Update: I’ve written a newer list:

53 Mac Only Design/Development Apps (Oct 2013)

There’s plenty of cross platform solutions made by big players but the most avant-garde and forward thinking tools are coming from small studios. Some of these tools are relatively young and some have been around over two decades

These applications are often built with a different mindset, one that embraces the Apple aesthetic of interface design. I decided to compile a list of these apps, without silly rankings or any obligation prune the list to fit a numerical objective  Instead, I opted for a simple list. One that consisted of the app name, icon, a marketing blurb from the authors and my own personal take.

The only requirements for  this list are:

  1. Mac only
  2. Not made by Apple
  3. Reflect great design/usability and usefulness

Some of the applications in this list are redundant  (ex: BBedit, Coda, Espresso), a few defy simply graphic design / web design (BetterTouchTool, Crossover, djay, Little Snitch, Parallels Desktop, Playback, Radium) and yet a few more aren't intrinsically aimed at professionals (Acorn, Permute and Radium).  A few developers have multiple entries.  (Black Pixel, Bohemian Coding, Mac Rabbit, Panic Studios, Pixel Cut and Rogue Amoeba). 

You probably don’t need every single one of these apps or utilities, but they all are well worth purchasing or downloading. I’ve labored over this list, trying to get the best of the best and spent more time than I care to admit,  compiling it. If I missed any, feel free to let me know.

Now I present:

44 Mac only Design / Development Utilities  and Apps



Flying Meat Inc

Image Editor

$29.99 (Until End of May)


“Everyone needs to edit images at some point, but not everyone has the time to learn complicated super pricey image editing programs. This is why we created Acorn. Add text and shapes to your digital pictures. Combine images together to create your own. Work with layers to touch up your favorite photos or make something new from scratch. Do all this and more with Acorn.”

Photoshop might have its place but its price and feature set may be overkill or unneeded. Acorn’s new non-destructive filters and bezier tools, an interface that is reminiscent of the best of both Photoshop and iPhoto makes for a compelling Photoshop alternative.

Acorn is aimed at the prosumer but makes image editing a breeze, even for non-designers. Its perfect for quick photo manipulation.



Running with Crayons Ltd

Productivity Utility

Free (Powerpack £15)


Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at your fingertips. Loads of app-launching, file-searching goodness - free for you to download and use with no strings attached. Alfred is the ultimate productivity tool for your Mac

Alfred markets itself as a productivity app, yet it doesn’t track your time or progress. It’s actually a utility toolset to make you more productive.

The killer feature is one of the simplest  which allows you to take any copied text and paste to plain text, stripping any unwanted formatting. It works much better than pasting a wad of text in your browser bar and copying it back.



ERGOSIGN Technologies GmbH




Antetype UI designer is a brand new, ground-breaking design application that supports user-interface designers at every step of their work. Design beautiful interfaces, invent new widgets, style them, and put it all together in an interactive prototype! 

Antetype is unusual as its designed for prototyping websites, apps and even manufacturing projects. Its one of the few prototyping apps that boasts responsive wireframes, specifically designed for UI Designers.

Serious projects call for serious tools. It sports smart guides, widget creation, stylizing, collaboration tools and more. It also exports to the web as interactive presentations. 

Audio Hijack Pro


Rogue Amoeba

Audio Capture



Record any audio - three simple words to explain Audio Hijack Pro. Record from applications like iTunes, Skype or DVD Player. Record from microphones, Radiosharks and other hardware. If you hear it, you can record it.

To reiterate the above: Audio Hijack Pro allows you to record any audio on your Mac, be it a movie, VoIP chat, radio, web browser, game or otherwise, and export it to AIFF, AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless etc.

Audio Hijack Pro isn’t the first app of its type and it borrows heavily from Wiretap (another Mac only app with similar functionality). Hijack makes the list as Rogue Amoeba has kept it up-to-date and it costs less than half the price of Wiretap. (I can’t recommend Wiretap as Wiretap users were left in the dark until 2013 regarding 10.7+ support). Audio Hijack also sports some features Wiretap Studio doesn’t, like VST and AU support. 

Also check out Audio Hijack Pro’s younger (less expensive) $15 sibling , Piezo. Its even more simplified.



Bares Bones Software


Integrated Development Environmen t/ Text Editor / Show Diff


BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Macintosh. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides an abundance of high-performance features for editing, searching, and manipulation of text. An intelligent interface provides easy access to BBEdit’s best-of-class features, including grep pattern matching, search and replace across multiple files, project definition tools, function navigation and syntax coloring for numerous source code languages, code folding, FTP and SFTP open and save, AppleScript, Mac OS X Unix scripting support, text and code completion, and of course a complete set of robust HTML markup tools.

BBEdit has been around since 1991, making it older than some web designers. Old isn’t bad, and its still the preferred IDE of legions of developers for a good reason. It sports in-app FTP, show diff and can be integrated with the OS X terminal. 

BBedit was the first IDE I ever touched. Unlike Coda and Espresso, it also has a show diff tool built into the IDE.



