Rick's Top Mac Apps of 2010

The inspiration of this post comes from a similar writeup on TUAW. Here you'll find my own compilation of favorite Mac apps from 2010. But first, it might help if I explain how I use my Mac. I'm in grad school, so I'm constantly gathering research, writing papers, and studying for exams. Next, I run The Mac Instructor. This involves keeping client notes, scheduling appointments, and maintaining my website. Finally, I'm a web junkie. I love trolling the web for fun tips and tricks, learning about the latest gizmo from Cupertino, and keeping up with my friends through social networks. Now if you use your Mac in a totally different way than I do, the following list might not benefit your workflow. But, if you're a student, techie, or businessman, my hope is that one or two apps peek your interest.

10. Mental Case

At first glance, Mental Case just a simple flashcard app. I've created flashcards for every exam I've taken, and much of my GPA is indebted to this little program! I love that it syncs with its iPhone counterpart, integrates with my Mac's clipboard, and uses an intelligent algorithm to re-quiz me on missed cards until I get it right. Oh, and they offer student discounts through their website.

9. Accordance

Premier Bible software for the Mac. Accordance has been around since Mac OS 7, so it is definitely the most mature and feature-rich app on my Mac. I first learned about Accordance while at Wheaton College, were most of the Bible professors would buy Macs just so that they could run it. Accordance hit version 9 this year, adding some slick new features. Unfortunately, it is not the prettiest program and takes awhile to truly feel comfortable with it. But once you get acquainted with its layout, you'll quickly start mining biblical gems.

8. Bean

I jumped on the Dropbox + PlainText bandwagon for my iPhone and iPad this year. This is my way for jotting down quick notes and syncing these notes between iDevices. And when it comes to editing simple text files, I didn't like the look of the Mac's built-in TextEdit. Then I found Bean. It is the free and extremely simple text editor that I use as a scratch pad. (I'm currently writing this post in Bean.) If a document grows into something worthy for sharing, I either copy and paste it directly onto my blog, a Pages document, or an Evernote note.

7. Things

Things is my glorified to-do list of choice. With a quick keystroke, I can enter in tasks and reminders from anywhere. Also syncs with iPhone and iPad apps. Things certainly isn't cheap, and it has also gotten a lot of flack lately for not having Over-The-Air syncing (you have to have your devices on the same wifi network.) I have continued to stick it out because 1) I already own it and 2) my workflow doesn't depend on OTA task syncing. At the beginning of every semester, I enter in every assignment, paper, and exam along with their due dates into Things. Shopping lists, bill-pay reminders, blog ideas, and more get dumped into Things. These items then pop up at their designated times. Oh, and it is a gorgeous app, winner of the highly esteemed Apple Design Award a year or two ago. Folks who want something more sophisticated usually turn to OmniFocus and those wanting a bare bone to-do list turn to WunderList.

6. Daylite

Daylite is great CRM software for both small and large businesses. I've always been intrigued by it and had recommended it many times while at Apple Retail. Well, when I started my own business, I then had a reason to give it a whirl for myself. Shamefully, I don't use Daylite to its full potential, but it's such a full-featured app, I'm not sure anyone does. Personally, I use it to keep notes on clients, but it could also stand as my to-do list, calendar, project manager, and notebook. It syncs with a correlating iPhone and iPad app and if I were to ever hire employees, it would sync with their devices over the internet. Oh, if you're really interested in Daylite, give Matthew a call at BlackTip IT. He's based out of Florida and has helped people all over the country get up and running with Daylite for their business. It also helps that he's one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

5. Pages

Part of Apple's iWork productivity apps which go up against Microsoft Office. If you are not tied to Microsoft for work reasons, it's time to see how Apple does word processing. Pages will open and share to Word files and is extremely easy to use. In addition to word processing, Pages makes for a great layout app, so it will satisfy those Mac users who miss Microsoft Publisher. Trust me, you'll never miss Office.

4. Dropbox

This year, I fell in love with Dropbox. Basically, it is like a 2GB flash drive on the internet. In my opinion, every student needs a Dropbox account. Save files there, access them anywhere. Oh, and if you sign up by clicking this link, they'll boost your storage by another 250MB.

3. Evernote

Boy, I love this app. I treat Evernote as my digital file cabinet. If Bean is my sketchpad, Evernote is my briefcase. On the iPhone, you can type in notes, record voice memos, or take a picture of something. On the Mac, you can "clip" websites directly from Safari. I use this to organize recipes, collect research, writeup instructions, and save "how-to's" from the web. If you're OCD about organization and hate forgetting things, you'll love Evernote.

2. Reeder

I often get asked, How do you keep up with all this tech stuff? The answer is RSS. Basically, RSS is how you stalk a website. Using Google Reader as the backend, and Reeder as the Mac app, I stay up to date on all my favorite blogs and news sites. Reeder is currently in beta, so it's got some rough edges, however it's quite usable and feels very much like an iPad app.

1. Alfred

Alfred is for the uber-geek. Standing as a replacement for Apple's Spotlight, I've found it to be much quicker. I also like it simply because it's at the center of the screen. I use Alfred to recall lost files, change music in iTunes, quickly jump to a webpage, and much more. It's saved a ton of time for me.

So there you have it. My favorite Mac apps from 2010! Do you think I left anything out? Think I need to change my workflow around a bit? Let me know in the comments.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.