Welcome to 2017, I hope you had a pleasant ending to a horrible, awful, very bad year. 2016 was an interesting year for me1. That said, my love of apps hasn’t diminished.

This is part one of some standout apps and products from this last year. Some new, some updated significantly, some just so useful I can’t help mentioning them. I’ve done this every year since 2011, and they’re typically some of my most popular posts (among ones that don’t get linked from bigger sites), so I hope you enjoy them. The posts in this year’s series will include:

  1. Productivity and communication apps (macOS)
  2. Design, Photo, and Audio/Video (macOS)
  3. Utilities and Developer tools (macOS)
  4. Top iOS apps
  5. My favorite 2016 projects
  6. Probably a catch-all post for the less easily categorized picks

Without further ado, part 1: Productivity and Communication.


I’m going to start with what we’ll call “the ‘obvious’ list.” They’re apps I love and absolutely deserve mention, but that I’ve talked about enough across my various channels that I probably don’t need to elaborate on too much. Any section in this series that contains such apps will have an “obvious list.”

The “Obvious” List

Apps I use daily and don’t function without:

The standouts:

Reeder 3
I’d been using ReadKit as my newsreader for quite a while, but ran into some bugs around the same time Reeder 3 was released. The bugs are fixed now, but I’d already switched to Reeder and and it’s been great.
By the way, I settled on Feedbin as my primary RSS sync, though FeedWrangler and Minimal Reader both have their strengths.
I mentioned Spillo in my top picks last year as well. Despite the proliferation of “read later” services and Instapaper premium features recently becoming free, Pinboard remains both my primary bookmarking platform and my “read later” workflow. Spillo is still the best native client for Pinboard on the Mac.
Billings Pro
I’ve used Billings and now Billings Pro for all of my freelance and sponsorship invoicing for years. Last year’s addition of Apple Watch features has been very cool, but mostly I love it as a time tracking and invoice management system.
Paprika Recipe Manager
I never get tired of talking about Paprika, especially because this last year has led to some very serious culinary endeavors for me. Excellent parsing of online recipes, tagging and rating, and shared shopping lists and meal calendars make it indispensable year after year.
Brainwave Studio
This one is new to me. I’ve experimenting with binaural beats for a while. After having my ADHD meds taken away last year, I began a desperate search for ways to compensate. I found isochronic tones, which pulse at specific frequencies like binaural beats, but don’t require stereo headphones. Brainwave Studio is a $9 app that lets you build your own sessions with isochronic tones, ambient sounds, and music tracks.


Twitter’s native app on the Mac has been love/hate. Ever since they started shunning 3rd party developers, the latest features of Twitter often require using it despite its shortcomings. Tweetbot has kept up nicely, though, and is my default client.
There has been a somewhat dizzying number of elegant and reliable email clients released/refreshed this year. Nylas N1 is fascinating, Postbox has added some amazing productivity features, and apps like AirMail have made email beautiful. Despite all of this, nothing has come close to replacing MailMate for me.

Stay tuned for the next “Best of 2016” post shortly!

  1. In Minnesota, “interesting” translates as “unusual and probably bad,” so… it’s definitely been interesting, but getting better day by day. I’ll write more about this when it’s appropriate.