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These 5 apps will make you a more productive designer

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Illustration by Nastaran Moradi

It’s no secret I’m a productivity app junkie. And there’s no shortage of great ones for both macOS and Windows.

Let me just say that this article is not sponsored or endorsed in any way. I just love these apps and find them useful.

1. Alfred

Alfred is so much more than a ‘Spotlight’ replacement. You can launch apps, find and preview files, and put your Mac to sleep. And that’s just the beginning.

Alfred search UI
https://www.alfredapp.com/

However, my use of Alfred is a bit odd: the main feature I’m using it for isn’t even listed on their website.

Alfred lets me switch between open apps super fast. I got so used to it that I can’t go without it anymore.

Switching between apps is as simple as hitting + space followed by the first letter of the app. It doesn’t sound as fast as it really is. Alfred knows what apps I’m using or have used recently. For the recommendation to show up as the first result, just type the first two or three characters of the app name. In addition, it prioritizes the ones that are open right now, as well as recent ones.

Alfred replaces repetitive tasks and boosts productivity. For example, I use it to quickly find inspiration on Dribbble or to search for an icon in Font Awesome.

Here’s how that works.

There’s no need to open chrome, go to Dribbble, and type your query. You can set these up in just a few clicks. It’s nice to be able to do so much from any location on your Mac.

Keep in mind, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Alfred can do.

2. Spectacle

macOS is a bit weird when it comes to window management. With Spectacle, you can quickly and easily move and resize your windows around.

With a single shortcut, you can send an application window to an external monitor, make it full screen, or just send it to the left or right half portions of any screen.

https://www.spectacleapp.com/

3. Things

I’ve been on the lookout for the best way to manage tasks for a while now. After trying out quite a few to-do apps, I ended up with Trello to organize and plan my tasks.

And I thought it worked great — until I ran into Things. Things made everything click for me.

Its minimal user interface is intuitive and a joy to use.

https://culturedcode.com/things/

This flow just works. App gets out of your way and lets you focus on what matters, which is the tasks.

‘Quick entry’ feature that allows you to add new todos from anywhere without having to switch applications is super convenient. While doing so, you’re able to set the date or deadline, add more info, tags or simply add a checklist to a note.

Easily integrate your calendar and you’ll see your events pop up on your ‘Today’ list every day. It’s nice to open your to-do list and have a preview of your meetings for the day showing up next to it.

I use it in combination with the ‘Spark’ email app, and whenever an email is actually something I need to get back to, I can simply send it to ‘Things’ with a shortcut and it’ll arrive straight to my ‘Things’ app inbox.

To all of you who have trouble staying on top of your emails, this feature alone is a game-changer.

4. WorkFlowy

Another app that I use daily, to organize my thoughts. It works great for meeting notes. A simple but powerful tool that helps you stay organized and focused throughout the day.

https://workflowy.com/

With its collaboration features, offline functionality, hashtag system, and shortcuts for everything you can imagine — it’s a tool worth trying out.

A few fun facts about WorkFlowy from their website:

  • The Slack team used WorkFlowy to build their product
  • CEO of Atlassian uses WorkFlowy for day to day notes
  • New York Times bestselling book Hatching Twitter was written using WorkFlowy
  • Founders of Medium, Twitter, and Blogger, use WorkFlowy daily

It surprises me that Workflowy is still fairly unknown to the wider audience.

5. iA Writer

The app I used to write this article or any other piece of writing, for that matter. Since a lot of designers are writers in one way or the other, figured you might be interested in this one as well.

With its minimal interface, it lets you focus on what matters — writing. Doesn’t come as a surprise that the app is used by half a million people.

Just recently they added some really cool features such as Focus Mode, which lets you focus only on the sentence you’re currently writing.

Here’s how that looks.

https://ia.net/writer

PS. If you’re wondering where’s the user interface in the screenshot above, you’re looking at it!

iA Writer also offers a few different ways of writing, depending on your preferences and style.

For any questions or help with setting up any of these, shoot me a dm on Twitter and I’ll gladly help out.

First seen in my weekly newsletter UX Things


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