Some of my favorite Mac apps in 2011

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A few of my favorite apps

Applications iconI’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite apps from 2011. I wrote a TextMate command to link all of these1 (60+ links in four minutes!), so if you spot any misfire links that I missed, let me know in the comments. This isn’t an all-inclusive list (despite its length), but it’s a good chance to highlight some gems that may have passed under the radar of the big sites.

No fancy awards here, just a grateful mention of apps that make my life better. Glaring ommisions (like the unbeatable 1Password) are only because I assume you’ve already heard of them. Absolutely no slight intended to anyone not on this list. Well, except for a few. You know who you are.


  • Skitch - My favorite way to quickly communicate screen-based information with annotations.
  • flickery - The best Flickr experience I’ve found.
  • Acorn - I rarely open Photoshop these days. Acorn suits my needs beautifully and is super-fast.
  • AppControls - Great little GUI for creating CSS3 buttons.
  • Carousel - Instagram when you’re not on your phone.
  • ColorSchemer Studio 2 - I love this app.
  • Gradient - This new app is awesome, and is only going to get better.
  • Icon Slate - The best way I’ve found to quickly create ICNS files for Mac apps.
  • Pochade - A great toolbar color picker for when you need a color fast. HSB, RGB(A), NSColor, UIColor and more at the click of a button.


  • AppStar - Selling anything on the App Store? This is an amazing tool for tracking sales, rankings, ratings and more.
  • TextMate - With v2 running now, I can safely say it’s doubtful I’m switching away any time soon.
  • Espresso - Espresso fulfills a different need than TextMate for me: HTML editing with a more robust live preview, CSS X-Ray and prettier remote project handling.
  • CodeRunner - Great app for developers in almost any language.
  • HTTP Client - Todd Ditchendorf’s tool for working with REST APIs. Simple, effective and very handy.
  • Kaleidoscope - One of the prettiest diff tools I’ve ever seen. Missing built-in merge, but it does do image diffs.
  • iTerm - Makes me love my terminal even more. Split screens, tabs, awesome keyboard-based text selection and tons more.
  • RegExRX - I love Patterns, but when I need submatches and more extensive highlighting, I go here. Hopefully Patterns will catch up on that front soon.


  • MailTags - Yes, I still use This–and Mail Act-on–are why.
  • MailPluginFix - When Apple updates Mail, everything goes to hell. Easily fixed from the Terminal, but even easier with MailPluginFix.
  • Apptivate - I started using this in 2011 and am completely in love with it. It’s not just a hotkey launcher, it handles key sequences as well. Infinite combinations.
  • Arq - My offsite backup system of choice. It uses S3 and has the best recovery capabilities I’ve seen.
  • BetterTouchTool - I keep trying to get along without this (to free up resources and reduce conflicts), but I can’t. I can’t quit you, BetterTouchTool.
  • Cocktail - My favorite system maintenance tool. Solid and regularly updated.
  • Delibar - I love Pinboard, and I loved it before Delibar. I love it even more now.
  • Droplr - Droplr released version 2.0 of their Mac client this year, with plugins and great preview features. Handles Markdown notes, too, with Syntax highlighting in the notes panel.
  • Dropzone - I may have professed my love of this utility recently.
  • Fluid - As I invest more and more heavily in the cloud, Fluid keeps me sane. Separate cookies, Userscripts and Userstyles, in addition to a ton of Todd’s mad science. It’s awesome.
  • f.lux - It adjusts your screen color based on the time of day. Sounds silly, but run it for a while. You’ll miss it dearly when you turn it off.
  • Growl - Seriously. One of the most indispensable Mac utilities got even better this year.
  • GrowlVoice - After a long-awaited update, this is now by far my favorite interface to Google Voice.
  • LaunchBar - You may dig Alfred, or even have snuck back to QuickSilver, but nothing has tempted me away from LaunchBar since I first gave it an honest try.
  • myPhoneDesktop - It’s not the prettiest, but it’s an excellent and full-featured way to get information between your Mac and your iOS devices. URLs, pictures, text and more.
  • Yoink - Path Finder Drop stack for the Finder. Love it.
  • TotalFinder - Tabs, dual-pane windows and a few extra features. Finder should be like this by default.
  • TextExpander - I can’t leave this off of any list. Unbelievably useful in everything I do on my computer (or iPhone/iPad).


  • MultiMarkdown Composer - This year saw the release of Fletcher Penney’s (father of MultiMarkdown) editing app. It’s packed with power-tools for long-form MultiMarkdown editing.
  • Byword - Serving a slightly different audience, Byword has become my favorite setting for getting writing done. It inspires me to start, and makes it easy to finish. Full Markdown feature set.
  • Clarify - This new app from BlueMango is a highly-focused version of ScreenSteps (my favorite tool for building documentation). If you write screen-based documentation of any sort, check this out.
  • Scrivener - Big update to Scrivener this year, and it’s an amazing writing tool (was before, better now). On the edge of feature bloat, but not there yet.
  • MindNode Pro - I admit that I use Mindjet MindManager and MindMeister just as much as I use MindNode, but it’s still always impressed me as an elegant and affordable mind-mapping solution. Definitely worth mentioning.


  • Simplify - An awesome addon for the Spotify app. Desktop artwork, hotkey control… I even made a skin for it.
  • LastHistory - Not new, and I don’t think it’s been updated for a while, but if you Scrobble to, check this out.
  • Musicality - Wrapper for, Pandora and Grooveshark. I use it less now that I’m into Spotify, but it’s still a great app. Keyboard shortcuts, Growl track notifications, and cross-service scrobbling.


  • Permute - This is one of the best GUIs I’ve found for video conversion. Simple, fast and high-quality output.
  • iStopMotion - So much fun.
  • ScreenFlow - The winner in the screencasting arena, at least for me.
  • FotoMagico - This is another really cool app from Boinx. I don’t make a lot of slideshows, but when I do, this makes them awesome.


  • Raven - I haven’t actually gotten very far into this app yet, but I’ve played with it enough to know that it’s a highly-polished way to bring together a plethora of Single Site Browsers and keep everything in one place. It won’t kill Fluid, not for me, but it’s tasty.
  • TaskPaper - Not my go-to task manager (even after a concerted effort), but I still use it daily for personal web/coding projects, and I love the plain-text approach to task management.
  • Fantastical and QuickCal. It doesn’t matter which you choose, calendar entry has never been so easy. I’m hoping to have time to write up in-depth reviews of both soon.
  • Reeder - It’s how I do RSS on my Mac. It’s gorgeous and–for the most part–very stable and fast. A couple quirks, and it seems to hate Flash, but I haven’t been tempted by anything else since I started using it.
  • Tags - I talk about Tags all the time. It’s not under heavy development, but it’s never failed me.

Honorable Mentions

  • Spout - Really cool way to view your Twitter stream. Highly distracting and resource-heavy, but pretty brilliant in its execution.
  • Tunesque - An awesome way to search iTunes for any kind of media. I’ve mentioned it before.

Happy New Year! I’m excited to see what the Mac dev community comes up with in 2012!

  1. As well as a couple specifically for searching iTunes using Apple’s API. It’s fast and deadly accurate. They’ll all show up in the Blogsmith bundle soon…