Andreas Hegenberg

Mouse Configuration Utility



BetterTouchTool is a great, feature packed FREE app that allows you to configure many gestures for your Magic Mouse, Macbook Trackpad and Magic Trackpad. It also allows you to configure actions for keyboard shortcuts, normal mice and the Apple Remote. In addition to this it has an iOS companion App (BTT Remote) which can also be configured to control your Mac the way you want.

You can add gestures that you simply cannot configure within OS X by default on your trackpad or magic mouse. It’s free and allows per app configurations, (you can even configure 11 point touch gestures for the polydactyl).  



Panic Studios

Integrated development environment



Welcome to a fresh approach to web coding. Bursting with features but without bloat. Built to make your life better. Coda 2 is the editor you’ve always wanted!

So, you code for the web. And in Coda 1, we revolutionized that process, and put everything you needed in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. File management. SVN. But we knew we could do more.

Now, with Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. We added tons of highly-requested features, and a few nobody expected, then wrapped it all up in a shiny, groundbreaking UI fit for the future.

Coda has been my IDE of choice ever since version 1. I might even have a little bit of a mancrush on Panic studios ever since the late Audion, a fantastic audio player from the Mac OS 9 days.

Its a single pane editor that sports a webkit renderer, FTP, terminal and git integration, with CSS color panes.  Its everything in one, and the app I spend the most time in daily (outside of Chrome). I highly recommend Coda, but be sure to check out BBEdit, Espresso and TextMate to see which best  fits your needs/workflow.



Incident 57




CodeKit helps you build websites faster and better. 

Compile Everything: 
Process Less, Sass, Stylus, Jade, Haml, Slim, CoffeeScript, Javascript and Compass files automatically each time you save. Easily set options for each language.

Live Browser Reloads: 
Instantly see changes in your browser, with animation and without hitting the refresh button or installing plugins. Great for tweaking layouts! 


— Girlfriend’s reaction when I explained what CodeKit does

Codekit is the evolution of Less.app.

Paired with Safari, the CodeKit is able to edit Less / Sass / Stylus / Coffeescript and see the results in real time. The best way to explain CodeKit is to watch the video. Its an avant-garde app that allows for refresh-free CSS updates with Safari. Depending on your needs, it could be your new best binary friend.

CSS3 Toolkit



CSS utility



CSS3 Toolkit is a really simple utility tool to help you create complex decorative CSS3 styles visually. 

With a live webkit-based preview and instant CSS generation, see your styles come to life in real time. 

CSS3 Toolkit is a huge time saver for designers, front end developers and engineers who want to work with cutting edge CSS3 styles right now without having to write any code at all. 

Most of what’s contained in this app can be found on various websites, but its nice to have all your borders, gradients and shadows in on place. At $3 its enough to stomach but many modern IDEs are starting to integrate these same features.







djay transforms your Mac into a full-fledged DJ system, allowing you to mix your iTunes music library on a hyper-realistic turntable interface. Perform live, record mixes on-the-go, or enable Automix mode and let djay mix your favorite playlist automatically. With unprecedented ease-of-use and innovative features like Harmonic Match, djay for Mac takes DJing to the next level and offers a unique experience for beginners and professionals alike.

djay is a surprisingly powerful DJ app for only $19.99. Its a simple two track DJ app, akin feature wise to the now-defunct Serato Itch (sans the wider hardware support).  Its killer feature is the harmonic key, which lets you match songs with similar keys or switch on the fly. This is a feature only fond in the much more expensive Virtual DJ, and is still strangely missing in Serato DJ and Scratch Live and Traktor. Virtual DJ also sports shamelessly simple auto mixing making anyone a DJ.

While it allows midi configuration, it doesn’t support the Numark NS7s and doubtfully works with other Serato specific hardware and the fx do not have BPM matching, nor can you view FX + Loop tools all at once.

 It’s worth $19.99 to me despite high end hardware support as I was able to index the root keys and BPMs (with a fairly good degree of accuracy) on 24,200 songs in several hours on my Mac Pro, making for easier sample matching. Harmonic matching isn’t perfect so don’t expect miracles.

DJ works great  and has all the basics, plus some surprising additions (AU plugin support!? Harmonic Mixing?).  A little too much screen real-estate is defaulted to a visually appealing yet-garish skumorphic interface, especially when compared to Serato DJ/Stratch, or Traktor Pro which are have much more minimalist-yet-featured-packed interfaces

In short, it is good enough to use professionally and novices can get surprising results out of the box. $19.99 is actually a bit of a steal. The only thing truly holding it back is high end hardware and an interface that requires too much clicking to bounce between looping and FX. If you’re looking to try your hand at DJing, this is your best bet as unless you have truly deep pockets.




Integrated Development Environment



You design and develop for the Web? Espresso turbo-charges your workflowwith the perfect blend of features. Speed through day-to-day edits with extensive language support, contextual completions, powerful smart snippets, and Zen actions. Use the Navigator and code folding to prevail over the most complicated documents. Watch your web pages update in real time with live styling, visualize and inspect your layouts with X-ray, then push the changes to your server withSync or Quick Publish. Oh, and did we mention CSSEdit 3 is built in?

