It’s a pretty common thing on blogs these days to post up topics along the lines of “[X] Applications you NEED on your Mac”. I get the reasoning behind the idea of it, as well as other list style posts, but I’ve always decided to stay away from them on my own site because this is a place for me to talk about what I do and how I do it. Whilst I do post up links to stuff I find interesting, it is always things I find to be unique or different, not a list of things for you to look over.
To that end what I’m writing about is going to be something of a list. It’s not the stuff you need but takes a look at the tools I use to do the jobs I do, the software I use to get things done. There are some sites that do this kind of thing as a regular thing, such as on Grace Smith’s Blog, which is pretty much where I got the idea for this post from.
Why these apps specifically?
Let’s be honest here, not every app that sits on your computer, or mine, is there to help meet a specific goal, or to get a specific thing done. A lot of software that people use daily serves more as a distraction than as a tool to complete a task. A lot of things I do on my Mac aren’t related to getting work done but with keeping in touch. Such things tend to end up distracting me from my work, which is the opposite of what I want to talk about today. So instead of covering all the pieces of software I use on a daily basis, I’m instead going to take a look at the software I use when I’m getting stuff done. Without further ado, here’s the software I use when getting stuff done.
Breaking things Down
When looking at the Apps that I most frequently use to get my work done fall into one of three categories:
Each of these usually help me in different fashions. Utilities are, most regularly, Apps that are left to run in the background, that do things without me having to tell them to, Applications are the Apps that I use pretty commonly to achieve specific goals and Tools are the pieces of software that I use to help me keep things in order. As each type of App serves a different purpose I think it would only be fair to approach them as separate aspects of my routine.
TextExpander is one of those little pieces of software I didn’t even know existed, and had never even thought about the usefulness it would provide. TextExpander allows you to set up custom snippits of text that can be used to speed up writing things. One of the most common uses, for me, is to help in speeding up web site coding. For example, typing in ;html5 generates the following block of text for me:
That certainly seems like a lot less work than coding it all out by hand. The fact that the HTML5 syntax is a lot easier to remember would help in terms of coding that out, but it’d still take a while. And that’s just the tip of what TextExpander is capable of. Rather than provide an in-depth look at the capabilities of this particular Application, which would be an article in and of itself, I’ll direct you to take a look at the following resources I’ve found useful in the past:
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite the fan on using LESS in my development process. LESS.app is the reason that I’m such a big fan of it, because I can make use of all the benefits that LESS has to offer, whilst serving the result as nice and clean CSS, just to ensure nothing goes wrong.
MAMP and MAMP PRO are, to me, the best way to set up and manage running a local testing server. I use it to handle/tweak and test all sorts of server-side stuff. Whilst MAMP is probably more than enough for most purposes, I’m quite fond of the way MAMP PRO integrates nicely with MAMP to make things just that little bit easier. Plus it makes some of my Windows based friends jealous.
Suitcase Fusion is a Font Management tool. You don’t install fonts using it, you turn them on and off. It also has plugins for popular software, such as Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Quark allowing the software to automatically enable fonts that recent versions of these applications need, automatically. Because the fonts aren’t installed, you don’t need to worry about any system lag from having too many fonts installed, which is another plus.
Coda & TextMate
I’m covering these two Apps together because, whilst I use them both, it’s probably a bit of overkill. I owned Coda before I ever tried TextMate, which I now use as my primary editor.
TextMate provides a very powerful text editor, which can be extended quite a bit. Ultimately, though, it’s still a text editor, regardless of what you extend it with. So it’s perfect for coding a project together from start to finish.
I find Coda to be really useful after a project has been completed. It has a lot of functionality I don’t often use, such as books and the ability to preview things. What I love about it is how well it can track files having been edited. This is really handy for post-completion tweaks, where uploading single files is easier than uploading everything again. This is something else Coda can handle, as FTP is something it handles in addition to tracking which files have been edited, making it very easy to upload changes.
Transmit is a fantastic FTP App by the same people that make Coda. It has a great amount of functionality, such as saving FTP connections as drives you can browse on your machine. It’s also a fantastic piece of software in terms of upload speeds.
Sequel Pro is an App that I use for handling MySQL Databases. Whilst PHPMyAdmin is a usable tool, I find it rather difficult to use, and finding things can be a pain. Sequel Pro gets rid of this issue for me, making moving around databases and tables a breeze.
PixelMator is an image editor. As a Web Designer & Developer I often have to work with images. I don’t often use Photoshop though, as it by far exceeds the what I need to do. I tend to develop sites in code, I work with it faster so the client’s tend to benefit directly from this. Instead I use PixelMator for my day to day image editing needs, as it has all the functionality I need from an image editor and it’s much lighter on my system.
If you’ve ever seen any of my videos on Vimeo then you have seen the end result of ScreenFlow. ScreenFlow is a video recording, and editing, App. It’s not as fully fledged as some editing apps out there but then, for most people, it doesn’t need to be either. It allows for recording of video and audio from the machine, as well as from a microphone and the webcam as well. Pretty much all the tools you need to do a screencast.
Things is the app I make use of to keep track of what I’m doing, and for when. It’s a to-do list, and a very good one at that. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
MacJournal is what I use to organise my thoughts, and help me keep track of more generic things. Things helps me do things, MacJournal helps me keep a list of things I still want to do at some point.
Dropbox might seem like a weird addition to this list, but it’s a fantastic tool for me, as it helps keep all of my files in sync across multiple machines. This includes settings for various applications that I’ve mentioned during this article. Without it many of my tools would lose a little of their charm. On the off chance that you don’t already have a Dropbox account, clicking here to get one will give us both a bit more space.
So yeah, there you have it. A brief look at the software I use to get work done for the people I work for. I didn’t really go into too much detail on any of the apps I use, I feel that you’d be better served by trying them yourselves rather than trust in my word.
If you have any apps that you use that I’ve not covered or mentioned here, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Other App Posts on the Internets
- 15 mac apps web designers should have in their dock by Lee Munroe
- 5 Mac Apps You Should Try by Lee Munroe
- Dock Series Posts by Grace Smith