Desktop Snapshot 2013

Desktop Snapshot 2013

I sometimes like to take a desktop snapshot to see what apps I’ve been using. In this post I’m just going to list some of the main apps that I use frequently and talk a little bit about those that just haven’t worked out.

The Dock

Activity Monitor 

When you work with memory hungry applications like those found in the Adobe Creative Suite, it’s super helpful to be able to visually see how much memory your running applications are using. Activity Monitor displays in a nice color-coded pie chart that’s pretty self explanatory. Green means free memory and all other colors translate to memory being utilized in different fashions. So when you’re running a few Adobe applications and things start acting sluggish, you can just look at activity monitor to see if you should close one or two applications to free up some memory.

iMessage 

iMessage is a Mac only instant messaging application. It’s been pretty great to have the capability to integrate text/messaging across multiple devices. So if I get an iMessage, all messages are synced across my iPhone, iPad, and iMac. Staying on top of communication is something I’ve been trying to get better at and this app really helps.

Twitter App

Been using the Twitter Mac App for a long time. It really doesn’t need much introduction. It’s super simple and has a great UI that doesn’t really get old. Tweet, send PMs, and check the latest on your feed. You can even login several accounts and easily switch between them all without logging out of the app. It’s basically a necessity.

Mac Mail 

For me, Mac Mail is where it’s at. I’ve heard some users complain about it and use alternatives such as Sparrow, but I just don’t see many problems with this application. The new upgrade to Mac Mail is better than ever. It organizes all your messages into conversation threads, integrates nicely with Mac’s new notification system, and overall has a nice UI. I’ve never really found a reason to abandon Mail. The only improvements I’d like to see is a simpler auto responder feature and possibly a more detailed signature builder.

iTunes 

Ok, so I just got done letting Spotify and iTunes duke it out. A lot of people really like Spotify because you can download basically anything you want for free. The catch is you have to pay a monthly fee to sync all your devices (+ no advertisements). This was the real deal breaker for me. I know the monthly fee isn’t much, but the thought of creating a large music library and then one day deciding I didn’t want to pay for Spotify and not be able to sync my devices just didn’t appeal.

Since then I’ve switched back to iTunes. Now, iTunes isn’t perfect either and quite frankly, I’m a little upset about the most recent update. The “simpler” UI is quite irritating and not really any simpler at all. And what’s up with the mini player!? That was probably my favorite thing about iTunes, but since the update they’ve just made things all difficult ‘n stuff.

So, here I sit between a rock and hard place. For now I’m back on iTunes. At least it’s a native app and syncs for free.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is my browser of choice. Its become super popular, is frequently rated as the fastest browser, and it supports most modern code! There are a few other browsers that I use as fallbacks: Firefox and Safari. And no, I don’t use Internet Explorer. Don’t get me started on that tangent.

Reminders 

Another native Mac application that came bundled with the most recent OS update. It’s pretty great and syncs with all devices, keeping me focused and on top of things. Also, a cool feature that I just figured out is that you can drag and drop emails into the reminder app. This is really helpful if you constantly get requests via email and don’t like using the default flag option.


For the past few years I’ve been using SplashID to store most of my sensitive information. It’s a pretty good application and has a lot of positive features like giving you the option to create your own custom categories for storing information and passwords. However, it’s a little quirky and sometimes it’s device syncing capabilities don’t always work.

I knew a lot of people used 1Password , so about a week ago I decided to give it a try. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it since it doesn’t really allow you to create custom categories, but the more I use it the more I like it. The auto sign-in feature it integrates into browsers has been a real time saver. Plus, it’s UI is beautiful and I’m often sold on that sort of thing. One thing I’d like to see is iCloud syncing for multiple computers and devices. It appears that it’s something they’re working on, but just aren’t there yet.


Sometimes you just get lazy when it comes to creating passwords. PwGenerator is a simple little app that lets you quickly generate random passwords. It has a few cool features, such as a security meeter and password length scale. Pretty handy when having to create passwords for different types of accounts all day.

Coda 2

I  already wrote up a post about Coda 2 here, but I felt like mentioning this application again. Coda is a website editor and FTP client all in one; the complete package. It’s slick user interface really puts the fun back into writing code again. It seamlessly organizes all working files and sets up a really nice workflow. I highly recommend this application.

Adobe Creative Cloud

About six months ago our office made the switch from standalone Adobe software to the Creatie Cloud. And after using the Creative Cloud I wouldn’t go back. It’s affordable, always on standby, and update ready. Coughing up a couple grand for new Adobe software used to be like pulling teeth. Now with a moderate monthly subscription fee, the teeth pulling has at least become less painful. It’s really nice to be able to download all of the Adobe applications at any time, but not feel like you have to install ALL of them. The updater also feels a lot more integrated and with less problems. I tip my hat to Adobe on this one, bravo.


Because sometimes “Save for the Web” just doesn’t get the job done. ImageOptim is a free application that lets you drag and drop a bunch of images into the application, which will then shave off any leftover file size bulk. It’s basically file compression without sacrificing image quality. You really can’t go wrong.

Font Book 

I really hadn’t fully utilized Mac’s Font Book until recently. It’s quite a nice application and has a few options that lets you easily organize your fonts into projects. There’s really not a whole lot I can say about this app. Font Book, ladies and gentlemen.

The Toolbar


If you’re into Google Analytics, this app is pretty awesome. I get so tired of having to login to Google all the time to check on a few basic stats for my sites. That’s where Visits comes in. Visits hides up in your toolbar and collects some of the fundamental site traffic statistics on as many sites as you want throughout the day. Easily switch between sites and stat types through the pop-out widget. I think this app ran me about $5 bucks, but totally worth it in my opinion.


Dropbox! I use this daily. There are so many great things about it. First off, you can start out with a free account. But wait, there’s more! If you share folders and invite your friends through your account, you’ll slowly be rewarded with more and more space. I think I’m up to about 8 GB now, which is very convenient. It’s super nice to be able to keep a few work files in cloud storage so that I can easily pick up where I left off if I need to work at home. Group collaboration is also pretty easy through folder sharing. I’ve been with dropbox since it’s start and probably won’t be switching any time soon.

Cloud App

Ever want to just share an image, snapshot, or just some file with somebody really really quickly? Cloud App does that. I just recently did a short little write up about this application, here. Go check it out, it’s free.

Free Memory

One of my coworkers showed me Free Memory a little while back. It has easily become one of my most utilized applications. When using memory heavy apps all day long, a lot of times not all of your memory is freed up. After a while, this can really take a toll on your computer’s overall responsiveness. So, instead of restarting your machine, just click free memory in the toolbar and within 30 seconds you’ll regain at least 1.5 GB of usable memory. A must have in my book.

If you have any recommendations or just want to share some apps you like, please feel free to leave me a comment!

Nick Winters

Nick performs web marketing and design for Wenatchee Valley College. In his spare time, he takes on freelance projects and fun creative opportunities via Pixel to Press.

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