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Mac developer must-haves

Mac web developer apps

This gist's comment stream is a collection of webdev apps for OS X. Feel free to add links to apps you like, just make sure you add some context to what it does — either from the creator's website or your own thoughts.

— Erik


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erikreagan commented Aug 4, 2012

Charles Proxy

Charles is an HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy that enables a developer to view all of the HTTP and SSL / HTTPS traffic between their machine and the Internet. This includes requests, responses and the HTTP headers (which contain the cookies and caching information).


CodeKit helps you build websites faster and better. Its flagship features are listed [on the website] and the one-minute teaser video is a good place to start.

At Focus we use CodeKit primarily to compile and minify SASS / stylesheets / javascript files so we no longer need to do those things on the server.


Edit and run code in any programming language with just a single click.
With CodeRunner, it has never been easier to write and test code, run scripts, work with algorithms, or simply experiment with a new coding or scripting language.

I love running procedural ideas through CodeRunner. You just pick the language, write some code and run it. No need for a server running, a vhost setup or command line fu. Simple to use and easy to save tests too. I think Rob Sanchez has even rigged up an EE bootstrap to test EE code in this app. Never tried that myself though.


Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash stores snippets of code and searches iOS, Mac, Man Pages and custom docsets.

I only use this for documentation (I don't use the snippet management). It's a great, quick resource for docs of all sorts though. I rarely pull up Google or official websites for PHP, jQuery docs etc.

MAMP (pro)

"MAMP PRO" is the commercial, professional grade version of the classic local server environment for Mac OS X: MAMP. Designed for professional web developers and programmers, MAMP PRO allows easy installation and administration of their development environment under Mac OS X.

MAMP is free and Pro is cheap. The only thing the Pro version gives you is a GUI for things you could have already done yourself via command-line fu. I use Pro for its convenience.


A simple yet powerful tool for working with regular expressions.
Build great patterns quickly and effortlessly with syntax coloring and with matching and replacing occurring in real time.

I've played with a few tools that make testing Regex easy. This is the best I've found. Very simple and powerful.

Sequel Pro

Sequel Pro is a fast, easy-to-use Mac database management application for working with MySQL databases.

I've tried a few MySQL apps for OSX is this is my favorite. And it's free!

Sublime Text 2

Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose.
You'll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features and amazing performance.


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gregferrell commented Aug 4, 2012

  • []Homebrew]( for repository installing of items:
    • Works like $ brew install curl
  • Sequel Pro for mysql access
  • MAMP for sandboxed LAMP stack
  • Sublime Text 2 for text editing
  • Coderunner for quick code testing while writing
  • Ack for awesome commandline searching
  • Git Tower great UI for git.
    • Works with Beanstalk, github, bitbucket, and git-svn
    • REALLY awesome for viewing a lot of commits, changed files, etc.
  • Trackrecord for recording time with freshbooks or basecamp (I use this every day.)
  • 1Password I would die without this.
    • Lets you auto gen passwords and you only ever have to remember one after it. I use it for anything and everything and now I have 50 characater random passwords for everything.
  • Codekit auto detect and compile JS/Coffeescript/Less/Compass/SCSS/Images, etc. This thing is priceless.
  • DeltaWalker 2/3-way merging diff files, etc.
    • Works with Tower as a merge tool.
    • I dislike that its written in Java because it can be a hair chunky on large files, but it works VERY well for me so far.
    • My biggest draw is that it can show folder diffs too, which other ones for OS X cannot seem to do.
  • Little Snitch Network monitor. Might seem annoying at first, but I hate stuff that constantly phones home. Once you train it a bit you don't notice it much.
  • Markdown editor. I am writing this in it. So awesome.
  • Patterns Visual regex tester. Same guy who wrote Coderunner. Super handy.
  • Skim Better PDF preview app that can handle REALLY large files. OS X's built in preview is pretty great, but Skim can handle 1+gig PDFs and not barf.
  • Transmit Hands down the best FTP app i've ever used. Nothing compares to it. Peroiod.
  • Yemuzip For some fucking reason OS X continues to include weird files with what it zips. This is a drag-to-icon solution that removes them so you can distribute zip files to customers without worry.
  • VirtualBox Cross platform Virtual Machine. Free and works very well and snappy.
  • VMWare Fusion A money cost VM thats a bit more systme integrated. I use it and enjoy it but its performance on an HDD is not as good as it is on SSD.
  • Alfred Best quick launch app ever.
  • Pixelmator Quick, easy to use image editor. Not a photoshop replacement but I use it a lot for quick stuff and optimizing.
  • ImageOptim Best image optimizer i've seen for any system. No idea how it works so well.

