Best mac productivity apps 2013

However, other considerations have melted into the background. Do we need to look for apps that offer syncing? And although some of the newer alternatives to this space deserve a look, our recommendation will be limited to those tools that are genuinely focused on managing projects and tasks. Here are the criteria we considered in more detail. To be sure, there are plenty of other options. The productivity category of the Mac App Store is full — ridiculously so — but there is a lot to sift through, and not all of it is high quality.

There are also plenty of web-based applications that may suit your needs best see Asana , Basecamp , Flow , Remember The Milk , or Trello. Many of these are more focused on teams and less on personal productivity. While not as customizable as some of the other options, Things is just so well-designed and hits enough of our criteria that it comes out as our top choice.

However, this is a difficult choice to make. There are really no wrong choices here. While Things is our choice as the best option, you cannot go wrong with any of the contenders. While not quite as powerful as OmniFocus, 2Do offers more flexibility and options than Things wrapped in a nice interface.


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And Todoist is a very solid option that works well with a team and gives a consistent experience across devices. While aesthetics were at the bottom of our list of criteria, the look and feel of Things 3 is so good that I want to start there. To be clear, the design of this app goes far beyond how it looks. Things has always been a pretty app, but Things 3 brought that aspect of being pleasing to another level. A lot of apps use animations to add cues to their interface; Things makes it buttery smooth.

Animations are tricky. When done right, they can add context, give subtle hints about what is possible, and add delight.

Top 10 Productivity Apps for the Mac, 2018 Edition

Cultured Code nailed the balance between subtlety, utility, and delight with the interactions included in the latest version of Things. When we talk about the design, we should also include the navigation of the app itself. Any good Mac app includes keyboard shortcuts that enable the user to be more efficient. Things 3 nails this as well. Open the app and just start typing. Rather than force you to open the Quick Find modal, Things starts displaying search results when you type anywhere in the app that is not an input.

Why not just show people what they need immediately? A pleasure! One has to search to find a piece of functionality that is not available via the keyboard. And when it comes to design, there is one characteristic of Things that got my attention more than any other. That is…. When I first gave Things 3 a look, this is the feature that sold me.

A long time ago, Things was my first task management tool as a new Mac user, but with the slow development times at Cultured Code and a lack of sync support, I made a move to OmniFocus. For the better part of 5 years, I never gave Things any further consideration. When I first tried Things 3, something clicked for me. I wrote about it in my initial review:.

There always needed to be a secondary piece of software required. Things 3 is the first tool that made me think there was a chance I could handle it all in one place. And indeed, a project in Things feels very much like a blank document rather than a rigid checklist. There is space for notes and reference information that does not feel like a simple free-form text field that is a second-class citizen in the apps UI.

Things, as well as many of the apps in this space, do a good job of making it easy to get stuff into it. Using the Quick Entry dialog, you can quickly type a customizable shortcut and enter in a new task. Most task management apps offer this feature, but what I like about Things is, again, the usability.

The form includes all the necessary fields, while also including excellent support for using just the keyboard. Even better, with the Things Helper, you can create tasks from a currently selected item in other apps. Using this, Things will include a link back to the original item. Using one master inbox for all your inputs becomes a lot more feasible with this type of functionality. One of the aspects of Things that has always been important is how it structures the tasks that make up your life. That allows you to structure your projects, tasks, and checklists according to the various roles you play project managers, designers, and accountants, but parents, volunteers, coaches as well.

It even gets its own icon! This approach to the foundational structure in Things makes it easy to focus on one area at a time. Further down the structure, each project is also given a nice visual treatment. Again, this concept of a blank document works well. This allows you to include any background information or reference materials required at the top of the project. From there, you create the tasks required to complete the project. If your project has specific categories of tasks or is broken into segments, Things lets you create headers to add structure to the project itself.

Further, each task can include notes or documentation, and tasks can be recurring or include a checklist. Add it all up, and you get this beautiful document of what needs to be done. You can set this view up to sit on the side of your screen as you plug away. Another aspect of Things 3 that I admire is the consideration of how to use time. Yes, you can assign a due date for tasks or projects, but you can also specify a time when you want to work on your tasks but they are not necessarily due.

This is how you add items to Today. This implementation in Things is very well thought out. If I have a task I want to complete tomorrow, I set that value in the task itself all from the keyboard, mind you. Most other task managers would treat this as an overdue item and give you a glaring read badge.

