I’ve recently been working on modifying my workspace to allow for greater productivity. This includes my physical desk setup as well as my desktop and apps. This is going to be the first in a series of posts on Mac productivity, and where better to start than with the Apps!
I do a lot of web development on my Mac’s. My current setup is to have my iMac as my ‘main’ display. To my far right I have my new MacBook Pro that I purchased on the day they came out (yes…I’m a fanatic). The MBP has a second display connected which sits in between the iMac and MBP. I’ve got FireFox running on that display, showing phpMyAdmin, Terminal and DirectAdmin. The main MBP display just runs Skype and iTunes. I then use my iPhone to control iTunes remotely to save having to turn around to keep skipping those naff songs that I’ve not gotten round to removing from my library!
On the iMac I do all the coding and design. I also have a copy of Google Docs running stand-alone with fluid. I use Google Docs to do all my planning and (most) note taking so running it in a dedicated window is a must for me.
So here they are. The top 10 Mac productivity apps (in my opinion), be it free or paid! Even though there’s are in a 10 down to 1 order, I wouldn’t be without any of them!
10. Fluid (free) (URL: http://www.fluidapp.com)
I mentioned above that I use Fluid to run a stand-alone copy of Google Docs. Fluid is a light-weight application that allows you to run any web-based page or site as an application from your desktop. You can then set this application to work in a window, or as a ‘drop-down’ window from your top menu bar. I currently use Fluid for my home-server’s phpMyAdmin url, Google Docs and Gmail. It saves having to switch between multiple tabs when you really only need to glance at a document or email.
You could also use it to have your Google Calendar running in the top bar, that way you just click the icon, the window is displayed, when you’re done click out of the window and its gone. Fluid is also compatible with Google Gears so is fantastic for Google Docs.
An alternative option is to use the Mozilla Labs FireFox addon, Prism. Personally I prefer Fluid as it doesn’t require Firefox to run, plus its using WebKit, which I feel is just as good as gecko. I tried Prism when it first hit beta however had many problems with it crashing, plus it doesn’t allow you to run the web-applications from your menu bar!
9. 1Password (Paid) (http://agilewebsolutions.com)
I’ve blogged about one password many times before. Simply because I love it. 1Password is a password manager that integrates with all major Mac-based browsers (Safari, FireFox, Camino, Flock, etc). It stores all your password’s in a secure database and allows you to quickly select the login you want from a list (in a toolbar at the top of your browser) and it will automatically fill out and submit the form for you.
VMWare fusion is a virtualization environment for OS X. It allows you to run other operating systems whilst still running OS X at the same time. Currently I use it on my MacBook to run a slimmed out copy of XP. I then have MultiIE installed to allow me to test my websites in IE 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6 and 7. This is a lifesaver and saves a great amount of time. You can also use it to run almost anything Windows based (providing it doesn’t need insanely high graphic requirements!)
7. Transmit (Paid) (http://www.panic.com/transmit/)
I’ve used transmit since switching to Mac back in April 2006. Its a light-weight FTP client that allows you to store your login details for each of your sites in a tidy ‘Favourites’ menu. Transmit looks fantastic and integrates well into OS X. Additionally it supports iDisk/WebDAV and allows you to sync files back and fourth.
I also use this on my laptop when I’m at University. I created an Automator application that will run every time my ‘Uni Docs’ folder is modified. The application will use Transmit to sync my documents with my home server, instantly backing up my work as I save it.
6. Google Quick Search (free) (http://code.google.com/p/qsb-mac/)
GQS is a fairly new application. It is designed to allow you to search your local files, applications, Google, define text, check the weather and will also work as a calculator. Brought to you by the same guy that made the legendary Quicksilver, Google Quick Search has taken the spot of Google Desktop to provide a fast, lightweight alternative to Spotlight.
5. Snippely (free) (http://code.google.com/p/snippely/)
Snippely is a great little app for programmers. It allows you to store code snippets in organized folders. Its a fairly simple little application however provides all the functionality needed to manage your code snippets. A life saver and prevents you having to keep Googling to jog your mind!
4. Little Snapper (free) (http://www.realmacsoftware.com/littlesnapper/)
Little Snapper is more for designers. But since I do both I find it to be of great use. It allows you to take, and store screenshots of websites that provide an inspiring design. I use it a lot when trying to come up with ideas for websites I’m designing. A highly recommended app for anyone looking at designing their own layouts!
3. Photoshop (paid) (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/compare/)
Adobe Photoshop is an industry standard image editing and design application. It doesn’t really need a huge explanation. I use Photoshop for all my design work and would be nowhere without it. Its a really fantastic design suite. The only downside is its outrageously expensive price tag. Adobe really are pushing Photoshop as an executive tool and by doing so are driving away smaller developers. If you can afford Photoshop, its great. However many people have switched to free or cheap alternatives such as GIMP which provides almost the same functionality but without a price tag!
2. Firefox (http://www.firefox.com)
Firefox is becoming the web-developers standard browser. I personally don’t know of any web developer or ‘tech savvy’ person who doesn’t use Firefox as their primary web browser. Anyone still using I.E needs to try this out. Its a complaints standard web browser, with endless potential with a huge fan-base. It works on Mac, Windows and Linux so there’s no excuse!
1. Coda (http://www.panic.com/coda/)
Coda is a complete all-in-one web development application. It contains a code editor supporting code highlighting and tabbing for all major programming languages including (X)HTML, CSS, PHP, ASP, Java, XML, Ruby, etc. It also contains a built in WebKit based browser to view your code as you write it.
Additional features include built-in Transmit (FTP app), Subversion support, one-click-publishing, code snippets, WebDAV, built-in Terminal, extensive CSS editor plus a great little feature that allow you to view e-books. They have also included a HTML e-book, bundled with the main app.
Coda makes the number 1 spot as I use it every day. As I type this, I have it open next to me. Its a fantastic, beautiful code editor and beats Smultron, BBEdit and TextMate hands down. So far there’s been no other application remotely like this one. I highly recommend any developer gives it a try. Panic provide a free 14 day trial, after that the full app can be purchased for $99 (USD) — a fraction of the price of Dreamweaver.
So, that’s my top ten mac productivity applications.
What are your top applications? Post below and let the world know!