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.
Note: Updated on May 20th, 2019.
Without further ado, the following is the hardware, tools and apps I use:
My hardware is simple yet elegant and a workhorse.
- 27-inch Retina 5K, Late 2015 iMac
- 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 Processor
- 24 GB 1867 MHz DDR3 Memory
- AMD Radeon R9 M380 Graphics Processor (2 GB of GDDR5 Memory)
- 1 TB (7200-rpm) Hard Drive
Note: I’m still patiently waiting for the ‘mythical’ Pro upgrade.
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 and one of the few external drives that don’t have a horrific design.
- I connect to the Internet through Spectrum 300/20 Mbps speed using a 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 Morro One speaker set.
I am really hard on software! This is for a variety of reasons, but I think it’s 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 believe; I do the same with software.
I loathe poor and/or non-native user interfaces, however, I cherish simple tools. The following 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 over a year ago! End-to-end security at its core was one of the 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.
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.
- npm-audit – 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’m 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.
- Proxyman – Proxyman replaced Charles from my previous list. It’s a modern HTTP debugging proxy and macOS native.
- XCUITest – XCUITesr replaced Appium from my previous list. My adoption was based on faster and reliable performance and architecture of the framework.
- Espresso – Any Android developers snooping around? I got you covered!
- Image2icon – Image2icon replaced iConvert Icons from my previous list. User experience is phenomenal, 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.
Note: I’ve been using Tower since late 2013, with their recent ‘license’ pricing change. I began using Sourcetree a lot more, it’s free and open-source.
- 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.
- TablePlus – TablePlus replaced Navicat Premium from my previous list. A modern and native database management tool that needs to be in your toolbox!
Note: I could no longer justify the Navicat upgrade license expense when better alternatives are available.
- 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.
- Local by Flywheel – Local replaced Docker Community Edition from my previous list.
Note: Docker was a pain to set up with other devs when working with WordPress. Local has been a huge time saver!
- DB Browser – DB Browser replaced Base from my previous list. A high-quality visual app to create, design and edit SQLite database files.
- 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 over a year ago. 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.
- TinyPNG – A great online tool for both PNG and JPEG compression.
- Remove.bg – A handy tool to remove the background of an image.
Note: If you’re interested in how to further optimize images for the web, then you must read the Essential Image Optimization guide!
Developer Tools – Cross Browser Testing
- Safari Technology Preview – Stay ahead with upcoming web technologies in both macOS and iOS.
- Chrome Canary – Often can be a little unstable but works great to test websites and APIs.
- Firefox Developer Edition – Firefox Developer Edition was created with your workflow in mind, build, test, scale and more all from one place.
- Microsoft Edge Preview – What is this new alchemy? Get the insiders build for the web’s new browser.
Note: Fun fact, I last used a Microsoft web browser on the mac with OS X Tiger.
- Opera Developer – I was a huge fan of this web browser in the past, I would always use their dragonfly web dev tool. Any of you remember that? Still a great web browser to test International sites.
- Blisk – A developer friendly browser that allows testing websites on mobile emulators.
- LamdbaTest – I’ve used both BrowserStack and Sauce Labs in the past, I found them to be a bit cumbersome. LamdbaTest is quick to set up and very intuitive.
Note: This will be the first full year that I no longer need to use Adobe Creative Cloud. I began using Adobe Creative Suite (yes, I’m that old) during my College years in early 2008. I decided to venture out and found something magical!
- Affinity Photo – Affinity Photo replaced Adobe Creative Cloud from my previous list.
- Affinity Designer – Affinity Designer replaced Adobe Creative Cloud from my previous list.
- Affinity Publisher: BETA – Affinity Publisher replaced Adobe Creative Cloud from my previous list.
- 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.
- PixelSnap – PixelSnap replaced xScope from my previous list, this tool is super speedy! You can measure anything on your screen at lightspeed.
- ColorSnapper – ColorSnapper replaced Sip from my previous list, a great little app that allows to collect, adjust and export colors of any pixel.
- 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 over a year ago. Is a tiny program that puts an icon on 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!
- DriveDx – A must-have tool for testing both SSDs and HDDs.
- 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 over a year ago. 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.
- VNC Connect – VNC Connect replaced TeamViewer from my previous list. Remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds.
- Android File Transfer – Browse and transfer files between your Mac computer and your Android device.
- Unlox – Awesome little app that allows you to easily and conveniently unlock your mac with your iPhone.
- 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.