Brett’s Favorites 2019

Looking back at last year’s picks, almost every one of them is still in regular use. I’ll skip repeating most items from that list this time, with the exception of apps that had notable updates in 2019. I do recommend taking a look back, though!

As always, this is not a complete list of everything I’ve loved this year. It’s an incomplete list of things that got a lot of use or remained top-of-mind all the way through December.

My Projects

I’ll start with my favorites from my own projects this year. A lot of my time was dedicated to Marked 2 and the upcoming nvUltra, but I still found time for a few labors of love.

Bunch
My little batch app launcher was created this year and got a lot of early-morning love. Launch and close “contexts” with groups of apps, do not disturb and desktop settings, and lots of scripting/automation capabilities.
mdless
A nontrivial amount of time went into improving my tool for previewing markdown files from the command line this year, too.
howzit
I created this tool to help me keep track of various build systems and task runners across disparate projects. It’s quickly become a vital tool for me.
iTextEditors
The big chart of iOS text editors continued to change, with both losses and new additions.
SearchLink
I’ve been talking about this utility for searching and linking in Markdown files a bit lately, and I’ll say it again: most useful tool I’ve ever written.
Gather
Ok, this one was written in 2012 and hasn’t really been updated since then, but it still works. It’s an app version of the Marky the Markdownifier concept. Until I get around to doing some repairs on Marky, this is one of my most reliable ways to convert web pages into Markdown.

Services/Web Apps

Sanebox
I can’t say enough good things about SaneBox. The reason my email is, well, sane is because Sanebox keeps everything except the most important emails out of my inbox, easily and automatically sorting everything into folders of decreasing importance for my later review (or not, in a lot of cases).
Fathom
I’ve completely switched this site over from Google Analytics to Fathom, which does zero tracking while still providing me with the analytics I need for my hand-picked advertisers. Your privacy as a BrettTerpstra.com reader remains a top priority.
Setapp
Ok, I’ll repeat this one from last year because they’ve added a bunch of new apps and, if you’ve panned it in the past, it’s worth looking at again. I use more than enough apps on Setapp to justify the monthly subscription fee at least a few times over. Just to name a few: iThoughtsX, CleanMyMac X, Forklift, Dropzone, Paw, TaskPaper, Permute… it’s a long list. Recent additions include MindNode, Path Finder, Filepane, Ghostnote, and more.

Software

I’ll keep the apps list relatively short this year. My favorites remain the same as they have for years, including MailMate, iThoughtsX, TextExpander, Timing, and a host of other apps that I mention literally all the time.

HoudahSpot
HoudahSpot 5.0 came out this year, with a host of new features including a folding text preview, regular expression filtering, and faster file tagging.
Sip
With the death of Color Studio Pro, Sip has become my color palette creation and reference tool of choice. It doesn’t quite fill the Color Studio gap for me, but it’s a solid app with a lot of great features.
Hook
Hook is a lion of a productivity tool. I find more and more uses for it every day. I gave it a writeup here in November, as well as at Lifehacker.
ScreenFlow
ScreenFlow is the best screencasting/screen recording software available on the Mac, and version 9 is a big upgrade and worth a look even if you’re a happy user of a previous version. Multiple-display recording and new edit tools, among other improvements. I love its ability to do animated GIF exports, but I also have to mention Gifox (available on Setapp), which is still my go-to GIF tool.
Affinity Photo/Affinity Designer
Despite no significant changes, these two get a repeat mention just for being amazing, especially at their price point. Honorable mentions to Acorn and Sketch.
RegexRx
The 64-bit update for RegexRx came in just under the Catalina wire, but it remains fully operational. Which is great because despite a slightly clunky interface, it’s still my favorite regex tool on the Mac.
The Top 20 Apps Not in My Dock
Check this post for my top Mac utilities of 2019, including SoundSource, BetterTouchTool, and others. Special mention for Dash, which saw a major UI update this year.

iOS

Pushcut
This is an awesome app for expanding the usefulness of Shortcuts. It allows you to trigger shortcuts from all kinds of events and sources, including an API for incorporating external automation services.
Drafts and 1Writer
These remain my note-taking tools of choice on iOS. 1Writer is also my go-to when starting longer-form pieces on my iPad or iPhone.

Gear

Some IRL picks for this year… all of these and more can be found in my Amazon favorites.

Wallet-friendly

GafferPower Mini Gaffer Tape Rolls
I don’t think you can have too much gaff tape around, but that might just be me. 4-pack of 1” x 8yards for $16.88.
Wall Nuts
I was ecstatic to discover these. Wire nuts are a thing of the past for me now. 100 pack of 4-conductor for $12.12.
Echo Dot Mounts
I’ve been wall-mounting my Echo dots, and the best solutions I’ve found are the OYOCO Acrylic Wall Mount ($9.55) and this USB Outlet Cover Plate Mount ($13.99).
TESSAN Portable 2 Outlet Travel Mini Power Strip
I wanted to solve the problem of cables running across the living room floor to charge laptops, phones, and other USB devices from the couch, so I neatly hid some extension cords and put this little $13.99 power strip under the couch. Two 3-prong outlets and 3 USB charging ports ready for pull-out use.

Big Spender

CalDigit TS3 Thunderbolt 3 dock
Not an impulse buy at $279.99, but the best hub I found when I picked up my USB-C-only MacBook Pro. It has 15 ports, including 2x Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s, DisplayPort 1.2, 5x USB-A & 1 USB-C 3.1 (5Gb/s), 1x USB-C 3.1 Gen2 (10Gb/s data only), Gigabit Ethernet, UHS-II SD Card Slot (SD 4.0), Optical Audio (S/PDIF), 3.5mm Stereo Audio In & Out. Integrated heat sink, 85W laptop charging, and secondary TB3 port with 15W of power downstream.

As a more portable solution, I also picked up the Anker USB C Hub Adapter ($39.99), which transforms a USB-C port into three standard USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, and 1 Ethernet port.

Tangentially, the 2-way StarTech.com Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter ($71.33) worked just fine to connect my older Thunderbolt Display to my new laptop (as well as an entire Thunderbolt 2 hub).
Ultimate Hacking Keyboard
I mentioned this one last year, of course, but given it’s the most frequently used accessory I have, and one that brings me constant joy, I figured it was worth mentioning again. A fully-programmable (truly) and ergonomically-adjustable mechanical keyboard for $275, plus the $75 palm rests that you really should plan on getting if you’re doing this.

And there you have it, some of my favorites here at the end of 2019.

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Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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