Coda’s $25 drop in price to $75 probably has something to do with Espresso. Espresso has tighter CSS integration than Coda, but lacks the built in WebKit render and git integration.  

Espresso vs Coda has become the Coke vs Pepsi debate for Web IDEs. I demoed it, and while I stuck with Coda, had I started with Espresso, I doubt I’d be swayed to Coda. Very highly recommended.



Rogue Amoeba

Audio Editor



Crop and trim audio, paste in or join files, or just rapidly split one long file into many. Fission is streamlined for fast editing. Plus, it works without the quality loss caused by other editors, so you can get perfect quality audio even when editing MP3 and AAC files.

If you need to convert formats, Fission can do that too! You can rapidly export or batch convert files to the MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV formats.

Fission isn’t my favorite two track editor but it can edit AAC and MP3s without having to re-encode for lossless editing which alone makes it worth purchasing. It also strips the iTunes Personal Identifier information from iTunes purchases by saving as… but you didn’t hear that from me.

Its perfect for cleaning up MP3s such as splitting tracks and joining tracks. Its the tool for the ultimate music nerd music collection maintenance. Its been a life saver.



Celestial Teapot

Webkit HTML wrapper



Web applications like Gmail, Facebook, Campfire and Pandora are becoming more and more like desktop applications every day. Running each of these web apps in a separate tab in your browser can be a real pain.

Fluid lets you create a Real Mac App (or “Fluid App”) out of any website or web application, effectively turning your favorite web apps into OS X desktop apps.

Creating a Fluid App out of your favorite website is simple. Enter the website’s URL, provide a name, and optionally choose an icon. Click “Create”, and within seconds your chosen website has a permanent home on your Mac as a real Mac application that appears in your Dock.

This particular app seems a bit silly…. that is until you realize you can create a wrapper for your favorite website and simply command-tab to it. I run HelpScout using Fluid daily. While we live in the era of protected memory per browser tabs, its nice having a separate webkit just for NPR.



Bohemian Coding

Font Organization



Fontcase is a professional font manager in an elegant package with beautiful font previews and robust (auto-activation) support. It effortlessly handles libraries with thousands of fonts and organising your fonts is dead-simple thanks to our Typedia integration.

Fontcase operates a lot like OS X’s Font Book, it allows you to preview fonts and quickly activate and deactivate font families, but that’s underselling it. It shines brightly when previewing entire font families, glyphs and text bodies.

It also makes genre organization and font family merging fast and simple. The real killer is the Typesetter mode, that allows you to drag fonts onto other documents/websites for live previewing. 




FTP/Amazon S3/Bluetooth Client



ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed Mac software. 

ForkLift will connect to any remote server FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV, the SMB, NIS and AFP shares on your local network, or your Bluetooth mobile phone- pretty much anything you can plug into or hook up to a Mac. ForkLift also carries a complete toolbox for managing your files, including Folder Synchronization, Batch Renaming, Archive handling, Application deleter, editing files over remote connections and many more. All these power features are packaged into a Finder-like, dual-pane interface that delivers superior workflow while remaining absolutely familiar to use, along with QuickLook, Spotlight search and all. 

Forklift is the only FTP that stands it the same realm as OS 9/OS X’s undefeated champion. It boasts a few features Transmit does not such as Bluetooth support.

That said, the interface just lacks the fine polish of Transmit. Its still a damn fine FTP and a hair cheaper than Transmit.  Some users even prefer it to Transmit, so check it out.

Gif Brewery


Hello, Resolven Apps

Video Conversion



GIF Brewery lets you convert brief clips from your video files into GIFs. Whether you want to create the newest cat GIF or provide a preview of a longer video, GIF Brewery is for you.

No longer must you extract frames from your movies and fiddle with layers in Adobe® Photoshop®. Instead, let GIF Brewery do all the tedious work for you.

In addition, GIF Brewery contains plenty of other features to express your creativity. You can add captions to recreate dialogue or add multiple image filters.

I recently wrote a mini review of this piece of software. It’s not a full-fledged GIF animation suite, that allows frame-by-frame GIF creation. Instead, it converts videos to GIF and does it extremely well, and at an exceptionally reasonable price.

Tumblr users: This app is for you.



Oleg Andreev

Git Management



One-click commit, push and pull. Unique search in history and undo for Git commands. Powerful commands like rebase, branch reset and cherry picking. And now it works with submodules.

Gitbox is the minimalist’s Git management choice. At $15, its significantly cheaper than Tower. It integrates with other ShowDiff tools (Changes, Kaleidoscope), Xcode and others. 

It remains one of the highest reviewed Mac Store Apps and makes Git much more accessible for the non-CLI users. While I prefer Tower, I’d be happy to use Gitbox.




Image Optimization



ImageOptim optimizes images — so they take up less disk space and load faster — by finding best compression parameters and by removing unnecessary comments and color profiles. It handles PNG, JPEG and GIF animations.

ImageOptim seamlessly integrates various optimisation tools: PNGOUT, AdvPNG, Pngcrush, extended OptiPNG, JpegOptim, jpegrescan, jpegtran, and Gifsicle.

