apps: http://goo.gl/zOpiY

    Yes you can make a living in graphic arts without Adobe. I’m a happy Adobe quitter since 2011. Adobe CS3 (I was upgrading since Photoshop 5.5) was my last trip to spending-all-landia.

    • Reid Leamaster

      Doh! Your link reminded me that I forgot Optimal Layout, even though I reviewed it a couple of months ago: http://bit.ly/16uiZpI

  • Pietz

    i still cant understand why people love alfred so much and im telling you this because i want you to convince me otherwise, if it really can boost my productivity.

    1. to launch apps, find contacts, find files and define words i dont need it! spotlight has this and more built in.

    2. for all the custom searches on the web? i dont need it! i have a big screen and my browser is ALWAYS open. having “Tab-Searches” in chrome its just the same.

    3. playing music in itunes? itunes is the devil. itunes 11 more than ever. plus, even if i would use itunes, just opening it and selecting a song would probably take just as much time than doing the Slash commands.

    4. need right spelling for a word. well why would i want to retype the word in Alfred if all major editors have spell checking built in. even if not, im using Popclip which gives me a option to spell check a word i just marked.

    5. the clipboard history is nice, but i needed this feature maybe 10 times in my entire life and the extra time it took me to look up the other selection isnt worth switching to alfred. especially because i copy passwords all the time and since Alfred is always connected to the web, makes me feel unsafe.

    so?

    • Sunny

      I tried using Spotlight for a while and ended up going back to Alfred.

      1. For me, Alfred is so much faster and easier to navigate and gives visual queues when holding down keys so I’ll know if command-enter will reveal the file in the finder or search for more like it; I just have to know the modifier keys with Spotlight, or guess.

      2. I don’t use the Alfred custom searches either. I always have a browser open, so that isn’t worth it to me.

      3. I’ve never found the need for anything beyond the keyboard’s media keys, so I don’t use Alfred for that either.

      4. I don’t use PopClip but I do use “define word” frequently in Alfred. It pulls the definition preview in so I don’t need to launch the Dictionary app on the occasional need (or I have Alfred open up the app to the word if I need more).

      5. My workflow involves a lot of discontiguous copy/paste so I frequently use the clipboard history.

      Some of the other Alfred features I use frequently are:
      * the media eject for dismounting DMG images
      * calculations (which Spotlight also does but slower)
      * the Dropbox support for its config files so my preferences and such are synced across the various computers I use

      I also find that Alfred’s fuzzy matching on searches is a bit better than Spotlight’s and Alfred is trainable (it remembers your preferred searches based on what you typically choose).

      All that said, I can get by fine on other’s computers with just Spotlight but Alfred is just peppier and works better for me and I miss it when it’s not there. If £15 is beyond your budget, stick with Spotlight; it’s not a bad choice.

  • http://englishusingsongs.com Dominick

    I think Voilà is better than OndeSoft screen capture. Onde soft looks and feels like Windows. I’ll never give up Launchbar so no Alfred for me.

    Live Quartz is great and I’ve been using it since it was free.

    Sente is also a great addition.

    How about Mellel? You should consider Mellel. It integrates with Sente by default.

    And don’t forget about Devonthink Pro.

    • Reid Leamaster

      I noticed that Mellel now offers a less expensive version. I’ll have to check it out.

theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow