The apps keeping me on macOS

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

There is talk in the industry right now of people switching to Windows because Apple has “given up on the Mac” and I wanted to look at the apps that are keeping me on the Mac at this point. I just opened my Applications folder and noted each app that I love and/or can’t live without that was not on Windows as well.

The list ended up being longer than I expected, and my gut reaction to this is that much like with iOS vs Android, the software pushed out by third parties on macOS is just something that I find unrivaled on competing platforms. I know there are a lot of major tools like Photoshop, Office, and the like that are on both platforms and are mostly identical, and that’s okay. My concern is more with what apps I use regularly that require me to have a Mac. Here’s my list.

  • Alfred is a stellar app for launching apps faster than the system search, and for running scripts, and managing my clipboard, and controlling music, and much more
  • Audio Hijack is a beautiful, intuitive app for creating complex audio workflows
  • Automator, old and busted as it might be, gives me the ability to create simple tools for myself that automate significant portions of my Mac
  • BetterTouchTool lets me control my Mac and perform elaborate tasks with just a swipe or tap on my trackpad
  • Deliveries lets me track packages with ease
  • Due is a great reminders app that syncs with my iPhone
  • Fantastical is bar none the best calendaring app I’ve ever used on any platform
  • Final Cut Pro X is a wonderful video editing app (come at me, haters) that simply does not exist on other platforms. It’s pure performance makes your $1000 computer render video like a $3000 one using Premier
  • iStat Menus is an app that lets me monitor my Mac easily, and more beautifully than any app I’ve ever seen
  • Logic Pro X is fantastic for audio editing
  • Pastebot is a world class clipboard manager
  • Pixelmator is not as good as Photoshop, but it’s better in a couple ways and is a hell of a lot faster overall. Few apps take advantage of every new feature Apple puts into macOS, but this one is a winner
  • Reeder is the best RSS reader on every platform it exists on, and nothing even comes close on Windows
  • Rocket gives me a Slack-style emoji picker across my entire Mac
  • Transmit is the best FTP client I’ve ever used, and unlike all the Windows clients I’ve tried, doesn’t feel like it was designed in 1997
  • Tweetbot is the epitome of what a third party Twitter app should do, and I could not use Twitter on my Mac without it
  • Ulysses is the best writing app I have ever used, and is a wonderful example of an app that scales from incredibly simple for people who just want to write, to something incredibly powerful for those who want to write, publish, and do much more.
  • 1Password is the best password manager I’ve used, and this is on Windows too, but is not nearly as good

For the sake of fairness I performed the same review of my Windows apps on my work PC. I should be clear here that my employer has a very good software policy that allows me to install just about anything I need to do my job better. Here are my favorite apps:

  • ShareX is a very nice app for taking screenshots and recording screencasts
  • PhraseExpress is a good text expansion app, but I should look into getting TextExpander as that is much more powerful for my needs

And that’s kind of it right now. I spend most of my day in Chrome, Sublime Text, Excel, Slack, and a few other apps that we use for work. Not exactly an inspiring array of software.