first downloads for a Mac

I recently drowned my laptop accidentally while preparing for a long weekend (waterproof bags don’t help when you pour the water into them), and needed to set up a new one whole cloth. Fortunately, I had a good idea of the software I used regularly, and configuration was pretty simple due to ample use of Github Gists for config files.

The apps


A relative newcomer to the Mac, this app is excellent for keyboard or mouse-based window positioning. If you’re a bit particular about where your applications show up on a monitor or a laptop, and like to quickly move them around, this is a must-have.


One password to rule them all, and in darkness, to bind them. This app saved me from years spent trying to remember various bizarre passwords, or repeatedly opening the Keychain app. If you know anyone who uses a computer or a phone, this is the app they should install first.


With easy event entry, and a great look, Fanstastical is how I organize my days. They recently added calendar groups that can appear depending on time or location, which was more useful when I actually commuted, but is a nice way to ensure you’re not overwhelmed by birthdays or delivery times when all you want to know is when your next meeting is.


I wrote a lot about how I do todos, and I still love this app for its speed and ease of use more than basically anything on my computer or phone. A delight every time.


Another indispensable app for writing and creating, and where I’m writing this very post! I love how simple and elegant iAWriter is; providing minimal configuration to help me focus on the words themselves. It also helps that black and blue are two of my favorite colors—if only I could customize the cursor to be a theme-matching purple.


Panic makes great software with personality, and Nova is my code-editor of choice these days. I still wish there was a command palette command for staging all changes and putting my cursor in the commit window, but beyond that it’s just great looking, natively-coded, and from great people.


Another Panic joint. Transmit lets me connect to various servers I run around the world easily. FTP apps are more of a utility than a joy, but this one does everything I need and gets out of the way.


For quick notes, and draft movie reviews, I like to use Tot to capture. It has a global shortcut to bring up the entry window, which makes it simple to paste or type something in without creating a file or opening another app.

-Mozilla VPN

A VPN is pretty important if you enjoy watching bike races, or other media from around the world, and also if you ever use public wifi. I’ve used a few over the years, but I like how Mozilla is run lately, and they’ve built their VPN on top of Mullvad, which is an excellent one.


Who hasn’t ordered more stuff during the pandemic than ever before? This app keeps track of the myriad packages arriving at my apartment so I don’t have to worry about them getting stolen before I realize they’re there.


This is my main news and entertainment app, and I read everything from blogs, to newsletters, to Twitter on it. It’s fast, cleanly designed, and integrates well with the RSS backend I use: Feedbin. If you want to support a different app, I also recommend the very good NetNewsWire, which is also neat because it’s FOSS.


I don’t think you can browse the web without an adblocker these days. I don’t know if there’s a better cross-platform blocker out there currently, but I’ve been happy with 1Blocker along with the native adblocking my router provides.


This is literally my job, and the main way I talk to my friends.


Do you write on the internet and need to upload images? This is for that.

Finally, I install a few utilities via the command line:

  • Brew

  • Hyper

  • OhMyZsh

These apps are a backing service for installing and managing packages, my terminal of choice, and a good Zsh customization now that Zsh is the standard on a Mac.

Anything else?

I might download and use other apps sometimes, but this is my core few. If I’m missing something you absolutely love, write in and tell me about it.