It’s excellent for publishing images on the web (easily shrinks images “Saved for Web” in Photoshop) and also useful for making Mac and iPhone/iPad applications smaller.

Simply drag and drop batches of images into ImageOptim and watch it do its magic. I’ve had it do wonders on PNGs without any issues, shaving often 20% off the png filesize. It can be a little pokey when dealing with larger PNGs but at the price, its hard to beat.



Black Pixel

Show Differences Utility



Use Kaleidoscope to spot the differences in text, images, and folders. Review and merge changes in seconds with the world’s most advanced file comparison application.

What makes Kaleidoscope special is the ability to show differences on a variety of situations: Text, Images and Folders.

It integrates with a variety of tools, (Gitbox, Tower, SourceTree, Versions) and boasts support for mercurial, git and subversion.  Paired with an easy drag and drop interface, it takes little effort to spot differences (as it should be). Completely awesome.



Objective Development

Launcher Utility



LaunchBar is a smart and powerful, keyboard driven productivity utility that lets you access and control every aspect of your digital life. Whatever you want to get done on your Mac – with LaunchBar it’s only a few keystrokes away.

Get instant access to applications, documents, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, media libraries, search engines and so much more – just by typing short abbreviations.

It’s a file manager, a web and desktop search tool, an app launcher, a clipboard manager, a jukebox, a calculator, an information browser, … or quite simply a tremendous time saver!

Launchers have been around since the beginning of Mac OS, including Apple’s own Launcher and AtEase (and not mention tons of Windows-esq Start menu utilities) and the OS X Dock. 

Unlike any of the aforementioned, Launchbar is the only one focusing on a mouseless experience. It won’t untether you completely but you’ll drastically reduce your mousing once you get into the flow. 

Little Snitch


Objective Development

Firewall / Network Monitor / Process monitor



Little Snitch sees what happens under the hood. 

A firewall protects your computer against unwanted guests from the Internet. But who protects your private data from being sent out? Little Snitch does! 

As soon as you’re connected to the Internet, applications can potentially send whatever information they want to wherever they want. 

Sometimes they do this for good reason, on your explicit request. But often they don’t. Little Snitch allows you to intercept these unwanted connection attempts, and lets you decide how to proceed. 

Little Snitch is essential to anyone looking to protect their privacy and monitor what their computer is actually doing online. With the ability to block network connections of all stripes, and identify processes, Little Snitch is indispensable, especially for power users. Little Snitch is battle tested, as its been around for more than a decade and has grown into possibly the best firewall money can buy.

Pair it with VPN (like privateinternetaccess.com) and a few Chrome Extensions, and you can be a ghost in the wires. Take that Zuck.



Real Mac Software

Screenshot Utility



LittleSnapper was built to help designers and other creative-minded Mac users build up a design scrapbook. Whether it’s proofs of client work, live sites that interest you, or screenshots of your favourite Mac applications, LittleSnapper allows you to capture, organise, annotate and share them all - from one beautiful OS X application.

I scored LittleSnapper in a bundle. I’ve forgotten what else came in it, but I still use LittleSnapper years later.

LittleSnapper shines at quick screenshot annotation, great for quickly communicating ideas and/or documentation. Its on the spendy side but keeps your desktop clutter to a minimum.



Andrey Tarantsov

Web Development Utility



What does LiveReload do? LiveReload monitors changes in the file system. As soon as you save a file, it is preprocessed as needed, and the browser is refreshed. Even cooler, when you change a CSS file or an image, the browser is updated instantly without reloading the page.

Live Reload isn’t ideal in every situation as its mostly relegated to local development. If you’re working and running code directly off a remote server, it may or may not work with your work flow. That said, its amazing when you can use it.

Full disclosure: Yes, LiveReload has a public alpha for Windows. That said, for now it stays on this list. 




Diagramming / Wireframing

Standard: $99.99

Professional: $199.99


Need a diagram, process chart, quick page-layout, website wireframe or graphic design? OmniGraffle can help you make eye-popping graphic documents quickly by keeping lines connected to shapes even when they’re moved, providing powerful styling tools, importing and exporting Microsoft Visio files, and magically organizing diagrams with just one click. Whether you need a quick sketch or an epic technical figure, OmniGraffle keeps it gorgeously understandable.

Omnigraffle started out as a diagramming application but has evolved to be so much more. You can create/download UI libraries (iOS, Bootstrap) and create high quality mockups, or stick the stand by of simply creating idea charts and mapping out structures.

Its on the spendy side but white boards aren’t e-mailed as PDFs very easily ;)

Paint Code



iOS Development



PaintCode is a simple vector drawing app that instantly generates resolution-independent Objective-C or C#/MonoTouch drawing code for both OS X and iOS. 

You no longer have to tweak and recompile your drawing code over and over again to achieve the desired result. With PaintCode, a graphic designer with no programming experience can draw beautiful controls, icons and other user interface elements, and the app automatically generates code that is equally beautiful. 

Paint Code lets you draw vectors and export them to native objective C, for OS X and iOS. It sports your standard vector operations you know and love (Union, Intersection and Difference), blend modes, smart guides, and SVG import. You can define the resizing behavior for control points which allows you to set rules to determine how UI elements are reused.

