OSX software, five years later

In November 2010, before my first MacBook even arrived, I asked Twitter for “must-have” OSX software and collected the results in a blog post. A year later, I posted an update with a list of OSX software I was actually using. A few more years have passed since then. Last year I switched from my original MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro (a very good decision) and used the opportunity to do some cleanup. About 9 months into using the MBP, I figured I could do another list. An asterisk indicates something I didn’t have on my list in 2011.


  • Chrome, as my regular browser and part of my web development environment, with these extensions:
    • 1Password
    • uBlock Origin*, currently the most decent adblocker. Will see how long it can stay independent.
    • RSS Subscription, restores the RSS icon
    • BrowserStack Local*, provides tunnel for testing local files
    • Pinboard*, quickly add open tab(s) as bookmarks. Also using Pinboard on my phone.
    • Social Fixer for Facebook*, makes a few features on Facebook a lot less annoying. Hasn’t been updated since December 2014 and accordingly falls short in many places, but even and outdated and sometimes broken extension is still preferable over vanilla Facebook to me.
  • Keynote, these days used very rarley. My last few conference talks were all web-based, with probably too much time spent on customizing the template I used.
  • Twitter for Mac, runs only when I need it. Mostly reading Twitter on my phone.
  • 1Password to generate and mange passwords. Chrome integration is nice, runs also on Windows PC and Android phone.
  • Tunnelblick for VPN connections. Depends on the project I’m working on, has seen lots of use more recently.
  • DaisyDisk*, quickly tells me where most disk space is used. This was very useful on my old MacBook Air, where the 256 GB SSD was full way too often. With 512 GB this is much less of an issue.
  • Dropbox*, weird that it wasn’t on my previous list from 2011, I’m pretty sure I’ve used that before.
  • ScreenFlow*, pretty decent software for capturing screen casts. I’ve mostly used it to record screenreader sessions for my Talk to Me – Making websites accessible presentation. I also used it to record that presentation, since its able to capture both the camera input and the projector screen output.
  • Very special purpose:
    • Seil* (formerly know an PCKeyboardHack), for remapping the capslock key to toggle iTerm2. To do this, use Seil to change capslock to keycode 105 (also follow the instruction for turning off the default behaviour). Then in iTterm2, go to Preferences -> Keys, under “Hotkey”, check “Show/hide iTerms2 with a system-wide hotkey”, click on the input and hit your remapped capslock key. It should enter “F13”. Then close Preferences and give it a try.
    • SizeUp*, for maximizing windows and moving them from one desktop or monitor to another


  • Skype, still using it almost daily to chat, talk, and sometimes pair-program via screensharing. Something like once a month someone can’t hear me, but restarting Skype always fixes that issue.
  • Gitter* is like Slack (I guess), but focused on coding projects, with very tight GitHub integration. Currently using it with multiple chat rooms to work on sloppy.io. I created a jquery-validation channel, but it has seen very little use. I’m looking forward to the day where they’re rewriting it as a native app, or at least fix the performance. Switching channels shouldn’t take several seconds for the new channel to render.
  • LimeChat* as IRC client, using isaacs’ theme
  • Telegram*, using the “native” OSX app, which supports secret chats, something the cross-platform Telegram Desktop app doesn’t have.



  • iTunes for music playback. Overall its still decent, even with the tons of irrelevent features cramped into the same app. I’ve never found an alternative just for playback of tagged mp3s files. I often listen to all albums of a single artist in chronological order or shuffled albums (not just songs). Would need at least these features to be able to replace iTunes.
  • VLC for video and occasional audio file that I don’t want to add to iTunes.
  • Picasa for photos, a quick import and edit while traveling. May need to find a replacement, since the desktop app won’t be updated anymore.
  • Fission*, for cutting MP3s very efficiently. Unlike a lot of other software, Fission can cut compressed audio files, without decompressing them first and recompressing them later. Great to cut rehearsal room recordings down to the relevant parts.
  • Guitar Pro*, for writing down songs. A very recent addition, and a bit weird to use a current version after using Guitar Pro originally about 10 years ago. They’ve added a bunch of emulated instruments, unfortunately all on top of midi instruments, which mostly sounds pretty terrible. Still useful to pin down the little details of songs and share them with the rest of the band.

Thanks to my friend Enes for reviewing a draft of this post.