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erikreagan commented Aug 4, 2012

I echo Greg's suggestion for Alfred. Make sure you get the Power Pack from them directly though. Not the Mac App Store. It's such an awesome app.


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erikreagan commented Aug 4, 2012

I also use RESTed for quick and painless REST api tests. It's a really young app but has a lot of potential.


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johnwbaxter commented Aug 4, 2012

Hope no-one minds me adding to this :)

I use launchbar rather than alfred, it's very powerful -

Also, for other text based jobs that sublime doesn't do, i like to have textwrangler by my side -

I use Appcleaner for completely removing apps i don't want -

This is another favourite app of mine - ColorSchemer -

As i often work in windoze environments, it's nice to have a solid RDP client -

Also, Cyberduck is a really nice, solid and free ftp/sftp/etc client alternative to transmit -

Sourcetree is a really nice & powerful (and free) alternative to -

Also, this is a great unarchiving app (also free) -

I think that's it for apps that might be useful to you :)


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gregferrell commented Aug 4, 2012

I use the Unarchiver too. Just don't get the appstore version, its busted.


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johnwbaxter commented Aug 4, 2012

Oh, i totally forgot to mention one of my very very favourite apps!

Codebox, is a brilliant code snippet manager, worth it's weight in gold for me :) -


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1stevengrant commented Aug 4, 2012

Tower App as a good git gui


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fideloper commented Aug 4, 2012

+1 to @gregferrell, who's post is perfect :D
+1 for using a VM - Here's my writeup on how to get started with the latest Ubuntu.

Other notes:

  • I prefer Beanstalkapp for Git and especially for deployments
  • I like Forklift for FTP and server-connecting (Including local network items!)
  • I use Git-Flow for working in Git with teams

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ebarstad commented Aug 5, 2012

This is an amazing compilation so far.

  • One app I use a lot that I didn't see on here is TextSoap, which is a tool used for cleaning up text. Great for cleaning up content you receive from clients (among other things).
  • Also, I use VirtualHostX with the free version of MAMP:

With VirtualHostX you can easily create and manage Apache virtual hosts with just a few clicks.

  • TextExpander is one of my most frequently used apps. I don't use it much for development, but I do use it a lot for everyday tasks (email, invoicing, writing, etc.).
  • LiveReload:

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.


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erikreagan commented Aug 5, 2012

Awesome contributions. Thanks Eric, Chris, Steven & John!


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leevigraham commented Aug 5, 2012

Here's our @newism mac dev setup. Not so much an single app but a bunch of low level tools for web development:


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ghost commented Aug 5, 2012

An excellent list so far. I use a few alternative tools to accomplish the same goals:

: A cracking little image editor, which I find myself using more and more frequently these days.

: Please don't take the time to learn Vim, because it will ruin your life: you'll never be happy with another code editor ever again.

PHP Function Reference Dashboard Widget
: Effortlessly determine the stupid bloody argument order for array_* methods several hundred times per day.

: From the website: "Create and configure lightweight, reproducible, and portable development environments." Lets you control your VirtualBox virtual machines with config files, basically.

: Cleans the cruft out of Mac-created ZIP folders.

And finally, plus ones for:


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degerstrom commented Aug 5, 2012

We also use a lot of the tools mentioned here, but found a few things to check out. Thanks for starting the list, Erik.

I am a long-time user of Meerkat for managing SSH tunnels, which I mainly use for connecting to remote databases with Navicat. I love Navicats ability to copy data and/or structure across databases (does Sequel Pro do that?).

Anyway, even though Meerkat hasn't been updated in a while, it works beautifully (even on Mountain Lion).


