My Favorite Mac Apps

What makes Macs great for me mainly is the rich and deep ecosystem of third-party apps that are beautiful and functional.

In this post I am going to share the list of apps I use on my Mac computers. Some of these are also available for Windows.

Most of the following are in Setapp, a subscription service for Mac and iOS software which I highly recommend.

Table of Contents

1Password

The best password manager for Mac there is. Ok granted, I have not tested Dashlane. But I do not like what I feel is aggressive marketing esp. in YouTube by Dashlane.

1Password is classy, established and just works.

I also use Bitwarden for temporary non-important logins.

AdGuard

Thanks to AdGuard and a few browser extensions like uBlock Origin, I do not see ads anywhere on my computer.

Alfred

Spotlight on steriods.

Press ⌘ and Space together, type what you want to search in Google and hit return. I use Alfred at least 100 times a day.

I’ve set it to index my Chrome bookmarks so I can get to them even Chrome is not the active app. Bring up Alfred, start typing the name of the webpage you have bookmarked and as the search results get filtered, hit enter.

We can also create quick custom searches like how I shared here.

There are a ton of workflows for it. Atm though, I don’t use any.

Bartender

If you are a power user like me, soon you will run out of space in your menu bar.

Just install Bartender and it collapses everything into …

Go to its preferences and drag the icons you always want to see so it is more manageable.

BetterTouchTool

Safari is not my main browser but when I use it, BetterTouchTool makes life a tad easier. Shared an export file of my BTT config here.

Biscuit

Biscuit is a free Electron-based browser where you can add webpages (called apps) into groups in a vertical sidebar. Inactive apps hibernate automatically.

I use this for accessing sites that should always be open and accessible.

The shortcut for app switcher is ⌘ + O.

There are currently a couple of bugs in this software. I brought them to the attention of the dev. If they don’t get fixed, I may replace it with Vivaldi.

CleanMyMac X

CleanMyMac X is like the maintenance guy for my Macs.

I use CMM to uninstall apps, update apps, delete trash, get a visual comparison of folders and files and to locate and remove large files.

CleanShot X

Move aside SnagIt, there is now a leaner and cleaner app for screenshots called CleanShot X.

ClearVPN

I used to use WindScribe but recently tried ClearVPN and like how switching to a US IP is just a single click away once the app is launched.

I use the VPN service only to check websites when I change the DNS. Many a time browsers/ISP continue to render as if the website is being served from the previous host. Start ClearVPN, click a button, reload the site and am back in business.

ColorSlurp

Just a simple free app to copy hex codes. I have been using ColorSlurp from before subscribing to Setapp. If not, I would probably be using Sip.

Dash

Dash is a must-have tool for anyone that writes custom code or builds websites.

We can download docsets for various programming languages and have a handy reference that is quicker than googling.

Let’s say I see pre_get_posts somewhere and I want to learn more about it, I either double click that word and click Dash icon from PopClip’s menu to send it to Dash or the Alt key to send it to LaunchBar and press d and return to send it to Dash.

Default Folder X

With file open/browse dialog open, move the cursor to the right side and Default Folder X will show the current open Finder location so we can click to jump to it. Also lets us add frequently accessed locations via the built-in Favorites.

Downie

Downie lets me download videos – even the ones that are behind logins, thanks to its user-guided extraction feature.

Droplr

⌥ + Shift + 4, select the area and Droplr uploads it to the cloud and puts the link in my clipboard, ready to be pasted.

CleanShot X has a cloud feature as well but it needs a separate paid subscription. Droplr is unlimited for a one-time (at least when I bought it in 2018) payment.

Espanso

I was using TextExpander (the stand-alone v5) before switching to espanso.

I prefer the text-based configuration of setting up the abbreviations or triggers plus espanso is faster.

To type WordPress which I often do several times a day, I just type wp and the backtick key.

