Ask DN: What apps should I load my new christmas iMac with?

almost 8 years ago from

Bought myself a new iMac for Christmas, 27" 5k Retina, i7, 24gb ram, 512 ssd, m295x 4gb graphics.

Upgrading from 2007 hackintosh, core2duo, 2gb ram, intel950GMA, running Lion.

What do you guys suggest? I haven't used any of the new software for quite some time as my machine wouldn't run it being stuck on lion.

Looking for some good general recommended apps as well as design/development options. Interested in trying sketch for the first time :)


  • Brian A.Brian A., almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )
    • Bartender - keeps your menu bar clean
    • LittleIpsum - for quickly generating filler copy
    • Sip - the best color picker for OS X (in my opinion)
    • Alfred - for seriously improved OS X workflows
    • MAMP - simple PHP/MySQL development stack
    • Sublime Text - for coding
    • LICEcap - captures areas of your screen as animated GIFs
    11 points
  • Nitin GargNitin Garg, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

    I try to keep my machine with bare minimum apps. Apart from design/dev following have become important part of setup -

    • Rightfont for font-management.
    • Numi. Little, powerful calculator app.
    • Todoist as my default to-do app.
    • Ableton Live or Logic Pro X for little music making if it interests you.
    • Vox Music Player - Much lightweight than iTunes for listening music.
    • IA Writer or Byword as note-taking app.
    10 points
  • Dan DiGangiDan DiGangi, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )
    • Adobe Creative Cloud (PS, AI, ID, AE, PP, Acrobat; depends on your needs)
    • Sketch, Framer (Prototyping; more UI focused than PS)
    • Sublime Text 3 (Best I've used to date still)
    • iTerm (1000x better than standard Terminal; especially if paired with a good dev setup)
    • Chrome, Firefox, Safari (Testing, browsing)
    • Memory Monitor (Monitor & manage memory usage)
    • Caffeine (No sleeping for you Mr. iMac)
    • Moom (costs little $$$ but well worth it; manages window layouts)
    • Alfred (Search)

    Chrome Apps - AdBlocker (Fite me advertisers) - Cache Killer - Awesome Screenshot - Emmet - Google Docs - HN Special - Panda 4 (Amazing!!!) - WhatFont

    2 points
  • Benjamin ValmontBenjamin Valmont, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

    This is what's on my iMac.

    • Adobe Creative Cloud
    • Evernote
    • Firefox Dev Edition The browser is completely black which I like more than Chrome Dev Tools
    • CodeKit Keeps things clean and simple
    • Sublime Text 3
    • iA Writer
    • ImageOptim Not sure if I still need this with the new Photoshop but it shrinks images a bit for the web
    • Launchbar Best app ever for my workflow, just amazing
    • Cinema 4D
    • ZBrush
    • Maya
    • Sketch
    • Slack Great alternative for e-mail when at work
    • Sketchbook Pro For sketching out ideas
    • xScope Great toolkit for webdev
    • Transmit Best FTP client for OS X
    • 1Password Great for remembering passwords
    • KeyCue To learn shortcuts
    • Balsamiq Mockups 3 Mockup app for UI design
    • GitHub Desktop
    • MindNode Simple mindmapping tool
    • OmniFocus Great but expensive Todo manager, love it though
    • PageLayers Amazing tool to take a website and turn it into JPG or PSD files
    • Parallels Desktop VM app
    • Pomodoro Timer Productivity tool to GTD
    • Skitch Works together nicely with Evernote to save screenshots
    2 points
    • , almost 8 years ago

      Love MindNode, use it currently, but an old version, shall upgrade ASAP when I get my new mac! Nice list thanks!

      0 points
  • Anselm UrbanAnselm Urban, almost 8 years ago

    Take a look at the apps by Panic, they are absolutely great: https://www.panic.com/ And as a web developer, I suggest Brackets: http://brackets.io/

    2 points
    • Connor NorvellConnor Norvell, almost 8 years ago

      I am glad someone else posted brackets. I have tried pretty much every text editor for web dev, and brackets is by far the best (imo)

      1 point
  • Conor McAfeeConor McAfee, almost 8 years ago

    Sounds like a beast of a machine, not envious at all...