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ghost commented Aug 8, 2012

I use and love CodeBox, LiveReload, MAMP, and Sequel Pro. Here are some other apps that nobody mentioned yet:

A designers friendly code editor with a unique workspace. Extensive language support, contextual completions, navigator and code folding, powerful find and replace. Complete sync and publishing features.

Hidden Files (dashboard widget)
Toggles visibility of files that are hidden from the Finder.

File comparison for text and image files.

Access ExpressionEngine's templates, snippets and global variables as Finder files.

A mix between a spreadsheet and a calculator. This is not a necessarily a web developer app, but it comes handy to calculate CSS columns widths.


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pauloelias commented Aug 8, 2012

I use this to enable hidden files in the finder and a few other things

Focus Booster
Has been indispensable in my workflow

I love my VM's but sometimes it's easier and faster to use theirs (especially on my MacBook Pro with only 4 gigs of ram

Charles Proxy
Exellent for debugging HTTP/HTTPS/SSL traffic BUT also indispensable for mobile/RWD testing. Just set it up on your primary dev machine, launch Charles, and add your dev machine's IP:Charles Port to your mobile device's browser proxy settings. All of your local web sites/apps listed in your dev machine's hosts file are available for testing.


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juddlyon commented Aug 8, 2012


  • Carbon Copy Cloner: Bootable backups. Buy it.
  • AppZapper: Uninstalls cruft left behind after you thought you had already uninstalled an app.
  • 1Password: Epic password and profile management.

Web dev

  • iTerm2: Terminal replacement with tabs, split panes, and other goodies.
  • Navicat for MySQL: Sequel Pro is free and has a better UI, but Navicat has some amazing data transfer capabilities and a command-line interface.
  • Gas Mask: GUI to edit your hosts file. Handy if you'd like non-CLI folks to tweak their set-up (e.g., view a virtualhost on a network).
  • SiteSucker: GUI for Wget, handy to copy down website content in one fell swoop.
  • In case you don't want to fork out for Codekit (made by same dev).

Plus one for Transmit, MAMP Pro, Codekit, Kaleidoscope, Sublime Text 2, Soulver, Alfred, and VirtualBox.


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digitalformula commented Aug 9, 2012

Some have been mentioned already, but here's my list of choice:

Coda ( - Love it or hate it, I think it's a fantastic IDE for development. Editor, preview, MySQL manager, books, all built-in.
Transmit ( - FTP client, from the same people that make Coda.
CodeKit ( - Best LESS/SASS/etc compiler out there.
GitHub for Mac ( - Free GitHub manager (although Tower is good, too). Personally I prefer to use an app by the people that make GitHub than a 3rd party tool.
Gradient ( - Kick a$$ CSS3 gradient generator
Smaller ( - Minify stuff.
Snippets ( - Code Snippets manager. I have mine setup to synchronise with Dropbox for use on multiple Macs.
1Password ( - Best password manager out there, I think. I have no issue paying money to secure my passwords.
Alfred ( - This one's been covered already.
Byword ( - Markdown editor ... I'm writing this in it right now. I hear Mou is good, though (it is mentioned above)
CleanMyMac ( - Clean stuff. I used to MacKeeper (keep your comments to yourself, please).
MacUpdate Desktop ( - Update tracker. Invaluable, in my opinion.
Divvy ( - I'm absolutely screwed with this window manager. I have shortcuts for a ton of different window positions.
iTerm2 ( - Terminal replacement. I also have OhMyZsh ( installed and have customised my prompt big time.
TextExpander ( - Snippet management but for inserting them, not saving. I like these guys because they sent me a free mug. :)
TinkerTool ( - Customise stuff. I like my Dock in the bottom-right corner of my screen and OS X doesn't allow this natively.
TotalFinder ( - Add some very useful stuff to Finder.
HyperDock ( - Add some cool stuff to the Dock.
WunderList ( - Task management in app form.
TeamworkPM ( - Online project management. Every single project I work on gets a project in here.

I'm keen to hear thoughts on the above list. :)


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donners commented Nov 21, 2012

Great list, but not even a mention of a clipboard manager!

I've been using Flycut (

One of those tools that gradually becomes an essential part of your workflow to the point where you miss it within a couple of minutes of using a machine without it.