This is a far friendlier way of allowing you to address intention when managing your tasks. Due dates are still there for when needed. For me, hard due dates are rare, so the more relaxed approach to time in Things is welcome. Most task managers give you the option to use tags. Yet I and believe many other Apple users never seem to get around to using them. Not in the file system, and not in my main applications. However, I really like the way Things handles tags. The basic structure of Things is as mentioned above. You create high-level Areas of Responsibility or high-level projects to Things.

From there, areas can include multiple projects and tasks. In this way, Things operates a lot like folders on your file system. Tags are how you can view tasks across the different areas and projects in your life. You can view any given tag by using the high-level keyboard-based navigation. Simply start typing the name of a tag and then select it from the search modal.

The result is a view that looks like a project.

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Except it can include tasks that are located in different projects, grouped by area. Since there is little ability to create custom views in Things more on that below , this ability to view tags allows you the most flexibility. You can even filter your list of tagged tasks by other tags. So meta. Compared to some of the other options, a lot of people will find it too rigid. Whereas a tool like OmniFocus allows you to configure things in a myriad of ways, Things only gives you a minimal set of options.

Nowhere is this more apparent than creating custom views. Where OmniFocus or 2Do allow you to build highly customized and specific views for your tasks, Things has almost no options at all. If you like to focus on one day at a time, the Today view is a good option. The same is true for viewing an entire area of your life. If you view an area that includes projects and single tasks, you cannot see all the tasks for the entire area.

All tasks for a specific project can only be viewed by clicking into the project itself. Apart from the lack of customization which, I should add, some people would see as a positive feature , there are a few other missing features in Things. First, the lack of Markdown support or any other formatting is a bummer.

19 Apps to Install on Your New Mac for Maximum Productivity

How much more useful would the notes be if you could add headers, bold or italicize text, or even include file attachments? As well, other apps in this category provide options that some folks will not want to be without:. Last, for hardcore iOS users, the lack of shortcuts on the iPad version of Things 3 was disappointing. The shortcuts are so good on the desktop; it was a shock that there were none available on the iPad when Things 3 launched.

That changed in an update in May, but the iPad version still lacks compared to the macOS version compare both. All things considered, these are small items that do not take away enough from Things. One last item to mention is the different versions of the product.


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Apple users in are people using more than one device. How does Things shape up on an iPad or iPhone compared to the desktop? Personally, I downsized to two devices over the last three years. Where I used to use all three options, I currently only use a phone and a laptop. And in my usage, Things is perfect. Where the desktop app allows me to see what I need as I go through my day and throw new stuff into the inbox for later processing, the iPhone app is a wonderful experience for planning.

My morning or evening quiet times start with meditation and prayer but often end in review and planning. Things on my phone gives me a very nice view using Areas, Projects, and tags. And where the keyboard navigation is spot on in macOS, the touch-based navigation and accompanying animations on iOS are just as good.

And so too is the support for drag and drop. Things is above all else a very smooth feeling app. As mentioned above, keyboard support on iOS is lacking and is an area where improvement is needed. OmniFocus was one of the first iPad apps to support drag and drop, where you could drag multiple lines of text in from a notes app like Bear and each line becomes its own task. Things, however, takes the dragged text and inserts the text as a note inside a new task. Which method you prefer will really depend on how you work. Then, drag in your tasks and you have a pre-determined list of tasks.

For those looking to use Things as an increasingly complex task manager, this may be the superior form of drag and drop implementation. Just make sure you pick one! OmniFocus — The absolute best task manager for Mac and my digital brain. OmniFocus is a powerful task manager with a very nice user interface which makes it a joy to use on Mac, iOS, and Apple Watch.

OmniFocus has a lot of features and is very powerful so it can be a bit intimidating to get up and running with it, but if you invest the time to learn how to use it, it will be time well spent. We have a whole library of free OmniFocus tutorials here or if you want our step-by-step system you can join our course here. Keyboard Maestro — Keyboard Maestro is an application to launch macros on your Mac, which can be used to automate just about any repetitive task. Basically, Keyboard Maestro automatically performs certain actions whenever a particular trigger is activated, which could be something like a hotkey combination, connecting to a wireless network, or even connecting a specific USB device to your Mac.

Once you start applying these macros, it will change how you use your computer. Mike wrote an article about Keyboard Maestro awhile back that includes some video examples to help you get started. A recent Keyboard Maestro use case for me: This stops me from getting lost into reading about whatever the outrage of the day is. Hazel — Hazel is an automated file organization utility that can watch whatever folders you tell it to and organize your files according to whatever rules you create.

