Newsletter Tip: What are Your Must-Have Apps?

By Phil Davis


I’ve been doing some cleanup on my extensive list of apps, most of which go unused most of the time. It is going to take a while to trim this list down to the ones that are really necessary and useful. It’s amazing how many apps in the list I couldn’t identify without looking them up on Google. I clearly need to be more selective.

It got me thinking also about which of these are really my “must-have” apps — the ones that I use daily and don’t want to do without.

I start by classifying my apps into three categories.

  1. Core Apps: These are the ones that I install first when I do a clean installation of a new OS, or buy a new computer (a very rare occurrence, unfortunately). It’s interesting to think about what you do on a daily basis and which apps you use.
  2. Essential Apps: These are apps that I use often for specific purposes, but are not needed on a daily basis. Even though I don’t need these every day, I still consider this as “essential” to my work.
  3. Useful Apps: These are the utilities, tools, and other apps that are rarely needed, but are vital when called upon.

Another way to classify your apps are by their function. Categories like create, organize, automate, develop, utilities, cloud services, backup, connectivity, security, and tech support.

For what it’s worth here is a list of my “must-have Core Apps.” They start with the usual suite of the programs that Apple provides as part of the OS release such as Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Preview, Safari, Photos, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

Then, I supplement these with my top 20 including some that you may not have heard of but are vital to my workflow. These include nvALT (my short-term brain), TextExpander, Marked, Reeder, SpamSieve, FoldingText, and Voila. Finally, I add Dropbox, 1Password, DevonThink Pro (my long-term brain), PDFPen Pro, Evernote, Postbox, Pocket, Alfred, TextWrangler, Carbon Copy Cloner, Dropzone, LibreOffice, and Chrome to the bundle.

So there you have it. Of course, there are many other apps that I use occasionally — utilities, troubleshooting tools, apps to create and manipulate images and videos — the list could get very long. But, the bulk of my time is spent with my must-have core. If you are interested I used the following while writing this article: nvALT, TextExpander, Marked, FoldingText, Safari, and DevonThink Pro.

So, what do you consider as your “must-have” apps? It never hurts to occasionally take an inventory of what is in your Applications folder and do some culling of the ones that you don’t need. Not only will this force you to think about how you work, but it can make it easier to stay on top of upgrades. This is particularly important prior to any major OS upgrades.

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