    I don't use too many apps to be honest, below is my general go to:

    • Sublime Text
    • Sketch/Photoshop
    • iTerm 2 (gives you more flexibility if you use the Terminal)
    • Github for Desktop
    • iA Writer if you're into blog posts or writing in Markdown
    • Firefox Developer Edition - find it a nice browser for testing waterwalls and downloads over a network etc.
    2 points
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, almost 8 years ago

    Wow, some great suggestions here. Just spent 30 minutes downloading apps. :)

    I'll throw another one in the mix, which I use constantly.

    Letterspace - Simple note taking app - +++

    I can’t rave about this app enough and use it constantly.

    They have a local Mac App and iOS app - they sync.

    The app uses Markdown and outputs a beautifully formatted PDF or HTML page if you need/ want it.

    In fact, I am writing this response in the app Letterspace now.

    1 point
  • Braden HammBraden Hamm, almost 8 years ago

    I'm supposed to believe Santaalready came to your house?!

    Nice try. I don't care what time zone you're in, he won't be popping up on the Santa Tracker for a few more days.

    1 point
    • , almost 8 years ago

      Santa = UPS and Santa came on Monday ;)

      The iMac remains boxed until Christmas day though, I don't have family that I celebrate christmas with some my Christmas day will be spent, playing with my new iMac, drinking some Jack Daniels, listening to lots of heavy metal and awaiting the evening when my friends shall come round and we will have a little Christmas get together :)

      1 point
  • Kris KimKris Kim, almost 8 years ago

    You wouldn't need this right away but cleanmymac 3 will come really handy once you have some apps and files piled up in your storage. It's super useful.

    1 point
  • Katie MacoyKatie Macoy, almost 8 years ago

    congrats on your christmas present. When you have deadlines it's useful to have an app called Self Control. It blacklists certain websites (i.e. facebook, twitter) for set increments of time. It's partially responsible for my bachelor's degree ;)

    1 point
  • Ron SwansonRon Swanson, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )

    Shift It - for window placement

    Caffeine - for keeping the screen awake

    Sip - simple color picker

    TripMode - for saving data when connecting with internet sharing on mobile device

    Sketch - as you said

    Jumpcut - For copy/paste history

    Atom - great texteditor (at least for me as non-developer)

    Evernote - for note taking

    1 point
    • , almost 8 years ago

      I have never really gotten into Evernote although I am using an older version) despite my love of writing lots of notes, collecting snippets, I use Writeroom and textedit all the time and have multiple documents open.

      Actually mostly looking forward to the native Notes app that will sync with my iPhone cause it's simple.

      0 points
    • Taylor Van OrdenTaylor Van Orden, almost 8 years ago

      Does shift it still work? When I last upgraded, I discovered Spectacle which is essentially the same thing.

      0 points
  • Andy WarburtonAndy Warburton, almost 8 years ago

    If you work on your computer late at night, definitely install F.lux it'll save your sleep!

    0 points
  • Han LiHan Li, almost 8 years ago


    An tool allows you to resize or position windows with keyboard shortcuts, quiet handy with my Macbook and external display, it would be much more useful on a 5k retina display, since there is plenty space to arrange your windows.

    0 points
  • Taylor Van OrdenTaylor Van Orden, almost 8 years ago

    Spectacle - allows you to set up keyboard shortcuts to have your windows go half screen, full screen, quarter screen, etc. Warning: once you use it, you will never be able to use another computer without it again.

