MacOS productivity - The tools I can't live without

Posted on 14. June 2021

Almost every time I show somebody something on my MacBook, the question "How did you do that?" or "What tool is that?" comes up. After all those years, I have decided to write a blog post about the tools I use and which have increased my productivity not only as a developer, but also in general on MacOS.

Since there is so much out there, and I am 100% sure I have missed some cool tool or setup, feel free to contact me, so I can extend this list. You can also reply on Twitter.

Flycut - The clipboard manager

Flycut is a simple but powerful clipboard manager. Each time you copy text or a file, Flycut will save the selection in its history.

flycut-menu

With a shortcut (default Shift+Command+V), you can now cycle through the history with the arrow keys to paste a selection out of it even when it wasn't your last selection.

flycut-history

You can exclude password fields via the settings and you can also sync your settings and history across multiple devices via iCloud.

You can download Flycut for free from the App Store or install the DRM free version.

More information about Flycut can be found here.

Alfred - The better Spotlight

Alfred is a powerful replacement for Spotlight and has improved my productivity by a lot. Before Spotlight has received more and more features, Alfred already had them.

In Alfred, you can perform a lot of actions directly in the search window like calculations or conversions.

alfred-example-calculation

You can also enter a search term and select a search engine like Google or Amazon which opens your browser with the results. You can also add your own workflows, search engines or websites to open up.

For example, I have added the diginights.com search so I can open up the search results with fewer clicks.

alfred-example-search

If you want to open up Alfred with Command+Space, you first have to disable the Spotlight shortcut in the keyboard settings.

You can download Alfred for free or buy the Powerpack with even more features.

BetterSnapTool - The window manager

When one of my friends showed me his workspace with an ultra widescreen curved monitor powered by Windows 10, I was pretty amazed of the snap areas in Windows 10. Since MacOS doesn't have this feature, BetterSnapTool will handle the job.

better-snap-tool-snap-areas

By default, the tool adds snap areas in each corner and to the left and right. When you drag a window into one of these areas, the position and screen size of it will automatically be adjusted. By this, you can get the most out of your screen size without wasting time adjusting each window again and again.

better-snap-tool-snap-left-right

BetterSnapTool is highly customizable: You can set up hot keys, add custom snap areas and much more.

For example, I have added a custom snap area at the top and one at the bottom bottom so I can have two windows not only side-by-side but also top-and-bottom.

You can download BetterSnapTool for 3,49 € from the App store.

Oh My Zsh - The zsh configuration framework

Since Apple has moved from bash to zsh in macOS 10.15 Catalina, more and more people got used to it. But after the switch, all the bash configuration files were useless and got ignored by zsh.

Time to start over!

Oh My Zsh offers a powerful framework with a huge eco-system of configuration tools like autocomplete or theming.

oh-my-zsh-screenshot-example

I am using the theme powerlevel9k/powerlevel9k and the plugins git, vagrant, docker and docker-compose for autocompletion.

oh-my-zsh-screenshot-autocomplete

The git plugin also shows if the current directory is a git repository and if the repository has changes or not pushed commits.

You can find the basic installation guide over here including how to select a theme or enable a plugin.

Sometimes, the autocompletion cache does not work as expected - especially after enabling a new plugin. Most problems can be fixed by resetting the completion system.

iterm2 - The modern Terminal replacement

iTerm2 is so feature-rich that I don't want to call it as just a simple Terminal replacement. Split panes, Hot Key Windows and Autocomplete are just some of the features besides it's highly configurable interface.

iterm2-example

You can configure different profiles with different colours, fonts and a complete different behaviour for each of the profiles. The terminal gets much more clearer.

You can set up a hot key to bring up a specific window. For example, I am using the - in my opinion - useless Caps Lock key to bring up the main iTerm2 window which slides down from above.

You can download iTerm2 for free.

If you like iTerm2, don't forget to donate. You can also become a patron or a become Github sponsor.

Dozer - The menu bar organizer

Dozer is a small tool which lets you hide and organize your menu bar items. It gives your desktop not only a cleaner look but also removes distractions.

You can install Dozer with using Homebrew Cask or download it manually:

brew install --cask dozer

After the launch of Dozer, you will find two dots in the menu bar. Every menu bar item to the left of the first one will be hidden or shown when you click the second one. You can drag both dots when you hold down the Command key.

dozer-example

Don't forget to enable the Launch at login option in the settings where you can also record a shortcut to activate the toggle and more.

Dozer is free but you can buy Mortennn a coffee if you like Dozer. He is the main developer of the project.

More information about Dozer

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