Essential High Sierra Apps

MacOS High Sierra image
MacOS High Sierra image

A new public beta of MacOS (OS X) 10.13 High Sierra recently dropped and I was asked: Q: “Has your list of Essential High Sierra Apps changed from last year’s list of Essential Sierra Apps? A: “Yes, but, as always, the vast majority of my apps have not changed. I’m still Adobe app, Google app and Microsoft app free.”

This year’s highlighted change is minor, but exciting. I’m currently testing and enjoying a MacOS native, speedy, modern, open-source, plain text editor that is 100% written with Swift. CotEditor app is not as full featured as BBEdit, my choice last year, but it’s a sweet app that integrates perfectly with my MacOS app ecosystem. Usual settings: Toolbar and Tab Bar hidden, Status Bar limited to characters and words, font = Menlo Regular and Syntax style = Markdown. My recommendation, check out CotEditor right now. It’s free.

Here’s my app list for 2017–2018:

Essential High Sierra Apps from Identified Developers

Essential High Sierra Apps from the Mac App Store

and here are my

Most Frequently Used Essential High Sierra Apps:

Most frequently used essential High Sierra apps
Most frequently used essential High Sierra apps

Note: Applications and MacOS 10.13 beta are still being optimized.

High Sierra App Related Comments:

For anyone interested in markdown, my current workflow is:

  1. compose with CotEditor app
  2. preview markdown with Marked 2 app
  3. copy HTML source from Marked 2 app
  4. edit HTML, when necessary, with CotEditor app
  5. post HTML to WordPress.

It’s worth noting that Marked 2 app has survived my markdown journey from BBEdit to Byword to MultiMarkdown Composer to Texts to TypeMetal to Focused to Sublime Text to Atom to Ulysses back to BBEdit and, at least for now, to CotEditor. If you’ll forgive me a Nintendo Switch, ‘Zelda Breath of the Wild’ reference, Marked app is a diamond, not rock salt. Years ago, I decided to write and store my documents as plain text. Marked 2 app allows me to preview rich text no matter which plain text application has my attention. Brett Terpstra, Marked app’s developer, deserves a tip of the hat and your business. Thanks Brett!

FWIW, I won’t be paying to upgrade two of last year’s apps because I haven’t been using them. Great apps, but I no longer find them essential. I’ve removed them from this year’s list. Not naming the applications was not an oversight, it was a small courtesy to the devs.

Bottom line: The Apple MacOS iOS ecosystem can’t be beat and you can’t go wrong with any of my Essential MacOS High Sierra Apps.

Essential Sierra Apps

MacOS Sierra icon

Every year, with the arrival of a new version of MacOS (OS X), I’m asked questions similar to the following: Q: “Has your list of Essential Sierra Apps changed from last year’s list of Essential applications for El Capitan? A: “Of course my list has changed, I find new MacOS apps and new versions of familiar apps irresistible.”

Here’s my app list for 2016–2017:

Essential Sierra Apps from Identified Developers

Essential Sierra Apps from the Mac App Store

and here are my

Most Frequently Used Essential Sierra Apps:

Most frequently used essential Sierra apps
Most frequently used essential Sierra apps

Note: Applications are still being optimized for MacOS Sierra.

Mailmate app
Update (20160916): Well, that didn’t take long! Mailmate app has replaced Apple Mail as one of my top 10 ‘Essential Sierra Apps’.


For the last couple of years I’ve boasted, “All of my MacOS apps are 64-bit”. Not anymore, I’ve reinstalled an old friend that remains, stubbornly, 32-bit. I’ve tested a number of 64-bit plain text editors, including Atom Editor, Sublime Text, TextMate, Smultron, Textastic and even Chocolat. Unfortunately, not one meets all of my criteria. BBEdit, my trustworthy, 32-bit buddy, has the correct mix of dependable MacOS-focused development, speedy friendly support, expert community and powerful features. Bluntly, BBEdit is a damned impressive, programable, plain text editor. In my opinion, it’s absolutely worth enjoying it today and waiting until Bare Bones (Rich, Jim, Steve, Patrick et al.) decides their 64-bit version of BBEdit is ready for release.

BBEdit, my trustworthy, 32-bit buddy, has the correct mix of dependable MacOS-focused development, speedy friendly support, expert community and powerful features. Bluntly, it’s a damned impressive, programable, plain text editor.

