This is my second installment of my must have list of tools, apps and utilities as a macOS, iOS and web developer (2015). Each app has a distinct purpose, and I probably touch each at least a few times a week. Many are free some aren’t, those that aren’t free are very likely worth your 30-day trial, and perhaps your money.
This year’s edition of the list takes into account the new tools I am using as part of my transition to working exclusively on both macOS and iOS.
Many of the products you will recognize from my previous year list. I’ll outline new additions to the list as I go by marking them in bold.
Without further ado, the following are the tools, apps and hardware I use:
My hardware is simple yet elegant and a workhorse.
- 21.5-inch, Late 2013 iMac
- 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor
- 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Memory
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 1024 MB Graphics Chip
- 1 TB Hard Drive
Peripherals & Accessories:
In terms of accessories and upgrades I use.
- Time Machine backups are handled by a 4TB LaCie/Porsche Design Mobile Drive, connected via USB 3.0. It’s fairly quiet is one of the few external drives I’ve found that doesn’t have a horrific design.
- I connect to the Internet through Spectrum/Time Warner Cable 200/20 Mbps speed using an Technicolor MediaAccess TC8717T modem. And I connect wirelessly through both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels!
- Loud electronic and jazz music is blasted through the amazing Cube Speakers in Ebony speaker system.
I am really hard on software. This is for a variety of reasons, but I think it is because I build it myself. I have always envisioned that directors and actors can sometimes lose focus during a movie as they judge the decisions others made in their productions. I feel like I do the same thing with software.
I loathe poor and/or non-native user interfaces and cherish simple tools. These are the applications I constantly rely on.
The Essential Power User 5
- Visual Studio Code – I use Visual Studio Code for everything from editing scripts to writing and editing code. It is an indispensable tool that can be adapted for so many use cases.
- Dropbox – Dropbox is the secret sauce for a variety of reasons. It makes it easy to share files between machines as well as with colleagues.
- Alfred – Great productivity app to find everything on macOS.
- Chrome – Safari in OS X Yosemite and El Capitan (I do not use it in macOS Sierra) was a step back in terms of performance and resource consumption. I suppose it’s to be expected given it has the new process architecture under the hood, but it was so frustrating that I switched to Chrome. I may never switch back. I love this browser!
- 1Password – One of the first tools I install. Its Dropbox over-the-air syncing makes using it on my iPhone and iPad even easier. It also has made me use better passwords because I no longer have to remember them. 1Password does that for me.
Note: This year I’m going to keep it simple! Also, I use a lot of paid apps I will try my best to include a high quality alternative version of the app that is low price or free. But don’t be cheap!
Developer Tools – macOS and iOS
- Xcode – If you write macOS or iOS applications, you spend most of your life in Xcode and Instruments. I am no different.
- AppCode – A great alternative to Xcode. Smart IDE for both macOS and iOS development!
- Slender – If you’re using Xcode I bet you have a few assets in your Xcode project that are no longer in use. Those kilobytes are wasting your customers’ bandwidth and yours. Slender analyzes your Xcode project and finds those assets that are no longer in use so you can safely delete them.
- Dash – I have found Dash to be a must-have utility, especially if you are targeting platforms beyond just macOS and iOS. Dash imports and formats documentation for macOS, iOS, Android, web frameworks, and more. It’s amazing.
- Charles – Sometimes I want to snoop the traffic that is going through an iOS app. Setting up Charles makes it pretty easy to do just that.
- Deploymate – If you’re still supporting iOS 5, iOS 6 and iOS 7 and iOS 8; why would you? You want to make sure that you’re not calling APIs not supported on those platforms before shipping to the App Store. Crashes are bad. Deploymate does just that. It saved my bacon once already which made it worth every penny I paid for it.
- Appium – An open source test automation framework for use with native, hybrid and mobile web apps. It drives iOS and Android apps using the WebDriver protocol.
- iConvert Icons – Carefully designed to make it as easy as possible to create and convert icons. It converts icons in all of the popular icon formats, including png, ico, and icns.
- Paw – Is a full-featured and beautifully designed Mac app that makes interaction with REST services delightful.
- Postman – A powerful GUI platform to make your API development faster & easier, from building API requests through testing, documentation and sharing.
- Tower – Version control with git made easy, in a beautiful, efficient, and powerful app.
- Reveal – Inspect. Modify. Debug. Reveal brings powerful runtime view debugging to iOS developers.
- Bitbucket – Code, manage and collaborate. Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams.
- TinyPNG – When you add up the kilobytes of non-retina and retina assets for both the iPhone and iPad, app binaries are getting bigger. TinyPNG has a better compression algorithm than the one built into Xcode, so I will sometimes run images through it to get smaller sizes.
Developer Tools – Web Development
- iTerm2 – An amazing terminal emulator that does incredible things.
