Skip to main content

Brandon Bohling

Apps I will install on New MacBook Air

In a previous post, What Would You Buy First?, I highlight the apps I would buy first if I had to start all over today. In this post I will outline the apps I will be installing on a new MacBook Air that arrives today. One data point to note: I am cutting my drive space in half (to 256GB), so this list may be slightly different if it were a new iMac.

Critical Apps

The following apps are the must-have apps. Apps so crucial to me that I can’t stand to use a system without them. All were on my previous list.

  • Dropbox - duh
  • 1Password - manage all passwords, credit card info, and other super secret stuff
  • Aperture - photo management and editing
  • Reeder - RSS reader
  • FontCase - manage my font fetish
  • Acorn - cheap, lightweight image editor (I no longer use Adobe Photoshop even though I have CS5). I own Pixelmator too, but prefer the Acorn interface.
  • Alfred - launcher/productivity app
  • TextExpander - excellent timesaver, just get it
  • SuperDuper! - create full, bootable backups
  • Transmit - FTP client
  • TextMate - robust text editor. However, if no updates to TextMate come out within a month or so I will switch back to BBEdit.

New to the list:

  • nvALT - how did I forget this in my original post!? This is my virtual notebook/scratch paper.
  • XCode - I doubt I do any heavy development on the MacBook Air, but I do need XCode to easily take advantage of some dev platforms.
  • Keyboard Maestro - this app receives much praise from most of the tech bloggers I follow. I will admit though, I am not taking advantage of this app nearly enough.
  • Byword - I go back and forth between writing using Byword and iA Writer…currently I am using Byword more and is what I used to write this post.
  • Final Cut Pro X - because iMovie just doesn’t have enough features for my 1 video I create a year.
  • Cloud App: I switching from Droplr to Cloud app recently because Droplr didn’t work so well switching between my home and corporate networks. AppStorm posted a comparison if you’d like to decide for yourself.
  • Marked - I use markdown for all my writing, even my notes, so it’s great to get an HTML preview regardless of the software I am using to write.

The maybe list:

I use all of these apps today on a regular basis. However, in most cases they aren’t absolutely necessary so I will use the MacBook Air as long as I can without them…we’ll see how long I last.

  • Sparrow - Gmail client. I will once again try (Lion version this time), but if I continue to not like it I will switch back to Sparrow.
  • OmniFocus - manage my tasks. I currently use OmniFocus mainly for work and since the MacBook Air is a personal system I doubt I will install. Even if I start capturing personal tasks with OmniFocus I could use the iPhone or iPad version instead.
  • OmniGraffle - draw pretty pictures (I’m a software architect). Like OmniFocus, I use OmniGraffle mainly for work. I have OmniGraffle for the iPad too, so I doubt I install this on the MacBook Air…at least to start.
  • LittleSnapper - take/manage screenshots. I will see if I can live with the built-in screenshot capabilities plus Acorn.
  • iA Writer - Byword alternate


The following items are mainly to support my blogging.

  • Jekyll - a text-base blogging engine that I use for this website.
  • Ruby - pre-requisite for Jekyll. I have a draft post on this install process, but since I haven’t posted it yet Mike Clark has good instructions: Installing Ruby 1.9 and Rails on Mac OS X.
  • Pandoc - I have been meaning to write about this lovely piece of software for a long time. I use it A TON.
  • Haskell - Pandoc was written using Haskell

Any time I get a new system I have the best intentions of keeping it clean. Within a month though I have dozens of apps that I installed, used maybe once, and has since collected test. Now that I think about it, maybe I need to start using Hazel again. It is the perfect tool to get rid of things that you are ignoring…kind of like having a maid for your computer. Regardless, I will track all my installs (which is getting easier with the Mac App Store) and provide an update in a month or so.