Best of 2017: working on macOS

[Tweet : nvALT]

See all the 2017 roundups!

As usual, I’ve found myself unable to write up the complete 2017 macOS list in any reasonable timeframe, so I’m once again splitting it into parts. This year’s categories will be “Working,” “Creating,” and “Nerding Out.” Welcome to the Working edition.

As I note in every Yearly Top Apps List, this is not a complete list of every cool app I use. It’s the highlights from the ones I use the most often. Don’t be offended if your favorite app (or the app you develop) isn’t here, but feel free to add recommendations in the comments!

I’ll mention Setapp right off the bat. While its acceptance hasn’t been what many of us hoped, the idea of a single monthly subscription to cover all of the apps you use is still an excellent middle ground between the “old” way and the new subscription-based model that many developers are feeling the need to adopt. I highly recommend jumping on board. Apps in this list that are also available on Setapp are marked with the Setapp logo:


The apps I use for planning, executing, and tracking my workload.


Still the best GUI for working with Git. I seriously love this app. It now supports git-flow, which is just plain awesome.
iThoughtsX Setapp
iThoughtsX continues to be my top choice for mind mapping on the Mac (and iOS). 2017 saw the addition of support for MindMeister formats, which for me brings it full circle. I use MindMeister’s excellent API to quickly round trip my maps for sharing.
It would be a grave omission to neglect mentioning MindNode 5. It’s a beautiful upgrade to an already-solid app and it still holds a place in my regular workflow.
Billings Pro
Billings has been my method of invoicing and collecting for all of my freelance work for years. Billings Pro has been a boon, especially with the iOS/watchOS versions.
Yes, MailMate is still my email app of choice. There are so many great options lately, but none of them scratch ALL of the itches that MailMate (combined with SaneBox and Spark on iOS) do.
TaskPaper Setapp
TaskPaper is my jam. I love the ability to use plain text files synced through Dropbox (and Git, see Task Management for Coders). Simplicity in the format, but scriptable power in the app.
I used to switch task managers far too often. I’ve stuck happily with OmniFocus for years now. I have great things to say about Things 3 and 2do Setapp, but I’m not switching again unless I have to.
NotePlan Setapp
So I don’t switch task managers, but I do dilute my system a bit when something is just too useful to avoid. Noteplan is one of those. It uses the TaskPaper format to collect notes and todo lists, synced over iCloud with the companion iOS app. I wrote this up for MacStories last year.
Timing Setapp
When I want to know how I’m spending my time on my computer, whether out of curiosity or for billing, Timing is the easiest and coolest way to do it. Automatic tracking with the ability to tag and build projects based on what documents you opened, websites you visited, etc..
There’s also a new tool called Break that looks highly intriguing. Might make it into next year’s roundup.
I’ve been using Banktivity for finances for the last few years (since it was called iBank), It does an excellent job of automatically pulling in all of my transactions from all of my accounts and allowing me to categorize them. Regex pattern matching allows automatic categorization (and a simple GUI interface to make it painless), and the charts and breakdowns are excellent.
This is the coolest thing to happen to contact management in years. If you like the instant calendar access that Fantastical provides, Cardhop brings the same power to your contacts. See my writeup for more info.
I continue to be a big fan of Curio, and 2017 saw the release of Curio 11. It keeps getting better. Integrated mind maps, lists, tables, index cards, albums, pinboards, and stacks, along with awesome features like dragging in an OPML file and converting it to an outline or a mind map instantly.
If you do any serious work with PDFs, PDFpen Pro is a must-have. Multi-lingual OCR, complete annotation and editing tools, and a full suite of apps across all Apple platforms.
Disclosure: PDFpen developer Smile is a long-time supporter of this blog. This in no way affects the fact that I think their products are top notch.
Paprika Recipe Manager
I’m going to go ahead and include Paprika in my productivity section because it makes my kitchen so much more… productive. It’s the best recipe manager, and the latest version further improves the shopping list and pantry management.
I mentioned Deliveries in my best of iOS list. I found out via Twitter that you can forward shipping notification emails to Deliveries and have your stuff automatically added for easy tracking right from Notification Center (Today view).


Sharing is part of working, whether it’s sharing your work or hanging out at the water cooler, so I think it’s fair to include the social apps in this section.

Flume Setapp
I only got into Instagram in any serious fashion this last year. I find the lack of decent 3rd-party apps for it frustrating, especially on iOS, but Flume has been a delight on macOS.
If you’re writing for the web, MarsEdit has long been the standard for managing WordPress, Tumblr, and other blogs with APIs. 2017 saw the release of version 4, a big update that added myriad features and integrations.
Pinboard is my only web bookmarking platform. I don’t even bookmark in my browsers under most circumstances. Spillo is the best Pinboard interface on macOS right now.
I used the native Twitter app for a while, but then there was an update that ruined the experience for me. Switched back to Tweetbot on both Mac and iOS and I have no reason to go back. I mean, regex mute filters…
The Brave web browser is a bold step for web browsing security and privacy. It boasts complete blocking of ads and trackers, but you can also set up automatic monthly donations that are automatically distributed to the sites you visit most (or have pinned to get the lion’s share).

Stay tuned for the “Creating on macOS” edition with all of the best design, writing, and music tools!

See all the 2017 roundups!