The Apps We Use: Richard Moss

With two Macs on rotation — an iMac and a MacBook Air — plopped on top of 20 years on Apple’s side of the operating system fence, I’ve come to use a lot of apps. More even than I can think of off the top of my head, in fact. But some stick out as essential daily drivers, without which I’d struggle to get anything done.

Here’s a choice selection of the apps I use and rely upon nearly every day.

Words to Remember

I write for a living, so I take my text editing and word processing apps very seriously. But these days I don’t care much about how they look; I just want to save time and limit the pain of organization. My focus is consequently on two old workhorses, with a third there for assistance.


I like MacJournal because it makes it so simple for me to jump between writing tasks, and to look through old stories. I have different journals for each place I write (or wrote), plus a few extras that help me stay organized. I keep a list of article ideas, like most freelancers, but my list is a series of journal entries that can be quickly and effortlessly executed. MacJournal has fallen behind the times in design and features, unfortunately, but I’m still not convinced that the likes of Day One can do the job I want.

I don’t exactly use MacJournal as a journal, but it’s a brilliant way for a writer of many things to stay organized.

Price: $39.95
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: Dan Schimpf/Mariner Software


That’s becoming less of an issue, however, as I gravitate further toward Scrivener, which is a brilliant app for large writing projects of all kinds — novels, screenplays, theses, reports, multi-thousand-word articles, poetry, and so on. I was a bit overwhelmed at first, but once I’d learned my way around I found it invaluable for coping with complex stories. I especially love the flexibility in viewing documents and integrating research.

My default Scrivener setup involves a two-page view split with a narrow scrolling column on the side.

Price: $45
Requires: OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Literature and Latte


I seldom use TextWrangler for any writing, actually, but it’s an essential intermediary between composing and publishing. I’ve set up a script that converts my rich-text-formatted writings into HTML, spitting them out into TextWrangler — where I tweak a few things as required before pushing the text through to the content management system. TextWrangler’s also great for quick editing of scripts and preference files, too.

I’m not a fan of WordPress, so I do my HTML tag cleanup here.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: Bare Bones Software

To Stay Plugged In

I seldom bother opening my RSS reader (NetNewsWire) on the Mac now that I have an iPad with The Early Edition 2 and Mr Reader installed, but I still very much live on the Internet at my iMac and MacBook Air. To that end, three apps dominate:


I favor Firefox to Chrome and Safari for two reasons. While all three major browsers run into issues when you have many tabs open (I’m on tab #378 as I write this, believe it or not), only Firefox has a built-in option to load a tab only after it’s been selected — which negates nearly all problems you could run into from such a habit. My other reason is rather circular in that it’s because I have all those tabs in my Firefox session — to migrate would be a nightmare.

Tabs as far as the eye can see.

You’re probably wondering why anyone could possibly need 378 browser tabs. It relates to my browsing habits; I like to keep a tab open until I’m ready to not come back, so things to check out later, or to monitor, or that I need for a current project all take a portion. It’s usually between 120 and 200, but I got a bit crazy recently.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Mozilla


I was one of those tragics who stuck with Twitter for Mac long after its development was abandoned, but I finally gave up in November last year. My choice was not flavor of the month Tweetbot, but rather Osfoora, which in its current carnation looks and feels like the natural evolution of Twitter’s forgotten Mac app. My only complaints at this point are that there’s no option to combine multiple accounts into one Timeline view, and that you can’t open a saved search or list in a separate window.

Osfoora looks and feels like Twitter for Mac with some new bells and whistles.

Price: $4.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Said Marouf

MailPop Pro

Gmail in the browser is a pain, but I happen to like its interface — especially the tablet version. So how do I combine the “true” Gmail experience with the convenience of a desktop app? With MailPop Pro, a cool little menubar app that impressed me on review. It offers all the features of Gmail in your browser, only more tightly-integrated with OS X. The highlights for me are keyboard shortcuts, floating windows, and switching between tablet, mobile, and web interfaces.

It’s unfortunate that the tablet view has started playing up because it’s a fantastic way to navigate Gmail.

I’m still waiting for multiple account support, though. And tablet view started misbehaving recently following a change to Gmail’s tablet and mobile interfaces.