I’ve also made a u-turn with my markdown editor. BBEdit is nearly perfect for markdown, but, I’m lazy, I love Byword app’s shortcuts. My workflow is:

  1. compose everything with BBEdit
  2. edit markdown documents with Byword
  3. preview markdown with Marked 2 app
  4. copy HTML source from Marked
  5. edit HTML with BBEdit Scratchpad
  6. post HTML to WordPress.

Too many steps? Six steps may seem unnecessarily convoluted, but I’ve tested single-app composing/publishing solutions like Blogo, Desk and MarsEdit and found them lacking. I find the combination of BBEdit, Byword and Marked is far more versatile.

Do you suppose there’s any chance Bare Bones would add a markdown mode or even markdown shortcuts to BBEdit’s ‘Markup’ menu? I’m guessing my laziness and saving a step in my workflow will not make a compelling feature request. 🙂 That said, an ever increasing number of content creators are choosing markdown to format their documents. I wonder if BBEdit’s developers might be intrigued by how much money some markdown apps are earning? There’s not a dedicated markdown app on the market that has BBEdit’s power, but I do love those shortcuts.

I’ve started using Alfred’s clipboard and snippets features. Result: Two dedicated applications eliminated.

I’ve switched out my fairly-sophisticated ‘To Do’ app for TaskPaper. TaskPaper helps me create delightfully simple, plain text, to-do lists that I actually use.

I’m now using PDF Expert.

Essential El Capitan Apps

Mac OS X El Capitan icon

Which OS X applications are you using? Occasionally, I discover a useful, new app by checking out what other people are using. Once a year I publish a list of the applications I find essential. I was recently asked: Q: “Have your Essential El Capitan apps changed from last year's list of Essential Yosemite Apps? A: Unsurprisingly, yes, I enjoy reviewing updates to my runner-up apps and checking out new stuff. The biggest change this year is the addition of Affinity's professional graphic design applications. Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo are powerful, but straightforward and affordable. Another significant change from last year is that I'm now using many of Apple's supplied OS X apps and no longer feel the need to use BusyCal, BusyContacts, Calcbot, Fantastical, Google Chrome and MailMate.

Essential El Capitan Apps from Identified Developers

Essential El Capitan Apps from the Mac App Store

I haven’t linked to the following applications because you can easily chase them down in the Mac App Store:

  • Affinity Designer
  • Affinity Photo
  • Caffeine
  • Chronicle
  • Day One
  • Deckset
  • Ember 20151209 – replaced by Pixave
  • ForkLift
  • InfoClick
  • iThoughtsX
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Logoist
  • Napkin
  • PDFpenPro 20151112 – replaced by PDF Expert
  • Pixave
  • PopClip
  • Reeder
  • Sip
  • Timeless
  • Twitter
  • Ultra Character Map
  • Ulysses 20151030 – replaced by Texts
  • WiFi Explorer
  • xScope
  • Yoink

and here are my

Most frquently used essential El Capitan apps

Most Frequently Used Essential El Capitan Apps:


  1. Safari for El Capitan is excellent, my experimentation with Google Chrome is over, for now
  2. I'm delighted I no longer deal with Microsoft Office and Adobe's apps, including Flash. I've also dumped Java
  3. All of my apps have been 64 bit for over a year
  4. I still find myself wishing BBEdit was 64 bit.

Here’s my MacOS Sierra update.

Essential Yosemite Apps

Mac OS X Yosemite

Do you think it’s potentially helpful, to review lists of OS X applications that other folks are using? I do. I check out a lot of apps, but I can’t possibly test them all. I enjoy reviewing other people’s lists hoping to discover useful apps that just might become one of my Essential Yosemite Apps.

I’ve changed a number of my apps since last year’s Essential Mavericks Apps list. Having previously abandoned Adobe, Google and Microsoft applications, you won’t find any similar paradigm shifts this year. So, without any explanation as to why I’ve chosen them, here are my Essential Yosemite Apps:

Essential Yosemite Apps from an Identified Developer

I’ll be adding:

to my list when Audio Hijack Pro is updated to 64 bit.

