You’ll notice that I don’t publish a huge number of app-related reviews. This is for one very simple reason – once I’ve found an app that works, I’ll stick with it.

I only change an app if the one I’ve been using has:

  • been dropped by the developer and is no longer receiving updates (although even then I sometimes stick with it!);
  • begun to slow me down;
  • become incapable of keeping up with my business plans;
  • started dropping behind the competition; or
  • isn’t cross-platform when I suddenly need it to be.

I admit that I’ve fallen foul of ooh-look-what’s-that syndrome, where one desperately attempts to shoehorn a new app into one’s workflow for no reason other than the fact everyone else is using it.

I’m limiting such instances, though, which is why the following list of Mac apps has proved to be practically bulletproof within my armoury. It isn’t exhaustive, but these are the five that came to mind, immediately.

1. SaneBox

Try it here

I’m a recent SaneBox convert, but I must note that I have also partnered with them for my YouTube channel. I’m glad that happened, though, because, for all the positive things I’d heard about SaneBox previously, it had never turned my head sharply enough.

As it turns out, I was missing out. SaneBox is for anyone who wants an easier life when it comes to email, which is everyone who uses email. It’s particularly useful for people like yours truly who have always had pretty awful email habits.

SaneBox works brilliantly with my trusty steed, Spark, but it’s compatible with any email service provider and client. It simply sits in between the two and uses AI to learn how you use your inbox before organising your email accordingly – without your input.

SaneBox promises to save you an average of two hours each week faffing about with email, and if my SaneBox stats are anything to go by, it’s on the money. It does this by automatically placing emails in specific folders for newsletters and anything else that isn’t a real person, thus leaving your inbox with… you guessed it – only real people.

It works brilliantly – far better than any email client I’ve used with similar functionality – and added bonuses such as the ability to banish unwelcome senders for good, receive reminders for unanswered emails, snooze incoming emails and undertake a deep clean of your inbox seals the deal.

2. TextExpander

Try it here (and grab 20% off)

I don’t talk about TextExpander enough.

A bit like SaneBox, this app’s main task is to save you time; a feature most of us crave from every piece of software we use.

TextExpander does this brilliantly, and via such a simple concept. Basically, anything you type repetitively can be plugged into TextExpander as a ‘snippet’ and assigned a keyboard shortcut (known as an ‘abbreviation’).

I use it constantly. There’s the obvious stuff, such as quickly smashing out my postal address in an email, or avoiding the need to constantly type out my email address. Over the course of a week, this saves more time than you realise.

Then, there’s the less obvious stuff which saves just as much time. For instance, I have to regularly refer to the HEX colours for my brand – which can now immediately be entered into any app by typing ‘zorange’ or ‘zgreen’. The same goes for my YouTube description template, VAT number, and several often-used URLs.

The best thing about TextExpander is that you discover new ways to use it all the time; I’m constantly adding to my list of snippets and the time saved is genuinely measurable.

3. TickTick

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I always mention TickTick in these lists because so few people appear to have heard of it.

Things 3, Omnifocus, and Todoist are always on the radar of anyone who takes a keen interest in fine-tuning their productivity. But TickTick? Nope – it appears to have slipped by unnoticed for far too many people.

I say that, but it’s important to note that task managers are all pretty similar. Some stray deeply into the world of GTD (get things done), while others offer just enough functionality for those who don’t want to spend more time being productive than actually being productive.

TickTick sits somewhere in the middle. It needs a user interface update and there are some annoying quirks, but everything else is spot-on.

It’s cross-platform, too, which is one of the main reasons I switched to TickTick from Things 3.

4. Day One

Try it here

I’ve had an on-off relationship with journaling over the years, but it has really stuck recently.

This is because I’ve been using it far more comprehensively in my business. I even used it as the process by which to undertake my 2022 review and 2023 planning sessions over the festive period.

However, the one thing that encourages me to journal isn’t my desire to do so, or the encouragement of others. It’s actually far more superficial than that – it’s the fact that I really want to use Day One all of the time.

There’s just something about that app. It’s beautifully designed and strikes the perfect balance between usability and customisation.

The ‘X factor’ Day One possesses really is impressive and, to my knowledge, hasn’t been matched by any other journaling app. I’m not sure what that is, but, if you’ve always hovered around the benefits of journalling (of which there are many) yet it has never quite stuck, I urge you to give Day One a try.

5. Ulysses

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Ulysses describes itself as the “ultimate writing app for Mac, iPad, and iPhone”.

I have to agree. It’s what I’m using right now to type out this blog post, and I couldn’t live without it.

Well, I could (my mum told me a million times not to exaggerate) but Ulysses is the best example of an app from which I would have to be physically wrenched if someone wanted to show me something else.

I’ve tried them all; Scrivener, Bear, iA Writer, Obsidian, Byword – you name a writing app, I’ve given it a shot. But none of them matches Ulysses in terms of the user interface, distraction-free writing, and integration with the likes of WordPress.

Of all the Mac apps on this list, Ulysses is the one I couldn’t live without on a desert island. That sounds more reasonable, doesn’t it?

Honourable mention: 1Password

Try it here (and get 25% off)

Before I sign off, there’s just one more app to mention, although this is more of a public service announcement than anything else.

I have an ongoing relationship with 1Password, but I also love the platform (I wouldn’t be partnering with them if that wasn’t the case). More importantly, if you’re one of the countless users who is worried about the security of their current password management app, then my personal recommendation is 1Password. It is brilliant.

However – in a couple of weeks, I’ll be pitching 1Password against a far cheaper alternative and one which has caught the eye of many others. So, if you don’t want to miss out on that, go subscribe to my YouTube channel!

I’ll keep you updated with my list of must-have time-saving Mac apps… but I wouldn’t expect regular updates!

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