This is the latest installment of my must have list of tools, apps and utilities as a macOS, iOS and web developer. 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.
Without further ado, the following is the hardware, tools and apps 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
Note: A big Pro upgrade is in the near future; stay tuned.
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 300/20 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.
- Tresorit – Tresorit replaced Dropbox from my previous list. End-to-end security at its core was one of reasons, also, it’s easy to share files between machines as well as with colleagues.
- Alfred – Great productivity app to find everything on macOS.
- Chrome – I love this browser; enough said!
- 1Password – Is one of the first tools I install. It’s 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.
This year I’m going to keep it simple! You will notice that I use a lot of paid apps, there may be high quality open source alternatives: But don’t be cheap!
Security Tools – Keep macOS and your Development Environment Secure
- Bitdefender – Since 2013 Bitdefender has been securing my macs, it’s accurate, elegant and the system impact is small.
- VPN Unlimited – Be completely free and anonymous worldwide.
- Lynis – An open source tool that helps with auditing systems running UNIX-alike to provide guidance for system hardening and compliance testing.
- chkrootkit – Install this now! It locally checks system binaries for rootkit modifications.
- Torus – Torus helps teams to secure and manage config secrets, environments and services.
- Node Security Platform – NSP allows for auditing a package.json or npm-shrinkwrap.json file against the API.
- Docker Bench Security – This script checks for dozens of common best-practices around deploying Docker containers in production.
Developer Tools – macOS and iOS Development
- Xcode – If you write macOS or iOS applications, you spend most of your life in Xcode and Instruments. I am no different.
- CodeRunner – There are times I am writing a small snippet of code to share with someone or just to test an idea on my own. I don’t necessarily need the full power of Xcode, so CodeRunner comes in handy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- ImageOptim – When you add up the kilobytes of non-retina and retina assets for both the iPhone and iPad, app binaries are getting bigger. ImageOptim 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.
- Zsh – Zsh is a shell designed for interactive use, although it is also a powerful scripting language.
- oh-my-zsh – A community-driven framework for managing your zsh configuration.
- 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.
- Robo T3 – Do you use MongoDB? Then this is your tool.
- Docker Community Edition – Docker CE is great for developers or small teams to get started with Docker and begin experimenting with container-based apps.
- 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.
- Jira Software – Jira Software replaced FogBugz from my previous list. 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 and bugs.
- 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.
- 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.
- PaintCode – PaintCode allows you to turn your drawings to Swift, Objective-C, Java and SVG code. A plugin for Sketch is also available.
- 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.
- Craft – STOP reading this and just install it! Craft is a suite of plugins that allows you to design with real data.
- Reduce App – Compress huge Sketch files to a light one.
- Zeplin – Zeplin is a great collaboration tool for designers and developers; design hands-off has never been easier.
- 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.
- 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!
- Tuxera NTFS – Full read-write compatibility with NTFS-formatted drives on macOS.
- Boom – macOS volume booster with advance equalizer controls and audio effects.
- Lungo – Lungo replaced Caffeine from my previous list. 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.
- Bartender – Lets you organize your menu bar apps, by hiding them, rearranging them or moving them to Bartender’s Bar.
- Battery Monitor & Memory Cleaner – Battery Monitor 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 Cleaner 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.
- Night Shift – Night Shift replaced f.lux from my previous list. Make 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 macOS 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.