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Top 12 apps for macOS

Written by Pavel Cherkashin

May 25, 2021

Once a day, there are a lot of stories on Medium about productivity and even more stories describing apps that the authors use in their daily activities. I will be no exception and will share with readers my set of apps for the Mac.

Disclaimer: I’ve been in the Apple ecosystem since about 2010 and have tried hundreds of different apps and utilities. In this review, I’ve compiled all my experiences into practical recommendations.

1. Browser. Google Chrome(

Yes! The first app in the Apple ecosystem will not be Safari, but Google Chrome. I made my choice a few years ago when I started paying more attention to design issues when developing mobile apps. And the determining factor was a large number of plugins and add-ons available for Chrome, making simple tasks much more accessible. Safari has remained among the installed apps for sites, such as Apple Connect. I prefer to open using Safari.

2. Mail. Gmail(

Once again, a product from Google. Am I writing a review about Apple’s ecosystem apps? đŸ¤Ŗ Apple’s native Mail app has served as my base and reference app for organizing mailboxes and emails for years. At various points in time, I had anywhere from 3 to 9 accounts from multiple mailboxes in the same app, which Apple’s native app handled. This time, the reason for changing the email client was all the same integration capabilities with other apps and advanced options for editing emails and working with labels, folders, and filters. For those in doubt, take a look at my signature in Gmail in the screenshot and try to duplicate it in the Mail app.

Gmail signature(

3. Calendar. Fantastical(

It is the calendar from Flexibits that has been my companion and guide to the world of tasks, events, and meetings for several years now. Its ability to correctly handle a dozen calendars, including work calendars, family calendars, birthdays, holidays, and various community events. Easy to create events, fill in fields on both Mac and iPhone, support for different time zones seen on a shared screen, other options for displaying and switching between calendars. This is by no means a complete list of the capabilities of this event-melting combine. Separately, we should say about the shared access and our family calendar, where we plan the activities of our three children! There are enough of them to get confused.

4. Tasks. Todoist(

In this paragraph, I should have written about Wunderlist, which served faithfully for a long time, until Microsoft bought it and shut it down, replacing it with its counterpart MS ToDo. Like many users at the time, I was looking for a replacement and tried quite a few different applications. My choice was Todoist. My main criteria for choosing were the support on various devices from Apple, the ability to integrate with automation services (Integromat, Zapier), support for shared lists, the ability to create recurring tasks.

5. Short Notes. Apple Notes(

In recent versions, it’s noticeable that the Apple team has started to pay more attention to notes. A folder and share features can draw, scan documents to PDF, checklists, and even tables! Apple Notes are perfect for when you need to add text, an idea quickly, a thought you don’t forget! The main problem is that Apple Notes isn’t designed to handle a lot of notes (I’ve tried importing over 20k notes from Evernote), and the second important reason is that you can’t export them to another app or service. You can save each individual note as a PDF and then import it into another app.

6. Markdown Notes. Bear(

To me, Bear is a model app in terms of design and thoughtfulness of interface and functionality. Hierarchical tagging system, support for markdown, different design themes, convenience, lots of note export options. I get an absolute aesthetic pleasure when I write short reports or short texts.

7. Text Editor. iA Writer(

I’ve caught myself thinking that I stopped using full-text editors like Word or Pages a long time ago. I’ve had my eye on iA Writer for a long time, and it is now my primary word processor for writing articles. Of the extra handy features is publishing a draft article to Medium directly from the app.

8. Diary. DayOne(

I’ve been a premium DayOne user for over five years. It’s an awesome app that hasn’t been removed from the dock since it was installed. Thousands of notes, daily reviews, thoughts, family timeline, and even work moments are all securely stored in my personal journal. Both the interface and the text editing capabilities are implemented to an equally high standard in this app — support for templates, tags, photos, and video attachments. One of the key features is the “On This Day” feature, which shows you notes you added a year ago, two years ago, and more. It can be helpful to track over time how your thoughts or attitudes towards people and events have changed.

9. Workspace. Notion(

If you want to manage your work and personal processes, rather than have them manage you, they need to be systematized. I did this with Evernote for a long time, but over a year ago, I tried Notion and liked their ideology of blocks of content in different formats and the flexibility to customize workspaces and page hierarchy. I moved my notes and docs into Notion and continued to use them for personal and work tasks. For example, my project FamilyNotes(, I have been running in Notion since the beginning, which allows me to keep all the information on the project in one place and give other team members access if necessary. I made my project StartupServices( on Notion, which is a set of pages and tables in Notion, and which allows me to make edits and changes in a few clicks. In doing, all changes will be published on the site immediately.

10. Mindmaps. Xmind(

My introduction to mind-maps started before I got into the Apple ecosystem (over ten years ago). At that time, I was looking for an application that would run simultaneously on Windows and Ubuntu (yes, I was a Linux admin at the time). At that moment, I discovered Xmind. Since then, it became my indispensable assistant in organizing my thoughts, ideas, projects, systematizing information, making short explanatory notes and references. A huge number of ready-made schemes, templates allow you to create plans for a variety of tasks. I like their different color schemes of design, new features, and functions that the team regularly adds to new application versions.

11. Password Manager. 1Password(

These days, almost everyone has realized the importance of digital hygiene, and there is no need to explain the basics of information security. New services appear every day, and each of them requires us to meet minimum password length and complexity requirements. It is unrealistic to remember all passwords for all services, and it is not safe to write them down in notepads. There is one way out – to use a password manager. We have chosen 1Password. Why “we”? Because we use a family plan to store not only my personal passwords but my wife’s passwords. It’s convenient! In addition, a handy plugin for Chrome allows you to auto-fill the login and password fields when logging in, which saves a lot of time!

12. File Storage. Dropbox(

We talked about where to store passwords but where to store files and documents. Despite the huge number of cloud storage proposals, at present, the leading position is held by Dropbox. I’m sure you have external hard drives that contain “important” information. But ever since I bought my 3Tb plan, I’ve been plugging in my external drives less and less. The ability to generate and share a link to a single document or folder, syncing between different devices, the Smart Sync feature that allows you to sync folder and file names and structure, but the files themselves remain in the cloud – saves MacBook space by downloading the genuinely essential documents.

Thanks for reading! 🙏đŸģ

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