Essential Apps

Update - 7/30/2017

Hoon Park let me know that as of macOS Sierra 10.12.4, Night Shift is included. Which means there's no need for Flux.

Here's how to use it.

A couple weeks ago I picked up a slim, space gray MacBook Pro -- no touch bar of course. Unboxing a brand new Apple product is one of those magical little moments.

When you boot up the operating system for the first time you're given the option to restore from a time machine backup or start afresh. I like to start with a clean slate. In a way, its a forced pruning session. Apps and files can build up over time and there are things in closet you just don't wear. If you don't use it, you don't need it.

This was a chance to install the apps and toolsets I actually used to get work done. Nothing more -- just the essentials.

So here are 9 essential apps I've installed in my 2 weeks of owning a new Apple laptop:


Because Safari is terrible and the web inspector is awesome.


Just like the product says, I only have to know one password -- the master password. If you're not familiar, this application generates crazy, long, hard-to-remember passwords, stores them in a vault, and allows you to prefill login screens by using a keyboard shortcut.

Without this program, I can't get into my email, bank, Amazon, and a whole lot of other web apps that require a password.


Alfred is my productivity brain; it's part app-switcher, part replacement for Spotlight, part search engine. It's roots are in the not-forgotten Quicksilver.

I use it to quickly find files and folders, search various sites like: Github, Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon, etc.

Resilio Sync

This app was originally called "BitTorrent Sync", because torrenting had a negative connotation and carried baggage from being associated with pirated content, they renamed the app to Resilio.

It's basically a free, peer-to-peer file syncing app (like Dropbox) that is run a the BitTorrent protocol.


After Rdio's death, Spotify turned into my de-facto music library app. I always have music playing.

Every morning I walk to my office and the first thing I do is put on my headphones and turn on Spotify. When I step out of my office at 5, I turn on Sonos (powered by Spotify) to some dinner-making background music.


Screens keep you up at night. Flux is a handy little tool that, based on your location, will track when the sun goes down and as the sun sets it removes the blue light from your screen's display. The warmer screen tones are less stressful on your eyes.

I think the iPhone has this feature and it's surprising that macOS doesn't. I suppose it's only a matter of time...


Also, open source I started using this recently to control window placement and tiling with keyboard shortcuts.

  • Want to center a window? "option, cmd, C"
  • Want to put it on the left half? "option, cmd, ←"
  • On the right half? "option, cmd, →"

Spectacle has already become invaluable in the short time I've used it.


This is an open source video player, that plays any and all kind of file types. (.mkv, .avi, .mp4)

There are still shows and movies not on Amazon Prime that allow me to watch them using VLC.


Every piece of software you download is shipped with support for different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, etc.) Those language files take up a ton of space on your hard drive. Monolingual lets you choose the languages you want to keep and deletes all the rest.

This was actually the first program I installed. I wanted to see how much space could be saved on a base install of macOS Sierra. 988mb. Almost a gigabyte of space saved from languages packs alone.