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Some of Our Favorite Mac Apps

favorite Mac apps

I recently told you about some major changes that are happening on our site, one of the biggest being our expanded coverage of all iDevices and Mac / Apple products.  As part of kicking off that expanded coverage, we thought we’d share some of our team’s favorite Mac apps.

Hit the jump to see our picks, divided by writer name …



Things:  My most essential app across the MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad.  Without it, I’d be the proverbial chicken lacking in the head area.  Such a beautiful UI that it makes me want to create and accomplish more tasks every day (well, most days anyway).

VMware Fusion: I’ve narrowed my number of needed Windows apps down to just one, but it’s an absolute essential for me, and VMware Fusion does a superb job of letting me run Windows without Boot Camp and dual booting. 

Evernote:  Another one that I use across the MBP and both my iDevices.   My joint favorite note-taking app, along with Simplenote.  I prefer Simplenote for writing on the iPad and iPhone, but Evernote for storage of notes on everything under the sun. 

Transmit:  easily my favorite FTP app I’ve used on any platform. 

Skitch:  Superb screen capture and image sharing app.  I don’t use the sharing features very often, but the screen capture and basic image editing functions get used every day.

Tweetie for Mac: My favorite Mac Twitter client since the first day it came out (and I’ve tried out a fair few).  Wondering whether / when we may see it get the official Twitter app treatment.

I don’t know how on earth I forgot 1Password and Dropbox – two superb apps that I use on my Mac and across all devices.  Seeing them mentioned by others reminded me luckily.



Indispensible for me are 1Password (I don’t know how I lived without it) that enables me to store logins, passwords but also codes for my bank cards etc. Indispensible!

Then I have to give some love to Transmit for a really cool way to upload/download files from servers.

OmniDiskSweeper is a little known but useful app that lets you see which files are taking up space on your HD.

AppZapper kills unwanted apps with their preferences files.

CandyBar is the gateway to cooler system and application icons.

Mactracker which records detailed info on all macs made.

Mailings for email newsletters

Goldberg for quick resizing of pics.

Keyboard Cleaner provides for an easy way to clean your physical keyboard.

And last but not least Onyx which cleans and maintains my system.


Brandon S. :


Agree with VMWare Fusion and I’ll also give a nod to Parallels. Both are great and I switch out between them quite often. No real reason why – I just happen to own them both and have some VMs in Fusion others I built in Parallels.

Tweetie for Mac is another given. I’ve yet to find another twitter client I like more… but I haven’t looked very hard.

Evernote is a requirement. It’s on my Mac, my iPad, my iPhone and on my work PC. Honestly the best program I’ve ever invested money in – EVER. The only app that comes close (and maybe might win the fight) is 1Password, which is another "first thing I install" app.

Things is another go to app across my devices. I love the interface, and frankly once you’ve invested in it, spending the money on something else could get you killed by the spouse.

Safari however is by far my most used app. Why? Google Reader. I’ve yet to find a native client that is as fast as just using the site straight up, and with nearly 400 feeds fast is important.

MarsEdit is a go to for writing on the site. Frankly I’m just too lazy to fire up a virtual machine just to post.

Easy Batch Photo is another favorite for posting. I take pictures with an iPhone 4 or a DSL. At well over 2000 pixels per image, resizing is a fact of life.

Air Video Server – Got WMV, AVI or whatever else on your hard drive and want to stream them to an iPad or an iPhone? Air Video is worth its weight in gold.

Calibre – The best app on the planet for taking one ebook format and getting it into another format. Must have if you love books.

iStat Menus 3 – Wanna know what you’re Mac is up to? CPU, Memory, Hard Drive… its all there in your menu bar in real time. Love, love, love this app.

Handbrake – Because I bought the dammed movie, I should be able to watch it how and when I want!

Um… there’s more I use but those are my favorites and my can’t do without list.



Definitely VMWare Fusion – it’s a two-for-one deal.

My default Twitter client is TweetDeck. I also use the iPhone edition and just recently expanded my repertoire to include an iPad (though I haven’t tried TweetDeck out on it yet). For me the power of TweetDeck is having multiple accounts and even Facebook integrated into a single client.

I agree with Handbrake – a very useful tool for capturing video clips (useful in my job).

Although I like Evernote, the cross-platform use and file-sharing of Dropbox has saved my and my colleagues’ ass more than once: we are able to sync and collaborate on a single file from multiple locations.

Although they aren’t apps, there are two add-ons that I find extremely worthy of mentioning – especially if you’re accustomed to the Windows environment: Blazing Tools’ Right Zoom for Mac, and Start Menu for Mac. Respectively, these freebies make the green (+) a "maximize window" equivalent, and an Apple shaped dock shortcut to your Applications (similar to the All Programs menu in the Start button).

