A List of macOS Programs/Tools I Can't Live Without

Whenever I get a new laptop, I go through the same set up sequence of installing a series of "can't live without" programs and tools -- things that are absolutely essential to my everyday workflow, things that I have trouble functioning without. I figured it would be helpful if I threw all of these into a blog post for everyone to see.

Note that the list below is ultra macOS oritiented (sorry Windows/Linux folks). Also, I left off the really obvious stuff (like Chrome).

  • Tyke: I both can't live without Tyke and can't really explain why it's so damn useful. Tyke bills itself as, "A little bit of scratch paper that lives on your Mac menu bar." I use it almost all day long, every day. I am constantly parking text in Tyke, to either cleanse the text of formatting or just to come back and get it a few seconds/minutes later. To be clear, Tyke is not a place to take notes -- it's a very temporary location to store a small amount of text. Does that make sense? Probably not. But of all the tools listed here, Tyke is likely my favorite.
  • Caffeine: Stop your computer from going to sleep -- ever. There are few things more annoying to me than walking away from my computer for a bit, or even having a conversation in front of my computer (especially during a presentation) and having my computer go to sleep, which now means that I have to log back into it. Caffeine stops all that nonsense, without having to dig into System Preferences. You can enable/disable Caffeine from the menu bar in a single-click.
  • Day-0: About five times a day I need to look at a calendar, just to see what day it is, what dates fall on which days, how many weeks away something is, etc. Day-O lives in my menu bar and gives me answers to these question in a single-click.
  • ShiftIt: Dead simple window manipulation via hotkeys. Easily put two windows side-by-side or on top of each other. Or, quickly maximize a window (without going into the annoying and awkward "full screen" mode on macOS). My skin crawls when I'm using someone else's machine that doesn't have ShiftIt installed.
  • Work at Night: I'm often working in bed at night next to my poor wife who is trying to sleep. In a pitch-black room decreasing my laptop's brightness to zero still isn't dark enough. Work at Night allows you to decrease your brightness even further.
  • Paste 2: An infinite history of everything you've ever sent to your clipboard. This application is both a life-saver (it often saves data that I would have otherwise lost) and a time-saver (when performing repetitive copy/pasting sequences, Paste 2 allows you to move much faster).
  • f.lux: You don't know that you need this application until you try to live without it. f.lux "makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day." When working early in the morning or late at night, f.lux is like a warm blanket and hot cocco -- it just makes you feel better.
  • WeTransfer Moment: This is the only browser extension on my list. Whenever you open a new browser tab, a new full-screen -- and usually awesome -- image is shown. This makes for quite the conversation starter when I'm giving demos and presentations, plus it's just pleasant to look at.
  • Bartender: Because I love to install apps that live in the macOS menu bar (see above), I need a way to easily manage my menu bar. This primarily means hiding Apple's system menu bar items that I don't often use to give me more real-estate. Bartender allows me to do exactly that.