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siebird commented Dec 18, 2012

Pretty extensive list! Some I haven't heard of and will have to checkout. I wanted to add some specific Alfred extensions (power pack) that I use often and are very handy:

I noticed a number of EE community members comments–thought these would be useful, custom searches:


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Natetronn commented Jan 18, 2013

I'm not sure there is something like this already listed or not though, this might come in handy: (you can add a button to Finder which will open current location in Terminal)


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tobsn commented Jan 18, 2013

found this gist by accident... here are my additions of two apps that came out recently and are just amazing:
Codebug is a standalone Xdebug client front-end for Mac OSX
A very powerful API testing client

also, old but many people don't know about it:
you take standard screenshots or grab parts of the screen with the osx default hotkeys, it will then upload it to dropbox and copy the public link into your dropbox, automatically within a second.
keyboard shortcuts for each of your apps displayed in a cheat sheet
see how you waste away your time...
a MUST HAVE since mountain lion. I have no idea how people can survive without it.
clean up menubar for your smaller screens.


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vandigroup commented Feb 5, 2013

Similar to the above references, Alfred, Sublime Text 2 (with an array of packages), Codekit (compiling LESS projects), iTerm, Homebrew and Chrome are always open. There are also several other apps we use for misc tasks:

Textsoap - Great for cleaning text/copy sent by clients.

LittleIpsum - Handy little dummy text generator (also use placeholder text in Sublime Text 2 while coding but this works well outside of the editor (ie.)

Adobe Edge Inspect
This tools works great for previewing front-end development on mobile devices in real time. Great for responsive dev...

CSS Image Encoder
Handy utility for encoding images quickly

Very handy app for generating/testing Regex patterns quickly

Easy to use tool for quickly checking for broken links during pre-launch testing/debugging.

xScope - Lots of different tools in this app but pretty much use only a couple, most importantly the ruler for quick on screen measurements.

OmniGraffle Pro - flow charts, UML diagrams and idea organization

Mindnode Pro - High-level organization and mindmapping

I know this thread is about OSX apps but with the above, the following Chrome extensions/bookmarklets round out our dev environment so I figured I would go ahead and mention them.

Pendule - Easy, one click viewing/de-minifying js and quick page validation are what I use this extension for.

JavaScript Errors Notifier - love notification in the address bar of js errors...

WhatFont - Bookmarklet to quickly display font info. Used this for years...

Speed Tracer - great little optimization tool to tweak script/page performance.


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dsmeringe commented Feb 8, 2013

Great list! kudos to you all!
Many I already know, many new. My browser is full of new tabs to explore now ;)

I'd like to add the awesome poweline-bash to help keeping track on git status

and Bitbuckets sourceTree app for mercurial and git repos (works against github too)

I'm using FileZilla for ftp. I've tried many of the more mac-stylish apps but I still find FileZilla to rule them all ;)


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noahbass commented Feb 12, 2013

Xtrafinder is a great alternative to TotalFinder for more awesome features for "finding" stuff (gets along nicely with mountain lion!)
Also, I love Pixelmator - it's a great alternative to photoshop and doesn't hurt the wallet to much (especially when it goes on sale!)

I hope this must-have list keeps on getting updated, love all the recommendations


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AbeEstrada commented Feb 22, 2013

I try to keep a minimalist dev environment, so I can setup a new dev machine quickly. This are some of the tools that I use everyday.

  • Sublime Text 2 My code editor of choice, I migrated from Textmate 2 and I prefer GUI.
    • ApacheConf.tmLanguage
    • Auto Semi-Colon
    • CoffeeScript
    • ColorPicker
    • Gist
    • Handlebars
    • INI
    • Jade
    • Menu
    • Pretty JSON
    • PyV8
    • SCSS
    • SidebarEnhancements
    • Tag
    • Terminal
    • Theme Soda
  • MAMP It's fun to know how to setup a web server and do all the administration, but sometimes I just want to start coding and forget about everything else.
  • LiveReload A time saver, with LiveReload I don't have refresh every time I do a change in the code, when you save the file, LiveReload takes care of compile your SASS, Coffeescript and reload the page.
  • Sequel Pro MySQL database management easy.
  • Transmit SFTP Client.
  • Arq Online backup, you never know when you're going to need it. Arq uses AWS S3 and Glacier, it's very cheap to have a backup.
  • Kaleidoscope There are some good diff apps, but this is the best. I work a lot with images, so it's very handy to know what's different when the designer do some updates.
  • The Unarchiver Uncompress almost every format.
  • ImageOptim To optimize images. Please use it.
  • Parallels 8 I always have to test on IE :(

