I Use This

As Macs are becoming ever more popular, a number of folks have requested a list Mac Apps I use and recommend. This is the list of apps I use on a very regular basis. This does not include the applications that come standard with a new Mac (ie iPhoto, iTunes). In case you are curious, I use Safari as my primary browser, but as a web professional, I almost always have both Chrome and Firefox running too.

Note: if you are on a mobile device, you can scroll horizontally in each list to see more details.

Main computer

Application Free as in Beer (what?) Category Description/Comments
1Password No Utility Password Manager with incredible browser support.
7zX Yes Utility Reads/writes the 7z compression format.
Acorn Yes+No Graphics/Photo Simple to use, yet surprisingly powerful image editor.
Adium Yes Communication/Internet Multi-protocol IM client: AIM/GTalk/Jabber/Yahoo/Facebook and more. Sadly, does not work with Skype so I still require running two clients at once.
Bowtie Yes Utility Shows music artwork on the desktop, gives iTunes global hotkeys, and more.
calibre Yes Other Manages eBooks. It's like iTunes for eBooks.
cd to... Yes Utility Installs a little icon on finder windows that will open up Terminal in that location for convenience.
Choosy No Utility Makes managing multiple web browsers easier.
Chrome Yes Communication/Internet Google Chrome browser.
Coda No Other text editor + file transfer + svn + css + terminal + books + more = whoah.
Crashplan Yes+No Utility Backup, specifically good for automatically backing up multiple computers to a single backup spot or for backing up to a friends house.
Day-O Yes Utility Day-O is a simple menu bar clock replacement with a simple calendar.
Dockdrop Yes Utility Fast sharing tool--uploads any file dropped to it via FTP, WebDAV, or SCP, and puts the link to it on your clipboard.
Fluid Yes Utility Creates SSBs (Site Specific Browser) -- basically makes a webapp into a single stand-alone application so it runs outside of your browser. Great for things like Gmail, bug trackers, etc.
GoToMeeting No Communication/Internet Remote presentation tool, good for large groups.
Kiwi for Gmail Yes+No Communications/Internet Nice app for accessing Gmail email as a proper app.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC No Graphics/Photo I finally (begrudgingly) made the switch from Apple's Aperture to Adobe Lightroom in summer of 2016. Aperture was great for years, but recently started corrupting RAW files. No bueno, Apple!
Little Snitch No Utility Reverse firewall--informs you whenever an app tries to access the internet (unless the app has been whitelisted).
MAMP Yes+No Other Mac+Apache+MySQL+PHP -- Full stack in one single application that can be started and stopped with a click of the button.
Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 (Ultimate Edition) No Other Comes with Outlook (email, calendar), Excel (spreadsheets), PowerPoint (presentation), and Word (word processing). I don't necessarily recommend this unless you need it for compatibility with work (as I do).
Monosnap Yes+No Graphics/Photo Capture screenshots, market them up, and put them places fast: easy ftp upload, drag out to other apps, and more. Free version is sufficient for my needs, but they do have some paid upgrades.
Moom No Utility Tool for managing window states, creating keyboard shortcuts for fast window sizes, and more. Very useful.
OmniGraffle Pro No Other Diagramming, process charts, layouts/wireframes, prototypes, and more. Like Visio, but elegant.
OmniOutliner No Other Outlining. Idea organization.
Paprika No Other A recipe manager. The best I've used. Unfortunately, you have to buy it separately for Mac vs iPhone vs iPad, but it's well worth it.
Quicksilver Yes Utility Application Launcher, searcher, command interface. It's impossible to explain all the things QS is capable of, I think they do a better job on their website.
Remote Desktop Connection Yes Utility Connect to Windows machines.
Sequel Pro Yes Other MySQL Client. Not nearly as powerful as Toad, but simple and fast.
ShareTool Yes+No Utility VPN for regular people. Free version is limited to 15 minutes of connection time, which I find sufficient for my needs.
Sketch No Graphics/Photo Best app for designing for a screen, particularly for mobile.
Skype Yes Communication/Internet Chat/VOIP/Video Client.
Soulver No Utility Soulver is like a calculator on steroids. "It's quicker to use than a spreadsheet, and smarter and clearer than a traditional calculator. Use Soulver to play around with numbers, do "back of the envelope" quick calculations, and solve day-to-day problems."
Sublime Text No Text One of the best text editors I've ever used. Includes a command-line utility so you can type 'subl /etc/hosts' for example and have it come up in the GUI.
SuperDuper! Yes+No Utility Backup, for making a bootable clone of a drive. I also hear good things about the free Carbon Copy Cloner but I've never used it.
TeamViewer Yes Utility Remote support
TextWrangler Yes Text Powerful free text editor—includes a command-line utility so you can type 'edit /etc/hosts' for example and have it come up in the GUI. I mostly use Sublime Text these days, but occasionally I find TW useful: for example, I find TWs multi-file find/replace and overall diff comparison to be easier to use.
Transmit No Communication/Internet FTP Client. Not free, but absolutely amazing. Cyberduck is a good option if you prefer free.
UnRarX Yes Utility Reads the RAR compression format.
VMware Fusion No Other Virtualization. There is something quite nice about having an entire development environment sandboxed in a Debian machine that is stand-alone, portable, and has snapshots.
YemuZip Yes Utility Makes PC compatible zip files (strips Mac OS specific meta files).


