R@ndom Curve

Indispensable Utilities in Mac
Andres C. Rodriguez 2016-02-05

This are the utilities that I find indispensable on the Mac. I have a minimalistic approach to managing the apps in my desktop. They really have to prove their worth to be there. Here they are in alphabetical order.

1Password 1Password

Password Vault and Form Filler

This is probably my most essential utility. I have literally hundreds of entries, my password, my kids important document numbers, photos of passports old and new, etc. I love pressing Cmd + / to fill a password in any web page I might be, across browsers. Kudos. I just wish it placed commonly used logins before rarely used ones (when there are multiple login matches for a web page).

Alfred Alfred

Program Launcher and overall utility belt (Copy/Paste history)

This is a great product. I tried to move away from it with Yosemite, but I missed things like the Copy/Paste history and being able to reboot from the prompt/keyboard. I have always wanted to move deeper into their Workflow automation but never had the time.

Atom Atom

Text Editor Extraordinaire

Great editor. A little slow on startup still, but overall a good programmable editor. Slightly easier to customize (IMHO) than Textmate or Sublime. I miss Sublime speed when opening a small file from the command prompt. I have not customized as much as I use to do with Emacs, but little by little I am learning how.

Backblaze BackBlaze

Seamless Online Backup

Backblaze is a great company. Reading their blog you get a sense of the passion they have put into the product. It is pretty much install and forget. Whenever I have needed a deleted file or a lost directory, surely enough I can find it through their website. It’s been a couple of years since I see any innovation on their side, but I guess that “if it aint broken don’t fix it” is part of their motto.

DaisyDisk Daisy Disk

Disk Space Analyzer

It’s a good utility. It’s “beauty” is a little overstated, but it does it job well. I wish it had a little better support for keyboard shortcuts (or maybe that I had the time to learn them if they are there already).

Dash Dash

Documentation Browser

Life saver. Specially on planes. I get all the documentation for tens of technologies, offline. Even if I am online, the nice shortcuts keep me coming back to it to check documentation. I have never used the code snippet functionality and to me it feels a little like feature bloat.

Dropbox Dropbox

Seamless Local/Cloud Drive

I have wanted to use a less bloated product than Dropbox for a while. But the truth is they are the best doing what they do. You get the luxury of working with local files, but these files are synced (as opposed to a rsync or a fuse solution).

GitHub Desktop GitHub Desktop

Git client for Mac OS X

I use this little app extensively whenever I need to commit code. It gives me a nice overview of what changed in my code and it allows me to write a nice commit message. It’s pretty much the only thing I use it for, reverting back to the command line for most other git related tasks.

Quiver Quiver

Programmer’s Evernote

This is my newest favorite app. I have designed my own theme with help from the developer, and write my blog posts on it (I am writing this on Quiver). I then have a shell script that transfers everything to the gh-pages repository via jq and the JSON files. I have developed a theme of my own, and I am hacking my way into it little by little. Pretty cool.

Sip Sip

Small Color Picker

Great utility. I wish I did not have to click twice to select a color. And I have been wondering if it’s not worth it to invest in xscope which seems to be the best tool for the job.

Sketch Sketch

Image Editor

I pretty much replaced Adobe’s suite of tools with this small, unbloated little app. It deserves all the praise it has garnered. I just wish there were more tutorials and How-Tos online for it.

Skype Skype

Internet VoIP

No need to describe it, right? Like Dropbox, I am constantly in the lookout to replace it, but since pretty much everyone has Skype at the other end, it is very hard to replace. Does its job.

Slack Slack

Team Chat

This great team chat app as completely replaced Skype in our engineering team. It is searchable, hackable and smart. If I forget to turn it on in the morning and someone chats with me, it sends me an email. We connect monitoring tasks bots to it, so it serves as a kind of monitor wall for the entire team. Funny how it can be so close to a Skype funcionality and yet be so different.

StuffIt Expander StuffIt Expander

File Expander (handles ZIP, GZ and every format)

Probably the first thing I install in a new computer. It does its job well and gets out of the way.

Things Things

Todo List Manager

I do GTD with Things. Overall it works pretty well. It synchs with my iPhone list of tasks and the funcionality is there. But it seems like it has been 10 years since a significant update happened. I love the design of the app, but I am sure they could be doing more things in the delegation front and the usability front to name but two areas where the app could see some love.

Transmit Transmit

File Transporter (S3, FTP, SFTP Client)

I usually use Transmit to connect to S3 o AWS. Again, nothing extraordinaire, it does its job, and it does it well. The design is nice (although a little old as well). If I needed to connect to an FTP server or something like that, I presume I would praise it more.

TypeFu TypeFu

Typing Tutor

Since I never learnied to type when I was a kid, I have been using this for the past 2 years in the hope of getting better at it. I do not think I have done with sufficient discipline to fully learn how to type. I am getting there though. Pretty nice little app.

VMWare Fusion VMWare Fusion

Virtualization Machine

I am still using VMWare Fusion despite VMWare’s awful customer service. I always try to switch to Parallels (or VirtualBox) but end up coming back. I am not sure why. It feels more “hackable” than Parallels, and I think it does a better job running Linux virtual machines.


Movie/Media Player

VLC is the little movie player that could. It plays pretty much every time of movie you throw at it. No looking for CODECs, no fiddling with format converters. It’s bare bones in certain areas. It drives me nuts that it has no true random shuffling, the GUI feels a little old in the tooth. But hey, it’s free. I should not be complaining.

IDEs I use

Honor Roll

The ones that I use very unfrequently, or I have used in the past (found a replacement, or have not worked that well):