Robin Hood had a bow and arrow. Paul Bunyan had an axe and an ox. Morpheus had a freaking sword and a slew of high-powered artillery. Popeye had spinach.
Everyone has their go-to weapons. Their bread-and-butter. The items they can't live without. Reader and friend Dave suggested I write a post about the apps that make up my MacBook Air menu bar arsenal. (He didn't say “arsenal.” Dave's too sophisticated for that. I added it because the five-year-old in me still likes playing “Cops and Robbers.”)
Since I'm a sucker for productivity apps, I thought I'd oblige the request and walk you through my collection.
Here are the apps I use every single day to accomplish workflow domination:
- Skitch is a must for anyone who needs to share their screen quickly. Add annotations, text, and arrows easily to any screen cap imaginable.
- I use this to show coworkers what I'm looking at, what needs to change, and clarify questions I have about a design or product.
- With Skitch's recent acquisition by the folks at Evernote, the entire service has become noticeably faster. Extra bonus? It now integrates fully with Evernote Desktop. HUGE!
- This app keeps my screen from frying my brain. Flux automatically adjusts your screen brightness based on your timezone. Why? To keep you from being bug-eyed at bedtime.
- You can set your lighting preferences based on the type of ambient light in your surroundings. Flux then gives your screen a funky glow that tells your brainwaves, “Hey, simmer down. Let the poor man rest.”
- A must if you do any sort of computing late at night.
- If you need to share a file, CloudApp is the app for you.
- Simply drag and drop any file you need to share to the menu bar droplet and it will upload and copy a public link right to your clipboard.
- The aforementioned Skitch, while super helpful, lacks the speed of CloudApp. I'll often drag files straight from Skitch to CloudApp to cut down on lag time.
- There are upload limits to the free account, but I've rarely found it to be an issue.
- The gold standard in cloud computing.
- Writing about the benefits of Dropbox feels a little like describing the pros of breathing air. You just need to be using Dropbox. It's that simple.
- Seriously though, it makes working with teams 100 times easier. Share folders, files, get public download links, sync apps across multiple devices, generous amounts of free storage…Yeah. It's like that.
- TextExpander works by pre-defining a snippet of text that you want associated with a shortcut. For instance, “ty” becomes “thank you”, “galot” becomes “get a load of this!”
- I got tired of writing the same work-related email over and over, so I found TextExpander. Now, when I need to give a canned response, I engage my TextExpander snippet and it writes the email for me.
- Another step towards automation domination.
- This is the online backup service we trust at MonkDev. It works by installing a small snippet of code onto your Mac. Then you've got a preference listing in System Preferences to control the app.
- Mindless backup. That's what I need. That's what Backblaze provides. Backing up files is so important, but few of us do it. Until it's too late.
- Additionally, this service is crafted by folks who used to work for Mac. Integration is seamless.
- I live and die by this little app. It keeps my workflow organized, 25 minutes at a time.
- The Pomodoro Method works by giving you a small window of focused time to produce and then rewards you with a small break.
- You can name tasks and track how long projects take. So important. So helpful.
- I use Divvy to keep my screen organized. Nothing's worse than dozens of open windows, all chaotically scattered around your desktop. Divvy takes care of that.
- Engage the app and it gives you a sexy grid to organize the top window on your screen. Super helpful if you have a small screen. Even better if you're working with big, beautiful dual monitors.
- I admit, some may not be as OCD as I am, but organization is key to any productivity workflow.
9. Timing Menu
- I'm still playing around with this one, but a teammate of mine introduced me to Timing Menu. So far, so good.
- If you want to know where you're spending the majority of your time, Timing Menu will show you.
- Categorize apps by subject and you've got a reliable readout of how your workday is spent. See below for my grid yesterday.
10. iStat Menus
- Sometimes my laptop, for lack of a better term, freaks out. I want to know why without having to dig through Activity Monitor. iStat Menu gives me that info at a glance.
- They have a whole slew of options (battery indicators, unit temperature, fan speed, etc.), but I stick with hard drive space, CPU usage, and network speed.
- This is probably the geekiest app I own.