Just make sure you pick one! OmniFocus is a powerful task manager with a very nice user interface which makes it a joy to use on Mac, iOS, and Apple Watch. OmniFocus has a lot of features and is very powerful so it can be a bit intimidating to get up and running with it, but if you invest the time to learn how to use it, it will be time well spent. We have a whole library of free OmniFocus tutorials here or if you want our step-by-step system you can join our course here.
Basically, Keyboard Maestro automatically performs certain actions whenever a particular trigger is activated, which could be something like a hotkey combination, connecting to a wireless network, or even connecting a specific USB device to your Mac. Once you start applying these macros, it will change how you use your computer.
Mike wrote an article about Keyboard Maestro awhile back that includes some video examples to help you get started. A recent Keyboard Maestro use case for me: when I start up my Twitter app on my Mac, it will automatically kill it after 5 minutes. This stops me from getting lost into reading about whatever the outrage of the day is. Hazel is also an essential part of pretty much any paperless workflow, and we have an article that takes you through a simple setup.
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For more Hazel tips, check out this article. Inside the Dojo we have even more workflows that are shared by our members. Just hit a keyboard combination and nvALT opens, ready to capture whatever you throw at it. It includes the standard commands like cut, copy and paste, but also has extensions that let you do a lot of different things like formatting text or sending to OmniFocus.
You can send emails, post tweets, apply Markdown rules, etc. Bartender keeps you menu bar clean by controlling which application appear in the main menu bar, which ones appear only in the Bartender menu bar a sub-menu for your menu bar , and which ones are hidden completely. There are a lot of great apps in this list. Before you pull out your credit card, we want to point you to a service that many AE community members love: SetApp. With SetApp, you pay a monthly subscription and get access to a large list of Mac apps, including many in this article. The subscription includes upgrades too.
As we mentioned last year, expect more productivity apps go the subscription route. SetApp is a great way to get some of the best apps for one price.
Fortunately, there are several great alternatives. Airmail is an absolutely beautiful email client that integrates with just about every productivity app out there. Postbox is a powerful email client with some unique features like domain fencing, which prevents you from sending email from the wrong account accidentally. MailPlane is great if you like the Gmail web interface but prefer a native app, and MailMate is an incredibly powerful keyboard-centric email client if you like writing in Markdown.
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We settled on Zoom, and it has been rock-solid every since. If you need an answer to something right away or need to have a discussion about a certain topic, a tool like Hipchat or Slack will allow you to reach a resolution much faster than an email thread.
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Atlassian, the maker of Hipchat, is releasing Stride , which we plan to test out this year. Now that Twitter has announced the end of their Mac app, it is even more useful. There are several online backup solutions available, but the AE team likes Backblaze because the Mac client is much more polished and easy to use than some of the other alternatives.
Graphic — If you are a designer or someone who works heavily with vector drawing and illustrations, you are probably subscribed to Creative Cloud and using Illustrator and Photoshop. Snagit — There are many apps for capturing and marking up screenshots including Tapes mentioned below , but if you want an app that does it all, Snagit is one of the most powerful.
You can quickly capture images and video with a few keypresses, do all sorts of annotations, and quickly share them to the clipboard or the cloud. If you share it to the cloud, it will automatically put the link in your clipboard. You can even do scrolling and panoramic capture to capture more than what you see on the screen at any one time.
This is also great for customer support as it allows us to demonstrate via video how to solve customer problems. Byword — I tend to do most of my writing in Ulysses see below , but Byword is a beautiful Markdown editor that is great for writing plain text that is not part of a larger project.
The Mac app syncs with the iOS version, which is where this app really shines. Here is a quick guide we have written. OneNote is free and has a huge fanbase, especially among Windows users. Its tight integration with MS Office makes it a compelling choice for people in that ecosystem, though the Mac app is more limited than the Windows version. Anytime I need to plan things out including this article , I start in MindNode. It also has an extensive built-in stencil function where you can search for extension stencils that other people have uploaded online to share.
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And if you bought a new Mac recently, you probably got them for free. The real standout here is Keynote, which is both very powerful and easy to use. The animated transitions that are included with Keynote are top notch and allow you to make very professional looking presentations quickly and easily. It allows you to record your screen easily and edit your screencasts with callouts, transitions, annotations, and much more. It works well for writing blog posts, articles, and even longer-form content.
These very words are being typed in Ulysses. It has one main purpose: it keeps your computer and more importantly your screen from going to sleep. Very handy when on long Skype or webinar viewing sessions.
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I tend to use Chrome more as it is well-integrated with Google web apps and I like the way tabs work, but others on the Asian Efficiency team use Safari. One downside of Chrome is it tends to eat up your laptop battery a lot quicker than Safari. Which browser you use is personal preference. A real time saver. Mike uses this all the time to collect a file from the Finder location before he drags and drops it into another application like a Keynote presentation.
It allows you to resize windows according to pre-determined grid sizes, and has a ton of customization options. This can be problematic for team meetings, but Shush allows him to mute his microphone except when he presses a hotkey to activate it. It has a ton of features, a great user interface, and is the fastest FTP client out there. If you transfer files often, Transmit is great.
Otherwise, the basics are great. You can also add to-do items into our note-taking app, Bear. So, which browser is best? Depending on the benchmarks you look at—here are a bunch from ZDNet , for example—the browsers appear evenly matched for speed. Most people nowadays probably have their favorites locked in: Messages for texting, Facebook Messenger for everything else, WhatsApp for sending government secrets or expiring pictures of your booty, Discord for any and all things gaming, Slack for all things not-gaming, et cetera.
Facebook Messenger, as you know, requires you to be on Facebook to use it. Everyone also probably has a video chat app they love to use.
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That said, we live in an time where most messaging apps have some kind of video or calling component—or so it feels. So if you need that human contact beyond simple texting and emoji, odds are good that you can already do it in the chat app you love. VLC is the best media player you can put on your Mac, period. It works perfectly with minimal fuss once you install it, and it can play almost any file you throw at it. HandBrake is a free video conversion tool that, when coupled with an app like MakeMKV , will turn you into a ripping and converting powerhouse.
HandBrake is pretty easy to use, but there are still plenty of settings that might give you a little anxiety when you first load the app.
We have a guide to help out with that. You can even do a little light editing, too. If you need a little more organizational oomph, consider Adobe Bridge CC —completely free to use, even though you might have assumed it was a paid app. Well, setting it up is easy. And we also like that you can get pretty creative with your searches when sorting and organizing your sprawling photo library.