The functional Mac App Stack for a non-tech founder

I recently upgraded to a Macbook 13″ Retina.

It felt long overdue, having spent +80 hours per week for the past 3 years on my old Macbook Pro.

I was initially considering a Macbook Air. They’re so sleek. But one look at the retina screen in 13 inches ruined me. It’s a joy, and there’s no going back.

Over the past 3 years I’d collected a frightening stack of applications; a symptom of my willingness to try any new tool or product. The obvious downside was massive bloat in my Applications folder. It hadn’t had a spring clean in years.

So, the new machine meant two interesting things for me: an upgrade to OSX Lion (yes, I’d held out this long), and a chance to completely rebuild my app-stack from scratch, focused on only the most critical tools to my workflow.

4 weeks later, this is the definitive list of Mac Apps I’ve installed and am working with daily as a non-technical founder (installed in this order):

Chrome.  My most-used application any day of the week. Almost everything in our company is browser based. Within Chrome, the apps/plugins I needed most were: Buffer / Evernote / Feedly / Balsamiq Mockups / Yesware.

Evernote.  A favourite for collecting notes, content and documents across any device.

Dropbox.  Stores almost every native document. The genius of Dropbox synced +20Gb within 4 hours of turning on the new Macbook. I was good to go.

GoogleDrive.  I don’t use Drive so much on the hard-drive, but 80% of our collaboration and workflows are run through Google Docs.

Skype.  Despite daily complaints about UI and latency, it’s my go-to for chat, video conference and staying in touch.

AlfredApp.  Launch anything (app, document, web search) with single keystrokes. I’d previously used Launchbar, but had heard good things about Alfred. It’s almost my favourite productivity app on Macbook. Totally awesome, and recommended for any keyboard fanatics.

SizeUp.  Windows management for multiple monitors. Easily flick windows to a different screen, or match to half/quarter screen. I feel lost without a second (large) monitor, and this is a monstrous timesaver.

Skitch.  Screenshots, snapshots, with easy editing/sharing/exporting into Evernote. This used to be one of my favourite simple apps. But the upgrade on OSX Lion is a truly terrible experience. I’m in the market for something better.

Twitter.  The Mac App just works, and fast. The deeper integration into Lion (notifications and tweets) is a big improvement. I much prefer this to Twitter on (old) iphone.

Spotify.  This runs in the background non-stop through the work day.

TextWrangler.  Friendly text editor, for the few times I’m digging into html or css.

1Password Store strong passwords for all different web accounts.

Clocks.  With a team across 4 continents, this is an awesome little add-in to the top bar of my Mac, to keep on top of times in any city.

Pocket.  Save articles for later reading. I was using Instapaper, but Pocket is a FAR better experience (for me at least). It feels way faster in the browser, and native apps across all devices for reading are killer. Interestingly, I’m now much more disciplined in just ‘pocketing’ content during the day, and avoiding distraction. #win

Microsoft Office.  Unfortunately, Excel and Powerpoint still feature. GoogleDocs have a long way to go against these bad boys. I was somewhat encouraged by how far down the list I could wait for the install.

Acorn.  I don’t use Photoshop, but often need quick and easy image editing. Acorn is a lower cost and user-friendly alternative, that has all the features I need (as a non-designer).

Yammer.  We use to collaborate internally. The native app kinda sucks, and is being lost in the MSFT integration. But, we persevere.

IA Writer A simple and elegant text markup app for writing / blogging.

Filezilla.  Open-source FTP client.

And that’s it!  I literally installed these apps in order, and am using them all pretty much daily.

What am I missing?

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