A few examples:

wp` → WordPress
ttul` → Talk to you later.
afaik → as far as I know

Focus

Set a time and Focus will automatically block distracting social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube during that time period. The only way to get productive work done for me.

Gestimer

“Honey, turn off the cooker after 5 minutes”

No problem. Just drag Gestimer‘s menu icon down until you see 5 min and release it. It creates a Reminder and notifies me when the time is up. Simple and satisfying.

Google Chrome

I tried Safari, Firefox (regular and dev), Brave and Vivaldi each for a month and went back to Chrome.

Chrome feels the fastest, simplest and lightest – especially the UI.

I use these extensions:

Hook

Hook lets you connect files to other files, files to folders, files to webpages, folders to webpages etc. It is an excellent app that deserves to be more popular imo.

Keyboard shortcut: ⌘⇧Space.

HyperDock

HyperDock shows previews of all the windows of an app when the dock icon is hovered. Clicking on the thumbnail switches to that window.

ImageOptim

Every image that I upload to WordPress sites get compressed using Google Guetzli algorithm via ImageOptim.

Keysmith

Thanks to Keysmith, I simply press ⌘I to begin inspecting webpage elements in Chrome and ⌘E to export an image in Photoshop. Much easier to remember than the default shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts:

To begin recording: ⌥ ⌘ R
Activate quick launcher: ⌥ ⌘ ␣

While not as powerful as Keyboard Maestro, this does the job for me.

LaunchBar

This used to be my primary launcher (⌘ + Space) but has become secondary (⌥ + Space) simply because Alfred is lightning fast.

But LaunchBar has a super power – Instant Send.

Select any item – text or file or folder or whatever, press a key, ⌥ in my case and the item gets sent to LaunchBar ready to further pass it to other apps or custom searches. Incredibly powerful.

Ex.: Let’s say I want to share an optimized version of an image whose URL is on a webpage as text with someone. Here’s my workflow:

  1. Select the image URL text
  2. Press ⌥ and now the URL text is in LaunchBar
  3. Hit Return to visit the image in my browser
  4. ⌘ + S to save it to Downloads folder
  5. ⌃ + z to bring up Trickster. Press down arrow to select the file
  6. Press ⌥ and now the image is in LaunchBar
  7. Press Tab and being type i m and when ImageOptim appears in the list, hit return
  8. Press up/down arrow if needed to select the optimized image in ImageOptim or in Trickster
  9. Press ⌥ to send it to LaunchBar
  10. being typing d r o and when Droplr appears in the list, hit return

These may look like a number of steps but is actually pretty fast to do compared to using a mouse.

Local

For developing WordPress sites on my localhost.

If Local did not exist, I would be using Laravel Valet.

NotePlan

NotePlan is where I record everything in my life – from code snippets to finances to properties to daily notes.

Fast, well-thought-out, Markdown-friendly, bidirectional linking, actively developed and keyboard-friendly.

I’ve set the global search key as F4 and CloudKit as the sync method.

Additionally, my notes folder gets backed up to pCloud.

Keyboard Shortcuts

ShortcutWhat it does
⌘DMark task as Done
⌘JCommand Bar
⌃⌘JGlobal Command Bar (changed to F4)
⌘/Toggle Folding (Heading)
⌃⌘/Collapse All Headings
⌘0Move Task to Today
⌘1Move Task to Tomorrow
⌃⌘↑Move Line(s) Up
⌃⌘↓Move Line(s) Down
⌘TShow Today’s Note
⌘YShow Yesterday’s Note
⌘⇧TShow Tomorrow’s Note
⌘[Go back to recently opened note
⌘]Go forward to recently opened note
⌘⌥←Show Previous Note
⌘⌥→Show Next Note
⌘NNew File
⌘⇧NNew Folder
⌘RCancel Task
⌘ECreate Event
⌘⇧ECreate Reminder

Muzzle

Muzzle (check out the website, it is hilarious!) automatically turns on Do Not Disturb i.e., stops notifications during Zoom screen sharing.