Of course, because of the work I do as a presenter, PowerPoint and Keynote (even better), are daily software clients I use.



Fluid SSB: I use this to run web apps like Teux Deux and Gmail. Hella useful and elegant and even allows you to customize the icon on the dock.

Launchbar: Really quite expensive, but I don’t regret the purchase for a moment. Launchbar helps me get to all of my apps, songs, documents — anything that’s on my computer — with just a few quick keystrokes. I can copy files and move files (something that Finder is unable to do on its own) and even navigate my iTunes and iPhoto library all from the keyboard and from within any app. It’s probably like a more powerful, but less visual version of Cockpit.

GimmeSomeTune: Got this one from Brandon S, I believe. Great and free little utility for helping show lyrics and for providing alternate controls for iTunes.

WriteRoom: this one has become my go-to app for when I really want to hunker down and write something without distractions. The whole screen goes black and all I see is my text and a blinking cursor. I use this in conjunction with a utility called QuickCursor, which lets me write text within WriteRoom and then throw that text into whatever text box i had selected — be it a text box within a web page, an IM client, or my Mail app — anything goes with QuickCursor.

Pixelmator: I’m still on the fence about this one, but I did purchase it because it was so much cheaper than Photoshop and I wanted something basic to play with. Pixelmator is more powerful than I can imagine, but I don’t really have a big imagination when it comes to visual design (working on it, though!). However, it also has plenty of bugs that make me want to tear my hair out, so I’d suggest this only for amateurs like myself who are looking to dabble with pushing pixels around.

Notational Velocity: I use this great, free text editor to sync with my Simplenote account. It’s very fast, saves all of my text as I change it, and can work entirely off of the keyboard. I wrote about the app a little more here: http://isource.com/iphone-software/simplenote-and-evernote-in-a-rather-large-nutshell-iphone-applications

Bowtie: useful for tying into the Bowtie iPhone app so that you can pause, play, or skip your iPod right from your Mac.

System Pref Plugins:

Perian – free; makes QuickTime compatible with more codecs

UnPlugged – dings me with a Growl pop-up every time I lose x amount of battery

Startup Sound – removes the DINGGGGG startup sound of the Mac

Pastebot Sync – for use with the incredible Pastebot app; could not live without this



CoRD – Remote Desktop to Windows machines

Office – Entourage… womp

Marsedit – blog editing

Appfresh – keeps apps up to date

Netnewswire (my favorite)- rss reader that syncs with google reader

Carbon Copy Cloner– free backup tool

Appzapper – removes pesky plist and other files associated with

Vmware fusion – virtualization

VLC – media playback



Apart from the already mentioned Things, iStat Menus, Safari, Air
Video Server
and Pastebot, I’d say:

I’d be dead without the trio Simplenote + Notational Velocity +
Writeroom, I use these three apps to write posts and it’s awesome.
Notational Velocity is the perfect note-taker for the Mac – auto
saves, minimalist, etc. Simplenote updates my notes across all devices
I own. Writeroom gives me a distraction-free place to write and be

Ecoute: minimalist music player. You don’t have to have iTunes opened
to use it and it saves me some Ram (and some mental sanity). It’s
great but it lacks a remote controller app like bowtie (or iTunes
itself). It also correctly updates my lastfm account.

Lastfm: in Italy (and Europe) we can’t use Pandora, so I spend 3€ per
month and I get unlimited free music based on my tastes. There’s also
an app to get a nice chart that shows how your tastes have changed
through the years, but I can’t recall it’s name.

Awaken: the (almost) perfect alarm clock app. Not much to say here, it
does a great job without flaws. I love to wake up listening to Arcade
Fire’s The Suburbs.

Caffeine: It seems nobody mentioned it (sorry if wrong). It’s a great
app that, if pressed, prevents the display to turn off. (I think my
english skills died in this period)

Dropbox: to sync certain files across my computers and devices

Backblaze: greates offsite backup app ever. I pay 5 bucks a month to
have unlimited backup of my main computer. Since I installed it and
set it up I have totally forgotten it: it works flawlessy in the
background. And yes, data loss happened to me and I was able to
recover it with this app/service.

Divvy: to resize windows with shortcuts without having to click the
bottom-right angle.

Movist: minimalist and polished VLC replacement.

How ‘Bout You?

So those are some of our favorite / essential Mac apps.  How about you all – what are some of yours?

Continue reading:


  • Rob

    I'm stunned that none of you use Quicksilver, it may not be an 'APP' as such but it's absolutely essential 🙂

    • Tried QuickSilver, but I like Launchbar more.

  • Rod

    Cinch for resizing my windows…to full screen or 1/2 screen. Its easy…its a cinch.
    And Chronosync for syncing my files on my USB drive.

  • patrickj

    Ah Chrome – I forgot to mention that one. Definitely my favorite browser.