Essential Yosemite Apps from the Mac App Store

I haven’t linked to the following applications because you can easily chase them down in the Mac App Store:

  • Affinity Designer
  • Byword
  • Caffeine
  • Calcbot
  • Chronicle
  • Deckset
  • Ember
  • Entropy
  • Fantastical
  • ForkLift
  • iThoughtsX
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Liquid
  • Logoist
  • PDFpenPro
  • Pixelmator
  • PopClip
  • Reeder
  • Sip
  • Twitter
  • TypeMetal
  • Ultra Character Map
  • WiFi Explorer
  • World Clock
  • xScope
  • Yoink

and here are my

Most Frequently Used Essential Yosemite Applications:


  1. For the first time this year, all of my apps are 64 bit
  2. I haven’t missed Google Chrome, Safari for Yosemite is excellent
  3. I’m still delighted I no longer have to deal with Microsoft Office
  4. I’ve gotten used to working without Adobe’s apps.

Essential Mavericks Apps

Essential Mavericks Apps

In the near future I'll be transitioning from Apple's OS X Mountain Lion to Mavericks. Every year, in the months before an operating system update, I attempt to pare my apps down to just those essential applications that I find indispensable. My housekeeping for this update is already complete. Here's my 'Essential Mavericks Apps' list.

Essential Mavericks Apps for Words

  • Calibre
  • Clyppan
  • iBooks
  • iBooks Author (32)1
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Liquid
  • Marked
  • Pages
  • PDFpenPro
  • PopChar
  • Scapple
  • Scrivener (32)
  • Sigil
  • Smultron
  • TextExpander
  • TextSoap
  • TypeMetal
  • Ulysses III

Essential Mavericks Apps for Images

  • Aperture
  • Color Schemer Studio (32)
  • Ember
  • Fontcase
  • Graphic Converter
  • Keynote
  • Logoist
  • Napkin
  • OmniGraffle Professional
  • Pixelmator
  • Pochade
  • Sketch
  • VueScan
  • xScope

Essential Mavericks Apps for Data

  • Calca
  • Contacts
  • DropDMG
  • Entropy
  • Espionage
  • Export Address Book
  • iCloud Keychain
  • InfoClick (32)
  • MacFamilyTree
  • Mactracker
  • Numbers
  • PCalc (32)
  • Sequel Pro
  • Soulver

Essential Mavericks Apps for Scheduling

  • 2Do
  • BusyCal
  • Fantastical

Essential Mavericks Apps for Audio

  • Audio Hijack Pro (32)
  • iTunes
  • Triumph
  • TwistedWave

Essential Mavericks Apps for Video

  • iMovie
  • QuickTime Player
  • ScreenFlow
  • Smart Converter Pro
  • Toast (32)

Essential Mavericks Apps for the Web

  • 1Password
  • Dropbox (32)
  • Mail
  • MailMate (32)
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • ReadKit
  • Safari
  • Skype (32)
  • SpamSieve
  • Transmit
  • Tweetbot

Essential Mavericks Apps for Backup

  • BackBlaze
  • Carbon Copy Cloner
  • Time Machine

Essential Mavericks Utility Apps

  • Alfred
  • AppDelete
  • Bartender
  • Default Folder X
  • Moom
  • Name Mangler
  • Pastebot Sync
  • PopClip
  • Printopia

Q: Have you changed any of the apps you recommended for OS X Mountain Lion?
A: I'm always dismayed by the number of changes I make to my workflow from year to year. In previous years many readers told me that dropping Adobe's Creative Suite and then Microsoft's Office apps were noteworthy changes. I wonder if dropping most Google apps and services will be perceived as a similar milestone? I've switched from Gmail to FastMail. I've replaced Google Chrome with Safari. Google Earth has given way to OS X's Maps. I'm searching with Siri or even Bing rather than Google. I've been similarly brutal with Google's iOS apps. I'll undoubtedly be asked, "Why have you gone negative on Google?" My bottom line is that, from my vantage, Google has become greedier, less friendly (killing services) and possibly even a little sinister. I favour Apple's customer/client paradigms over those of Google. My application developer bias is probably obvious, I prefer small(er), OS X and iOS Indie developers; a software development paradigm obscurely akin to the organic family farm versus the industrial food corporation archetype.

As usual, there are dozens of previously purchased apps that I'm no longer using. Many of the changes are related to my still evolving adoption of plain text for a lot of what I do.

Q: That's quite a long list, which apps do you use most often?
A: My almost always open apps are:

Caution: Although these are the apps I intend to use, a few may not be Mavericks compatible immediately after the Mavericks launch.

