Amazing, free Mac apps for tech-averse creatives

I rely on technology (ie. a bunch of apps on my iPhone and MacBook) to keep myself in order: tools to create actionable tasks, collaborate on projects, speed up my workflow, and probably more things I could list if I took a look at my phone.

Alicia doesn’t like this stuff. I try to push apps on her constantly to try – since they’ll totally make her life so much better!!! – but my efforts have thus far mostly been fruitless. She uses Evernote to manage all her notes for work, and Adobe’s problematic Creative Cloud for all her design and photography work, but that’s basically it. Oh, and a Kate Spade paper planner to organize her tasks for the day.

A Mac and a day planner. Taken from Alicia's Instagram.

I constantly nerd out to app review sites, though I have to imagine that these are largely ignored by the tech-averse or apathetic. Content is daunting, but there are quite a few apps out there that genuinely can improve the lives of their users.

Since this is a creativity and lifestyle blog, I put a list together of my favorite apps that might be useful to creative people who might not look otherwise. (Basically, here’s a list of apps I think Alicia should use.) I assume that the average reader of this blog already knows about the big players:

  • all the Google products
  • all the Apple products
  • the Adobe-industrial complex
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote

These tools below are just as useful in my daily routine as the essentials above. Best part: almost all these apps are totally free.

For preventing bloodshot eyes: F.lux. This thing reduces the brightness and blues in your laptop screen at night, so your eyes don’t get strained if you work late into the night. You can even customize the time at which the colors change and how rapidly. Highly recommended for any freelancer or anyone working at odd hours.

For unending inspiration, right on your desktop: Wallcat. Stop going on Pinterest for inspiration now and get this instead. The wallpapers from Unsplash (the company that made Wallcat and all its content) are breathtaking and provide me with joy every morning when I first turn on my laptop.

For doing quick math easily: Numi. Throw your calculator away now and get this instead. It does math for you, but lets you add textual context to each number you add or subtract. I started using this while pricing our venues for our wedding – being able to type up a list of potential costs and automatically have them summed up is glorious.

Let's price out a wedding venue with Numi.

For easily sharing text and images between computer and phone: Copyfeed ($1.99 each for Mac and iOS), Droplr (free for basic, $6/month pro), or Copied (free for iOS, $7.99 for Mac). Stop texting things to yourself, silly.

For staying on task: Focus ($19.99 + free trial). Full disclosure – I haven’t actually bought this yet, because I’m somehow still convinced I don’t need it. However, I played with a free trial a while back and it’s pretty glorious – you can automatically block yourself from Facebook, Reddit and other distracting sites and replace them with inspirational quotes.

For making sure your updates run: Caffeine or Amphetamine (both free). Both are free, both keep your laptop running overnight so you don’t have to run updates while you work.

All that glorious lorem ipsum text.

For quick FPO text, everywhere: Jibber. I use this to populate wireframes and HTML files with glorious Lorem Ipsum text straight from my menu bar.

For visualizing and collaborating on projects: Trello. Basically, it’s like Pinterest except far more actionable and easy to collaborate. I wrote it about it once already, and I still love it. I use it for music projects, planning our wedding, and even planning content for this blog.

Trello, for managing one of my more recent EP releases.

Thanks for reading! Again, if you’re a generally creative person and use a Mac or iOS device for some or all of your work, I highly recommend any or all of these free tools in your daily routine. Next time, I’ll get into the problem with industry-standard apps in design, music and maybe other spaces too, and some solid alternatives for them.