As I mentioned in my recent MacBook Air review, I’ve spent a lot more time on macOS over the past handful of months. I still use my iPad Air 2 as my primary machine for personal use, but I do just about all of my work as a Happiness Engineer on macOS.
Since I’ve already shared my thoughts about the new hardware, I wanted to speak a bit about the software I’ve been using. I won’t be covering everything today, instead focusing on the Menu Bar apps that I have installed — whether they’re a crucial part of my workflow or something I’m currently testing.
Aside from the standard Wi-Fi, Sound, Battery, Time, Siri, Spotlight, Time Machine, and Bluetooth icons, I have the following applications in my Menu Bar:
- Alfred: I’m basically incapable of functioning on a Mac without this app installed. I think Merlin Mann is to blame for that. All of his coverage of Quicksilver after I first purchased a MacBook in 2006 has ingrained into my brain that ctrl+space is my go-to keyboard shortcut when I want to do, basically, anything on my Mac. I use it for launching applications, opening files, and searching the web. I have nearly two dozen custom web searches setup that allow me to quickly access Automattic’s internal tools and documentation while I work. It allows me to be productive and efficient in a way that no other application has.
- Droplr: I share a lot of screenshots and GIFs during my time working with WordPress.com users and Droplr is the best app I’ve found for sharing these files. I usually use macOS’ built-in keyboard shortcuts for taking the screenshots, then I can drop them on to Droplr’s icon in the Menu Bar to share them. The app uploads the file, opens it in my web browser, and automatically adds a URL I can share to my clipboard. If I need to markup or annotate a file, I can do so with its built-in tools and the app even has the ability to record a GIF of a specific portion of my screen, which I can use for illustrating more complicated, multi-step tasks.
- TextExpander: While, I’ve only just scratched the surface of the efficiency and productivity gains that this application allows for, this is another essential application for me. Since I do a lot of typing throughout the day, I use TextExpander to automatically expand small bits of text into larger snippets that I find myself typing frequently. I only have about three snippets that I use regularly, but I plan to grow that list over time as each one becomes fully integrated into my workflows — there’s no sense in adding a bunch of snippets only to realize that you don’t remember or use most of them.
- Hocus Focus: This application automatically hides other app windows after they’ve been inactive for a period of time. It helps keep my screen clear of clutter and allows me to focus on the task at hand. I’ve only used the app for a few weeks, but I like it quite a bit so far. I have non-active apps set to hide after two minutes and only disable the feature when I’m on video chats with other members of my team.
- Bartender: A simple little application that let’s me hide the majority of my Menu Bar apps behind an ellipses icon. This is especially useful when I’m working on my Air’s 13-inch display, since it keeps my menu bar icons from overtaking my screen. I have it setup to hide everything except the applications and system status indicators that I use most — Droplr, Wi-Fi, Sound, and Time.
- Moom: This is an app that I’m still testing at the moment. It allows you to reorganize, resize, and reposition your application windows with the ability to save these as presets that can trigger with a keyboard shortcut or when you connect or disconnect an external display. Since I often switch throughout the day between my external LG UltraFine 5K display and the MacBook Air’s built-in display, I suspect this will become an essential app for me once I have the time to configure it for all my apps.
- Backblaze: I started using Backblaze as one of my backup solutions a few months ago. I still use Time Machine with an external drive, but since I use my MacBook Air portably a lot, I don’t have it connected most of the time. Backblaze helps to fill in those gaps for me by continuously backing up my machine, as long as I have an internet connection.
- 1Password: This is my favorite password manager by far and I use it on all of my devices. It’s thoughtfully designed, incredibly powerful, easy to use, and let’s me share passwords with my wife through our family account. If you aren’t using a password manager, I highly recommend giving this one a try.
- Turbo Boost Switcher Pro: This little utility app allows me to enable and/or disable Turbo Boost on my MacBook Air, primarily as a way to increase battery life. This is another application that I haven’t spent much time actually testing, but I expect it will be invaluable when I’m traveling.
I have to say, I’ve had a lot of fun finding and testing applications for the Mac over the last handful of months. Although I never exactly “abandoned” the platform entirely, I certainly haven’t paid as much attention to the new software and tools that have been released over the last couple of years. So if there are better options to fill the roles of the apps listed above or you have a recommendation for an app I might be interested, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter. I’m always on the look out for the latest and greatest software.