5 min read



Following from my last post about The 10 Best Productivity Apps for iOS, I wanted to dig into the best for OS X as well.

I use a lot of apps on my Mac that automate tasks and keep me productive. I’ve narrowed them down to 10 with a few runner-ups.

Best Productivity Apps for Mac

  1. Todoist - I don’t need to talk more about Todoist. But here’s another screenshot.
  2. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-595" src="
  3. MindNode - This is a mind mapping tool that is beautiful and intuitive. Watching Travis Neilson from Dev Tips use it to map out a portfolio site he was helping new developers and designers build was enough motivation to download the trial and then finally purchase it. I use it for connecting different thoughts for the content I create.
  4. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-591" src="
  5. Hazel - I just realized the sheer power of Hazel. With Hazel 4, the guy at Noodlesoft has really stepped up his game. I have tons of files and I used to go about sorting them half-heartedly with Hazel— I’d dump old stuff into a folder on my external hard drive to sort through later. After listening to Mac Power Users #322 about Hazel, I knew instantly what I could do with it. The upgrade from Hazel 3 to Hazel 4 couldn’t have been cheaper— $10— a steal.
  6. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-587" src="
  7. Alfred - Alfred is where all my searches and app launching starts1. With the addition of workflows in Alfred 2, it made Alfred leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. It is also fast, faster than the rest. I tried Launchbar but the search syntax is bizarre. A lot of old time Mac users love Launchbar but it isn’t for me. With Alfred 3, everything has gotten flatter and more in line with native OS X UI, and the Workflow Editor makes it even more powerful.
  8. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-582" src="
  9. DEVONthink Pro Office - This is where all my digital information— documents, pdfs, videos, podcasts that I made, blog posts, web articles that I need for research, tutorials, all of it, gets stored in DEVONthink as opposed to Evernote which I used for 7 years. The turmoil within the Evernote camp and the fact it is difficult to get stuff out of Evernote led me to abandon it for Notes.app and plain text. Anything else gets stored in DEVONthink.
  10. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-586" src="
  11. Airmail - I just switched to Airmail 3 in the process of writing this article. My first choice, Mail.app, was a good option for a long time, but I missed Airmail, which I was using exclusively for a year and a half. The integrations, as well as the recently added snooze and send later features2 made it ideal for me again.
  12. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-607" src="
  13. BusyCal - This is an ugly calendar, for sure, but it is really powerful. The integration with BusyContacts makes it a definite must have if you are using BC as a contacts manager. Fantastical is the darling of Mac users currently— it’s beautiful and plenty powerful. But I use BusyCal and BusyContacts as a CRM so I stick with them. Now if Flexbits came out with a contact manager that integrated with Fantastical, I’d be all over it.
  14. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-583" src="
  15. Ulysses - This could be my favorite of all. I use Ulysses to write blog posts for my various blogs. I use an Automator app to publish to WordPress that Jennifer Mack wrote to post to all my blogs3. I also use it as a Markdown editor to update my portfolio, to write video scripts, and to compose my monthly newsletter.
  16. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-596" src="
  17. Keyboard Maestro - This is the swiss army knife of automation on your Mac. I have a lot of macros, some I built, some I downloaded from the Keyboard Maestro forums and from various Apple enthusiast websites. It is a great tool with a lot of power and is essential for productivity on a Mac.
  18. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-588" src="
  19. TextExpander - I know a lot of people have given up on TextExpander. I get a lot of value out of TextExpander— I have over a thousand snippets there. I don’t remember the shortcuts for all those snippets and some I downloaded and never used4. I pay a small monthly fee for a service/app I get a lot of use out of, so I won’t complain.

<img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-594” src=”


  1. BusyContacts - This is my contacts manager of choice. It is smart, powerful, and the backup feature is a killer feature that I’ve used a lot while testing an app and ultimately screwing up my contacts database. I recommend at least giving it a try and it you do, check out BusyCal as well. The integration between the two is what makes the whole widget work.
  2. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-584" src="
  3. Lynda.com Mac App - I love Lynda.com. I get a free subscription through my school and also our great public library system here in Pittsburgh gives free subscriptions as well. I have downloaded a ton of videos from the site, from developer, business, and graphics, to video and audio, this is the place you want to go to learn. The free Mac app is great. You need to have an annual plan to enable video downloading, however. At $360/yr that might be a deal breaker for some just for downloading the videos. Check out your library and see if they have access.
  4. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-589" src="
  5. Mail - The only reason I still use it is for DEVONthink Pro Office plugin.
  6. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-590" src="
  7. 1Password - The password manager of choice for so many Mac users.
  8. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-581" src="
  9. Chrome - As a developer, I use Chrome’s Dev Tools to help me figure out what is going on with the things I am building. Besides this, I use it to access Gmail and other web services that have integrations with each other.
  10. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-585" src="
  11. PDFPen - This is my pdf reader of choice. With plenty of power and a good looking interface5, it is the first choice in a world dominated by Acrobat.
  12. <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-592" src="
        1. Safari - I read all my Apple news sites in Safari. I would keep them in Reeder for Mac but I want to keep my business separated from my other, nonessential reading.
        <img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-593" src=" What are your must-have Mac productivity apps?
          1. well, apps that aren’t in my dock, anyway ↩︎
          2. send later is only for Gmail and Exchange accounts unfortunately ↩︎
          3. I duplicated each app for each WordPress blog ↩︎
          4. remind me to clean up my snippets ↩︎
          5. at a price Adobe Acrobat can’t touch ↩︎

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