Ever since I wrote about my favorite iPhone apps (that one is in German) people asked me to write about my favorite Mac OS X apps. In this post now, part one, I will talk about tools and general purpose apps. Part two is going to be about development and design applications and will hopefully be online later this week.
Please note that all links to the Mac App Store are affiliate links. That means that, if you decide to buy one app, I will get 4% of the price. The price will, of course, stay the same for you. Since I currently do not have any kind of ads on Web Adventures, this will hopefully help me to pay for the domain and hosting. Links to apps that are not available in the Mac App Store are not affiliate links.
is the presentation software from Apple. I find it way more intuitive than PowerPoint or the presentation app from OpenOffice/LibreOffice. It costs €15,99 at the Mac App Store
Since most text documents I produce are either HTML, Markdown or LaTeX I use Pages
not very often. However, when I have to use a word processor I, again, prefer Apples Pages over Word and OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Just like Keynote, Pages is €15,99 at the Mac App Store
As far as I know Numbers
is not as powerful as Excel, but it is also a lot cheaper and easier to use and since I do not need to use spreadsheets very often I prefer easy and cheaper over powerful and expensive. Again, €15,99 at the Mac App Store
In contrast to word processing and spreadsheets I do use a calculator very often, therefore I prefer expensive and powerful over easy and cheap. But the good thing is that Soulver
is also easy to use. You can buy Soulver for €9,99 from the Mac App Store
One of the most annoying things on a Mac is creating a new event. Even if you can navigate through the form with your keyword, it involves hundreds of presses of Tab. Fantastical has a one smart input field. For example, you can type “Tomorrow lunch with Daniela at Schwabl” and Fantastical fills out the fields for you. It also creates a monthly calendar for you and a list with your next appointments. The great thing about Fantastical is that uses the same calendar that iCal uses. Therefore you are able to use Fantastical alongside iCal and also everything else (e.g., iCloud or Google Calendar syncing) will work. Currently you can get it from the Mac App Store
for €7,99 (50% discount) and its totally worth it.
Sonora is a music player app. It is not an alternative or replacement for iTunes, it is only a music player. You can’t sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod with it, you can’t play movies or download apps. It plays music and it is much better at playing music than iTunes since it does not contain all the crap that is not required to play music. Also: the interface is really beautiful. Sonora costs €7,99 at the Mac App Store
I think by now everyone should have heard of Spotify. Spotify is a music streaming service, where you pay 5 or 10 euros a month (if you choose to use it for free then you have to listen to advertisements) and can listen to as much music as you like. The OS X app from Spotify is ok, but often a pain in the ass. In my opinion the problem is that Spotify is mainly built like a desktop music player app, but since it provides access to an “unlimited” amount of music this does not work very good. However, Spotify still is a great web service and there it is no alternative to the OS X app. The app itself is free and there is also a free iPhone/iPad app
Remoteless for Spotify
Apple offers an Remote
app to remote control iTunes on your Mac from your iPhone. Remoteless does the same thing for the Spotify OS X app. The interface is ugly, but it works. You need to install the Remoteless Helper
app on your Mac and then download Remoteless for Spotify
from the App Store. The iPhone app costs €2,39, but the Mac app is free.
For some time now my speakers have been connected to my AirPort Express
instead of my MacBook Pro. iTunes has the ability to stream to AirPort, but Spotify and Sonora do not (I think that changes with OS X 10.7 Mountain Lion). AirFoil allows you to stream the audio output of any app to one or more AirPort speakers. Airfoil costs $25 and is available at Rogue Amoeba
Bowtie is a small app that allows you to display information, about the music you are currently listening to, on your desktop. Additionally you are able to control music playback using Bowtie. Supported music players are iTunes, Spotify, Sonora and Rdio and there are hundreds of different themes available to customize the appearance. Bowtie
Fluid is a tool that takes the URL of a website and generates an app. If your favorite web app does not have a native Mac app, this is a great way to improve the user experience of web apps. You are also able to enhance the user experience by applying user scripts. Fluid is available at the Mac App Store
One of the big problems of using a Gmail email address in Apples Mail.app is that some of the great features from Gmail are not available in Mail. I think the label concept is a lot better than folders, since it allows messages to have multiple labels instead of being in just one folder. Sparrow is a native interface for Gmail and it is functional and beautiful. I now use Sparrow for non Gmail addresses too. Sparrow costs €7,99 in the Mac App Store
. There is also a free and ad-supported version called Sparrow Lite
. Sparrow was bought by Google and will no longer be developed. You probably should not by it anymore.
If you are on Twitter (or Facebook) you know that it is often very time consuming. Whenever you want to share something but don’t want to be distracted by the stuff other people write, you should use TwitMax
. It is great and free.