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bloqhead commented Apr 2, 2013

Came across this list in a Google search and found a boatload of really awesome stuff. I wanted to contribute so here's one I didn't see:

FoldingText — "Plain text productivity for geeks. As you type, FoldingText auto-formats your document into sections, lists, and paragraphs. Fold sections to see the big picture. Focus to see the details."

Since I found the Mou app in this gist, I've been using that, but FoldingText is still pretty super. Worth checking out.


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bwl commented Apr 30, 2013

You must use Alfred as your main controller. Just accept it :D

I've even remapped the Caps Lock key to Alfred with the great utility KeyRemap


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daimajia commented Jun 3, 2013

Koala is also awesome! and it's open source.

Koala is a GUI application for Less, Sass, Compass and CoffeeScript compilation, to help web developers to use them more efficient.Koala can run in windows, linux and mac.


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daimajia commented Jun 3, 2013

Nide is a beautiful ide for nodejs.


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0xafbf commented Jul 8, 2013

keyremap4macbook ( and pckeyboardhack ( are nice applications for changing the behaviour of the keyboard...
this is not an application but an advice.. you should learn Colemak, it is far better than QWERTY and with keyremap4macbook and pckeyboardhack can't get better, turning caps lock to delete, delet to forward delete and turning space+IJKL keys to cursor keys(touch cursor), and it has a lot of other great tweaks...

altough keyremap4macbook and pckeyboardhack have a flaw, after you use them, you will miss it when using other computers for the rest of your life


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dcondrey commented Jan 13, 2014

Nice list, just a few more additions I didn't see already listed.

Triplety Nice HTML/CSS/JS editor for small projects and keeping all your dependencies easily accessible.
ImageAlpha For transparent PNGs.. From the same guy that made ImageOptim
FontLab Studio Not just for font designers.. sometimes its a good idea to tweak the metrics if your concerned about matching your fallbacks. I will never understand why webfont designers use such crazy metrics sometimes.
Textmate ftw
Transmit Best FTP ever, well worth it. Used to use Cyberduck but after an upgrade it would take FOREVER to startup and crash constantly.


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fana605 commented Jan 23, 2014

Yummy FTP -
IMHO, the best FTP.


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AbeEstrada commented Feb 28, 2014

Atom A hackable text editor for the 21st Century


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ngocphamm commented Mar 27, 2014

This list is perfect! Here are some other apps I used, not being mentioned.

  • f.lux ( You guys work late, don't you? You definitely must install this app. It will be a bit weird at first, but then you will not be able to use your Mac without it!
  • Spectacle ( To manage window position with your keyboard. I use an external monitor and it comes so useful.
  • Glui ( (NOT FREE, but used to be) Screenshot taking and annotating. Simple, eating less resources (than Skitch) and store screenshots on your Dropbox
  • JPEGMini ( (NOT FREE) Someone told me it's not as good as Adobe Fireworks but I think it's definitely cheaper smaller. It can shrink your JPEG images up to 5 times smaller (even though it did my images more than 5x sometimes).

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Natetronn commented Apr 22, 2014

Mock SMTP - "MockSMTP is a native Mac application that embeds its own SMTP server. It also features an e-mail client browser, enabling instant viewing of both raw content and HTML rendering, so you can see how your mail looks when delivered."

Setting up MockSMTP on OSX 10.7(Lion) for local PHP development


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cl1ck commented May 15, 2014

zsh ( + Oh my Zsh ( to peed up terminal workflow


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jiMuBao commented Jul 29, 2014

  • Homebrew - MacOS missing package manager
  • tmux - It lets you switch easily between several programs in one terminal, detach them (they keep running in the background) and reattach them to a different terminal. And do a lot more.
  • ranger -anger is a file manager with VI key bindings. It provides a minimalistic and nice curses interface with a view on the directory hierarchy. The secondary task of ranger is to psychically guess which program you want to use for opening particular files.
  • tig - Tig is an ncurses-based text-mode interface for git. It functions mainly as a Git repository browser, but can also assist in staging changes for commit at chunk level and act as a pager for output from various Git commands.
  • Dash - Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash stores snippets of code and instantly searches offline documentation sets for 150+ APIs (for a full list, see below). You can even generate your own docsets or request docsets to be included.
  • Alfred - Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for Mac 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.