I’ve test driven it and I’m very impressed. If I ever jump deep into iOS development, it’ll be one of my first purchases.

Parallels Desktop


Parallels IP Holdings GmbH

Virtual Machine



Parallels Desktop for Mac is the most tested, trusted and talked-about solution for running Windows applications on your Mac - without rebooting.   

Even Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal is talking about the new version and how well Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac runs Windows and Mac apps side by side. 

Seamless Simplicity
With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can seamlessly run both Windows and Mac OS X applications side-by-side with speed, control and confidence.

Setting up Parallels Desktop for Mac is easy. Bring all your PC programs, documents, photos, music and browser bookmarks to your Mac, then run them all like they were made for your Mac. It’s the best of both worlds on one desktop.

Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are the two virtual machine giants on OS X. Both products are locked in fierce competition, which has been great for the end user. No matter which you choose, you can’t lose. I use VMware at work and Parallels at home. I can attest each works great with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. Sure VirtualBox is free but  it feels like a dinosaur compared to the polished experience that the aforementioned offer.

Each is a fantastic product but Parallels has been a little more Mac centric, has a performance edge, slightly better Linux support and supports retina in VMed machines. Opt for Parallels over VMware. 







Permute is the perfect A/V conversion tool for those of us that are not A/V experts. With its drag and drop ease of use and simple, custom settings behind the curtain, it’s the answer to all the “other” confusing and complicated alternatives.

While there are some great freebies like Handbreak, ffMPEGx (if you can find a working download), Permute makes video conversion dead simple. If you don’t like looking at bit rates and complicated settings, Permute will give you great results without much work. You can create your own presets but codec geeks (self included) might be slightly put off.

 Its great if you’re looking to drag and drop files and apply profiles, and amazing if you’re looking to quickly convert videos for your iOS devices.



Pixelmator Team LTD

Image Editor



Pixelmator is an inspiring, easy-to-use, beautifully designed image editor built to help you create stunning new images and edit your existing photos.

Pixelmator takes full advantage of the latest Mac technologies, giving you speedy, powerful tools that let you touch up and enhance images, draw or paint, apply gorgeous effects, and just have fun with your pictures. Once your images are ready, access them anywhere with iCloud, send them to iPhoto or Aperture, email, print, or save them to popular image formats, or share them through Facebook, Flickr, and more—all right from Pixelmator.

Ever wonder if you could survive without Photoshop? Pixelmator makes it rather feasible for $15. It boasts most of the Photoshop standbys, layers, masking, pressure sensitivity and even basic vector support, and a few things like Autosave that Photoshop doesn’t.

Ask Different did a shootout of Photoshop vs GIMP vs Pixelmator, spoiler, Photoshop wins but Pixelmator is a close second. CNET in 2011 gave it a perfect review and Macworld gave it a 4 out of 5.

At $15, you’re capable of doing professional level editing. I’ve seen some great stuff from GIMP users, but having tried GIMP twice over the years, Pixelmator is worth every penny over the free alternative. The planned 2.2 update will allow text to be converted to paths and photo filters (surely overplayed by now… right?) that offer significantly more control than any would-be Instagram.  Pixelmator can open any RAW images that OS X can open, but it won’t do any pre-import color correction.

If they give me smart objects and bezier masks, I’d probably ditch Photoshop as my go to editor. Hear that Pixelmator Team? You could  who’s beenusing Photoshop for over two decades to switch…



Matt Rajca

Pixel Image Editor



Pixen is an open source pixel art editor designed for working with low-resolution raster art, such as those 8-bit sprites found in old-school video games. With innovative features like a unique color palette system, patterns, layers, and high-zoom support, Pixen packs all the tools pixel artists need in an intuitive, Mac-native interface. Pixen also makes creating frame-by-frame animations fun and easy.

Formerly a free app, Pixen is a specialty image editor with a strong focus on pixel art. It sports animations, layers, tablet support but specializes in color management. As a bonus you can export your animations as animated gifs and spritesheets.

Pixen is a gem for anyone in the world of pixel art… indie game devs look no further.



Playback allows you to share your media with any Playstation 3, Xbox 360, or other UPnP compatible device. It automatically integrates with iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture, Adobe Lightroom 2 & 3, Photobooth, EyeTV, and more. You can share all content from these applications or choose specific playlists and albums. 

Playback can also share media stored in folders or even make entire disks available to your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. By default, Playback will share almost any content on your system. No configuration required! If you prefer to tinker, you’ll appreciate Playback’s built-in access control list (ACL) and bandwidth throttling. The ACL allows you to control which devices have access to your media. Bandwidth throttling limits the transfer rate from your computer to your UPnP device so others on your network can still surf the Web and check their email. 


Media Server



I was a bit hesitant to include Playback as it falls outside of scope. In short, its a media server for UPnP devices, including the PS3 and Xbox 360.

What makes it special is the ability to integrate with, Lightroom, Aperture & iPhoto, which makes easy photo presentation, so you can show off your creations without much preparation. 

