Best of 2017: Creating on macOS

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See all the 2017 roundups!

For many of us, creating is the same as working, but I’ll make a distinction for the sake of categorization.

Apps in this list that are also available on Setapp are marked with the Setapp logo:

Standard disclaimer: 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!

Pretty Pictures

Pochade 2
Pochade is still the ideal color picker for me in most cases. Simple eyedropper and color adjustments, and it’s really easy to export a color specification in hex, rgb, hsa, or even Cocoa colors (NSColor, CGColor, UIColor).

Via Ashley Bischoff, Pochade is officially not being updated anymore. She pointed out ColorSnapper 2, which looks pretty great1.

If you want something with palette management, though, Sip (Setapp) is a top notch app and often runs alongside Pochade when I’m coding.
Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer
These 2 apps blew me away this year. I love Acorn (and its automation capabilities), and Pixelmator has always been pretty cool, but nothing has ever been a true Photoshop replacement for me. Affinity Photo takes the cake if you’re looking for a vast feature set, a list of capabilities I haven’t even come close to exploring all of yet, and a pretty easy learning curve coming from Photoshop principles (and keyboard shortcuts).
Affinity Designer is the replacement for Adobe Illustrator. It works perfectly for round-tripping vectors to Affinity Photo, too. I was never as good at Illustrator as I was at Photoshop, and I’m not as good at Affinity Designer as I am at Affinity Photo, but I do not regret purchasing both of them.
While Affinity Designer is a complete vector solution, I still prefer Sketch when it comes to designing icons and wireframes, mostly because of its amazing plugin architecture (and the array of available plugins), and its superb batch export capabilities. It makes updating a full icon set in Xcode a one-click process, and simultaneously outputting 1x, 2x, 3x, and PDF versions of a single image a breeze.
Permute Setapp
I use a variety of video conversion apps, most based on ffmpeg, which I also use from the command line. Among these, Permute has become my app of choice for quickly converting both video and audio files without a lot of fuss. It also integrates well with Downie, automatically converting downloaded videos for iPad/iPhone/Apple TV.
Gifox Setapp
I hadn’t heard of Gifox until recently, and only discovered it because of Setapp. It’s quite easily the best tool I’ve seen for recording screen GIFs. At this point it’s completely replaced all of my other solutions, except for…
For full screen recording and editing, ScreenFlow has been my favorite for years. The latest release (version 7) adds a 60fps timeline, text effects, Audio Unit support and more. David Sparks and I created the every screencast in the 60 Mac Tips series with it.
Also worth mentioning that ScreenFlow can export animated GIFs these days, too, and does a great job with optimization.

Clever Words

Possibly the coolest Markdown utilities to come out in 2016, I’m still using it plenty in 2017. TableFlip gives you spreadsheet-like editing capabilities for (Multi)Markdown tables, and can live update documents as your table changes.
As the purveyor of nvALT and someone hard at work on a new note-taking app, it’s harder for me to admit than most, but Bear is just really damn good.
Marked 2 Setapp
I can wholeheartedly endorse Marked when working with Markdown documents. I use it every day. Dev is a great guy, too, super responsive and good looking.
I went to the CMD-D conference as a volunteer, but ended up taking the spot for Andy Ithnako’s talk when he had to cancel. I whipped up a slide deck in Markdown over a lunch break and presented it from my laptop. Deckset is awesome.
Quip has entirely replaced Google Docs for me. I only use Gdocs when someone else makes me. Quip is simple, fairly friendly to Markdown users, and has an API that’s far more accessible and usable than Google’s. Great change tracking, commenting, and these days it also has spreadsheets and a host of integrations you can stick into documents (like Kanban boards and polls). My only complaint is that the iOS version disables my 3rd party keyboards, but other than that, I’m a Quip lover2.
MultiMarkdown Composer
MultiMarkdown Composer is what I’m editing this in right now, and really the only editor I use for Markdown other than Sublime Text. The public release version is great, and the beta is always even cooler. The iOS version is back in development, too, definitely worth watching for.

Most of my writing workflow is built around my own scripts and services, but I think I’ll do a final post in this series with my own favorite projects of the year. Exciting, right? Hearing someone recap all of the favorite things he or she did last year. I’ll make slideshow, too. Old school, with a carousel, and you’ll all have to sit around and smile while I describe in detail what I was doing in each photo. I feel like I’ve gotten off track.

Lovely Sounds

I record and edit music (and podcasts) in Logic. Logic has a guitar tuner. I like SteadyTune better. That’s it.
I podcasted a lot in 2017. I used different mics and different recording platforms. I even tried different editing apps. The one thing that’s remained constant, always, is Shush: the perfect cough button for any USB microphone.
iZotope plugins for Logic
I picked up iZotope RX Elements on a tip from Aaron Dowd (@thepodcastdude) and loved it. I went on to purchase Nectar and Ozone as well, and I regret nothing.
I suppose Airfoil should be included in the nerdy utilities edition of this series, but it’s so specifically for music that I’m sticking it in here. Airfoil (now updated for High Sierra) lets me use my computer to run Spotify and Airplay (or Bluetooth) the sound out to one or more external speakers. I can actually send it to my nice Phillips speakers attached to a DAC and Airport Express and my Apple TV with a big soundbar connected to it at the same time and play music through both with perfect sync. That’s a lot of sound coverage for someone who doesn’t own a Sonos.

Ok, I’m feeling like I forgot a bunch of stuff on this one. I was really hoping to avoid doing a catchall “Stuff I forgot from 2017” post, but I might have to.

See all the 2017 roundups!

  1. Just purchased it to see if it makes the 2018 list…

  2. Idea for a Quip user group: “Quivers”