Must-Have Mac OS X Tools

Here’s my current list of applications that I wouldn’t want to live without.

General-use applications

  • 1Password (cross-platform password manager. Make everyone in your family use it. Seriously.)
  • Dropbox is a slick and excellent way of keeping a directory in sync between N computers. Every time you save a file, it keeps that version around for a while, so you can “undo” to a prior save—on a different computer—and share files that stay in sync between friends!
  • Wunderlist (great cross-platform todo lists)
  • Alfred (replacement for Quicksilver, and if you buy the power-pack, an excellent clipboard manager, too)
  • Skitch (awesome screen grabber with simple drawing tools)
  • Spectacle (resize windows easily)
  • Fan Control (allows you to ramp up the MacBook fan speed more aggressively than the default, to keep it a reasonable temperature)
  • Jumpcut (multiple clipboard manager, essential for coding)
  • The Unarchiver (Multi-format unarchiver app for OS X)
  • MenuMeters (adds network/disk/cpu/ram monitoring graphs to your menubar
  • Evernote (tagging + amazing OCR + iPhone app + firefox add-on makes for fancy note taking)
  • OmniGraffle (Excellent diagramming tool)
  • Apimac’s Timer (simple stopwatch/timer with fancy-pants full-screen support and other niftiness)

Developer applications

  • IntilliJ IDEA / Rubymine (Java/… IDEs that makes coding and refactoring doable)
  • Homebrew (brings the missing unix tools you know and love to your Mac. First to the party was Fink, then MacPorts, but brew is the new hotness)
  • Sublime (nice text editor)
  • Sequel Pro (nice UI for MySQL development)
  • Web Developer (Firefox add-on that gives a CSS editor, DOM browser, form muck-abouter, document anchor tag highlighter, and generally helpful web swiss-army knife that makes Firefox indispensible)

Update June 2014

Wow, there’s ~50% churn in my favorite apps since the last time I updated this list!

  • Trenton

    A system utility for you: BetterTouchTool. It gives you tons of control over your trackpad or magic mouse. It also allows for Windows 7-style snapping — drag a window to the edge and it is resized to 50% of the width. Drag another to the other side and now you have 2 side by side. Very handy for comparisons.

  • alohajoe

    Great site. Any chance of allowing access to the gigasync pages? Getting

    “Forbidden

    You don’t have permission to access /geek/gigasync/
    on this server.”

    Thanks!
    Joe