However, playback isn’t a transcoder, so unsupported codecs will not play on your Xbox 360 or PS3. That said, it has the ability to repackage H.264 video from an MKV file into an MP4 file on the fly. Also, as it is not a transcoder, the CPU overhead is minimal compared to a transcoder so multiple devices can connect to a single server.



Creaceed SPRL


$49.99 ($99 with Pro Pack)


Prizmo is a revolutionary scanning application with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in over 40 languages with powerful editing capability, text-to-speech, and iCloud support.

No matter what capture device’s at hand, Prizmo is the key for scanning and performing OCR. It works with pictures taken with your iPhone, iPad, or digital camera, with documents coming from connected or Wi-Fi scanners, even with screenshots! It will help you easily scan any documents (invoices, receipts, boards, giant advertisements…) of any sizes (US Letter, US Legal, A4, and custom)…

Paper still exists, even for the us web developers.

Prizmo boasts the ability to use your iPhone and iPad as a digital camera but the older versions of these devices won’t give you great results due to the low resolution. Despite the gimmicky marketing text, this is a true work horse application.

Prizmo is probably the best OCR software for OS X despite a few missing features: it can do multipage PDFs but not multipage TIFFs. It can export to .RTF but not .DOC. These minor caveats are not make or break, plus they can be worked around. That said, it would be nice to see them in an app that already boasts serious Pro features such as batch processing, automator actions and Apple script support (in  the Pro Pack edition).

Outside of a few limitations, it outputs multipage docs in RTF and PDF, and can do onscreen OCR. 



Batoul Apps

CSS Utility



ProCSSor is a CSS formatter and compressor, ProCSSor is an essential tool for seasoned professionals and hobbyist Web designers alike. 

Let’s face it - we’ve all come across badly written CSS with no style, mixed styles, or even machine generated CSS. Then, there’s our own lazy, late-night CSS which makes no sense in the morning. Now with ProCSSor you have no more excuses for confusing and ugly CSS!

ProCSSor formats your CSS in an elegant and readable way. Instead of pouring over an unformated CSS file, let ProCSSor turn it into a readable document. It automatically indents, spaces, and styles your CSS according to your specifications. ProCSSor also compresses your CSS for production and quickly lets you prettify when you’re ready to code, so you’ll never have to keep separate copies for development and production. 

You may know this one as it’s also a website that is available for free use. ProCCSor is a one trick pony. It prettifies an minifies CSS. That’s it, but damn if it isn’t handy. It gives you plenty of prettifying options to fit your formatting style. Drag and Drop or CLI, your choice for instant gratification. Its worth the $5 for the native app.

If they added auto-minification on file modification, this would be worth 5x what they’re charging. *HINT* *HINT* DEVELOPER




Text Editor



TextMate brings Apple’s approach to operating systems into the world of text editors. By bridging UNIX underpinnings and GUI, TextMate cherry-picks the best of both worlds to the benefit of expert scripters and novice users alike.

Whether you are a programmer or a designer, the production of code and markup is hard work. Without an editor dedicated to the task, it is also often cumbersome, overwhelming, and repetitive. Especially when you are dealing with a lot of files at once — like most projects do. TextMate puts you back in control, reduces the mental overhead, and turns manual work into something the computer does.

Textmate is a shoe-in for almost any best of OS X app list. Its not an IDE but it can easily function as one. It has massive syntax support, snippets, plugin/add-ons, integrates with the terminal and macro support.

TextMate is the Terminal user’s best friend.

Need Diff comparison  Add it on. HTML? Add it on. SQL, Subversion, LaTeX, Xcode? You guessed it… add it on.



Fournova Software GmbH




Tower is a powerful Git client for OS X that makes using Git easy and more efficient. Users benefit from its elegant and comprehensive interface and a feature set that lets them enjoy the full power of Git. 

Learn Git with Tower. With its easy-to-use interface you’ll be up to speed in no time. Tower takes the pain out of Git and makes complex tasks simple.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t crazy about Git until Github released a GUI version. While I’m not afraid of the CLI, (I can sudo nano my etc/hosts to force a DNS change when I’m feeling antsy for a name server change and I hacked my original Apple TV using SSH and barebones instructions) I’ve never been as comfortable with the CLI as a GUI. 

Tower makes Git management sane. Even version control newbies like myself can dive in and start branching, merging and making commits (and misusing Rebase). Its powerful and easy to use. While its internal diffs leaves something to be desired, it integrates very nicely with diff tools like Kaleidoscope. 

Its considerably more expensive than Gitbox, which offers roughly the same level of functionality. Tower feels more evolved than Gitbox. At my current position I’m the only dev using Git (*sigh*) so I can’t comment on multi-team Git usage with Tower (or Gitbox). One day… one day…



Panic Studios

FTP/Amazon S3 client



Transmit is an excellent FTP (file transfer protocol), SFTP, S3 (Amazon.com file hosting) and iDisk/WebDAV client that allows you to upload, download, and delete files over the internet. With the most Mac-like interface available, Transmit makes FTP as simple, fun, and easy as it can possibly be.