Paste

There are a number of apps for managing and quickly accessing clipboard contents but none prettier than Paste.

Press ⌘⇧V to have the Paste bar slide up from the bottom.

The most recent clipboard item is focused so we can just hit return to paste it.

To paste the last but one item, ⌘+2 and so on.

I like the fact that it shows the color for hexadecimal color codes.

pCloud Drive

2 TB of space on my computer without actually taking up any space for a one-time price? Get outta here.

pCloud is where I archive files to so there’s plenty of space on my Mac’s disk.

PixelSnap

PixelSnap enables me to quickly measure the dimensions/distances in pixels using crosshairs that snap to text and images.

PopClip

This is a fantastic mini bar that appears when any text is selected.

After that, searching that text in Google or sending to LaunchBar or Dash etc. is just a click away. It has a large number of extensions for various actions like sending to Notes, formatting the text in Title Case.

Rectangle

Rectangle is a free app that enables me to resize and position windows to left half, right half etc.

There are a number of apps for this like Moom, Magnet. Rectangle works just fine for my needs.

ScreenFlow

ScreenFlow is the most complete screencasting software for Mac and I have been subscribing to it for several years now.

I am going to see if I can replace it with Screenium.

Setapp

Setapp is a software subscription service for Mac.

These are the apps I actively use from Setapp:

  • AdGuard
  • Bartender
  • BetterTouchTool
  • CleanMyMac X
  • CleanShot X
  • ClearVPN
  • Dash
  • Default Folder X
  • Downie
  • Focus
  • Keysmith
  • NotePlan
  • Paste
  • PixelSnap
  • Tape
  • TextSniper
  • Timing
  • Time Out
  • Trickster
  • Unclutter
  • Yoink

Soulver

Soulver helps me figure out the percentage off and other calculations by letting me type in natural language.

I may switch to Numi when Soulver releases their next paid upgrade since Numi is in Setapp.

SourceTree

SourceTree is a free Git client that I use for collaborating with my dev partners on Oxy Toolbox and OxyExtras.

Spark

I have a few requirements for an email client:

  1. Supports Gmail keyboard shortcuts – c to compose, r to reply, e to archive, f to forward etc.
  2. 1-click buttons and/or swipe actions to delete and archive emails.
  3. Should not automatically select/open the previous/next email when I click/read/archive/delete an email.

Spark is the only Mac email client that meets all the above as far as I know.

Sublime Text

Sublime Text, a lightweight and fast code editor is what I use to open/edit single PHP, CSS and JS files.

Tape

A recent addition in Setapp, I use Tape for doing quick screencasts.

ScreenFlow annoys me sometimes by not having a window recording option.

TextSniper

TextSniper is a fast OCR software.

Press ⌘⇧2, drag around any image that has text part in it and release the mouse. The text is now in your clipboard like magic.

Timing

Timing runs silently in the background and keeps count of how much time you have spent on using your computer on the various apps. We can create custom categories, drag the time slots to projects etc.

Time Out

Time Out reminds me to take a break for

  • 10 min every 1 hour
  • 15 sec every 15 min

These are the out of the box settings and can be changed.

Trickster

Trickster enables quick access to recently used files and folders from a list of configurable folders.

Keyboard shortcut: ⌃z

Visual Studio Code

I open WordPress plugin and theme folders for editing with Visual Studio Code.

I currently use these extensions:

Yoink

Yoink provides a temporary shelf for placing a file when dragging and dropping or uploading.


Update 1: Shared this in Reddit and got suggestions for a few apps to check out:

Update 2: espanso is a winner. Didn’t try Raycast yet.

1 comment

  1. Hi. BetterSnapTool is definitely one of my favorite apps : resize windows in a second to different and programmable sizes and positions. Very useful when I need for example 3 or 4 Finder windows to manage files and backups.

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