    0 points
  • chris hawkins, almost 8 years ago

    So...congrats on the sweet machine. I'm only listing stuff I didn't see mentioned (and you'll have to google, cause I'm lazy):

    • Reflector (use that amazing display of yours for airplay devices)
    • SizeUp (must have window and spaces helper/organizer)
    • One (aggregator of all worthwhile news including DN)
    • Kiwi for Gmail (if you use gmail for personal and school/work this is a must)
    • Amphetamine (newer and better than caffeine - keeps your computer awake)
    • f.lux (great if you're on your screen all day and night... helps your eyes)
    • Wallcat (awesome, new background every day)


    0 points
  • Alex ChanAlex Chan, almost 8 years ago

    Sketch, Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer are great if you're looking to move away from Adobe products.

    0 points
  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )
    • League of Legends
    • BroForce
    • Kerbal Space Program
    • Maybe Sketch? It kinda sucks right now.
    • Sublime Text
    0 points
    • , almost 8 years ago

      I think I used version 1 of Sketch, or at least some version, I disliked it, but I haven't been able to run any newer version, so I am at least looking forward to playing with it.

      Broforce looks fun, I am looking to try a few games, although I might bootcamp it and get GTA 5, nothing says Christmas more than running over people and shooting them!

      0 points
  • Josiah DJosiah D, almost 8 years ago (edited almost 8 years ago )
    • Alfred: I don't use this nearly to the level I'm sure others are using it at, but it's really handy.
    • Evernote: So many ways to store notes/thoughts now, but this one still gets a lot of use.
    • Spotify: Music to design to.
    • Panic Apps: Coda has been enormously helpful for me. The rest of Panic's apps are great too.
    • Downcast: Downcast has been my podcast app of choice. Syncs up with the iPhone version as well.
    • Steam: Gotta take a break sometime, right?
    • HumbleBundle: Not an app, but Humble usually has Mac versions of games included in their bundles. Great way to stock up on some fantastic indie games.
    • Sketch: You've expressed interest, so definitely try the demo. It'll feel rather different at first, but stick with it.
    • Zeplin: If you use Sketch, and work with devs, grab this. It's done wonders for my workflow, and the team is super nice too!
    • Affinity Photo/Designer: Grab the demos, see if you like them. These two, tied together with Sketch, might free me from Adobe's reign. Serif has an InDesign competitor launching in the future as well.
    • MagicPrefs: May help you get more use out of your mouse/trackpad

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I've already found a couple killer apps I hadn't heard about before.

    0 points
    • , almost 8 years ago

      Any recommended titles on Steam for that "break" ? ;)

      Looking forward to trying Affinity after watching the previews.

      1 point
      • Josiah DJosiah D, almost 8 years ago

        BIG question. Depends on what you're into game-wise. Portal 1 & 2 are great, puzzle-y, and super witty. Bastion, Braid, LIMBO are all shorter experiences, but really neat. World of Goo and Little Inferno are fun puzzle-ish games

        0 points
    • Jonathan SimcoeJonathan Simcoe, almost 8 years ago

      Nice to see old Josiah DePaoli post on here... ;)

      +1 for Sketch. Although Figma is replacing Sketch for me more and more every day.

      Here are a few of my faves:

      • Slack: classic for team communication
      • Nylas N1: open-source email client that doesn't suck
      • Atom: GitHub's open source text editor rocks for development
      • DayOne: keep a beautiful journal
      1 point
  • Joseph Decker, almost 8 years ago

    Santa has spoiled you dear Mark, you must have been a great lad this year. Could you elaborate on what you'll be using the mac for? So we can provide apps that are actually useful for you :)

    0 points
    • , almost 8 years ago

      General usage + design and development work + Studying (web development) + light very casual gaming + guitar learning (might by rocksmith) and perhaps future music production recording.

      1 point
  • Mustafa Türksavaş, almost 8 years ago
    • Numi, if you do calculations often and using spotlight is not enough.
    • Brackets or Atom for coding.
    • Sip, my go to app for color picking.
    • Pixa, really good for storing inspirations as well as the assets you might use over an over.
    • Fantastical 2, for calendars.
    • Source Tree, for git.
    0 points
  • Andrew SmithAndrew Smith, almost 8 years ago

    I have the same machine & I keep it simple:

    • Sublime Text 3
    • Photoshop
    • Slack
    • Cinema4D
    0 points