We’re into 2023 now so I can take a look back at what apps worked for me in 2022. I try out lots of stuff, and make videos on many things I like, but that doesn’t mean everything sticks.
Today’s list is what has stuck for 2022 and I’ll be using in 2023 on macOS.
Obsidian is a cross-platform note-taking application, but that doesn’t do justice to how much power is in Obisidian for everyone. I use it to research and write all my blog posts/YouTube scripts. I use it at work to track Github Issues. I’m using it to research and then write a book.
Even that barely scratches the surface of what Obsidian can do via the extensive plugin ecosystem that is available for the application. If you’re looking for a place to store your plaintext notes across macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, iPadOS, or Android – then Obsidian should be your first stop.
While many people are totally fine with streaming, I like to own as much of the media I consume as possible. That means I still own and purchase discs and copy their content to my own digital library which is housed in Plex.
To get my media into Plex I use MakeMKV and Handbrake. Then Plex runs on my Synology DS920+.
While Plex isn’t free, I paid for the lifetime license a few years ago and it was $200 well spent. We used it over Christmas to watch our favourite holiday movies while visiting with my in-laws since the movies weren’t available on the streaming services at their house. It was as simple as plugging my iPad into a USB C hub and then to the HDMI cable on the TV.
Okay, I said that this was my macOS apps which means I’ll have to admit that I mostly use Canva on my iPad. I do love the application though, and I do use it on macOS once a week so it gets in this list.
Every thumbnail you see on my YouTube channel is done via Canva. I’m not a designer by any stretch of the imagination so coming up with something from scratch is pretty much always going to be terrible. Canva provides a bunch of templates to get me started on thumbnails though so I use them and tweak them as needed.
I may still not be doing the best thumbnails possible, but they’re far better than I’d come up with on my own.
- Get Canva
For years I’ve used Alfred as an alternative launcher on macOS. It let me store my snippets, and have clipboard history, and I even spent a bit of time with the automation features.
This year I’ve moved more and more of my workflow to Raycast though. I even swapped the hotkeys between the two at the end of 2022 making Raycast my default launcher.
What I like about Raycast is the plugins that are simpler to understand than Alfred. Take the Obsidian plugin for Alfred as an example, to open a new vault I have to remember to type
oo, in Raycast I just select the
Open Vault command and it lists all the vaults that Obsidian knows about.
When I started using Alfred, it was the new kid on the block in launchers and took huge steps forward in usability over QuickSilver, today Raycast is doing the same thing to Alfred and current launchers. If you like Alfred, or any othe launcher, by all means keep using it, I’ve just been falling more and more in love with Raycast.
- Get Raycast
My favourite RSS reader by far is Unread. It’s beautiful and clean and easy to read and the keyboard commands are excellent. I submitted an early bug during the iPadOS 16 beta cycle, and an update came out a few days later with a fix. Unfortunately Unread isn’t available on macOS, and I do some of my RSS reading on macOS which means I use Readkit.
Readkit is a clean RSS reader on macOS, though compared to Unread I find the look a bit dated. I like it because it’s fast, and the keyboard commands I use, like
Shift ⌘ C to copy the web link of an article, match between Unread and Readkit.
If Unread released a version for macOS, I’d move to that, but Readkit is a good RSS reader I’m happy with until that release happens.
- Get Readkit
This year Github shutdown their text editor Atom, which meant I needed to look for a new secondary text editor. My main coding application is Vim, but sometimes I need to open a file in some other application because it suits the workflow better.
Enter BBEdit, which has been around since before I was in highschool. BBEdit is a powerful text editor that opens huge files with ease. One of my first code editors was actually their TextWrangler product which was essentially free “light” BBEdit. I couldn’t afford to purchase a fancy text editor at the time and hadn’t fallen in love with Vim yet so TextWrangler helped me earn my first dollars as a web developer.
Now BBEdit could fill that roll for you as the demo/free version is essentially TextWrangler, and has all the features I need for my secondary text editor. I’ll likely purchase it this year anyway because I like supporting developers of software I use.
