My 2019 Must-Have Mac Apps

This article is an annual tradition: towards the end of December I summarize My Must-Have Mac Apps that I will be using for the next year. This is always among my most popular posts. I’m sharing my 2019 must have apps in hopes you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

During 2018 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to, others I tried and didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. Having the right app for the right task on the right device is key to my productivity.

You can find My 2019 Must-Have iOS apps for iPhone and iPad here.

My Mac setup:

I have two Macs. A late-2013 21.5” iMac and an early-2015 13” Retina MacBook Pro.

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
Safari is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS. I use Firefox Quantum browser when a site doesn’t play nice with Safari.

Fastmail
I’ve been using Fastmail as my email service for over 4 years. It’s been a great Gmail replacement. I’ve written about Fastmail here.

Things 3
Things 3 is for task management and reminders. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote about it here.

Fantastical 2
Fantastical is my calendar app. It’s where I keep my appointments and some reminders. I love that I can use natural language to quickly create events and reminders.

Bear
Bear is my notes and lists app. I’ve been a pro user since the inception of the app. It’s beautiful to work in, search is excellent and I’ve never had a sync issue.

Ulysses
Ulysses is the app I use to write my stories. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it since it went subscription. During the year I tried other writing apps but none compares with Ulysses.

Marked 2
Marked is the markdown previewer app I use side by side with Ulysses.

Grammarly
Grammarly is for proofreading my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Copied
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Reeder
Reeder is my newsreader for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Tweetbot
Tweetbot is for reading my Twitter feed.

Instapaper
Instapaper is my read it later service. I wrote an article about my Instapaper workflow here.

Alfred
Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it. Alfred is my launcher, search interface, TextExpander replacement and much more.

Keyboard Maestro
Keyboard Maestro is another productivity app that I couldn’t live without. I use Keyboard Maestro keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, open files and folders and for automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do some amazing things. Check out Keyboard Maestro’s homepage for a list of all the things you can do.

BetterTouchTool
BetterTouchTool allows me to configure gestures or keyboard shortcuts for my Magic Mouse, MacBook Trackpad, and Magic Trackpad to trigger actions like moving and resizing windows, switching tabs in Safari and more. BTT has a 45-day free trial. Give it a try.

Dropbox
Dropbox is where I keep files that I want to have available on all my devices. It’s also where syncing happens for apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and BetterTouchTool.

PDFpen and Hazel are key apps for my paperless workflow. I’ve written about my paperless workflow here.

App Cleaner
AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.

PopClip
I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Yoink
Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Bartender 3
Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat
ScreenFloat is my app for taking floating screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

f.lux
f.lux is for protecting my eyes and sleeping better at night.

Conserve your MacBook’s battery with this keyboard setting

Did you know the MacBook has a setting to power off the keyboard backlight after a period of inactivity? I didn’t. This is the same concept as the Energy Saver feature for your display.

The setting is here: System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard > Turn keyboard backlight off after X secs of inactivity.

This isn’t something I would use all the time but it could come in handy in a pinch. Give it a try the next time you’re in a situation where you need to conserve your MacBook’s battery power.

How to View Folder Sizes on Mac Using Finder

I don’t often need to know the size of a folder but when I did I didn’t know how to find the size until recently.

When you use Finder’s List view to work with files on your Mac, the Size column tells you the size of each file, but when it comes to folders in the list, Finder just shows a couple of dashes instead.

Here’s how to view the size of a folder. Click File in the menu bar and hold the Option key, and Get Info will turn into Show Inspector. Unlike a Get Info panel, the Inspector panel is dynamically updated and will always display information for the active Finder window’s currently selected file or folder – including, of course, its size.

Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 privacy-first DNS service is now available as an iOS app

I’ve been using Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS service on my Mac since reading a post by Kirk McElhearn on the Intego Mac Security Blog about the service. The service was introduced April 1st of this year and is designed to be faster than traditional DNS services and more private which is what got my attention.

There are a number of things to explain here. First, DNS, or domain name system, is the system that acts like a sort of phone book on the Internet. Instead of having to remember a numerical IP address, such as 96.126.119.191, you can type intego.com to go to the Intego website. There is a huge directory that records the correspondence between these numerical addresses and domain names to facilitate Internet usage, and to make it easy to move a domain from one server to another.

Most people rely on the DNS server provided by their ISP or phone company. By default, your Macs and iOS devices look for this DNS server, which is either specified in your router, or in the server your iPhone connects to, in order to perform this address translation. But you don’t need to use this DNS server; you can use any one you want. In many cases, ISP’s DNS servers may not be the fastest ones, and this can have a big effect on your Internet usage. For example, if a web page is made up of multiple elements, that are not all hosted on the same server, your browser has to request these elements at a number of servers, and each different domain name requires a new request.

In addition, some ISPs may record the metadata of your Internet activity, or the requests you make: the websites you visit, the servers you connect to, and more.

Now, months after announcing its privacy-focused DNS service, Cloudflare is introducing an iOS app. Having had a good experience using 1.1.1.1 on my Macs I didn’t hesitate to install the iOS app on my iPhone and iPad. I’ve been running the app now for several days and it has been working great and definitely seems to be faster.

For instructions on setting up 1.1.1.1 on your Mac visit this page using your Mac and scroll down to Setup on Mac. For iOS, you can download the app from the App Store, or to set it up manually visit this page using your iOS device and scroll down to Setup on iOS.

WordPress.com counting my views in stats

I usually write and publish blog posts from my iMac. The other day I happened to be using my MacBook instead. So, after I wrote and published the article I wanted to view it. After viewing it I noticed that WordPress.com was counting my own views in stats. I was surprised that this was happening because it had never happened on my iMac.

The rule for WordPress.com is as long as you’re logged into your WordPress.com account your own views are automatically not counted. So why were my views being counted when I use my MacBook?

Here’s the reason. My iMac is running Sierra. My MacBook is running High Sierra. The privacy settings in Safari 12 are different for each macOS.

iMac running Sierra and Safari version 12

MacBook running High Sierra and Safari version 12

On my MacBook running Hight Sierra when Preferences > Privacy > Prevent cross-site tracking is enabled WordPress.com won’t recognize my site as logged in. It’s being blocked. So to prevent WordPress.com from counting my views I had to temporarily disable Prevent cross-site tracking.

How to close other tabs in Safari on Mac

Sometimes I have several tabs open in Safari when I’m searching for something to write about. When I’ve settled on something I often want to close all the other open tabs. Rather than closing each tab individually, I do the following:

  1. Right-click (or Control+Click) on the tab I want to keep open
  2. Choose “Close Other Tabs” to instantly close all the other open tabs

Ulysses Share Extension now on Mac

A feature that has been missing in Ulysses on the Mac has been a share extension. Since I do my research, information gathering and writing on a Mac this involved a lot of copy and paste. This would always be a sore spot for me and I would think to myself why can’t Ulysses have a Mac share extension like Bear. Well, no more complaining because Ulysses version 14.2 for Mac included a share extension. Thanks to the share extension I can now send text, links, and images directly to Ulysses.

If your not familiar with the share extension here’s a Ulysses share extension tutorial.