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Hazel is also an essential part of pretty much any paperless workflow, and we have an article that takes you through a simple setup. For more Hazel tips, check out this article. Inside the Dojo we have even more workflows that are shared by our members. Just hit a keyboard combination and nvALT opens, ready to capture whatever you throw at it. PopClip — PopClip is a menu bar application that opens up an iOS-style interface whenever you highlight text on your Mac. It includes the standard commands like cut, copy and paste, but also has extensions that let you do a lot of different things like formatting text or sending to OmniFocus.

You can send emails, post tweets, apply Markdown rules, etc. Bartender keeps you menu bar clean by controlling which application appear in the main menu bar, which ones appear only in the Bartender menu bar a sub-menu for your menu bar , and which ones are hidden completely. There are a lot of great apps in this list. Before you pull out your credit card, we want to point you to a service that many AE community members love: With SetApp, you pay a monthly subscription and get access to a large list of Mac apps, including many in this article. The subscription includes upgrades too.

As we mentioned last year, expect more productivity apps go the subscription route. SetApp is a great way to get some of the best apps for one price. Fortunately, there are several great alternatives. Airmail is an absolutely beautiful email client that integrates with just about every productivity app out there. Postbox is a powerful email client with some unique features like domain fencing, which prevents you from sending email from the wrong account accidentally.

MailPlane is great if you like the Gmail web interface but prefer a native app, and MailMate is an incredibly powerful keyboard-centric email client if you like writing in Markdown. We settled on Zoom, and it has been rock-solid every since. If you need an answer to something right away or need to have a discussion about a certain topic, a tool like Hipchat or Slack will allow you to reach a resolution much faster than an email thread. Atlassian, the maker of Hipchat, is releasing Stride , which we plan to test out this year.

Now that Twitter has announced the end of their Mac app, it is even more useful. There are several online backup solutions available, but the AE team likes Backblaze because the Mac client is much more polished and easy to use than some of the other alternatives.

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Graphic — If you are a designer or someone who works heavily with vector drawing and illustrations, you are probably subscribed to Creative Cloud and using Illustrator and Photoshop. Snagit — There are many apps for capturing and marking up screenshots including Tapes mentioned below , but if you want an app that does it all, Snagit is one of the most powerful.

You can quickly capture images and video with a few keypresses, do all sorts of annotations, and quickly share them to the clipboard or the cloud. If you share it to the cloud, it will automatically put the link in your clipboard. You can even do scrolling and panoramic capture to capture more than what you see on the screen at any one time. This is also great for customer support as it allows us to demonstrate via video how to solve customer problems. Byword — I tend to do most of my writing in Ulysses see below , but Byword is a beautiful Markdown editor that is great for writing plain text that is not part of a larger project.

The Mac app syncs with the iOS version, which is where this app really shines. Here is a quick guide we have written. OneNote is free and has a huge fanbase, especially among Windows users. Its tight integration with MS Office makes it a compelling choice for people in that ecosystem, though the Mac app is more limited than the Windows version.

Anytime I need to plan things out including this article , I start in MindNode. It also has an extensive built-in stencil function where you can search for extension stencils that other people have uploaded online to share. And if you bought a new Mac recently, you probably got them for free. The real standout here is Keynote, which is both very powerful and easy to use. The animated transitions that are included with Keynote are top notch and allow you to make very professional looking presentations quickly and easily.

It allows you to record your screen easily and edit your screencasts with callouts, transitions, annotations, and much more. It works well for writing blog posts, articles, and even longer-form content. These very words are being typed in Ulysses. It has one main purpose: Very handy when on long Skype or webinar viewing sessions. I tend to use Chrome more as it is well-integrated with Google web apps and I like the way tabs work, but others on the Asian Efficiency team use Safari.

One downside of Chrome is it tends to eat up your laptop battery a lot quicker than Safari. Which browser you use is personal preference. A real time saver. Mike uses this all the time to collect a file from the Finder location before he drags and drops it into another application like a Keynote presentation. It allows you to resize windows according to pre-determined grid sizes, and has a ton of customization options.

This can be problematic for team meetings, but Shush allows him to mute his microphone except when he presses a hotkey to activate it. It has a ton of features, a great user interface, and is the fastest FTP client out there.