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As the lead developer and head of everything tech here at MakeUseOf, most of my time is spent coding things and emailing people. My requirements aren’t hugely complicated, and I don’t use any “getting things done” systems, nor am I am productivity hound. I find simple works best and don’t enjoy life in the fast lane.
Read on to find out the tools and apps I consider essential – on both OSX, and iOS.
For a long time, I ignored the legions of Evernote fans, confident that I didn’t need something that collates random notes – I had folders already, for God’s sake! But after just a week of having a central place to store all my writing and actually committing to use it, I am now proud to say I’m an Evernote convert. Being able to access my notes from anywhere – mobile, desktop or even web client – regardless of the OS, is just fantastic.
I’ve created notebooks for article drafts (I’m writing this directly into Evernote), topics to discuss on Technophila, a visual To-Do list of things around the home, garden or allotment, a shopping list, and finally a collection of clipped tutorials from the web in a “read me later” notebook; and even af home inventory with pictures and receipts.
In short, Evernote is an incredibly versatile app that can easily replace many smaller, specialized apps or services. If you’re new to Evernote, our free Evernote guide is one click away. That said, I haven’t yet converted to Evernote Premium – so if you can think of a good reason why I should, tell me in the comments.
Reeder is a simple RSS client for both iOS and OSX that’s fast to navigate – and it integrates nicely into Evernote so I can fling articles around like a ninja. Despite Google killing off their Reader API and web client, RSS is very much not dead and Twitter will never be a suitable replacement.
Reeder does currently use Google Reader API to sync, but the developer has hinted that there’ll be a suitable replacement in time for the shutdown, so I’m not really worried – unlike some people who are scrabbling about for Google Reader replacements.
The standard OSX desktop mail client. Boring? Perhaps – most of my fellow writers swear by Gmail (here’s our free Gmail guide if you’re that way inclined) – but I prefer to have my email on the desktop rather than sitting in a web browser – with over 50 browser tabs constantly open, locating the email one would be a nightmare.
I don’t fiddle around with labels, I don’t file things efficiently, I have 850 messages in my inbox that really ought to be either responded to or actioned, and I even email myself occasionally as a reminder to do something important. I’m pretty much the worst kind of email user ever – I don’t even use a signature.
That said, I’m still awaiting the native version of Mail Pilot, which should allow me to treat my inbox like a to-do list, which is basically how I use it anyway. So I’ll use that as a more exciting screenshot instead!
For winding down, my Network Attached Storage device is full of movies and runs a native Plex server; a Plex client on both Mac and PC ensures I can watch them anywhere. If you have no idea what Plex is – we have a free guide for that too (yes, we have a lot of free guides – you should probably go check them all out actually, before you forget).
Plex is a fork of XBMC that I’ve written about before – it’s simply a beautiful media centre designed to be used with a 10-foot interface. Plex’ meta handling is perhaps the strongest of all media centres, with movies automatically categorized, DVD covers and features shots all downloaded for you.
Alien Blue ($3.99)
Finally, I couldn’t finish without mentioning my ultimate in-bed time waster app – Alien Blue for the iPad. It is, quite simply, the only way I will consider browsing Reddit – though I have dabbled with OSX Reddit clients in the past.
As you can see, I like to keep it fairly simple – there’s aren’t many apps that make it onto my real daily essentials. I do use Chrome, but I also use Safari, so I felt favoring one over the other here might make them jealous. Most of these apps are of course featured on the Best Mac Apps, Best iPad Apps, and Best iPhone Apps pages too, so be sure to check those out if you haven’t already got a million tabs open.
Do you think there’s another essential OS X apps that I could really MakeUseOf?