10 Must-Have macOS Tools for Power Users and Developers
Apps that have helped me boost productivity
Macs are expensive machines primarily used by power users and developers to accelerate their workflow. But, despite its ease of use, macOS isn’t devoid of problems.
The Mac app store is still limited and though Apple Silicon Chips promises to change that, yet finding the right set of apps to boost productivity isn’t so easy.
I’ve been using macOS for over five years now and through some trials and tribulations have figured a set of apps that have helped me as a software developer and made me a power user today.
In the next few sections, I’ll share some of these macOS tools that’ll propel your experience and increase your productivity when using a Mac. The idea isn’t to install hundreds of applications that eat up space. Instead, it's important to keep a quality set of tools in your arsenal that help on a daily basis.
A few Mac apps that we’ll discuss would be more developer-focused than general users but I’d recommend you explore them in any case.
A Software Installation Manager: Homebrew
Unarguably, Homebrew should be the first application you need to have on your Mac. Basically, its a package manager that lets you install software tools and developer frameworks from the command line.
One might perceive this as a developer tool but it’s incredibly useful for everyone. Homebrew lets you install and update apps in a single line. The most interesting aspect of this Mac app is that it lets you quickly export all your mac tools and share them with peers or use it for setting a new Mac.
Here’s a sample line you need to paste in your Mac’s terminal to install the application:
brew cask install iterm2
iTerm2 is one of my favorite applications and we’ll see what’s so good about them in the next section.
iTerm2: A Better Terminal
iTerm2 is a free and open-source application and should be your de-facto replacement for the default terminal.
It provides rich features such as split pane windows, easy text selection, on-page search, autocomplete, mouseless copy, paste history, and instant replay(to rewind a session).
iTerm2 is also a perfect match for the Oh My Zsh plugin which lets you customize themes and configurations — something developers love considering a larger part of their day is spent staring at the terminal console.
CopyClip For Managing Clipboard History
Developers, designers, and writers, we all regret or live in the fear of accidentally replacing the last copied text. It’s something that sits like a bug at the back of our heads.
Strangely, macOS doesn’t have a clipboard history manager by default. But luckily, CopyClip is the app you’d need to keep a track of your clipboard history.
This menubar app is minimal and lets you customize the maximum number of items you want to store in clipboard history and also set shortcuts for accessing items. Unlike other clipboard apps that have fancy UI, CopyClip is simple, lightweight, and gets your job done quickly.
Alfred: A Spotlight On Steroids
Like Batman, power users also need an Alfred. This mac application offers far more flexibility than the default Spotlight. From quick web searches to snippets and hotkeys, Alfred has literally everything available for you on fingertips.
Workflows, undoubtedly are the most loved feature of Alfred. It lets you automate your workflow such as killing processes, creating a temporary 10-minute email address, accessing recent downloads, iTunes control. Communicating across different apps couldn’t have been easier.
AndroidTool: Communicate With Your Smartphone
This open-source application lets you get one-click screenshots or record screens from your android or iOS devices which are connected with the mac.
Moreover, for Android devices, you can share files, install APKs, and fetch bug reports pretty quickly. This mac application is a must-have for any android developer.
To install this, simply run the following command in your terminal:
brew cask install androidtool
Spectacle: A Window Manager
Keeping mouse or trackpad use at a bare minimum is the easiest way to boost productivity. While there is a paid mac app Magnet that offers a lot of customization, Spectacle, being a free app, stands out for me.
Spectacle allows you to snap windows side by side or at different areas of the screen with ease thereby allowing you to multi-task. This is a big relief for users who had to painfully resize the windows earlier.
While at the time of writing, Spectacle, is no longer being maintained, it's still a good bet for managing windows.
Fork: A Simple Git GUI Client
It’s no mystery that every developer uses Git in his or her projects. Despite a fairly straightforward set of Git terminal commands, having a GUI client helps us quickly perform certain complex actions such as cherry-pick, resolving conflicts, and also compare branches and files easily with drag and drop tools.
There are tons of GUI client Mac apps available. GitKraken is a good bet but it has a limited free trial. Tower is amongst the more powerful Git GUI clients.
For me, Fork is the most user-friendly Mac application for all Git purposes. It’s fast, intuitive, and makes you feel at home. From merge conflicts to advance diff viewer and interactive rebasing, it has everything covered for you.
Sip: Organize, Pick, and Share Your colors
You could be a UI developer or a designer but would still need a color picker that lets you extract hex code values on the screen.
ColorPicker is a paid Mac app that boasts of a minimalistic design but Sip, a menu bar app is the show-stealer.
Sip editor makes editing a powerful and pleasant experience by allowing you to create your own palettes and share them.
It also provides you with the ability to smartly determine the color format based across languages and frameworks. For instance, you might want to convert a hex color into UIColor for iOS, and it’ll do that for you.
Contrast Checker helps avoid low-contrast color combinations by previewing text and background colors from the Sip menubar app itself.
Building gifs from screen recordings or videos is a common task for developers, bloggers, and designers alike. I use it daily for sharing demos of UI prototypes.
While there are a lot of apps like LICEcap that let you screen record gifs, GIF Brewery is by far the best Mac app for creating and customizing gifs and videos.
It provides amazing flexibility to trim videos, sett the desired frame rate, and add filters before creating the GIFs.
OnyX And DaisyDisk To Free Up Space
Last but not the least, we have a Mac app for cleaning up space. The app store possesses a ton of Mac cleaner applications. But a lot of them are overpriced and install far too many scripts in your system. CleanMyMac is one such app that people are apprehensive about.
Personally, I’ve always opted for OnyX and DaisyDisk, to do most of the cleaning job.
OnyX is a powerful tool that does most of the tasks like the expensive CleanMyMac X, but for free. Essentially it's a multifunction utility that lets you verify the system files and run cleaning tasks.
But it can also alter the structure of your system. So, it's important to do your research and know what you’re doing with that application, especially when running maintenance scripts.
DaisyDisk on the other hand is a disk space analyzer that provides a beautiful visualization of your Mac’s hard drive and other connected disks. Even in its free trial, DaisyDisk is fully functional and lets you track applications and files that are hogging space.
While these were the set of Mac apps that are helping me boost productivity, it isn’t all. Bartender, Magnet, and BetterTouchTool are also amongst the most downloaded apps by Mac users. At the same time, Xcode, Atom, and Visual Studio are commonly used by developers.
As always, the apps you’d need totally depend on your work and it’ll certainly require some playing around with the macOS to personalize your set of tools to become a power user.
That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading.