The apps I use daily

I’m always looking for ways to increase my productivity. I think I reached a pretty good level already and wanted to share the apps I use on a daily basis.

General

The absolute best way to take and annotate screenshots on a Mac. It completely replaced the default screenshot tool for me. Instead of replying to mails like ‘You can find that option in the admin panel, when you click first on Settings, then on…’ I just send ‘It’s in the settings, see attachment’. Sometimes I even make a short gif to show stuff. So much time saved for me and so much clearer for the recipient.

If you’re dealing a lot with colors, a good color picker can be very handy. ColorSnapper is always there in my menu bar. Grabbing the hex or rgb value of a color on my screen is just a click away.

TextSniper lets you select a region on your screen, just like you would to take a screenshot, but instead of taking a picture, it converts the text in the region to real text and puts it on your clipboard. You would think you need this rarely, but I use it several times a day.

Have you used the screenshot tool before to measure things on your screen? Stop doing that and use PixelSnap instead to measure perfectly.

In covid times, we all got used to Zoom and Teams calls. Mostly, you only see how you’re looking on camera when the meeting has already started (or just before). With this little tool, you can check your hair anytime you want.

I write a lot in Markdown for meeting notes and other stuff. This app is free, light and gives me an instant preview while typing.

Window management on Mac as it should be. Learn the keyboard shortcuts and never look back again.

Cmd+Tab is the default for switching between apps that everyone knows (right?), but Witch lets me use Option+Tab to switch between windows of the same app. With those two, I can easily switch to any window with my keyboard.

When you’re using a non-Apple external monitor, the default keys for adjusting brightness and volume don’t work as expected. MonitorControl fixes that.

Recently I started recording screencasts for the new app I’m building. ScreenFlow is kind of the standard to create screencasts and rightly so!

When I’m finishing recording a screencast with ScreenFlow, I drop it into Descript which transcripts the video automatically to text. Then you can edit the video just by changing the text, which is just mind blowing! As a bonus, you get perfect subtitles for your videos. By the way, you could skip ScreenFlow here and record directly in Descript, but in my experience you get much better video quality when you first record in ScreenFlow and then drop it into Descript for editing and transcribing.

When you’re often connecting to other computers in your house (or elsewhere), I highly recommend this one. So much better than the default Screen Sharing app. There’s even an iOS app to control the remote computer on your phone.

This duo has become part of our household. Every song is always a click away, in every room of the house. Do I have to mention our kids love it too?

Productivity

There was a time long ago when I used the same set of passwords for all online services and remembered them all by heart. Now I have a unique strong password for every website and I don’t have to type a single password anymore, neither on my phone. You knew that every time someone’s struggling to enter the right password on a website, a kitten dies?

Airmail has been my default mail client for several years now. Although the product hasn’t much changed the last couple of years, I’m still very happy with it. I spend a lot of time in my mailbox, so the workflow has to be blazing fast.

What would I do without Alfred? Work a lot slower, that’s for sure! The basic functionality lets you search for apps and files, but workflows can give it real super powers. Some interesting workflows I have installed:

Bluetooth Connector
Can I Use
Colors
CSSreference.io
Dash
Dig
Domainr
Encode / Decode
Google Translate
IP Address
TablePlus
Laravel Docs
PHP Docs
TailwindCSS Docs
VueJS Docs

This one needs no introduction I suppose. It’s been the backbone of my file management for 10 years now, and I never had any issues with it. Never having to worry about losing a file makes life a little bit easier, right?

I tried dozens of to-do apps in the past, but Things is the one that stuck with me. It’s beautiful, simple, and has just the right amount of features to fit my workflow.

Graphics

I was looking for a simple and fast app to do basic image editing. I found it in Acorn, something between Preview and Photoshop. At least I don’t have to boot up Photoshop now to crop an image.

A great app to quickly resize and optimize a bunch of images. It does one thing and does it very good, that’s what the best tools in life do!

ImageOptim compresses all assets I put online and gives me always the smallest possible result. Sometimes my Macbook sounds like it’s gonna take off, but that’s totally normal.

Same as ImageOptim but specifically for JPEG files. In my experience, JPEGmini gives better results for JPEG files than ImageOptim. They have a special algorithm that decreases the quality until just before the point the human eye can notice it. Great stuff!

When you buy a lot of icons like I do, IconJar is the best place to manage, search, preview and export them. Most icon packs even come with an IconJar library by default. I can’t image viewing icons another way anymore.

This is an old one, but it’s the standard for converting and compressing video files. It always gives me a perfect result.

Development

I was a long-time Sublime Text user in the past. When VS Code became more and more popular, I tried it a few times but always went back to Sublime. One weekend I wanted to give it another try. I spent the entire weekend exploring all the settings and extensions and achieved a great workflow. I discovered things I didn’t consider an editor capable of (editing files directly on a remote server, or managing docker containers, for example). It made me think of the ‘there’s an app for that’ times when the iPhone came out. Well, if you think about something in VS Code, there’s definitely an extension for that. Now I would never go back to Sublime, although I miss its speed from time to time.

When you’re dealing with a lot of API’s like me, you need a great API test tool. Postman is a popular one, but I loved Paw the first time I tried it. It’s a beautifully designed and very well thought out tool.

This little tool lives in your menu bar and lets you quickly change your hosts file without fiddling in the terminal.

Sequel Pro was the best database client for Mac for a long time, but unfortunately, it went the same path as Sublime Text. I found a great replacement in TablePlus. Once you learn the shortcuts, you can find things very fast.

When this came out, I thought it was the best idea ever. A dedicated app for tinkering with your Laravel apps? Instant buy!

The Tinkerwell guys (Beyond Code) had another great idea: an app to test mails sent by your application. Just configure your app to send mails to a special smtp port and it catches every mail you send. Pretty neat!

As they describe it themselves: dump debugging evolved. You can throw anything at it, in any place in your codebase and it will catch it and display it nicely. Such a great idea. And it’s from Belgium so it has to be good, right?

I do a lot of git stuff in the terminal, but I prefer Tower to get a nice visual overview of the changed files before committing and pushing.

One of those classics that I couldn’t miss anymore. It’s basically an ftp client but it can do much more than that. I mostly use it to browse files on Amazon S3.

A fairly new tool which gives you nice autocomplete in your terminal. The best thing is, you can easily extend it with your own scripts, which is pretty great!

Web developer with 20+ years experience. Currently building Devisto — learn more at www.devisto.com