These are the tools I've come to use as of this writing. They are the best fit for me that I've found so far. For most of these I've used many alternatives free and paid but settled on them for now. As I run a Mac most of these tools are specific to that platform.

Items are in random order.


Things: Personal task management

Bear: All writing, notes, journal entries start here.

Slack: I don't love it but this is my primary communication tool.

Spark: Email app I use for 2 reason, it can give my 1 inbox for all email accounts (Microsoft, gmail, etc). And scheduled email sending.

Apple Music: I've been making playlists in iTunes since ~2004, would take a lot to move at this point.

Safari: I like to run a stock setup where I can and Google has enough of my data already. I have Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Vivaldi around for testing.

VS Code: The ecosystem around this makes it the best editor by far right now. And no one can beat Microsofts intellisense at the moment. The font rendering hurts me though.

Terminal: Run stock where I can, makes setting up new machines easier.

Figma: All design work is done here these days. If I'm ever forced to pay out of pocket myself I could see using Sketch but the collaboration features of Figma are hard to beat.

Eagle: This might be my favorite application. I keep lots of visual reference of my work and things I find. This app lets me capture, organize and view all that stuff without ruining the internet (looking at you Pinterest).

Photos: I'm an Apple nerd so I use this to keep personal photos/videos synced.

Lightroom: All RAW images from cameras go here first and eventually are exported to Dropbox, Flickr, Photos, Backblaze.

1Password: Password manager. This is the first app that get installed on new devices.

CSV Editor: Simple little Mac app that lets me wrangle large CSV files (which is a very common task at the day job).

Soulver 3: Calculator that is hard to describe without trying it. But once you get used to it its hard to use spreadsheets or normal calculators ever again.

Transmit: Made by Panic (the best Mac software company ever). FTP app that also lets you mount Dropbox, Google Drive, S3 buckets. Has a sync ability if you ever need to edit remote site that isn't under version control.

Reeder: RSS feed reader. I prefer reading things slowly and on my won time not in a social feed.

SuperDuper: Hard drive backup for the Mac.

Blender: 3D modeling, rendering

Renamer: Batch file renaming. Sometimes I find myself with a few or a few thousand files that are named wrong this helps.

ImageOptim: Drag and drop image compression.

Patterns: Regular expression playground.

Photoshop: One of my oldest tools that I know well. If work didn't pay for it not sure I would continue to use it at this point.

Keynote: A hidden gym of a tool, I've built very elaborate prototypes using this (and it can export Gifs, Images, PDFs, HTML) still a tool I reach for often.

ScreenFlow: Tool I've used for many years to make screen recordings and presentations that are more dynamic than keynote alone. Its expensive so I usually con my current employer for a license.

Umbra: Toggle dark mode (and set backgrounds for each).

Fantastical: Calendar management that works across all platforms (google, Microsoft, etc) and plain language entry for when you are in a hurry.

Postman: Api tool that lets you troubleshoot and build test suites for web apps.

Marked2: Markdown preview and convertor. You can make custom themes with CSS and export PDFs or word docs if needed.

LaunchBar: Keyboard utility for the Mac. Allows me to search, copy, move files, launch apps, do math, search the web, run automations with only the keyboard.

TablePlus: Database app that works for all types of databases in one app. I don't love this app other than it lets me have one UI for MySQL, Postgres, etc.

xScope: Swiss Army knife of tools that lets you measure anything on your screen.

Moom: Window management, lets you move windows around your screen by the keyboard. This is the second app I install on a new computer. Spectacle is a free alternative that I would use if it had a few more options

DaVinci Resolve: Professional video editing and compositing software that is free unless you need very specific high end things.

Daisy Disk: Visual disk management. Hard drive getting full? This can help.

Tyme: Everything I do for $$$ requires time tracking to bill it or to know that I'm making money. This app is the one I hate the least out of everything I've tried.

Automator: MacOS automation tools that come in handy for doing repetitive things. If I'm repeating a task more than a dozen times I will usually spend 3 hours trying to automate it 😬

Retrobatch: Probably one of my top 5 favorite apps. Ever need to crop, resize, rename and update the metadata on 10,000 images? Well this app has a drag and drop interface to let that happen. You can save recipes to so you can repeat the same action later.

Farrago: Soundboard app. Lets me make fart noises on zoom calls.

TextExpander: Keyboard shortcut expansions. I type d++ and get tomorrows date typed out. bbme gives me I have lots of these and it saves me from repetitive typing.

Flickr Uploader: This is one of the main reasons I still use and love Flickr. It watches folders and uploads automatically (and does an amazing job of not making duplicates).

ffmpeg: CLI to convert video and images. Sometimes this is the best way to convert a folder of .MOV files to .gifs.

youtube-dl: CLI to download video from the web. Sometimes I was something for reference or and nervous YouTube will take it away.

Markdown Service Tools: Collection of macOS Services that do fancy things like grab all open Safari tabs and give me a list of urls in plain text.

iStat Menus: I like to keep an eye on storage, network traffic, cpu, etc. Sometimes computers go out of controll and its nice to have visual feedback in the toolbar to troubleshoot.

Bartender: Sometimes apps like having icons in the toolbar that I don't want to see. This app keeps the toolbar under control.

