The Apps We Use: Stef Gonzaga

It’s been three years since making the big switch to the Mac, and within those thirty-six months I’ve tried numerous apps that have significantly changed the way I work. I’ve gotten my hands dirty with a variety of productivity tools, finance software, utilities, and photo/image editing apps of various shapes, colors, and file sizes that it’s taken me a while to actually find the apps that I can settle down with.

I’ve pretty much filled up fifteen pages of purchase history, but I’ve managed to find a couple of apps that have become integral to my workflow as a writer and an avid user of the web. These apps have won my loyalty, and I’m glad to be able to shine the spotlight on them in this week’s The Apps We Use feature.

Pages or Microsoft Word

Pages ’09 and Word 2011

I’m always caught in between Apple’s Pages ’09 and Microsoft’s Word 2011 when choosing a word processor for a project. On one hand, I’ve used the latter for as long as I can remember, so I like the familiarity of Word’s interface, formatting, and features.

On the other hand, I’m attracted to how convenient it is to upload and open documents with Pages via iCloud on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The best part is being able to use it while on the move, so I can always take my documents with me, revising them as new ideas come to me.

Price: Pages ’09 ($19.99) and Office 2011 (Starting at $139.99 or $9.99/month with Office 365)
Requires: For Pages, OS X 10.7.4 or later. For Word 2011, Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later
Developer: Apple Inc. | Microsoft Corporation

Markdown Pro

I’m writing this article using Markdown Pro, a Markdown editor for the Mac and one out of 35+ Markdown apps for the Mac.

I really didn’t expect this app to stick, but after learning how to write in Markdown, it’s become one of the best apps to use for writing and formatting web content on the Mac.

Price: $9.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: RADSense Software Inc.


My search for a useful calendar menu bar app ended with the release of Flexibits’ Fantastical, a beautiful calendar menu bar app. I can easily check and assign events to dates, which would sync with the default Calendar app. Upcoming events are also displayed below the calendar to remind me of what’s expected in the next week or so.

Price: $19.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Flexibits Inc.

NotesTab Pro

These days, I’d use NotesTab Pro whenever I need to jot down ideas and important reminders immediately. With just a keyboard shortcut and having it run in the background, I can easily write and save notes without launching or quitting the app.

Price: $4.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: FIPLAB Limited


There’s only one password to remember.

We all know that 1Password is one of the best password managers for the Mac, but the real deal for me is 1Password’s extension for Google Chrome. Besides unlocking 1Password via the browser, I can easily open and log in to a website or service by just typing “1p” and selecting the website of choice in the address bar.

Price: $49.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: AgileBits Inc.


PopClip is one of those apps that make you feel you’ve struck gold. It’s a nifty productivity app that allows you to perform certain tasks when highlighting text from a web page or a document.

Popclip in action.

The main attraction is PopClip’s extensions, wherein you download selected extensions from the Pilotmoon website to add more functionality to the app. My favorite is Paste and Match Style which pastes text stripped of any HTML formatting.

Price: $4.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Pilotmoon Software


A dictionary is every writer’s companion, so it only makes sense for me to turn to OS X’s very own Dictionary app when writing articles, blog posts, and poetry. The app allows me to search for definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and even Wikipedia articles, expanding my vocabulary and knowledge along the way.

Price: Free
Developer: Apple Inc.


Though there are free image editors available for the Mac, Pixelmator is the only image editing app I’ve used for creating and editing photos and images for both work and personal use. It’s beautifully designed and easy to use for all users of different image editing skills and know-how. It may come with a price, but I stand by Pixelmator’s robust feature set, sharing capabilities, and its progress as an app.

Price: $14.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: Pixelmator Team Ltd.


Jumsoft’s Money keeps track of my personal finances. Apart from creating various accounts, budgets, schedules, and monthly reports, I love how easy it is to categorize and split transactions, add notes and tags, and label each as an expense, income, or a transfer from one account to another.

Price: $38.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: Jumsoft


I end my list with the app that I have always relied on for file storage. I’d use Dropbox to save documents, photos, videos, and project materials, especially when I need to access these via a different computer. And if I need to share files with family and friends, it’s easy to generate a link to share to all.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: Dropbox

Honorable Mentions

While I’d like to leave it at this, I’d like to throw in a few more apps that I’d use during the course of the work day:

  • Alfred 2 – a great launcher that summons files and apps, and performs specific tasks through workflows.
  • Tweetbot – Tapbots’ Twitter app for the Mac, which I bought after testing their iPad app.
  • Wunderlist 2 – my favorite app for beautiful, no-nonsense task management.
  • Snapheal – a fun app to use if I need to remove certain elements or flaws from my photos.
  • Cloud – for quick and easy file sharing. I’d use this whenever I need to send screenshots of bugs to app developers.
  • Byword – after using several distraction-free writing apps for the past year, I went back to using Byword at Menlo 14pt. The good thing is that it’s Markdown-compatible, so I can use it if I don’t feel like writing in Markdown Pro’s dual view.


So guys, how many Mac apps have you bought and/or downloaded? Which ones are your favorites and those that you’ve somehow lost interest in? Name a few in the comments below.


Add Yours
  • I do not understand the craze behind 1Password when free LastPass works beautifully.

    • True, LastPass is a free alternative. But like I mentioned in the post, I love using 1Password’s Chrome extension. I also love 1Password’s 1Click bookmarks for Alfred.

    • Most important reason for me for choosing 1Password: LastPass works online while 1Password works locally on my machine.

    • For one reason I’m not entirely comfortable trusting something as important and delicate as my passwords to a FREE online service. We never know when they, like so many others, will pull the plug or do something evil.

      Then there is the convenience of having my passwords and sensitive information everywhere, even when I don’t have access to the internet. 1Password stores more than just your online passwords and information, it stores software information, credit card info, private notes and much more.

      • LastPass has a premium component, too.

        With LastPass, I can log in anywhere and have access to my passwords. There isn’t a credit card info feature exactly, but it does have secure notes. :)

        I’m not trying to argue LastPass is better, because I’ve never used 1Password. It’s just the one I fell into using a couple of years ago and it has some good features.

        • There most certainly is a component for credit cards and such. In fact, it’s called “form fill” and if you set it up, you can automagically fill out a credit card order form with it.

          The company gets high marks for its encryption standards for both the premium and free versions.

    • Huh, it does look similar to Scrawl. Has anyone else noticed and/or written about this?

    • Don’t fight for a Pencil. I’m pretty sure you buy that icon where he bought it too. You obviously don’t have your icon registered because the last place to scream for a copyright infringement is IN HERE. So wipe your tears and take a deep breath so you can call your legal department and let them take care of that. Oh, I forgot you don’t have your icon registered, sorry.

      No offense intended. Just a Reality check.

      • Hey Albert, while your point is well taken, I just wanted to note that the OP wasn’t really screaming anything and that the OP is 14. I would have been a lot less mature if I thought someone had stolen something of mine when I was his age. ;)

    • errrr… the model for this icon is available for free online…

      • Ah, well that clears things up. And as long as Markdown Pro continues to be awesome, I don’t really mind how or what represents it. :)

  • Ok. You send me right to the Mac App Store to buy PopCLip. Thanx!

  • I use evernote for note taking, and I really love Dragon’s free text to speech app. Great for “writing” down notes when my hands are occupied!

    • You can also just hit the “fn” key on a Mac to do voice transcription.

  • No mention of Yoink? Possibly THE app I use the most, along with Alfred and Moom (window size/position management)