I love tinkering with new apps to see if they can make my workflow better or just make life a little easier. Most of them don’t make the cut, but the ones that do really help me do my thing - faster, quicker, better.
Here’s a rundown of the apps, gadgets, and services that have become essential to how I work and live.
Last Updated: October 2023
1Password is where I keep all my passwords, and I’ve been using it for more than 10 years. My wife and I even share a family account on it. It’s super handy that it works on both my Mac and iPhone, so I’ve got all my logins wherever I go.
Setapp is like an app buffet for my Mac - a curated app store for the Mac, and it’s amazing. It’s got hundreds of apps, including some of my favorites like Bartender and CleanShot that I’d normally pay for separately. Highly recommend.
I use Fantastical for all my calendar stuff, both on my Mac and iPhone. It’s just super easy and looks good too. Adding events is a breeze with its natural language parsing. I love the calendar sets feature and the ‘Openings’ option is a game-changer. It’s like having Calendly built-in, without the extra cost.
Day One is my digital diary, and I’ve been using it for over 10 years. It’s got this super inviting interface that makes it easy to just start typing. They offer templates for journal prompts, which I’ve tried, but mostly I go for free-flow writing, sometimes aiming for 750 words. The iOS version is just as good as the Mac app. Honestly, I’d be lost without this little gem.
My wife and I share a family Spotify account, and it’s pretty much our household go-to for all our tunes. We have it integrated with Alexa, which is a lifesaver when we need to cue up some nursery rhymes on the spot. The only drawback is its one-at-a-time playing rule with Alexa. So if I’m listening at the gym, it can’t be played on our home Alexa devices simultaneously.
Super handy Utilities
CleanShot (available via SetApp)
CleanShot is my go-to for screenshots. It’s part of Setapp, and it’s way better than what comes standard on a Mac. You can add text, arrows, or even blur out stuff. It even lets you throw in a background if you want to get fancy. There’s a cloud sync option for sharing with a URL, which I don’t use much, but it’s cool to have the option
Text Sniper (available via SetApp)
Text Sniper is a lifesaver when I need to grab text that’s not easily copyable. It’s like taking a screenshot, but instead of capturing an image, it does OCR and lets me paste the text wherever I need it. I use this gem a few times a week, and it’s also a part of Setapp.
I use TextExpander for quick text shortcuts. Recently, I’ve even started keeping some ChatGPT prompts in there for fast access. Other frequent uses include expanding dates and journaling shortcuts. It’s become a part of my daily workflow.
Bartender is my go-to for taming the menu bar on my Mac. It helps me keep the menu bar clutter-free and easy to navigate. It’s super easy to use - just drag and drop to decide what stays visible and what gets hidden. Again, a part of Setapp, but either way, it’s a must-have for me.
Daily is my go-to for tracking time spent on projects, and it’s a bit different from your usual timer apps. Instead of starting and stopping a timer, it prompts me every 10-15 minutes to ask what I’m doing. It’s great for keeping me focused and incredibly accurate for billing my freelancing and consulting gigs. Part of Setapp, but I’d pay for it even if it weren’t. Couldn’t live without this one.
I’ve only recently started using Hookmark, but so far it’s solving a real problem for me. It allows me to link specific items across different apps, like linking a Craft document to a task in Things. I hit Ctrl+H, grab the link to the document I’m currently working on, and then just paste it into the Things task I’m focused on. It’s too soon to tell if it’ll become a staple in my workflow, but I’m optimistic. It supports a wide array of apps—check out the full list here.
Visual Studio Code
I use VS Code for all my coding needs. The interface isn’t my favorite, but it gets the job done, especially with its extension system. Whether it’s table of contents for a Markdown file or dealing with obscure formats like TOML, there’s probably an extension for it. I’ve tried others like TextMate and Sublime, but I keep coming back to this one
MacBook Pro 13-inch M1
I’m running on a MacBook Pro 13-inch M1, the 2020 model. With 16GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive, it’s got all the muscle I need for my work. It’s the backbone of everything I do.
iPhone 13 Pro
I’ve been on Team iPhone since 2007, starting with the very first one. Right now, I’m rocking an iPhone 13 Pro. I used to update every year, but lately, I’ve settled into a more reasonable every-other-year cycle. Haven’t looked back since making the switch from HP iPaq.
My Kindle Oasis is where I do all my reading. I’ve got Kindle Unlimited and Audible subscriptions, but I mostly use the Oasis for text, not audio. It’s hooked up with Libby to borrow books from the NYPL, and anything I highlight syncs up with Readwise automatically. It’s pretty much my entire reading ecosystem.