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damianesteban commented Dec 23, 2014

This is a great list. A few of you mentioned Coderunner, which I absolutely love except for one major support for vim-mode. Or is there?


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ldong commented Mar 1, 2015

  • Moom: resize windows
  • LiveCap: screen recorder for demos

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daf-code commented Jul 16, 2015

I still prefer Quicksilver to Alfred.


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MarkThalman commented Oct 14, 2015

My biggest productivity boost came when I started using AppCode by Jetbrains. There is less of a learning curve if you use the Xcode key bindings. It does pretty much everything that Xcode does, plus the inspections and refactoring take it to a whole new level. It's really cool to be told about a bug before you even compile your code. This works best with Objective-C, but they have basic support for Swift working.


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my2ter commented Feb 11, 2016

I used to have RESTed but the lack of updates (especially OAuth 2) made me witch to Paw. Worth every $.


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ahsankhatri commented Mar 12, 2016

Tools/Apps i have installed to increase my productivity for web-development.

  • Karabiner - A powerful and stable keyboard customizer for OSX, it also supports custom key-binding.
  • BetterTouchTool - You can increase your workflow with this amazing gesture defining tool.
  • CheatSheet (freeware) - Just hold the ⌘-Key a bit longer to get a list of all active short cuts of the current application. It's as simple as that.
  • ClipMenu - A utility to store clipboard with good Clipboard Manager. You can paste multiple items directly by invoking menu with customized shortcut key, it can record 8 clipboard types, from plain text to image. My workflow: (⌘⇧V then ⌘0 to paste from menu)

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ig0r commented Mar 16, 2016

More awesome tools:


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endlessdev commented Apr 2, 2016

Why did not anybody writing fish shell?

here is my fish shell


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acrodrig commented Apr 29, 2016

Arriving late. Really useful comments. Two additions from a list I compiled a while back:


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ZahidRasheed commented Jun 23, 2016

Mackdown: Free Markdown editor
Fish Shell: Best Command Line Shell
dupeGuru: Duplicate file scanner.
Postman: Helps you be extremely efficient while working with APIs..
Spectacle: Move and resize windows with ease.


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ivmirx commented Aug 18, 2016

Scapple: whiteboard to dump your mind on different topics. Like mind maps but much more powerful due to flexible layout.
Time Out: app to create screen-blocking breaks to sit less and stay healthy.
Qbserve: time tracker, a better RescueTime alternative (I'm the developer).


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alexk111 commented Feb 28, 2017

Freeter: productivity app that lets you gather everything you need to work in one place and access them quickly and easily.


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d4ve01f commented Mar 6, 2017

GitHub Desktop
Mamp Pro


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ankitsingh101 commented Mar 26, 2017

cakebrew basically GUI for HomeBrew
xtrafinder right click and create a new file
go2shell is best when you working on JS Projects
Super Vectorizer 2 for svg
open in visual studio extension
mamp pro

Any GUI for npm

alexk111 thank you for suggesting freeter app


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simonsnow commented Nov 15, 2017

After all these great suggestions, I still have more to add!

gitkraken is my git app of choice. Check that one out.
atom has replaced coda as my editor. (I love how all these apps are using electron/chromium these days)
sequel pro gets a huge +1. The fact that it can create it's own ssh tunnel is greatly useful!
codekit +1. Live reload, compiling, minimizing etc. If I couldn't use codekit I would just use compass for compiling my sass.
Alfred +1. I notice a lot of people using alfred and also a snippet manager or text expander. I don't know why since alfred can do all that so well!
Skitch I still use for grabbing screen regions, annotating them and sending them to people.


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dcalano commented Dec 6, 2017

Cerberus has replaces alfred for me

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