35 Absolutely Essential Mac Apps

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published at FreelanceSwitch, but has been moved here since it makes more sense on AppStorm!

For one reason or another, a lot of freelancers use Macs. It may be the raw power, the stability or they may just look rather – cool? Well, both of us know why that really is. It’s the apps! The software that makes the hardware bling, and it’s not necessarily thanks to Apple. Aperture and iCal may be nice, but often we rely on the smaller, even more useful applications. Here’s a list of great little applications that the Mac-powered freelancer should consider.

1. Text Expander

is a great little application for all those little snippets of text you need all the time. Writer? Typos can trigger Text Expande. Developers? No more code library needed. Designers? Well, we can always add signatures to email, right?

2. Quicksilver

is a world of its own. Unlike most launchers, the best thing about Quicksilver is that it’s not only a launcher. As probably the best productivity application on the Mac, it’s something you need to learn how to use in order to master it.

3. Backdrop

is very simple. Just fill in a color or image and hide the desktop clutter. Need minimalistic? Now you have it…

4. Shoo Apps

does what the long forgotten (or so it seems) Spirited Away did. it hides inactive applications.

5. Hazel

is a maid for your Mac. Have a lot of files just sitting waiting to be organized? Well, Hazel can move those files based on the criteria you set up. Be it name, date, location or what site or e-mail the file came from, this little application takes care of it.

6. Sticky Windows

is an application I personally can’t live without anymore. Say hello to tabs. Drag a window to the top, left or right edge of the screen and a tab will appear. To remove a tab, you just drag it away. It’s that simple.

7. Pzizz

is quite neat. It creates custom nap and sleep melodies for you to help you relax. Need a power nap – take one. It really may help, or it may just work as placebo. But hey, why not try it?

8. Scrivener

is a great tool for writers. From brainstorming, to outlining to writing in fullscreen mode, this application supports all the creative phases that a writer encounters. Say goodbye to Word and just… Write!

9. Writeroom

is a simple, yet very powerful application and full screen writing is the name of the game. Not more, but less. If the complexity of modern word processors isn’t inspiring, work it all out with Writeroom.

10. Avenir

is a writing application specialized for fiction. Characters, locations, scenes. If you’re a fiction writer, Avenir will give you even more flexibility in writing your next bestseller.

11. Circus Ponies Notebook

is just that – a notebook. If you really love that old Moleskine, but want to go digital, this application lets you do just that. The interface resembles an actual notebook, letting you do outlines, add tasks, etc.

12. Yojimbo

is many things to many people. It can be a text archive, a code archive, a bookmark list, a web archive, just about anything you desire. This flexibility in both format (text, images, PDF, rich text,…) and control lets you customize Yojimbo to your own workflow.

13. Montage

is yet another specialized writing tool. Well, it actually isn’t. It is specialized, but quite uniquely for screenwriting. That’s right, say hello to TV, movies and theatre. Integration with Address Book even lets you submit, track and send your queries and scripts.

14. OmniFocus

is a GTD application by the legendary OmniGroup. the makers of OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle. The application grew out of a collaboration with Ethan Schoonover who made a GTD workflow plugin for OmniOutliner. The plugin was so successful it deserved to be an actual application. Today, Ethan works for Omni, and with the help of GTD guru Merlin Mann it’s safe to say OmniFocus will be a very good application.

15. Things

is a task management application that’s not yet released, but looks amazing. If everything goes well, this could be the GTD application with the best interface. Some of the features CulturedCode is planning are quite unique, but time will tell if our waiting is worth it. Now go and subscribe to their newsletter!

16. Linotype Explorer

is a great font management application for the Mac. You can use it to both install, manage and “test” fonts. Best of all – it’s free.

17. Xylescope

is great for fine tuning the CSS for your sites. The web, html and css views let you find that little bug that’s been troubling you. Have all the source code organized and shown in a way that makes you want to code, and code, and code…

18. Quicksnap

is a great alternative to Mac OS X’s own screen capture system. You can time them, customize them, change the format and much more.

19. Knox

lets you encrypt and backup your files. Creating vaults using advanced encryption standards is now even more secure. Because it’s based on the same technology Apple’s FileVault uses, all your data can be opened without Know if needed.

20. Cocktail

is a maintenance utility that keeps your Mac running smoothly. Lots of features, all accessible via a simple UI, let you check and repair your disks, run maintenance scripts, clear system caches and a hundred other things.

21. CSSEdit

is the best looking CSS editor for the Mac out there. You can edit it, preview it, extract. It chops, slices, even dices. It can even play along with AJAX.

22. Coda

is an all in one application that makes designers want to take notes and is a lot of web developer’s only tool. A text and css editor, a built in file browser (let’s not forget, these guys built Transmit) and an Apple Design Award to its honor. It also comes packed with a an actual web reference book reformatted and built into the actual application.

23. TextMate

is probably the most popular text editor for the Mac. Do you need to code? You probably already have TextMate. Why am I even mentioning it?

24. Transmit

is a FTP application with a very simple interface. Don’t underestimate it though. Panic put a lot of power into this application, adding features like docksend, iWeb and WebDAV integration and a ton of automator actions you can use.

25. Cyberduck

may not be as powerful as Panic’s Transmit, but still supports FTP, SFTP as well as Bonjour. Its advantage is that it’s open source. Get the duck quacking!

26. Forklift

is a very nice file manager and FTP client. Need better integration? Well, Forklift has an application deleter as well as Amazon S3 support.

27. RooSwitch

is a great application whose features make it quite unique. The core feature is application data profiles. You can then switch through these profiles, basically letting every application support multiple users. Developers can create custom user profiles for testing their applications while other users can have “home” and “work” profiles.

28. Billings

lets you track and then invoice your clients. Simple. Choose a template or create your own. No need for professional graphics software. That said, print designers don’t really need this application.

29. OnTheJob

performs just one task and that’s tracking your time. One task, but it does a great job of it. You can work and then take a break letting OnTheJob’s idle time checker stop the timer. Checking its status is as easy as looking at the dock badge and after finishing it can even create a simple invoice if needed.

30. iBiz

is a very powerful invoicing and time-billing application. Unlike the past two, it has a ton of features, letting you have all the information you need. Add to that advanced networking as well as iCal and Address Book integration and iBiz is something a freelancer who wants to track his income really needs.

31. Serverskine

is a godsend for web developers and designers. If you know the feeling of trying to look for a clients hosting account password, you’ll love this application. Track server, domain hosting information – all for free!

32. Devonthink

is a database application. You can store any kind of document in it. From text and images to MP3s, keep track of all your data in what every way you see fit. Organize, reorganize. Are other organization applications chaotic? Make your own.

33. Skype

is the most popular VoIP client out there. Although recently they did have a problem or two, Skype remains a key communication tool for a lot of companies. Low prices make it a great option for freelancers who work with international clients.

34. Ecto

is a desktop blogging application that works with most weblog systems. From Blogger to WordPress and beyond. Its interface makes it a good tool for freelancers who like to blog between productive sessions of procrastination.

35. Spanning Sync

will be a great companion if you use Google Calendar. This application let’s you do the impossible – synchronize Google Calendar and Apple iCal. Finally.

What about you? What’s your favorite little Mac application that makes your freelance career that much easier?