Living in a Mac world, 3 years later

Three years ago I purchased my first Apple computer, a MacBook Pro. This computer is still my primary work computer and is holding up very well. I’ve had to replace the hard drive and battery under AppleCare, and upgraded to 3GB RAM about 18 months ago.

At home I have an iMac that I purchased about 2 years ago. It has an attached Drobo with nearly 3 TB capacity that holds music, video, and photography media content.

I’m still very happy living in a Mac world and thought I’d share the tools that have stuck around and become part of my everyday workflow.


  • Lightroom 3 - This is my workhorse for photography workflow and image editing. 98% of the photo work that I do is in this tool, and with the improved integration with Photoshop for HDR and pano processing even the times I go into Photoshop feel like I’m using an extension of Lightroom. I use several of Jeffrey Friedl’s plugins but find most of what I need built directly into the product.
  • Photoshop CS5 - Julie has been the heavier user of Photoshop over the past 6 months, mostly to do design and layout work for school fundraising projects. The improved HDR and panorama processing tools have made several plugins I’ve purchased in the past obsolete.
  • iMovie - This remains my mainstay for video processing though I’m getting ready to kick it to the curb. My main issue is performance and range of video format support. Most of my iMovie work is for football scouting and I tend to get video from a range of cameras. I also am usually under a time crunch to finish the work on Sunday. Maybe the issues are more with my iMac than iMovie, but I’m eager to try some different options to see if I can improve my workflow.

Office Apps

I purchased iWork not long after it came out and have been mostly unimpressed. Numbers in particular lags far behind Excel, especially for someone who does a lot of work with groupings and pivot tables. Keynote is the best of the iWork apps and I find it very useful for making animated storyboards for videos.

I think that Microsoft Office is still the best office suite for the Mac. It isn’t perfect, but I’m able to co-exist in my workplace with an all-Windows world and maintain compatibility. I’m excited for the next release and to have Outlook available on the Mac.


  • Omnifocus - Nearly all of my GTD system lives in Omnifocus. I’ve been an early user since their beta and the app has only improved over the years. I also use their iPhone app. This is probably my most used application outside of Safari.
  • Notational Velocity, TextMate, SimpleNote, MultiMarkdown - While I was an early adopter of the revamped Evernote on the Mac, I continued to grow frustrated with the Windows version stability and the closed nature of Evernote’s storage system. I think I heard Merlin Mann talk about Notational Velocity and MultiMarkdown on MacBreak Weekly, explored the tool, wired things up with SimpleNote and DropBox, and migrated my notes from Evernote to plain text. This set of tools has dramatically changed how I write and work. I tend to use TextMate more than Notational Velocity for writing, but the lightweight nature of Notational Velocity make it great for quick search and jotting down ideas.


  • LaunchBar - Switched to this from QuickSilver about a year ago and haven’t looked back. Very stable, great power user features, and I find myself learning new ways to use it every month.
  • Hazel - Until I started using Hazel I had no idea how much time I spent shuffling files around, moving downloaded items to trash, etc. Just started using this 3 months ago and continue to find creative uses for it.
  • TextExpander - I don’t use this as well as I should, but it is a great tool and I’m finding some good synergy with MultiMarkdown workflow (inserting links from the clipboard, for example).
  • 1Password - This tool let’s me use robust unique passwords for sites and integrates very well with DropBox.
  • DropBox - I dropped FolderShare (or whatever Microsoft calls it now) about 12 months ago in favor of DropBox. Amazingly robust tool and I’ve converted many family members and friends over to its powerful ways.