Transmit from Panic Software is my overall favorite FTP program, used to upload web pages to websites and do large file transfers across the internet. Cyberduck is also worth a look (and free), and Interarchy is also really a good program – though I was forced to stop using it due to unresolved issues (at the time) when accessing windows-based WebDAV servers. They’ve fixed those problems since. Since I’d already happily used Transmit for many years before that, and it currently fit my needs, I haven’t looked back.


Skitch is my screenshot software of choice. Not only can you specify and take a snapshot, but you can then mark it up to hilight and point out relevant info, as well as draw mustaches. Then you can upload the results directly from Skitch or conveniently drag it to wherever you need it, be it a new email or your desktop.

Update: The company was bought out by Evernote. It’s now available for free from the Mac App store. 


I can’t say enough good things about it. Dropbox provides transparent, constant, internet-based backup and synchronization of a folder that remembers previous versions, with a few extras thrown in to allow easy sharing. It works on the Mac, on Windows, on the iPhone, the Android, the web, almost anywhere you can get to the internet. And it starts out free.

But what does this mean?

It means that you get a folder on your computer that acts like any other folder. You can move or copy files in and out just like any other folder. And because it is a local folder, it’s just as fast as any other folder on your local hard drive. But this folder has the magical property of being backed up, to the internet, in the background, and that backup is updated every time you make a change. 

And that backup is tied to a user account and login. Add another computer to the account, and anything you move into the dropbox on one computer ends up on the other computer. Or it’s now visible via the dropbox app on your iPad or mobile phone.

Or in a pinch, at a friends house, you can log in via the web and download the files that way.

The fact that it does this transparently in the background is awesome enough, but that’s not all! Every time you make a change, it keeps the previous versions for the last 30 days – so you can go back and recover that file you deleted or overwrote while on the road.

And that’s still not all. You can share any folder in your dropbox with other dropbox users that you specify. Now, anything you move into that subfolder shows up on their computer.

But, you ask, what if they’re not on dropbox? Or if I don’t want to share a folder with them? Well, there’s also a “public” folder. Move or copy a file in there, and right click on it, and select “Copy Public Link”. Now send them the link, and they can download the file directly from Dropbox. No need to fiddle around with yousendit, etc. for those occasions something’s too big to email.

Dropbox starts free at 2GB of storage, and you can pay for more. You can also refer your friends to get extra free storage for everyone who signs up a new account using your referral link.

And joking aside, it is an outstanding product that they constantly improve to make it faster, smaller, and more reliable than it already is. I evangelize it every day, and I keep all of my “current project” files within my dropbox folder. If I lose my laptop away from home, I’ll be able to recover all my current stuff up to my last internet connection, and anything older is archived to other backups anyway.

TextWrangler and BBEdit (and TextMate too)

Ahhh, text editors. All of these are designed from the ground up to handle text, and specifically, write computer code and web pages, with syntax highlighting and color coding to make it easier to tell what’s going on.

TextWrangler is the free little brother to BBEdit and replaced BBEdit Lite. It is so powerful that it’s almost hard to justify paying for a full-blown editor until you are heavily involved in coding on a regular basis and really need some of the power-user features like code block folding, macros, and snippets that BBEdit and TextMate provide. File comparisons and graceful handling of large files also make the Bare Bones editors hands down winners compared to TextMate.

 I’ve used TextWrangler for years, but use BBEdit now. I own TextMate, really like it, and used it as my primary editor for a couple years, but it chokes on large files and hasn’t had any significant work done on it in a while to cover some of the odder quirks or oversights in an otherwise beautiful 1.0 release. Textmate 2 has been “coming someday” for quite some time now.

That said, TextMate is also much cheaper than BBEdit, and with TextWrangler to handle a prettier GUI-based file comparison when needed, can handle almost anything most people will throw at it. It’s more a matter of taste and style – much like the war between the also free and extremely powerful Vim and Emacs editors (also available in Linux) which I don’t use because at this point in my life, I don’t want to learn all the commands of yet another text editor until I have to. 

Play with all of the free ones, and even try the trials on the paid ones. Then settle in and really learn and get comfortable in one and stick with it as much as possible unless something truly new comes around. You’ll end up having to learn other editors and development environments (Xcode, Eclipse, etc.) often enough as it is, there’s no point in deliberately making your life more difficult.


Growl is a notification tool that puts little unobtrusive message bubbles on your screen to let you know what’s happening in the background.  It doesn’t work with many of Apple’s built-in apps, but does work with a number of third-party programs and extensions. These include file transfer programs like Transmit, instant messaging programs like Adium and Yahoo, dashboard widgets like eBay watcher, and many Mac twitter apps. This can be when an upload or download is complete (Transmit), when a new IM message comes in (Adium), or when your plugged-in status on your laptop changes (Unplugged).


Now available for the Mac and Windows, 1Password from Agile Web Solutions has earned a space on my drive. While I still use Little Secrets for a lot of miscellaneous information, 1Password shines in its ability to interface with multiple browsers and provide you with a convenient menu of applicable logins for the vast majority of sites including google, yahoo, logmein, and many banking sites. One click, or a command-\ and you’re logged in.