05 February 2016

OS X Software and Tools

Everybody has their list of software and tools they like to use and I’m certainly no different. Let’s get right to it, shall we?


Homebrew - Before you go any further, install Homebrew. If you’ve used Linux before, you’re probably familiar with package managers such as RPM or apt-get. Homebrew is billed as “the missing package manager for OS X”. What does that mean? It means that it’s an alternative way to install software. Lots of the tools and software on this list are available via Homebrew.

PopClip - PopClip is one of those tools that I really, really love. When you select text, it pops up a little menu right next to the selection that lets you do all kinds of neat things. The built-in stuff is good, but it also supports a vast plugin ecosystem. YOU WANT IT!

SpiderOak - SpiderOak is a zero-knowledge (read: secure) backup solution and replacement for Dropbox. It’s much more powerful, too!

Little Snitch - Little Snitch shows you what applications are using the network and when. It’s great for catching apps that are sending or retrieving data without necessarily telling you they will.

Near Lock - Near Lock is an incredibly handy iOS and OS X app that uses low-energy Bluetooth to automagically lock and unlock your Mac. I’ve used it for a few weeks and I’m very impressed with how well it works.

Path Finder - Let’s face it, the native Finder app sucks out loud. Path Finder is a power-user replacement for Finder.

ColorSnapper 2 - ColorSnapper is a handy color picker. Want to know precisely what color someone used in their logo? ColorSnapper does that.

Caffeine - Caffeine is a little app that does one thing - when activated, it prevents your machine from automatically going to sleep, dimming the screen, or starting screen savers. Yes, you want it.

TG Pro - TG Pro monitors each of the temperature sensors and fans in your machine. It’s nice for keeping an eye on things.

Bartender 2 - Bartender is a must-have app that lets you organize your menu bar apps. You’ll want this.

Hocus Focus - Hocus Focus will automatically hide application windows that you haven’t used in a while. It’s fully configurable and really helps to declutter your screen.

Hammerspoon - Hammerspoon is a very powerful “glue” app that lets you write Lua code that interacts with OS X API’s. A great way to start is to manage your window positions with a simple Lua script.

Übersicht - Übersicht lets you run system commands and display the output in HTML5 formatted widgets. Yours truly has even written a few.

f.lux - f.lux adjusts the color temperature of your computer display based on the time of day. It’s going to seem weird and perhaps even annoying at first, but eventually you’ll get addicted.

ControlPlane - ControlPlane is a context sensitive tool that reacts to where you are and what you’re doing.

Alfred 2 - Alfred is a hotkey tool that lets you search your machine, launch apps, and search the web. It has a really nice plugin ecosystem, too. Think of it as Spotlight on steroids.


Visual Studio Code - Visual Studio Code is Microsoft’s open source text editor that works on Windows, OS X and Linux. It’s still in beta, but coming along nicely. I dropped Sublime Text for this one.

Oh My ZSH! - Oh My ZSH is an open source framework for managing ZSH configurations. You just need to trust me on this one. It’s good.

Fantastical 2 - Fantasical is a VERY slick and powerful calendar tool.

Parallels - Parallels Desktop is a virtualization tool that lets you run Windows (and other operating systems) on your Mac.

Airmail 2 - Airmail 2 is a feature-filled email client that beats Apple’s native solution handily.

Angry IP Scanner - Angry IP Scanner is an open source network scanner that’s nice and fast.

CodeRunner - CodeRunner is a crazy cool programming editor that supports over 20 languages right out of the box.

Dash - Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager.

Graphic - Graphic is a really nice vector image editor.

iTerm 2 - iTerm is a terminal emulator. It’s been around for years and is a gold standard.

LastPass - LastPass is a password management tool. NOTE: I’m planning to drop LastPass once the SpiderOak team builds form fills into their new zero-knowledge password management tool.

Navicat Premium Essentials - Navicat is a database management tool that supports MySQL, MariaDB, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQLite.

Pixelmator - Pixelmator is an amazing image editor that even has a complete vector mode built-in.

Transmit - Transmit is a really nice file transfer tool that supports FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3, and WebDAV.

VLC - VLC is a kick-ass video player.

Transmission - Transmission is a fast and free BitTorrent client.

BONUS: Dotfiles!

Dotfiles are the preferences and settings for your machine. Frequently these are located in your home directory and have names like .bashrc and .bash_profile. Here’s a link to my personal dotfile repository on GitHub. If you don’t already have your own dotfile repository, you can clone this and have a good place to start.