It’s finally my turn to give you a small peak inside my treasure trove of apps. Keep in mind that this is in no way an exhaustive list, but rather a compendium of those most essential for a frictionless workday.
I’m a lot like Superman or Spiderman in the sense that I lead a double life. By day, I’m a quiet and bashful systems administrator, keeping the machines gears greased and the wheels turning. By night, I’m a fearless writer, reviewing perilous apps with total disregard for my own personal safety.
Ok, so maybe that was a little far fetched. After all who’s ever seen a bashful sysadmin… The point I’m trying to make, is that I have apps vital for each role in my life and then apps vital for both. So sit back, relax and enjoy the tour.
The Day Job Apps
For any person spending a reasonable amount of time in the Terminal, iTerm2 is a must have. Support for tabs, split screens, seamless tmux sessions and a visor mode are just a few of the things that make this one of my most used tools throughout the day.
While not really an app, I’d be remiss not to mention fish, a modern command line shell which adds some great features.
Unfortunately, not all my remote access is via a shell and for those rare occasions that I need to access a Windows machine, Remoter is my weapon of choice. It supports RDP, VNC and even SSH and Telnet, but it’s best feature by far, is Dropbox sync. This allows me to create a list of all the Servers I need to access and have that sync with Remoter on my iOS devices.
While Sublime Text 2/3 may be all the rage, I tend to prefer Chocolat. It’s a beautiful app, with minimal chrome. It has all the features you’d expect to find in a modern editor, such as Code completion, split and block editing, web view, folding and much more. It’s perfect for my humble coding needs. You can read Jorge Rodriguez’s excellent review here.
The Night Shift Apps
I was a big fan of Byword and wrote just about everything there. I still use it on ocassion, however after reviewing MultiMarkdown Composer 2, I was hooked. Everything from documentation to articles and blog posts have taken form in this app.
Then along came Ulysses 3, and although I tried to resist it, the allure was too great and I ended up buying it. Truth be told, though, it has yet to crush a few bugs and add some features before it dethrones MultiMarkdown Composer 2.
Having a day job means that I have to “timeshift” most of my reading. I rely on Pocket for the service, but when the time comes I use Readkit to consume the content. Another advantage of Readkit is that it supports multiple services, meaning I have access to my Pinboard bookmarks too.
As for keeping up to date with my RSS feeds, I’ve been a long time fan of Reeder, but after reading Jacob Penderworth’s review, I find myself using Leaf more often (especially after the latest updates).
Working With Images
I work with images almost on a daily basis. Whether they’re screenshots for documentation or a review, or my latest feeble attempt at photography, there’s no escaping them (not that I’d want to, though).
For everything else, I’ve found no better tool than Pixelmator. It’s perfect for touching up my photographs or composing an image for a blog post. Not only is it shamelessly cheap, it’s brimming with excellent features. Don’t believe me? Then read Julia Altermann’s review and decide for yourself.
Pixelmator’s team has been teasing some of the upcoming new features and it’s looking good.
The All Day Apps
This has to be without a doubt the most used app on my Mac. It’s the central hub of all my work. I use it to open apps, lookup words, access sites, install updates, manage mail… The list goes on. I was a huge fan of the previous version, but Alfred 2’s workflows have brought this to a whole new level!
As some of you may be aware, Phillip and I have switched launchers, all in the name of research. While Launchbar is insanely powerful I have yet to explore it in-depth and try replicate some of my workflows. Until then my Mac just feels broken.
I have most of my digital content stored in Dropbox. It’s features such as versions, sharing and ubiquitous nature make it the perfect companion for my files. There is however a new kid on the block to looks to steal Dropbox’s thunder and that’s Copy. After reading Paula DuPont’s review, I quickly jumped on that bandwagon too.
If you’re interested, you may use this referral link to signup for Copy. You get an extra 5GB of free space, as do I.
Notes and Stuff
I’m a huge proponent of plaintext, so it should come as no surprise that I store a large number of plaintext notes in NValt. Everything from short lived notes to snippets and techdocs live there.
I also use Evernote heavily for my paperless workflow. It’s where I store clippings of interest from around the web, receipts, warranties and even owners manuals have a place in this everything bucket.
Anybody leading a double life such as mine needs an intricate, well thought-out system for staying sane and organised… and if I ever figure one out you’ll be among the first to know. For now though, I like to keep things simple – and plaintext based of course.
For that reason, I entrust TaskPaper with my projects and tasks. TaskBadges integrates nicely with it, providing visual cues for tasks yet pending. Since TaskPaper doesn’t have an alarm system, I rely on Due for time sensitive reminders. It’s text parsing capabilities and iOS sync make it a great choice.
As for calendaring, Fantastical is the only way to go. Quick access, excellent text parsing and it’s down right sexy looks make it a no brainer.
Seldom does a day go by that we don’t hear about some online security breach, or somebodies account being hacked. The tales are true and frightening and I for one take no chances. I trust all my critical information to 1Password. Never mind setting the standard for safety, these guys set the standard for online support too.
Spending a great deal of the day surrounded by network security experts, it would stand to reason that some of their paranoia would rub off on me… and it did. That’s why I have Little Snitch 3 installed. I feel safer know that few things go by undetected and without my permission.
In an ongoing effort to make my daily workflow as efficient as possible, I try and automate as many menial and repetitive tasks as I can. Hazel has proven to be indispensable in this endeavour and Keyboard Maestro is quickly following suit. Actions, although an iPad app has also started gaining some traction in my daily workflow.
It’s the Little Things
Next up are small utility apps, seemingly unimportant yet when they’re not there, the whole system feels awry.
- Bartender – Allows me to maintain some illusion of minimalism, keeping my otherwise unwieldy menubar in check;
- Moom - Managing all my windows would be an utter nightmare without this little gem. I just love being able to fling a window onto the second screen from the popover, or use any of the already many saved layouts via a hotkey;
- PopClip – This little app was bought on a whim, but quite surprisingly has grown on me and become a productivity booster. I find it’s plugins rather useful;
- Yoink – As with PopClip, I didn’t give this app much thought, yet now it’s a key part of my setup;
- Trickster – This app has freed me from constant worrying about where I saved something. Quick access to recent files and apps is something you don’t know you needed, until you experience it;
- Palua – Working a great deal in remote machines, be it via RDP, VNC or Parallels, it helps to have Palua map the function keys to the F keys when in Windows systems;
- F.lux – Spending as much time in front of the screen as I do, it’s essential I take care not to strain my eyes too much and this app helps me do just that.
There are so many apps that I’d like to list. Apps without which work would be possible yet clunkier and less efficient. Unfortunately, I have to draw the line somewhere and here is a good enough place as any.
Which apps do you find vital? Share any of my current favourites?