Westy? Who’s Westy?
Many years ago, I got the nickname “Westy” while working at a previous IT Service Provider (my last name is West so it’s not that far of a stretch.) Since then, I’ve mostly gone by West or Westy at work and it makes it much easier to know someone’s talking to me rather than one of the other Michael’s around.
I fancy myself as a Problem Solver. It’s one of the things I love most about working at Valiant; I spend most of my days taking problems and figuring out how to solve them. One of the ways I solve problems is to find a piece of software that I can use on a daily basis to make my life easier. They may not all be “problems”, but they save me time on repetitive tasks and allow me to customize my user experience to work the way I want to.
With that in mind, this is the start of a series of blog posts where I’ll outline my top 5 apps in various categories that may also be useful to you. We have to start somewhere, so in no particular order, here are 5 macOS apps I use regularly that I think you should know about.
I know I said, “no particular order” but Alfred is definitely my most used macOS app. Alfred makes opening any app I need quick and easy to get to.
Alfred is essentially a replacement for Spotlight, but it can do so much more. It’s a really powerful tool, one whose features I don’t fully utilize, but I use Alfred hundreds of times a day.
For the most part, I use Alfred as an app launcher. I simply press Control+Space and it pops up a text box, start typing the app I want to open, and hit Return to open the app. You can also use it to do web searches, calculator functions, and even set up macros if you purchase the PowerPack add-on. It certainly beats having to keep a bunch of apps pinned in your Dock or going into the Applications folder every time you want to launch an app.
BetterTouchTool is another app I use daily. It runs in the background, always there when I need it. I only really remember it’s there when I use someone else’s Mac and have that moment of confusion when the features I use it for constantly aren’t there.
BetterTouchTool lets you create custom trackpad gestures and has a few other goodies. The custom gesture I used the most involves swiping 4 fingers to the right to open a new Finder window.
It also adds a much-loved Windows feature to macOS… Windows Snap. You can drag a window to the top of the screen, and it will make the window full screen. Drag it to the left or right edge, and it will take up that half of the screen.
Brave’s main thing is privacy first and does a great job of blocking ads and trackers. I don’t use it as my main browser (Chrome still owns that spot) but it’s my favorite secondary browser when I want to look something up I don’t want to poison my Chrome browser with. Another great thing about Brave, it has a “Private Window with Tor” option to mask your activity from your ISP and hides your IP address from the websites you visit – think of it as an advanced Incognito mode.
Skitch has been around for a while and was acquired by Evernote some years ago. Skitch is amazing for creating documentation. I love creating easy to use documentation and Skitch makes it so easy to add arrows, text, and even obfuscate sensitive info. If you’re like me and you take tons of screenshots and want to highlight things in them, you should definitely check it out.
AppCleaner is an underutilized app that is a nice tool to keep in your arsenal.
Uninstalling most apps on macOS generally consists of dragging the app itself to the Trash, and then emptying the Trash. This leaves behind all kinds of files that can be problematic if you’re trying to resolve an issue by reinstalling an app. The solution? Open up AppCleaner and drop the app you want to uninstall into it. Give it a couple of moments and it will return a list of locations where associated files are saved and give you the option to remove them with the app. It’s great for fixing corrupted preference files as well as clearing out large caches that may be taking up space.
Bonus App! TextEdit
TextEdit comes with macOS and I use it on a daily basis to keep notes. I keep a Notes folder and start a new file every morning when getting ready to start my workday. You don’t realize how handy it is to have a place to jot down phone numbers, email addresses, notes, thoughts, etc until it’s just sitting there waiting for you. I save them all by naming them for the date so I can reference them later if I need to.
That’s my Top 5 macOS apps! I use most of them every day (AppCleaner thankfully is not needed often) and hopefully, they can make your life better too! Do you have any apps you think can help others? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll check ‘em out!