I <3 the Transmit Icon. Other people <3 the Transmit icon enough to steal it

Seems crazy to pay for an FTP when there’s Filezilla and CyberDuck for free, right? If you think that, you haven’t used Transmit (or Forklift). Transmit supports FTP/SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV and iDisk. It also can mount your various bookmarked FTPs on your desktop… from your menubar.

You can create droplets, little icons you can place anywhere, including your dock, and drag files onto them to upload.

If it sounds like I’m gushing, its because I totally am.  Forklift gives Transmit a serious run for its money, but I’m still sold on Transmit. 

Protip, purchase directly from Panic, as you’ll get the updates quicker without App Store delays.



CatPig Studioes

Internet Radio 



Introducing the new Radium, the most beautiful and intuitive internet radio player you’ll ever use. Find stations in real time by name, genre or region, and tune in to your favourite radios with just one click.

Radium’s 6000+ high quality stations, full AirPlay support, Smart Equalizer and built-in Wish List make listening to your favourite radio a breeze. (Again!)

Redesigned from the ground up, Radium 3 features a new, elegant and minimal user interface that sits in the menubar and stays out of the way. Feel free to concentrate on doing what you love and let Radium take care of the sounds.

Music (and caffeine) fuel design. Radium is just too good not to mention. There’s been plenty of internet Radio station apps but none are this easily. Want BBC World News? Just search for it from your menu bar and click. 

It also supports popular subscription services SiriusXM, Live365, Last.fm, Calm Radio etc plus 60,000 free radio stations preprogrammed. You also can save the names of track you like in a wishlist with a click of the mouse.

Radium is how I get my BBC World News on. I’d use it for SiriusXM if I didn’t have to pay friggin’ double just to get XM internet streaming. I <3 Radium. I do not <3 SiriusXM.

Sequel Pro


Sequel Pro & CocoaMySQL Teams

MySQL/CSV Database Browser



Sequel Pro is a fork of the abandoned CocoaMySQL project, with plans to expand to other database engines and improve the user interface. For more information, visit the Sequel Pro website.

Years ago at a previous position, I had  to enter in products using Navicat to our SQL database as we didn’t have an in house CMS, I haven’t touched Navicat since.  Impressively, Sequel Pro offers the same level of functionality as Navicat, without any price tag.

Also, unlike a few other SQL management utilities like Querious, Sequel Pro is still being actively developed. Sequel Pro is a total win for mac users.




PSD exporter



Slicy (was Layer Cake) turns PSD elements into images for the Web and for Apps, simply name your layer groups once and let Slicy do its magic. Bye bye, “Save for Web/Devices”. Hello, boost in productivity and creativity!

Designers and Developers, rejoice – exporting is no longer a workflow killer. Name layer groups like the files you want to create, and Slicy will extract them individually. Enjoy complete freedom to move, obscure and even hide these named layer groups without affecting the extracted images.

Formerly Layer Cake, Slicy is a miracle worker.

Slicy will take a PSD and export the layers into separate files with a simple drag and drop. Oh but wait, it gets better, you can auto-generate retina versions, set up auto-repeat exports (hit save and photoshop and update your individual files).

It takes minimal Photoshop set up, name your folders properly and let Slicy kick some ass.



Bohemian Coding




Sketch is a innovative and fresh look at vector drawing for the Mac. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and controls. Though simple to use, it offers powerful vector drawing and text tools like perfect Boolean operations, Symbols and powerful Rulers, Guides and Grids.

Sketch is the new kid on the block who’s been lighting up the UIX world. Its a vector based app targeted at web design. Its super lightweight, fast, can do retina exports, SVG and some CSS, and its fast. Since I’ve purchased Sketch, it has grown by leaps and bounds..

Its a vector app that makes you think about the math in your graphics, which is a very good thing. 

So far its won an Apple Design Award Winner, 2012, maintained a 5 star review in the App Store and continues to make splashes across the blogosphere. I’ve started making my mobile UI in Sketch instead of Photoshop and haven’t looked back. 

Sad about the impending death of Fireworks? Check out the future of sketch… 

Snapz Pro X


Ambrosia Software inc

Screen Capture



Snapz Pro X allows you to effortlessly record anything on your screen*, saving it as a QuickTime® movie or screenshot that can be e-mailed, put up on the web, or passed around however you want. Snapz Pro X 2.x costs $69. New version 2.5.0 has been rewritten from the ground up with the most modern APIs to take maximum advantage of Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later. It is OS X Mountain Lion & Retina Display compatible!

Why take a static screenshot when Snapz Pro X makes creating a movie just as easy? Snapz Pro X does that, and so much more! Download a free demo version right now, or check out the video tutorials we’ve created and see for yourself.

Famed classic shareware game makers, Ambrosia, once upon a time decided to venture outside of 2D games and made a screen capture app. Snapz Pro. At the time it was revolutionary and oddles better than other competing solutions.

Along came OS X and to delineate the OS X version, X was added to the namesake. After over a decade of OS X support, remains one of the better screen capture utilities on the Mac. It even has full retina support for capturing video (and possibly the only as of writing this). It hangs in an elite club on this list with BBEdit and Transmit, making the transition from OS 9 to OS X, and from PPC to Intel.