My only knock agaist BBEdit, and why I could never use it as my main editor, is that it has no Vim control keys for navigating your text. If you’re not a developer that loves Vim, this won’t matter to you though.
- Get BBEdit
Mail for macOS is barely passable, so I use Mimestream for all my email needs on macOS. If you use email accounts outside Gmail/Google Apps, then Mimestream won’t get all your accounts in one spot, but I don’t so it works for me.
The biggest selling factor in Mimestream is that it just works. Mail takes forever to download messages, and Mimestream is lightning fast. Other email clients keep trying to reinvent email as a medium of communication, which just makes working with email harder.
I’ll be paying for Mimestream when it’s out of beta, and if they ever have an iOS/iPadOS client…I’ll be using that as well.
- Get Mimestream
Now there are lots of apps that I use regularly, but they’re not apps I spend lots of time in. They make my life a bit better because they do something really well.
Soulver is the calculator that just makes things simple for you. Want to get the
% of a number, type in
30% of 50 and it will tell you what the percentage value is. I use Soulver for some fairly basic math to pay myself regularly. It converts from USD -> CAD and then can figure out what percentage goes into each account of my business.
There are lots of conversions I end up doing in my development work. One I regularly do is to change serilazed data into unserliazed data so I can read it and make sure that the values are correct. Before Boop I just had to trust that some online service wasn’t capturing and storing the data, with Boop I can unserialize data locally without needing to go online.
Boop does much more than that though. It can sort lines of text, or trim whitespace on text, or remove line breaks. To see everything it can do with your text, check out the Boop documentation.
- Get Boop
With the proliferation of menu bar apps in macOS Bartender is a required item for me. It lets me hide apps in my menu bar so I don’t have to see them stretching across the entire width of my screen.
Bartender lets you choose to hide/show icons in your menu bar in many different ways. I have my Harvest timer set up to show if it doesn’t match an email that Bartender let me set. This means I can tell when I’m tracking time for a client so I don’t let a timer run wilb by accident.
If you’re finding your menu bar out of control, Bartender is the answer.
Yes macOS has built in screenshot functions, but CleanShot X has so many more options. It lets me set backgrounds on windows, take timed screenshots, record GIF’s, record videos, and annotate my screenshots.
If you’ve seen a screenshot on my site in the last few years, it was taken with CleanShot X. I use it to annotate screenshots for Slack, or that I send to clients. At least once a day CleanShot is used in my work.
- Available on SetApp
- Purchase CleanShot X
Downie & Permute
Both Downie and Permute get regular use from me, especially to capture videos of my kids figure skating. Downie lets you download pretty much any video feed/file from anywhere. With my wife being the figure skating coach, and having one kid that doesn’t skate, I’m often at home watching online via the stream provided by Skate Canada.
With Downie I’ll grab the video stream directly to save the video and put it in my Plex library. Then I can share it with family/friends as they want to see it.
Permute works in conjunction with Downie to convert those video files to whatever your preference is, though that’s not all it can do. I regularly use it to convert a
.icns file (application icon from inside a macOS app) to a
.png file so that I can use the icon inside Canva. Yes other applications can do this, but I don’t need to open Affinity Photo 2 just to quickly convert an image format.
Finally, Lungo helps me control when my mac goes to sleep. It’s a small coffee cup hidden by Bartender that will prevent my Mac from sleeping when I need it fully open and active to perform some long task. I use this when I deploy to my client sites as the main deploy script takes a while to run over 90+ sites.
Back when I had a laptop, I used Lungo to make sure that my computer never went to sleep because the wakeup process annoyed me.
There is one honourable mention in the Affinity Suite of Apps. I happily ditched Adobe and their crazy high subscription fees years ago and started using Affinity applications instead. This year they released version 2 of all their apps, and included their publishing software on iPad.
I loved v1 of Photo and Designer for my work, and I’m very much looking forward to the power that Publisher is bringing to macOS and iPadOS.
Affinity apps work on macOS, Windows, iOS, iPadOS for one price. No subscriptions needed. No different versions purchased for each platform. I’d happily pay twice the price, and it would still be cheaper than Photoshop used to cost me.
What apps stuck for you in 2022?