Best of 2016: Mac apps for nerds

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Welcome to part 3 of my “Favorite Apps of 2016” series. This installment focuses on Mac utilities and developer tools. If you’re not a power user or a coder, there will probably be fewer apps of interest to you, but there are quite a few that are great gateways for intermediate users to start making more of their Macs.

Check out the previous lists, too: Mac Productivity and Mac Creativity.

Utilities

The list of apps I use every day that I think get mentioned enough that I can save some word count on describing them…

The “Obvious” List

The Standouts

CleanMyMac 3
I fell in love with this one in 2016. It covers all the bases that Cocktail did for me, plus disk scanning for large files, extension and launch agent management, and more. Again, not to be confused with MacKeeper.
HoudahSpot
I love Spotlight. I love HoudahSpot because it makes complex Spotlight queries easy while adding even more power. Recently-added Smart Folder export makes it helpful to me even outside of the app.
As a side note, I built this series using HoudahSpot to find apps opened within a date range and export the list with just the app name and category columns as a CSV file. Then a little manual curation and a ruby script to sort the list into posts by category.
Hammerspoon
This utility takes a lot of fiddling, but for adding keyboard features and other customizations, it’s pretty amazing. Finally a valid reason in my workflow to learn Lua.
Default Folder X
It’s taken some time for Default Folder X to regain full functionality since El Capitan, but it’s there now and I’m glad to have it back. If Save and Open dialogs make you crazy, this is the solution.
Droplr
Droplr continues to be my favorite way to quickly share screenshots, animated gif recordings, and Markdown/Code notes. It’s fast and well-integrated, and I love being able to use custom domains (ckyp.us, my Beastie Boys tribute of a domain name), sort my share history, and track analytics.
Smart Sync
Not pretty, but for the price the best folder-syncing solution I’ve found for my needs.
Keyboard Maestro
In 2016 I finally got serious about learning Keyboard Maestro. I always knew it was amazing, thanks to bloggers like Gabe Weatherhead (MacDrifter), Patrick Welker (RocketInk), and Dr. Drang, but now I’m actually starting to use it and realize the full scope of what it can do.
Fileloupe
This one is a bit pricy ($20) for my needs, but worth it in the end. Browse folders of files with split previews, metadata inspection, sorting, filtering, and flagging, video playback, and more.
Monity
When my other system monitoring solutions fell behind the times or ceased development, I tried out Monity and it’s fit the bill nicely. It’s a Today widget that gives me all the CPU, disk, and network info I need.
OmniFocusColors
Here’s a random and free tool for creating OmniFocus color themes.
NetSpot
A WiFi scanner and analysis app. Great for solving wifi network issues and improving coverage.
Arq
My favorite backup app. I use it with SFTP, but also love the integration with Amazon S3 and Glacier. The speed boost this year was significant, too.
LaunchControl
LaunchControl has kept up with the OS changes, and is still the most solid and complete tool for managing (and creating) background daemons and agents for macOS. Even if that doesn’t sound interesting to you, trust me, it makes running scheduled and repeating tasks easy. You’ll thank me later.
Jettison
This disk ejecting app from St. Clair Software is my top choice in its bracket. I can eject all (or specific) external and network drives with a keystroke, and automatically eject them on sleep.

Developer Tools

Xsymbolicate
Need to read and understand symbolicated crash reports easily? This is the tool that helped me make sense of them.
Hyper
I use iTerm 2, but Hyper (as well as Black Screen) have taken some serious strides in the realm of highly-customizable (via HTML/CSS/JavaScript) terminal apps.
RegExRX
I know, there are a ton of better looking RegEx apps with very cool features. RegExRX keeps drawing me back, though, with great highlighting, error reporting, and the ability to import and export a pattern converted to whatever language/syntax you’re working in. It can even generate code for initializing and executing regex objects in each supported language.
Feeder
I use Feeder primarily for Sparkle appcasts, but it has excellent features for bloggers and podcasters as well.
Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope hasn’t updated since 2014, but it’s still the best diff/merge tool for my needs. A hefty price tag, though ($70), so you might prefer Xcode’s FileMerge and something like Patch Viewer.
PaintCode
Import PDF, SVG, PSD, AI or EPS documents or draw your own with built-in vector tools and output generated code in Swift, Obj-C, Java, C#, JavaScript or SVG, ready to use in your app as fully-scalable, code-driven graphics. It’s awesome, and there’s a Sketch plugin available.
SwitchUp
I’m going to offer a strong recommendation of SwitchUp for developers, but with the caveat that it’s long been abandonware. It’s perfect for testing applications with multiple sets of preferences and cache files, though.

Next up will be my favorite iOS apps from the last year!