Here’s a list of the MacOS Apps I use regularly and depend on. Over the last couple of years, I’ve shifted some of my tools because I now require that apps that do things that I might want to also do on IOS (or access their data on IOS) both have an IOS App and sync the data. If you can’t do that, you can’t fit into my workflows any more.

The more seamless this inter-device and inter-platform experience is, the happier I am (and data reliability is a given, not a feature).

Notable here is how few Apple apps I’m using: I’m back on (at least for now) because of compatibility issues with my work email server, but I’d prefer to be using Airmail again. I also had to go back to Apple’s Calendar from Fantastical (although it works fine on IOS for some reason). I use FullContact instead of Contacts. I use Microsoft Office and not Apple’s tools, and Google’s back-end for gmail, calendar, etc instead of iCloud. I’m kind of seeing a trend here.

On the other hand, their audio and video editing tools are wonderful. Hope this list helps and you find one or two you decide to try out and adopt.

Core Apps

  • Adobe Lightroom Classic: I do about 99% of my photo processing and management in Lightroom, now called Classic; I use the older desktop-oriented version, not the newer mobile-oriented one, at least for now. One of my goals for 2018 in photography is to take a closer look at alternatives (especially Luminar 2018 once it’s DAM system is shipped). You can read more on my thoughts if you wish.
  • Audio Hijack: Whenever I have to record audio for a podcast or any other content, I use this to do it. Extremely configurable and powerful without being complicated.
  • Final Cut Pro: as I teach myself video editing, I continue to be both in awe of how it enables me to do great video, and scared at the learning curve I’m continuing to expose in front of me.
  • Logic Pro: What I just said about Final Cut, ditto for Logic and audio editing.
  • Mail: Yup, I’m back with Apple’s mail app, and it’s okay. Why? My old mail app (Airmail) wouldn’t play well with my new work mail server and I wanted to live in one set of apps again.
  • Microsoft Excel: Yes, I’m a person who uses and likes Office 365. And that includes Word.
  • Microsoft Word: Yup, Word. It works for me, although almost all of my writing today is in Markdown in Ulysses or Scrivener, but when I need formatting or a format that others can grapple with, I still use Word.
  • Mindnode: I’ve used various mind map tools over the years, and this is my favorite and the one I use these days. I use Mind maps when I’m trying to figure out all of the various pieces of a project and how to organize them, and it helps me figure out the structure and complexity of a thing I’m trying to figure out which doesn’t yet exist.
  • Scrivener: My preferred tool for complex long form writing like novels where you have multiple docs that all interrelate.
  • Todoist: I have gone through so many to do lists over the years, but I like (and use, and depend on) Todoist. It thinks like I do, with one or two minor disagreements.
  • Tweetbot: My go to twitter app.
  • Ulysses: Where I do most of my shorter form, independent writing, including all of my blogging, and my note taking and some of my planning. It got me serious about markdown, and now I think “why did I wait so long?” About that, and it just lets me write and stays out of my way, and I love that.

Other useful apps

  • Adobe Photoshop: Which I find I’m using less and less, effectively never for photography, and almost everything I do in it today is massaging graphics for web use.
  • Fotomagico 5: I’ve tried a bunch of ways to build image slideshows for the web, and this is the one I finally decided I liked.
  • FullContact: Apple’s contacts app is pretty weak, but it’s been hard to find one I really like.
  • Izotope RX6: Audio processing tools for Logic (and Audio Hijack) that are really awesome and make me sound almost competent at this stuff.
  • MAMP: Basically a LAMP stack on a Mac, it’s a single click install and you’re up with a web server, a Mysql system and a folder to stuff files into. I use it for sandboxing test versions of WordPress when I’m building web sites.
  • Microsoft Powerpoint: Because that’s basically what work standard is, although honestly, it’s gotten better and Keynote has regressed and doesn’t feel better to me any more.
  • Omnigraffle: The Mac Visio app. Whenever I need to build documents that show how stuff is organized, this is what I use.
  • Reeder: RSS still exists, sort of, and this is how I read my sites in RSS.
  • Slack: And when I get going in chats with other people, increasingly it’s in Slack rooms.
  • Transmit: When I need to transfer files to/from my web hosting systems, this is the tool.
  • Vuescan: I’ve been doing a number of projects that involve scanning in a lot of photos and other content, and if you need to do that, please don’t use the apps that come with the scanner. They all suck. So use this, and you won’t regret it.


  • 1Blocker: My ad blocking tool of choice right now
  • 1Password: because strong passwords matter, and managing them requires something that makes it as simple as possible. I depend on this one a lot
  • Backblaze: I care about data loss, not that I’ve ever lost data to a disk crash, because I’m not stupid. Nope. Not me. Especially not on deadline. But I do take backups really seriously, and offsite backups are a big part of that, because I no longer have to make copies of data and store it in a bank vault (and remember to update the disks. Or use disks). And Backblaze is the tool I use, and the best compliment I can give it: I never have to think about it.
  • Bartender 3: Every tool on the Mac seems to want to attach itself to my menubar these days. Bartender is how I keep that under control, because it allows me to choose which to show, which to hide, and when to let them tell me they want my attention. It’s a godsend.
  • Bbedit: My text editor of choice for, oh, 15 years? Longer? And I’ve never considered switching away.
  • Carrot Weather: good data with an attitude. I love it.
  • Display Menu: This is the menu bar app for controlling your monitor screen sizes that Apple should have written, but didn’t.
  • Istat Menus: I use this to keep an eye on what’s going on with the system. A very nice, clean but tight set of graphics to help me see the computer state.
  • Screenflow: What I said about audiohijack is what I think about Screenflow, except it’s for capturing what you’re doing on your screen as well as computer audio. Imagine showing what you’re doing in Lightroom while processing images without it.
  • Soundsource: Need to control the sound on your Mac? Of course you do. The menubar tool Apple ships is pretty weak. This is the tool that they should have written (and should buy and use instead)
  • Superduper: I care about data loss, and… (include the rest of my backup speech here). While I use Time Machine to do incremental backups, I use Superduper to copy data around so I always have a current bootable copy of my boot disk, just in case, because it’s a lot easier than trying to restore an entire lost disk from Time Machine.
  • TextExpander: I’ve started using TextExpander again for handing text expansion snippets for things like email addresses and phone numbers. The reason I shifted back to it after using other tools for a while is simple: I can define these snippets once and they sync out to all my computers without having to think about it.