Keyboard Maestro: Automation tool that lets me record repetitive tasks. Ever find yourself doing the same actions a dozen or hundred times to move some data around an app that can't be scripted? This tool can help.


WaterMinder: Hydration tracking, I had a thing where I needed to log water and have found this one to fit me best.

Jayson: I don't usually do work from phone or iPad but if you ever need to open a json file on one of those devices.

Fontcase: Install custom fonts for use on iOS

Prompt: Terminal for remote servers from iOS.

Winno: News aggregator I've found useful over the past few years. Lets you look at headlines in one place (and they only update during normal hours).

Halide: RAW camera for iOS

Spectre: Long exposure camera for iOS

SwiftScan: Document scanner that auto renames, uploads, OCRs scans. I use this on every piece of paper that doesn't go straight to the trash.

Working Copy: Git and text editing on iOS for when you broke something and went to lunch.

Overcast: I listen to a lot of Podcasts and audio books. This app lets me do that at 3x and have it still sound vaguely human.

ComiXology: Comic books are fun sometimes. American Vampire, East of West, The Wake are some things I like.

Dark Noise: Sometimes I need noise but can't have music (hard for me to write or code to music). I fine the brown noise option drowns out most conversation around me.

Deliveries: Package tracking. I use a VPN for any network traffic not from my house. May be paranoid but 🤷‍♂️. Also this lets me watch olympic feeds from other countries (if that ever happens again).

FiLMiC Pro: Lets me adjust the camera settings for better video.

HTTPBot: Like postman but on your phone.

Hush: Blocks most of those cookie popups.

Linea Sketch: My default sketching app. I most draw wireframes and woodworking mockups.

Procreate: Clearly the better drawing application but takes more mental effort for me to use so I don't use it as often as Linea.

Oak: Occasionally I try mediation. This app has nice settings and exercises without charging a monthly fee.

Personal Capitol: Not sure I recommend this since you are giving financial data away but I use it to track all my money stuff. Its the only tool I've found other than Mint that can do this with my bank. This is highly dependent on your bank if logins will work.

Scriptable: Automate iOS using JavaScript

Shortcuts: I have some automation for note creation and journalling made using this tool.


Tailwind: I've worked in lots of CSS since ~2006. This way fits my brain and is by far the easiest framework to configure and extend to match a brand or design.

React: I hate that its a Facebook tool but this framework also fits my brain and lets you right "normal JavaScript" rather than custom framework JavaScript. For web "apps" I start here.

11ty: Not everything is a web app. For web sites I start with 11ty it provides templates in many languages (markdown, javascript, liquid, etc) but outputs HTML, CSS. Not HTML that loads another 4mb of JS just HTML and CSS. Like Keynote this tool can be bent to do crazy things.

Alpine: Sometimes I need to toggle some UI with JavaScript but loading React isn't worth it. Alpine brings 75% of what I use React in like 1/100th the size.

Node: API, server side, CLI code I usually write in Node because I know JavaScript best and I can use the same build tools and package managers (npm, etc).

NVM: Manages node versions per project. Keeps you from opening a project 2 years later and trying to figure out what version of node you used back then.

Prettier: I have a love, hate with code formatting tools but I find myself hating projects that don't have this setup. Leads to more consistent code in the end from what I've found.


DuckDuckGo: Default search engine. I've found Google's results aren't as good in the past few years and they have enough data on me already.

Observable: Data workbench using JavaScript (similar to jupyter notebooks in python).

Codesandbox: Like Codepen but with more frameworks and npm modules to play with. You can have a React app running in like 2 clicks.

Hoefler & Co: Very expensive very well made fonts. I have more than I want to admit but not as many as I want.

Google Fonts: Usually where I end up to use fonts for clients and small projects.

Flickr: Old-reliable online photo storage that lets me batch set visibility permissions on images. I've watched half a dozen image services come and go glad this one is still here.

Google Sheets: Default spreadsheets application. Hard to beat the price and collaboration features. Pivot tables and app scripts get me pretty far.

Google Pages: Default text editor for content that has to be shared. Lots of times content starts in Bear for me but if it needs feedback or sharing I'll move it here. Why can't they add better theming and markdown support I'll never know.

Gosquared: Analytics for person projects. I'm done using and supporting Google Analytics for personal stuff.

Square: My default way to invoice and charge for work.

Netlify: My first choice on hosting projects. One of my favorite tools/services from the past few years.

Digital Ocean: If something is more complex than can live on Netlify I go here. It is slightly more expensive than AWS but 1000x easier to use. It is not as free to start as Heroku but way cheaper once you have some traffic.

Hover: My choice to register domain names. I like keeping this separate from hosting provider or email provider since those things change over time. A few dollars more than the big name places but no upsells and no scams.

Github: I've bounced around with Gitlab and Bitbucket but always come back to Github. All my code makes it's way here eventually.

Backblaze: Remote backup for computer and external hard drives. Expensive but has saved my but a few times.

Feedwrangler: Service to sync RSS feeds.

Dropbox: I sync pretty much everything here since ~2008. It has been rock solid, however I don't like their recent push into everything except file sync. The app also seems to be behind the times as far as bloat and wanting root access to my machine.

iCloud: I pay for extra storage. This allows for easy backup of all family devices and all my mobile photos, videos. Slightly over priced but works very well.