I’m always on the lookout for better tools to get things done and today I’m going to share the applications I use and value the most for my productivity with you, as I feel these may be of equal benefit to you as well.  Please feel free to let me know about your choices in the comments below, including if there are others that really do the job for you. I upgrade my collection of tools regularly and am always game to give something new a spin.
Byword for writing posts in markdown. I bought the in-app option to publish to blogs and Evernote, as it’s handy in this respect (particularly for the latter). Yes, I could easily use Sublime Text for this, but I prefer the distraction-free approach of Byword when writing larger amounts of content.
Photoshop and Lightroom for photo editing and handling.
iMovie for the occasional video editing not related to screencasting.
1Password synchronized via Dropbox so that I only ever have to remember one password.
Skitch for screen grabbing and quick annotations. I particularly like the ability to share the screenshot with one click (when it works), and its integration with Evernote (being made by the same company).
DragonDrop, a Mac utility that allows you to very quickly copy/move a series of files from one place on your filesystem to another.
Pushbullet to send and receive SMS from my computer as well as handling my Android phone notifications.
Keynote for the occasional presentation that is not work related (at work I use the Microsoft Powerpoint, which is provided to employees, or the open source equivalent of it).
iPython as my calculator and quick data analysis tool.
TeamViewer to remotely login into my other laptops.
RescueTime, a recent addition, to keep track of my time, help with accountability, and generally motivating me to do more.
Productivity apps on my Android phone
On my giant smartphone (the Samsung Galaxy Note3) I use most of the same services and apps, provided an app for Android exists. So you’ll see me use Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, Hangouts, Doit.im, et cetera, there as well.
The main noteworthy mentions are:
Gmail as I find the app to be much better than the mobile site version.
Press as my feedreader client for Feedly, instead of Reeder.
aCalendar+ as my Google Calendar client, instead of Calendar for Mac.
buffer to schedule social media posts (on my Mac I also use buffer, but I do so from Chrome).
Not everything on the Mac has a worthy equivalent on Android, so I don’t have a text editor to recommend here for example. On phones, I find that Google Drive, or any of the built-in editors capable of editing files that are stored in Dropbox, to be okay in a pinch.
Productivity apps for iOS
As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently got a new iPad Air 2. It’s an entertainment device but I try to use it for productivity tasks as well. This will be the case all the more so once I get my hands on a decent keyboard case for it.
Much like my phone, where corresponding Mac apps exist for iOS, I use them. So Evernote, Dropbox, 1Password, and even Byword, are all installed there. One exception would be an RSS reader. Technically there is Reeder for the iPad, but I have been using the free version of FeeddlerRSS so far and find that it works well enough.
On top of the more or less cross-platform list, I have a few educational apps which are actually useful thanks to the iPad’s screen size:
There are more applications, of course, but these are the ones that I use frequently and feel are worth mentioning. That said, this list is never static. For example, just a couple of days ago, while on Skype with my friend Kalid, he mentioned Beeminder to me, praising its accountability and goal tracking abilities. I had already come across it before, but overlooked it. Kalid swears by it, so I’m going to give it a shot.
Let me know what you use and would recommend. I love to check out cool applications and refine my toolkit and workflow as needed.
Some would argue that quite a few of these apps aren’t strictly productivity apps per se. I willfully acknowledge that, but I still consider them to be part of my workflow. Also, the focus of this post is not on programming tools. ^
Case in point, I wrote this very post with Byword for Mac. ^
Technically I have the Inbox app too. I’m not overly impressed so far however. ^
At the time of writing Udemy has a great sale going for nine days. They’re starting out at $10 and will increase the price each day by a dollar. After the sale is over, prices will revert back to normal. ^
Which is the iOS client for Safari Books. This app just came out so I don’t have a ton of experience with it, but it looks promising. ^
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and AI Evangelist at IBM. He authored Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers (Wrox, 2009) and Technical Blogging ( The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2012, 2019). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to over 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.