macOS setup & tools

Below you will find a list of tools I use on my Macbook. The list is inspired by a post of But I think they did miss some useful tools and they had others which I do not need. That’s why I created my own list (it is also very handy while setting up a new machine). 

Design & Prototyping

sip (free version): grab color of a specific pixel on screen. Also available for iOS. 

pixelmator (30 €): at work I work with Photoshop and . more often – Illustrator. At home this one is enough (Also available for iOS now). 

aurora HDR (99 €): create HDR images. Works much better than the free tools available

sketchup (free): to get my DIY projects planned, I use sketchup. The free version does it all. 

linotype fontexplorer X (free): quite old version of the current font management tool. Unfortunately it is not available online any longer.

sketch (99 €): the vector drawing tool with some plugins it is really useful – also for tinkering around with some animations or documentation work. Maybe there will be a better interaction flow tool sooner or later. 

Origami (free): easy to use prototyping app for macOS. Also used Framer or Kite – both not free to use, but also very good

Apple Keynote (free with your mac): can be used for simple animations and click dummies

textmate (free / open source (???)): best for coding. I am also using – aside from many others – atom and brackets, which are also free and very useful. 


locko (free): password vault – very handy. There is also an iOS-version available to sync data (deprecated now)

a better finder rename (20 €): rename files in nearly any way

alfred (free): start apps, look up stuff with a press of a button. The one and only launcher.

flux (free): adjust the white point of my screen if I have to work late. Unfortunately it does affect video playback in means of color irritations. My confit isn’t perfect yet. Still working on it.

iA Writer (10 €): my preferred writing environment to collect thoughts and cites – focus is king

key codes (free): check which key has which code or whether a keyboard key is pressed or released. Handy to create keyboard triggered interaction

things (50 €): to-do lists manager … syncs between versions for iPhone and iPad, which are separately available

timer-app (free): set a timer easily with just one drag. Very slick

Online & Communication

forklift (30 €): my access point to servers and remote systems FTP

brave (free): secure and free browser. Also available for iOS.

wire (free): secure and fast online conferencing. Unfortunately not a standard yet. 

dropbox (free): share files between devices – temporarily (registration needed)


handbrake (free / open source): convert videos and dvds to nearly any format 

vlc (free/donation): the movie player

mediathekview (free): german television “downloader” for their “Mediatheken”

plex media player (free): to view my movies from the mac mini server in a comfy way. registration needed

telemac (free): watch german telly online


keynote / numbers / pages (free): you all know these babies

libreoffice (free): in case there might be some files flying-in using standard office format

pocket (free): store online articles for later – read it on iOS or macOS or “windows” (registration needed)


little snitch (30 €): do not tell everything to everybody, thanks

iTerm (free): terminal replacement. Together with the fish command line a real good system tool

mactracker (free): sometimes some facts about the macs is needed, not very often though

onyx (free): set system parameters – but be careful

teamviewer (free version for private use): control my mums mac remotely

wifi signal (5 €): due to problems on my wifi connection at home, I tried to fix it with monitoring values and delays. 

keka (free): can also encrypt archives on creation. Very handy and more mac-like. Or winzip (30 €): yes, a win-prgram on a mac. Works pretty well and got from a bundle hunt buy. Nice to manage ZIP-files and password protected files. the unarchiver (free): dezip archives quickly 

EasyFind (free): find files and folders – also on external docs (which are not of my Spotlight library)

KeepingYouAwake (free): prevent mac from going to sleep temporarily (from 5 minutes to indefinitely). Like Caffeine, but more retina compatible. 


Apple Watch and some caveats

The Nielsen Norman Group published a fairly good article about the usefulness of the Apple Watch UI, with some good hints on how to design a useful UI for those SmartWatches and not to do an app because you think you have to, because everybody does it right now.

“History repeats itself:

  • The lesson of the 1990s was that a website was not a glossy brochurenor a TV show.
  • The lesson of the 2010s was that a mobile phone is not just a smaller computer.
  • Maybe the third time will be the charm — say it out loud: a watch is not a smaller phone.”

It’s also about content design and the flaws of a small screen. Nice read and helpful to see this new gadget in a more human relevant way.

Getting real

One of my all-time-fave books is available for download for free – maybe for some time now. Anyway a nice read.

What a pity that 37signals isn’t and more … ;-( only basecamp is available. The other books of these guys are really also very recommendable – even if you have to pay for them. Worth every penny.