On walkabout in life and technology

My Favorite Mac Apps of 2011

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Mac apps for 2011. Just wanted to mention the ones that make my life that much easier. I am intentionlly excluding all built-in applications or anything from Apple, such as iWork, iLife and Aperture which are mainstays.

Some you may know, some you may not.

Writing and Programming

  • Xcode 4 - Used a lot at the start of the year for iOS programming
  • BBEdit - Always running, BBedit is my go-to application for viewing files, editing, scratch pad, project note pad and other stuff. I do all my notes in markdown, and although I own Marked, I still use BBEdit’s preview window with my own CSS for sending notes.
  • TextMate 2 - I am working on two Ruby on Rails projects, lived in TextMate 1 until the alpha of 2 was released and am using that one now for all Ruby on Rails work.
  • Byword - I really wanted to like iAWriter, it has a great font, but for writing smaller articles, including this blog post, I rely on Byword. As soon as I open it, I feel like writing.
  • Scrivener - For larger documentation projects, nothing comes close to Scrivener. I use it for all project documentation deliverables, including specifications and reports, and I love how it keeps everything together.


  • Xscope - This is a must-have, I use it all the time to get my web designs pixel perfect.
  • OmniGraffle - Use it for wireframing, diagramming or just making a quick graphic to share. Then again, I love all of Omni’s products.
  • Adobe Illustrator - Still the tool to go to for vector art, even the old version that I have, but am really thinking of moving to Acorn in 2012.
  • Adobe Photoshop - Still the place I do the final tuning of all art, but seem to be using Pixelmator more and more.


  • TextExpander - I never learned to touch type, so this is a life saver. Have snippets for programming, git command lines and all my notes.
  • 1Password - No introduction needed, contains all my passwords and data, used to log in to sites because I can never remember which password to use.
  • Dropbox - Another first install item, because it contains my 1Password and TextExpander data, as well as enabling me to share files between laptop, desktop and iPad.
  • Growl - So I know what is going on
  • iStat Menus - Given that I am always running servers on my development boxes, iStat Menus tells me when my CPU’s are melting or my LAN is getting crushed.
  • Moom - A new one for 2011, click and drag to set the window size, or save a keystroke to put the window where you want it every time. I use it to lay out my development windows in the same place every time.
  • Fantastical - Easy to see what is going on and book an appointment. Went back to Apple’s iCal because it was conflicting with my old favorite BusyCal, but maybe its time to go back to that too.



  • Billings - As a contract indie, I need to track time and bill customers. Billings gets it done, but it has a learning curve. Just wish I could use on more than one computer without buying their server version. OmniFocus - Keeping track of all the todos on multiple projects is easy with OmniFocus, and it syncs to all my iDevices as well
  • AppViz 2 - For tracking the sales of mine and my client’s iOS apps, just works.
  • join.me - A new one, for sharing my screen over the internet to show customers how awesome their products are becoming
  • Code Runner - Another new toy, allows me to spike scripts and test code before applying it to the project, replaces my massive spikes folder
  • Screenflow - The best way to talk about a product is to show it, and Screenflow allows me to make great demos.

Honorable mentions

  • Versions - Love this SVN client, but I moved on to GIT and GitHub this year, so I no longer use it
  • Kaleidoscope - Nice diffs, including image diffs, wish it had a merge tool too
  • Skitch - Grab a screen snap and share
  • Coda - Managed my old web sites and my professional PHP one, have most of the Panic apps too.
  • Espresso - Since CSSEdit is no more, use this for CSS live testing and updates
  • MarsEdit - My old favorite blogging tool, replaced with command line and Byword when I moved to Octopress for this blog. Will go back to it when they figure out a way to make it work with this.

You may think there are some glaring ommissions like Microsoft Office, no, not had it installed for almost 6 months now, iWork does it all. Still on VMWare Fusion for VM’s. And still cannot get in to Evernote, no matter how hard I try to like it.

It’s been a great year in Mac Apps, looking forward to all the cool new toys in 2012.