Most people out there have probably never bought any software for their Mac. If anything they might have gotten their hands on the Microsoft Office Suite and that’s it. We’re so used to free apps from Google, Facebook or any other web-service, so why should we pay for software?
You’re Mac is a great machine, no doubt about it, and a lot of software comes with it so you can get along pretty well. But isn’t it actually a great thing that you can customize your Mac to supercharge your productivity and skills.
The following list is my personal collection of tools / software that I put on my Mac immediately after a fresh install. The list is ordered by importance to me; without the first items I basically can’t work properly.
1Password – Password Manager
If you’ve survived till now without a password manager, two things are possible: Either you are a genius at remembering crazy long passwords which differ for each and every service you use – or you don’t care about your data/privacy at all.
Please do care about your data on the web – the threat is real. If you wan’t to check if one of your passwords was compromised in a data breach check this service – if you don’t feel comfortable entering your Email just take a look at their list of reported breaches. Have you used Dropbox for example?
How does 1Password help? They do a very good job explaining that themselves, just head over there and let them convince you.
Alfred – Productivity App
Alfred is a productivity tool that most noticeably replaces the Mac spotlight bar (the hovering search bar you can invoke by CMD + SPACE). I won’t describe all the features here as there are almost endless.
My most used feature by Alfred is the “Clipboard History” which is one of the pro features and becomes available once you buy the so called “powerpack”.
The feature provides you with an ever updating list of all the text snippets and even images you have copied into the macs built-in clipboard in the last 24h.
This is what the feature looks like in action:
Really try this feature – it will save you a ton of time!
Ulysses – Writing App
Ulysses is my most favourite text editor based on markdown. It’s also available on iOS, syncs across the devices – has export options directly into WordPress & Medium and has become totally indispensably for me.
Looking for a cheaper alternative? Try Byword
Coda – Text Editor
If you ever come across html/css files that you quickly want or even do some serious coding you might look for a lightweight but powerful text editor. My choice always has been Coda by the great developers of Panic.
Looking for a free alternative? Try Atom
Fantastical – Calendar App
Fantastical is a great calendar app – I use it mostly to quickly lookup the calendar from the status bar. Another great feature is the possibility of entering your appointments by natural language input. (Also available on iOS)
Next Meeting – Productivity App
Displays the title of your next upcoming meeting and the time remaining in the macs menu bar.
Magnet – Productivity App
Magnet is a really simple window management tool. Just drag your window to the top of the screen and it will resize to full size. Drag the window to the left side of the screen and it will resize to exactly half of the available space on the screen. It’s really cheap – just try it out!
Bartender – Productivity App
This is what my mac’s menu bar would look like without Bartender:
This is what it looks like when Bartender is activated:
Basically the app cleans up the menu bar on your mac.
Amphetamine – Productivity App
Your Mac goes to sleep after a few minutes of not interacting with it. Sometimes this behaviour is a bit annoying – let’s say when you sit in a meeting and aren’t doing anything with the mac for a while but still want to get back to work without having to enter your password. That’s where Amphetamine comes in. Just click the little guy in the mac menu bar, select a time span and your all set. After the time has passed your mac will go back to your normal “sleeping schedule”.
Pixelmator or Affinity Photo – Photo Editing
Both applications are great alternatives for the industry standard Photoshop. They are way cheaper but provide a ton of features – so if you are not a professional graphic designer each of those options work great!
LiceCap – Productivity App
LiceCap is one of my new favourites. It allows you to quickly record screencasts that are saved as gifs. I used this little gem to produce the gif you see above where I write about the Alfred App.
Tripmode – Productivity App
Tripmode is a really nice piece of software, if you ever use your internet hotspot feature on your phone.
The problem: Your mac thinks it’s connected to a normal wifi and will allow all apps to connect to the internet. If e.g. a backup service is running your mobile data plan is going to be depleted very quickly.
The solution: Tripmode, it will automatically turn on once you’re connected through your mobile phone and only allow selected apps (that you can customise) to use the internet. This will prevent background services to use up all your precious mobile data.