May 23
A little under a month ago, I unboxed my 16” M1 Max MacBook Pro. It comes at a pretty hefty price, so making it work for me was a priority. I had decided to set this Mac up as a completely clean install. Copying over from another Mac would have been easier, for sure, but it could also bring over ‘bloat-ware’, or programs and apps I no longer required. The use of this Mac was always going to be focused and niche. I had bought it to improve my speed and workflow for my Talkingtech brand, and also for my graphic design business. It was never going to be a jack-of-all-trades laptop, rather a lean and mean creative beast.
So, having taken the decision to install just what I needed to make these tasks quicker, here are the 5 apps I considered essential to my creative workflow.
I started using Dropbox not that long after it’s 2007 launch. I can still remember being told about it by a designer. It was this voodoo cloud thing…you access stuff anywhere, anytime from any desktop. I was sceptical and didn’t really trust it, but thought, what the hell! Also, the more people I referred, the more storage I got given free by Dropbox. I just love free! So, from those early, low use days, wind it on, and here I am now a business account user with 3TB of cloud storage. I do use the native to Mac iCloud storage too, and have written about its benefits. But, it has always been Dropbox for me. Google Drive and I never get on — I find it odd, cumbersome, slow and clunky. Dropbox, on the other hand, is seamless and efficient. I have the desktop app on all my Macs and could not get by without it. The Smart Sync is insanely clever. It enables you to see and access all your Dropbox content locally, but it takes up next to no storage. Just brilliant. If you have not tried it, or are looking in to cloud storage, I cannot recommend Dropbox enough.
Not a day goes by, that I am not deep in to Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of apps. It is my go to for everything I do creatively. As if proof were needed, before writing this today, I have already been using Photoshop, Illustrator and In Design. Being a CC (Creative Cloud) member is why my video and audio DAW’s are Premiere Pro and Audition. I pay just under £50 a month for access to the entire suite of apps…even some I know I will never use. Some argue that the subscription basis is not fair on end-users, but I don’t agree. £50 is not much to pay to have the very latest versions of, arguably, the most powerful, professional creative apps out there. You also have access to beta versions and their back-up is great as well. For me, I’d be lost without CC. Every thumbnail you see is made in Photoshop, every video edited in Premiere and podcast edited in Audition. You get the gist — I love CC about as much as I do my Mac!
All the blogs I write start in Ulysses. Early on, before coming across this app, I used to write in Pages. It was ok, but it is not a dedicated writers’ app. One of the first things I noticed about it was that it is distraction free. The difference this makes to being able to focus on my thoughts and writing is huge. It is also a powerful proof-reader and editor. Your hands’ stay typing rather than flying all over, looking to make text bold or italic etc. It also stores all images I place in a blog, and will let me format it too. I can add tags and categories in app, which marks the start of my SEO work on all the blogs. Other great features are that it syncs across all devices, and exports flawlessly to my WordPress website. It carries a complete trail of all my writing, which is proving invaluable right now. Having just launched the latest iteration of my website, I am having to bring over all my blogs one by one, manually. It’s slow, granted, but thanks to Ulysses, all my blogs are there, just as the day I first wrote them. I’d be lost without it, and its integration to the writing part of my day is now second nature. If you are serious about writing, then try Ulysses. Thank me later!
Being a Mac user, I felt untouchable. We never get issues or Malware, right? Well, yes, we are lucky. Part of buying in to the Apple ecosystem is that it is so reliable and bullet-proof. All true, but we still need some help. I only started to use this powerful app last year on my 2015 27” iMac as I noticed it slowing down. I was uncertain if it would perform any magic, but it truly did. I seem to recall, after I first ran CleanMyMac, it deleted about 9GB of unwanted rubbish from my Mac. The best part about it is, the simplicity. There are no weird permissions or tick boxes, just install and run it. It is also pretty cool at deleting unwanted apps as well. As you’ll doubtless know, on a Mac, it is not as simple as deleting an app & dragging it to the bin. All sorts of odds-and-sods get left behind. CleanMyMac was a total no-brainer when it came to my new MacBook. I saw this as a long-term investment, and wanted to keep it as clean as possible from day one. Simple to use, gives me peace of mind and keeps the Mac in top shape. Not creative, but essential none-the-less.
I have been used to running businesses for many years, and organisation is at the very heart of doing that. Whether it be keeping track of random ideas that come to me, a simple to-do list for that day, or more complex workflows for videos and blogs, they are all in Trello. Trying to commit these ideas to memory would be a mistake, and a simple app, such as Apple’s Notes, doesn’t really cut it. With Trello, you can create boards or tiles and move them around as projects develop. So, if a video is shot, and waiting to be edited, I can take one look at my Trello board and no where I am at. It is indispensable in running my businesses, and also takes some stress off. Knowing that no project is forgotten, or idea left to fall by the wayside, is huge a win for me. Ideas come at the most inconvenient of times! With this app syncing across all devices, it means wherever I am, staying on top of scheduling, production and ideas is a done-deal.
Buying a new Mac is a major outlay for any of us. Making sure that you keep your new investment working as sweetly as possible just makes sense. I am glad I went the route of a clean install. I have the knowledge now, that there is no clutter on my new M1 Max, just pure productivity apps to help me power through my daily tasks. These were the first five apps I put on it, knowing each of them would play a role in making my days less stressful and more productive.
What about you, though? I’d love to know if you have just bought a new iMac, MacBook or Mac mini, what were the first apps you loaded up?
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Originally publish at on 23rd May, 2022

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