For the last few years I’ve been a Mac user and I’ve had a variety of MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. Years ago the MacBook Pro was a wonderful device, but it was bloody heavy. Lugging a MacBook Pro around meant that you got a bit of a workout, so I switched to the Air. Now, however, the latest batch of MacBook Pros are almost as light as the Air, but a lot more computer.
So when my MacBook Air started causing me headaches I decided to switch to the new style MacBook Pro with the touch bar. It’s a lovely device, though I’ll freely admit I still haven’t really got a handle on the touch bar as yet.
Every time I get a new laptop I start with a clean slate. I don’t migrate the apps and content from one machine to another, mainly because:
- I don’t store much data on my laptop anyway. A lot of documents / files that I work with on an ongoing basis are probably in Dropbox, Office 365 or Google docs
- most of the software I end up installing on my laptop can easily be downloaded and installed again
- I like starting with a “clean slate”
Of course over time as you use a laptop, or any other computer, you end up installing software that you’re trying out or need for a particular project. While some of it might “stick” a lot just ends up cluttering up your hard drive..
So starting fresh suits me.
I’ve posted about the apps I considered “essential” a couple of times in the past, most recently here.
My current list is slightly different, but not dramatically – maybe I’m becoming more boring and predictable?
- Microsoft Office – over the last couple of years Microsoft has done a really good job of making the OSX version of their office software more usable and the feature gap between the Windows and Apple versions these days are very small and getting smaller with every release. If you want to get the “bleeding edge” updates and features you can enable the “Office Insider Fast” track in the updates app.
- Chrome – I switched over to Chrome a few years ago and haven’t really looked back. I’ll use Safari or Firefox at times as well. Chrome works, so I don’t switch around much.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader – my life involves reading a lot of PDFs. Apple’s “preview” app is usable, but the Adobe Acrobat reader is a lot better. It’s free.
- Skype – handy for both VOIP calls as well as the chat and group chat function. While a lot of people have switched to using Slack there’s still a lot of people who are more comfortable with Skype.
- Slack – pretty much an essential communication tool (and more) these days. We use it internally and several organisations and companies I work with are also using it.
- Pixelmator – still my “go to” simple graphics editor.
- Wunderlist – for “to do” lists and my shopping lists I’ve come to love this app. One thing, however, is that it can be a little too “clever” – if you put a date into an item it’ll assume that you want a reminder on that day / date which can be rather annoying
- Spotify – I like having music no matter where I am. While I really like the Deezer service Spotify managed to win me back with a healthy discount.
- Evernote – I still use this extensively for longer form notes and lists etc., The free version is functional, but if you want to be able to search properly when you’re offline then you’ll need a premium account.
- Dropbox – I assume most people are using this or one of the alternatives at this stage. For sharing files and collaboration it’s very very handy and one of the reasons I don’t keep files “locally”. Their business plans come with some pretty good security features as well
- Cyberduck – I still run several websites so having an FTP / SCP client on my machines makes sense
- Viscosity – when I’m not in the office or need to appear as if I’m in Ireland or generally need a secure connection I’ll use the VPN. While there are plenty of VPN clients out there this one is very nice and easy to use.
- Rescue Time – I like being able to track my habits. And this app does a pretty good job of tracking how much time you’re spending on silly stuff and how much time you’re “working” (it’s not perfect)
- Last Pass – a password safe. Pretty much essential if you’re logging into and using as many services as most of us do these days. Either you use something like this or you end up writing passwords down or using really bad ones..
- Clean My Mac – handy for removing crud that eats up disk space, as well as giving you easy access to a few maintenance scripts that Apple hide under too hood
- MoneyWiz – Keeping track of my personal finances from a single place. It integrates with most online bank accounts and credit cards.
- WhatsApp – the desktop app version of the popular messenger app. It gives you the full keyboard experience and all the normal features.
Are there any apps that you can’t live without that I’ve left out? Let me know via the comments!