We use a Mac Mini to drive our TV. It's awesome, but requires some different software.

Application Free as in Beer (what?) Description/Comments
Airfoil and Airfoil Speakers No If you have an Airport Express, it allows you to stream other audio signals (other than just iTunes, such as EyeTV) to it. Airfoil Speakers is a receiving app that sits on our HTPC and allows you to AirPlay (audio only) from iTunes or any iOS app that supports it to your HTPC.
AirServer No Allows your Mac to become an AirPlay target from iOS devices for video and audio, just like an AppleTV.
EyeTV No HTPC TV Tuner card software—perfect for watching HD over-the-air. It even has DVR-like support. Unfortunately, Vermont doesn't really have that much in the way of over-the-air TV, but we still use it every week during NFL season.
Plex Yes A very nice application for playback of content. It plays back downloaded video files and also has options for streaming sources.
Remote Buddy No Makes the Apple Remote supremely more versatile as it is no longer tied only to the active application. Using Remote Buddy, I can do 75% of what I want to do on the HTPC, including switching between applications and navigating complex menus. If I need a trackpad, I use Mobile Mouse Pro on my iPhone. For very complex tasks, I just connect via Screen Sharing or via Remoter on iOS.
Syncopation No Synchronizes iTunes music libraries across multiple computers. So it allows my wife and I to have our collections shared on the HTPC for listening on the stereo.

Honorable Mentions

These are apps I may have used in the past and would still recommend, but I no longer use them.

Application Free as in Beer (what?) Category Description/Comments
AppTrap Yes Utility Makes fully uninstalling an application as easy as installing (just trash the app, it will find all of the preference files left on the system and offer to trash them too)
Caffeine Yes Utility Keeps the screen from sleeping. Useful while watching a WebEx session.
ClickToFlash Yes Utility Blocks flash in Safari, replacing any flash element with a clickable box. Only on-click does it load the flash element. I actually have moved to having flash uninstalled on my system altogether. Most of the time, I can set the user-agent in Safari to "iPad" and trick the page into serving me something usable. For the rare instances where I absolutely need Flash, I fire up Chrome as it has Flash built in.
CoverSutra No Utility Shows music artwork on the desktop, gives iTunes global hotkeys, and more. I now use Bowtie for this instead.
EEAO No Utility A utility for Microsoft Entourage that automatically archives older mail out of your Microsoft Exchange account to a local archive. Moving to Outlook made this unnceccessary.
Flip4Mac WMV Yes Audio/Video Allows Windows Media files to be played in QuickTime (and other apps that use QT, like Safari)
iStat Menus No Utility Gives loads of information, such as memory usage, cpu usage, etc, right in the menu bar. When I upgraded to Lion, I didn't bother to reinstall this. I miss it very occasionally, but not enough to warrant going back to using it.
LittleSnapper No Graphics/Photo Another screenshot utility
Skitch Yes Graphics/Photo Capture screenshots, put them places (easy web upload). The modern version includes Evernote integration, which I find annoying, so I switched to Monosnap instead (see above). That said, if you are an extensive Evernote user, this may be the app for you.
OmniFocus No Other Very elegant and powerful task (to do) manager.
Transmission Yes Communication/Internet BitTorrent Client.
Spark Yes Utility Global hotkey manager. Quicksilver has hotkeys built-in, so I no longer needed this.
Air Video No HTPC Allows you to live stream content from your HTPC to an iPhone. Really awesome and works with lots of content types. The Plex app has made this unnecessary for us.