  1. (32) highlights 32 Bit apps, the vast majority of my essential Mavericks apps are 64 Bit.

Essential Mountain Lion Apps

Mountain Lion

Every time Apple introduces a new version of OS X, I whittle my applications folder down to just the essentials. Here’s my Essential Mountain Lion Apps list:

64 bit apps for OS X 10.8 (I’ve added links for the apps I use every day.)

32 bit apps for OS X 10.8

Once again this year I’ve removed dozens of applications, a few will eventually be reinstalled, but most of the apps I’ve uninstalled will never return. Interestingly, my Essential Mountain Lion Apps list has gotten shorter, but my Mac App Store list of ‘Purchases’ is constantly growing; which only makes sense if you realize I’m including the long list of apps that still feature grey ‘INSTALL’ buttons. OK, I’m clearly a sucker for a deal. 🙂 Remember when purchasing a new application meant a trip to the store and an outlay of hundreds or even thousands of dollars? Speaking of expensive applications, you’ll notice that Adobe Design Suite Premium and Microsoft Office have not reappeared on my list; they’ve been gone for years.

20120819 => “Go further”: An online contact found my “apps I use everyday” links, useful, but asked me to “go further and list the five apps you use the most”.

Top five, most used, essential mountain lion apps:

  1. Google Chrome
  2. 1Password
  3. Reeder
  4. Clyppan
  5. Byword, but FoldingText is already a contender

Note: About a month ago, my list would have started with Safari and a month from now, it could be Safari again. Both browsers are fast, but Chrome’s extensions are increasingly compelling. These days, I very rarely use Firefox. OmniWeb and Opera aren’t even installed.

FYI, here’s last years Best Lion Apps list for reference and here’s my Snow Leopard list.

Note: I’ve taken a little flack for including VirusBarrier in my list of ‘Essential Mountain Lion Apps’. Although it’s absolutely true that my fellow Mac users and I have had very little reason to be concerned about malware in the past, times are changing. Apple is selling more Macs and, unfortunately, sooner or later, our Macs will be targeted regularly. In March 2012 around 700,000 Macs, worldwide, were infected by Flashback and I’m convinced, that attack was just a wakeup call. Thus far, I’ve found VirusBarrier has been a “set it and forget it” anti-malware solution. It runs all the time and I haven’t noticed any downside to the real-time protection it delivers.

Frank Eves’ Essential Mac OS X Apps

In August 2009, I wrote about the apps I intended to install when Mac OS X Snow Leopard was commercially available. It’s my list of Essential Mac OS X Apps. My intention was to dramatically slim down my system. Here’s a list of the applications I’m using today. Last updated 20110324.

Note: My new list can be found here.

Additions (20110123):

  • Alfred
  • ChronoSync
  • ColorSchemer Studio
  • Knox
  • Panorama Sheets
  • Soundboard
  • Syncman

Previous additions:

  • DEVONthink Pro Office
  • ForkLift
  • Skitch
  • Wave Editor.


  • Aperture.
  • Textmate
  • Transmit
  • Wiretap Studio

Out (I’ve stopped using these apps):

  • Acorn
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Bento
  • Chronos Organizer
  • Contactizer
  • FileMaker
  • Firefox
  • Marketcircle Daylite
  • Microsoft Office 2008
  • Now Up-to-Date & Contact
  • Opera

and dozens of lesser known apps.


  • Alfred replaced LaunchBar
  • Carbon Copy Cloner replaced SuperDuper!
  • ForkLift and Transmit have replaced Fetch, Flow, Interarchy and Yummy FTP
  • Knox replaced Espionage
  • Panorama Sheets replaced Bento
  • Skitch has replaced Little Snapper and SnapzPro X
  • Wave Editor replaced Bias Peak Pro, Amadeus Pro and Fission

Here is the list of Mac OS X Snow Leopard apps I’m currently, happily using:

Apple iLife
Apple iWork
Art Text 2
Audio Hijack Pro
Carbon Copy Cloner
ColorSchemer Studio
DEVONthink Pro Office
Default Folder X (currently PPC)
Direct Mail
Dragon Dictate (formerly MacSpeech Dictate)
Google Earth
Labels & Addresses
OmniGraffle Professional
OmniOutliner Professional
Panorama Sheets
PTHPasteboard PRO
Swift Publisher
Toast Titanium
Vector Designer
VueScan Professional
Wave Editor
Wiretap Studio