Reeder improved my experience of reading feeds by 100%. Just like Apple did with Lion (and Mountain Lion), Reeder incorporated concepts from iPhone and iPad into the OS X application. Reeder costs €3,99 in the Mac App Store
Evernote is probably the single most important web service I am using. I use it to write down notes in lectures, I plan projects in it, I use it to collect knowledge, inspiration and stuff I want to buy. The Evernote app for OS X is free and available in the Mac App Store
Last winter I won a free for life account from Bitcasa. That is great since Bitcasa offers unlimited storage. Unlinke Dropbox or similar services which synchronize files between computers, Bitcasa lets you stream your files. Currently the service is in its beta phase, afterwards it will cost $10 per month. You can download Bitcasa from the Bitcasa
Droplr is another great web service. Basically it is a small app that sits in your menu bar and you are able to drag files and links on it to share them with your friends. There is also a shortcut for taking and instantly uploading a screenshot. Droplr is free and available from the Mac App Store
I have to admit, I suck at getting things done. Thankfully Things helps me with that. You can use it completely with your keyboard, without ever having to touch your mouse or trackpad, it looks great and it is fucking expensive. However, Things is a lot more than most common ToDo list apps, but nevertheless you probably have to be a total GTD nerd to spend €39,99 on a ToDo list app. You can buy and download it in the Mac App Store
Yoink is a small app that sits in the background and only becomes active when you start dragging files. In that case Yoink will popup either at the side or below your mouse pointer and you are able to drop the files in it. Later you can drag these files to whatever app or folder you want. This is especially helpful when you work with multiple spaces or fullscreen apps. Yoink costs €2,39 in the Mac App Store
BetterTouchTool lets you define more gestures for your Trackpad, Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse than the OS X operating system. You can also define specific gestures for specific apps. BetterTouchTool
BetterSnapTool allows you define keyboard shortcuts to move a window to a specific size and position. You can also drag a window into a snap area in order to resize the window to a specific size. However, I don’t use this feature, I have only activated keyboard shortcuts. It costs €1,59 in the Mac App Store
. Below are my current settings.
Divvy is very similar to BetterSnapTool. However, if you activate it you get a customizable grid that allows you to exactly position and resize the current window. If you are a window management nerd like me you have to have this app. Divvy costs €10,99 in the Mac App Store
When Evernote is the most important web service for me, than Alfred is the most import local application for me. It allows you to open applications, navigate through your file system and execute commands using your keyboard. Alfred is extremely customizable. The basic version is free and available from the Mac App Store
, the Powerpack
with additional features costs €15.
If you have a large amount of files you want to rename, you probably want to use Renamer. You can create filters, save them as presets and reuse them later. Renamer costs €15,99 in the Mac App Store
Another super useful app. You can define shortcuts and as soon as you press the trigger (for example, Tab) it gets expanded. For example, “bw” becomes “Best Wishes” and so on. TextExpander is available from Smile
Good passwords should be 15 characters or longer, a random mixture of characters, number and special symbols, lowercase and uppercase, no part of it should be in a dictionary, there should be no obvious replacements (like 3 instead of e) and, of course, you should only use each password for one service. Because it is impossible to remember hundreds of such passwords you need a tool like 1Password. You only remember your master password, which you use to unlock 1Password and 1Passwords fills out the login form for you. There are also apps for Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android. Dropbox can be used to synchronize your passwords between those devices. 1Password for OS X costs €27,99 in the Mac App Store
I am obsessed with keeping my desktop, my dock and my menu bar clean. However, there are some applications that display a menu bar item but offer no possibility to hide it. For example, Dropbox is an extremely useful service, but I don’t need to know the status of the application every single second of the day. Broomstick allows you to remove applications from the menu bar. Broomstick is free and can be downloaded from Zibity
Did you have ever read an article and suddenly the screen of your MacBook got darker? You have to move your hand to the mouse or Trackpad to brighten the screen again. Caffeine is a small tool that lets you define that the screen should not darken for X minutes. You can download it for free in the Mac App Store
Growl provides notifications for OS X and it is currently kind of a default application. Nearly every other application supports Growl. I don’t know how useful it will be after Apple introduces its own Notification Center in OS X 10.7 Mountain Lion, but for the last five years it has been incredible useful. Growl costs €1,59 in the Mac App Store
Although uninstalling apps is much easier and painless on OS X than on Windows, most apps leave some traces on your system even after you deleted the app. AppCleaner removes these nasty files for you. It is free and available at FreeMacSoft
LittleSnitch is a firewall for Mac OS X. However, it is focused on privacy instead of security. For example, you can use LittleSnitch to forbid an application to send usage statistics to Google Analytics. You can also use LittleSnitch to monitor your network connections. Little Snitch costs €29,95 and is available from Objective Development
That’s it. Hopefully the list contains some applications that are useful to you. I would appreciate it if you would tell me in the comments if you decided to buy one of the apps mentioned in this article. If you have any suggestions of apps that I should try out, feel free to post them also in the comments.