Price: $0.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Binary Bakery

A Helping Hand

I use heaps of utilities and in-the-background productivity apps, so I’ve decided to just highlight a few less obvious or controversial choices. Keep in mind, however, that I also make serious use of Evernote, Dropbox, and SugarSync for cloud storage, along with Bartender to keep my menubar uncluttered, iStat Menus (which I reviewed) to monitor my Mac, and PopChar X for special characters. And that’s without going into the irregularly-used tools.

ScreenFloat and Snapz Pro X

Much of my writing involves reviewing apps and games, which requires copious amounts of screenshot-taking. I recently put Snapz Pro X back in the hot seat as my general-purpose screenshot tool, for capturing windows, regions, or the entire screen, after realizing it’s still a powerhouse — despite UI issues.

The keys to a very powerful screenshot app.

Price: $69
Requires: OS X 10.7.4 or later
Developer: Ambrosia Software

Meanwhile, I have ScreenFloat for quick last-minute snaps and for floating reference material. It’s particularly useful for this second function, with screenshots floating above everything as you hop between apps or enter information into a full-screen app. My opinion of the app stands unchanged since my glowing review from July last year (I’m noticing a trend here that I didn’t before).

ScreenFloat’s great for floating information above full-screen apps.

Price: $5.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Eternal Storms

Acorn and Phatch

So what happens when I need to edit one or more of these screenshots? Or what if I need to do a custom graphic for an article header? For anything quick and small, I just stick to Preview, but if I need anything more sophisticated — like batch processing or messing with composites or advanced filters — I have two favorites.

Phatch is a cross-platform photo/image batch processor written in my favorite programming language, Python. What it lacks in style it more than makes up in power and grace, effortlessly resizing, cropping, and applying filters to my images. All I have to do is set up the rules and away it goes.

It doesn’t look like much, but Phatch is serious business for batch image processing.

Price: Free
Requires: Python 2.5 or later and wxPython; here’s a precompiled Universal Binary
Developer: Phatch Team

For the more finicky tasks, like compositing multiple images into one or cleaning up bad lighting, I turn to Acorn, a much cheaper alternative to industry standard Photoshop. It’s not as powerful as Adobe’s juggernaut, but I’d say it’s enough for 90% of the tasks you’d do in Photoshop — at a fraction of the price.

Price: $49.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Flying Meat


Clipboard management apps are a dime a dozen — even to the point where most launcher apps have integrated the feature. But I stick to a little menubar tool called CuteClips, which I can summon with a quick Command-Shift-V shortcut, then pick the stuff I want to paste with arrows and Return, a mouse click, or a tap of a number key (if I’ve assigned it to a specific clip). On top of that, tapping the space bar enables concatenation of multiple clips, one after the other.

There’s more to CuteClips than meets the eye.

Price: $15
Requires: OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: BrikSoftware

TotalFinder and TotalSpaces

I didn’t believe the hype surrounding TotalFinder and TotalSpaces until I picked them both up in a bundle late last year. But now I’m a total convert. TotalFinder adds tabs and a bunch of other cool features to your Finder windows, along with a pop-up floating window that can be called at any time. This has saved me hours in hopping between the Finder and other apps to grab specific files.

TotalFinder’s two killer features — tabs and a pop-up window.

Price: $18
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later
Developer: BinaryAge

TotalSpaces returns the grid layout to Spaces, along with custom transitions, a separate overview grid, and more robust options. Like TotalFinder, it changed my workflow for the better — pushing me to finally split independent tasks into separate spaces, vastly reducing window clutter.

TotalSpaces brings the spaces overview grid back, among other things.

Price: $15
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later
Developer: BinaryAge

The Hit List

I tried using several different reminder, planning, and task management apps, but none stuck with me. I’d set them up, force myself to keep things updated, then give up entirely a week or two later. They did nothing to improve my workflow; I just got annoyed at the extra overheads.

The Hit List hits just the right features for me in a planning/scheduling app.

Then I found The Hit List, a lightweight task/to-do list that avoids the complexity of OmniFocus and Wunderlist while retaining my three must-have features — start date, due date, and tags. I use it to help me keep track of freelance assignments and to give self-imposed deadlines for pitching ideas.

Price: $49.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Potion Factory

What About You?

Those are the apps essential to my daily routine. What do you use? And what should I consider switching to? Let us know in the comments below, be sure to check out Jacob’s and Reid’s lists, and stay tuned for the upcoming workflows from others on our team!