The more expensive Camtasia (cross platform) offers considerably more in the way of editing but Snapz Pro X gets the point, capture video.

Sound Studio


Felt Tip Studios

Audio Editor



Features at your fingertips.

Digitize tapes and vinyl records, record live performances, create your own mixes with crossfades, tweak the levels and EQ, apply digital effects, and save in all major file formats with Sound Studio.

Professional quality recordings.

Record professional-sounding Podcasts and other audio dialog. Spoken word, speeches, presentations, music, and other audio can all be recorded and edited with the same high fidelity.

Easy batch processing.

Process multiple files using Monbots, developed specifically for Sound Studio. Sound Studio also supports Applescript and Automator.

Regularly updated.

Sound Studio is regularly updated to add new features and take advantage of the very latest Apple technologies.

I miss Macromedia SoundEdit 16.

It was completely ahead of its time as a multitrack waveform editor.  Even today, it still does things that some basic editors have trouble with.

That said, the closest thing since is Sound Studio. The UI is dead on and as a two track editor, its my favorite for years and years running. 

Despite owning Logic & Cubase, I still use Sound Studio quite regularly to chop up samples into loops before moving on to Recycle or Battery or Cubase/Logic.

Its much better than Peak or Soundbooth, or Audacity or the disgraceful Mac port of SoundForge and the UI is easier to use than Fission.  Plus, they survived the acquisition of their publisher, Freeverse, by ngmoco. 

Sound studio is great for pros down to beginners. 



Black Pixel

Subversion GUI



Versions offers the best way to work with Subversion on the Mac. Thanks to its clear-cut approach, you’ll hit the ground running.

New to Subversion?

Don’t panic. Versions makes Subversion easy. Even if you’re new to version control systems altogether. Commit your work, stay up to date, and easily track changes to your files. All from Versions’ pleasant, true to the Mac interface.

Experts Welcome

Take your workflow to the next level with Versions. There is no better, faster or more efficient way to stay on top of your projects. Download the demo and see how Versions beats the CLI — or anything else, for that matter.

Using Subversion control or not a fan of Git? Versions is an awesome subversion management GUI, including a spiffy timeline view. It contests Tower as the best GUI front end to a popular version control software.

They boast it “Integrates with Kaleidoscope, FileMerge, Changes, BBEdit, TextWrangler, Araxis Merge and other file comparison apps” and I can attest it works well with Kaleidoscope. I might even recommend this over Tower if you’re strictly a designer looking to break into version control on your own. 

Web Code 



Illustration/Vector (SVG) to CSS Editor




If you are doing a lot of HTML5 Canvas drawing, WebCode will become your best friend.

You will no longer have to tediously write the drawing code by hand. Your drawings will be converted to JavaScript code instantly, saving you countless hours of boring work.

Most importantly, the generated code is nice, clean and readable. WebCode even lets you conveniently copy small JavaScript snippets out just when you need them.


Stop writing CSS3 gradients, shadows and media queries by hand - from now on, WebCode will do that for you.

In fact, it will convert as much of your drawings as possible to CSS+HTML code! Rectangles, rounded rectangles, ovals, texts, images, gradients, inner and outer shadows, strokes and fills are all well supported.

And for things like beziers that simply cannot be converted to CSS+HTML, WebCode will let you know by generating helpful warnings.


SVG shines when making infographics, and WebCode is a great tool that instantly transforms your drawings to readable, succinct and beautiful SVG code.

The code is shown in real time - you can see it change and grow! This is not only really cool to look at, but it is also a great way to learn SVG, JavaScript+Canvas and CSS.

All of these features are designed to save your time, so you can focus on what is really important - the content itself.

Webcode is hard to classify hence the massive description above. Its a vector illustration/animation app that generates HTML5/CSS/JS Canvas code for the web. Its designed with high resolution independence in mind is a true undiscovered gem.

There’s no lag between browser refreshes when designing, simply draw and see the code magically appear.

I’ll be picking this tool up in the near future, its exceptionally promising. High five to new comer PixelCut, both PaintCode and WebCode are unique and awesome apps.



The Iconfactory & ARTIS Software

Guide Utility



Created specifically for designers & developers, xScope is a powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting & testing on-screen graphics and layouts.

xScope is another genre buster, its a collection of several tools, Mirror Dimensions Rulers Screens Loupe Guides Frames and Crosshair. xScope allows you get get dimensions, colors of anything on screen, accessibility testing (color blindness), preview designs on iOS devices and so on. There’s several Mac Store apps that replicate some of the functionality but none are as full featured.

Its a user-interface designer’s toolbox, designed for on-screen content delivery.

Honorable Mentions:

There’s a few apps I debated mentioning, like Diskwarrior which has saved my ass so many times over the years but fell too far out of scope. iDraw and iFFmpeg are both quality products and worth buying but not my personal favorites.

Diskwarrior - HFS maintenance tool - $99.95

iFFmpeg - FFmpeg GUI for video conversion - $15

iDraw - Vector Illustration - $24.99

Techtool Pro - Computer repair utility suite -  $99.99

Thanks for reading. All icons and marketing blurbs are property of their original owners.