- Homebrew – Homebrew installs the stuff you need that Apple didn’t.
- oh-my-zsh – A community-driven framework for managing your zsh configuration. Includes 120+ optional plugins (rails, git, macOS, hub, capistrano, brew, ant, macports, etc), over 120 themes to spice up your morning, and an auto-update tool so that makes it easy to keep up with the latest updates from the community.
- Transmit – Best FTP client out there from Panic Software, enough said.
- CodeKit – CodeKit helps you build websites faster and better.
- Navicat Premium – Navicat Premium is a database administration tool that allows you to simultaneously connect to MySQL, MariaDB, SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQLite databases from a single application.
- Sequel Pro – Sequel Pro is a fast, easy-to-use Mac database management application for working with MySQL databases.
- Robomongo – Do you use MongoDB? Then this is your tool.
- Base – Is an application for creating, designing, editing and browsing SQLite 3 database files. It’s lightweight and easy to use.
- Cornerstone – For those few times a year I need to work with Subversion, Cornerstone is the best desktop client I’ve found for it.
- FogBugz – I have been using FogBugz for almost six years. People complain that it is an unattractive app. I disagree. It’s not flashy and instead just disappears so that I can actually focus on using it for its intended purpose: managing my software projects.
- Bee – Simple. Fast. Native. Issue tracking made fun on your mac, works great with FogBugz.
- Firefox Developer Edition – The only browser made just for developers, Firefox Developer Edition was created with your workflow in mind. Build, test, scale and more all from one place, for the first time ever.
- GitHub – Working with Git is a little more tolerable thanks to github. I have tried quite a few GUIs for Git and this is the one that sticks with me most.
- Adobe Creative Cloud – With new, connected Creative Cloud apps and services, you have all the tools and assets you need to create amazing work across desktop and mobile devices.
- CSS Hat 2 – Is Photoshop plugin which instantly turns layer styles to CSS3!
- iOS Hat – Can turn Photoshop layers into Objective-C or Swift.
- PNG Hat – Is a Photoshop plug-in that slices and exports your PSD document to individual PNG or JPG assets.
- PSD Cleaner – Photoshop Plugin that lets you easily find and fix messy layers in your PSDs.
- Sketch – Gives you the power, flexibility and speed you always wanted in a lightweight and easy-to-use package. Finally you can focus on what you do best: Design.
- xScope – I use xScope to detect colors on various UI elements, check alignment of controls and to measure the distance between objects. If you are meticulous about your UI, it’s a great utility.
- Origami – Toolkit for Quartz Composer – created by the Facebook Design team—that makes interactive design prototyping easy.
- Gradient – A simple and useful app for macOS to help web designers speed up the creation of CSS gradients.
- Sip – The refreshingly simple color picker that instantly samples and encodes any color on your screen. Just one quick click to savor the flavor and you’re set!
- VPN Unlimited – Be completely free and anonymous worldwide.
- Tuxera NTFS – Full read-write compatibility with NTFS-formatted drives on macOS.
- Boom – macOS volume booster with advance equalizer controls and audio effects.
- Caffeine – Is a tiny program that puts an icon in the right side of your menu bar. Click it to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep.
- The Unarchiver – A file extraction utility is somewhat of an unsung hero, but when you need it, it’s good to have a utility that is robust and can fit almost any bill. The Unarchiver does that and does it well.
- Techtool Pro – The most advanced macintosh repair utility; enough said!
- OverSight – OverSight monitors a mac’s mic and webcam, alerting the user when the internal mic is activated, or whenever a process accesses the webcam.
- CleanMyMac – Keep your Mac healthy with this incredible app, I use it regularly and love it.
- Checkmate – A built-in doctor for your Mac that spots small problems before they can become big problems.
- Backblaze – While I primarily rely on Time Machine for my backups, I also subscribe to Backblaze to offload the contents of my hard drive to the Internet.
- Bartender – Lets you organize your menu bar apps, by hiding them, rearranging them or moving them to Bartender’s Bar.
- Battery Diag & Memory Diag – Battery Diag can overview your battery information in a beautiful way. Easily access the most important health and status information and the details of your battery from your menu bar./ Memory Diag is a beautiful memory optimizer designed for the new memory concepts of macOS. Monitor and optimize and diagnose your memory usage with a simple click.
- f.lux – Makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
- iStat Menus – Is an advanced Mac system monitor for your menubar.
- TeamViewer – Remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds or use TeamViewer for online meetings.
- Android File Transfer – Browse and transfer files between your Mac computer and your Android device.
- DesktopUtility – Hide your desktop, toggle file visibility, show the User Library, force empty the trash, or restart the Finder/Dock/Menubar easily and conveniently.
- Disk Diet – Disk Diet digs into Mac files you may not need and frees up a lot of storage; I’m talking about gigabytes of storage the first time you use it.