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14 Essential Mac OS X Applications for Bloggers

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of January 2008 Blogging Tools and Services 0 Comments

A number of blogging friends have recently made the switch from using PCs to using Macs as their primary blogging machines.

Each time that one of them makes the move I tend to get an email or call a day or two later asking for advice on different applications to help with their blogging. Lately I’ve been saving my recommendations and have compiled them into a single email. I thought that I’d share it here on the blog also as I know many of you are Mac users.

Of course some of these 14 applications (not listed in any particular order) are not exclusive to Mac users – but hopefully it’ll give a little insight into the type of tools that I’m using.

1. ecto

Ecto-1ecto is one of those tools that just clicked for me when I started using it. It is a desktop blogging tool that allows you to get posts up on multiple blogs without having to log in to the back end of your blog. It works with most blog platforms and allows you to blog offline, drag and drop images into posts plus lots more. ecto is currently at version 2.4.2 with a beta test of ecto 3 currently in progress (I’ve only just downloaded it but it looks great). MarsEdit – is another Mac based desktop blogging tool that you might want to consider. It has a very similar feature list to ecto and I’d probably use it if I wasn’t already hooked on the workflow that I’ve established.

2. ImageWell

Icon ImagewellMy blogging changed the day I installed ImageWell. I use it to create most of the images that you see here on ProBlogger. It’s fantastic taking an image, doing quick crops, adding words, putting shadows around images, taking them and making them have curved corners etc. Sure you can do this in Photoshop – but ImageWell is much lighter weight, quick to use and is easy to use.

3. Skitch

Skitch Still in an invite only beta (although I only had to wait one day to get the invite) Skitch is a tool that I see having the potential to replace ImageWell. It allows you to edit and even create images that can be used for illustrative or attention grabbing purposes on your blog. Start with an image and draw on it, at words, arrows etc – or use it for screen capturing or even snapping a quick shot of your self with iSight. It also allows you to host your images on Skitch.com and share them with your friends.

4. Twhirl

TwhirlI’ve been getting more and more into Twitter of late. I use it to connect with readers, promote my latest posts (some of my readers use it now instead of RSS to follow my blogs), share links to posts that I’ve been reading that I like (I’m doing most of my ‘speedlinking’ in Twitter now etc. Twhirl is a client that allows you to Twitter from your desktop which means you never have to actually visit Twitter itself to use it. I find that this makes me much more active as a Twitterer. Another similar tool is Twitterrific. Alternatively you might like to use a tool like Tweetbar (a Firefox sidebar Add-on).

5. Flickr Uploader

FlickruploadriconFlickr is not something that I use a lot these days for hosting images – but when I used to do more of it this was a tool that I used every day. It syncs well with iPhoto and gets your shots up loaded in a flash.

6. CyberDuck

Cyberduck. The first FTP browser that I ever downloaded and the only one that I’ve ever needed to use. It’s so simple to use even a complete tech dunce like me can use it. The other FTP client that I’ve tried a few times is Transmit it’s great too and I’d probably be using it if I were not already used to CyberDuck.

7. InstantShot

InstantshotInstantShot is a screenshot application. While OSX’s screen capture shortcuts are useful – an application like InstantShot has a few more useful features. It sits nicely up in your top menu bar – ready for instantaneous use. Other screen shot applications that I’ve played with include QuickSnap, Paparazzi and SnapNDrag.

8. CaptureMe

CapturemeiIf you want to capture videos of what you’re doing on your screen then CaptureMe is a tool worth considering. I’ve been using it a bit more lately – particularly in a few of my recent video posts. It’s no Camtasia (not that they have a Mac version) but It’s a good quick option if you want to grab snippets of video. Two other screencasting tools that I’ve got on my list to check out are iShowU and SnapzProX. I’ve heard good things about each but still hear regular calls from bloggers to Camtasia to get a product released for Mac users.

9. Adium

AdiumAdium is a great little instant messaging client that allows you to use a variety of instant messaging networks all in the one place. I have it set up for MSN, AOL, Yahoo and Jabber. It’s said to have video coming soon which will make it even more useful. I just wish it’d do skype too and I’d never need another IM client.

10. Skype

SkypeSkype has become an essential part of my life. I am on it more than almost any other application in this list. I use it primarily as an IM network but also for voice and video chat (both for work and personal use with family overseas). Skype’s one of the most essential tools that we use at b5media and it must have saved us many thousands of dollars in bills over the last couple of years. We do all of our team meetings on it and hold weekly blogger chats with many bloggers at a time.

11. Firefox

FirefoxFirefox has become such a central part of my workflow that I barely remembered to include it in this list. Tabbed browsing changed my blogging workflow completely and Firefox does it better than Safari in my mind. Add to that the multitude of Add-ons available for it and I can’t see any other browser capturing my loyalty for some time yet.

12. TextEdit

TexteditSometimes it is the most simple things that get used the most. I’m actually writing the first draft of this very post in TextEdit – the text editor that comes with Mac OSX. While I know there are plenty of other sexier text editing tools out there – I can’t find one that is more useable than TextEdit – so I stick with it. I use it to write posts, brainstorm, list my ‘to do’ items and much more. WriteRoom is another writing tool that I know many use – it makes your full screen a writing screen removing all distractions. It’s good – but I still prefer TextEdit. Another alternative that I’ve had recommended to me by a couple of people is xPad which looks like it has some cool features. Another two to try are TextWrangler and TextMate. Like I say – I find the simplicity of TextEdit works for me.

13. Keynote

KeynoteIt might seem strange to include a presentation tool like Keynote in a list of blogging tools, but it has actually become a really important part of my blogging tool belt. I use it largely as a way to design diagrams and charts for my posts. You can see some of this in action in the ‘results posts’ of my polls where I usually present the findings in a graph made in Keynote. Almost without fail I’m asked in these posts how I made the graphs – they are truly beautiful. It also leaves Powerpoint (for Mac) for dead when it comes to making a presentation.

14. TaskPaper

Taskpaper-IconI’m not a very organized person and have tried a multitude of organizational tools to help me ‘get things done’. Most have ended up sitting unused on my Mac. I do like iCal’s new ‘to do’ lists – but another useful tool is TaskPaper which is a simple tool for project organization. Another one that I’ve tried but that I’ve never really got into is Things. It’s more complicated (and comprehensive) than TaskPaper. I’ve also tried OmniFocus and found it to be useful.

Other Applications that I Use

I’ve not included many Apple made products in this list – but I also use Mail for my email, iCal for my Calander, iPhoto and Aperture for image editing and management and iMovie for video editing. Most of the rest of the tools that i used are web based (Google Reader for RSS (although I do like Newsfire) and Google Docs for a lot of my document creation).

What do you use?

When I asked my Mac using Twitter followers what applications they used in their blogging I was flooded with recommendations (thanks to everyone who responded). It made me realize that I’m just scratching the surface with what I use. I’d love to hear from other Mac using Bloggers – what applications have become a part of your blogging tool belt and daily workflow?

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About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Hmm. I’ve just been using the Deepest Sender Firefox add-on for posting blog messages. I can see I need to think outside the Fox. :)

  2. I use Yojimbo on my Mac. It’s more of an information organizer but I really like it. I also use AppZapper quite a bit since I often download and test out new programs. It allows me to easily trash a program along with its files. Finally, I’d recommend shadowClipboard. It holds a whole bunch of text clips and is accessible from the menubar.

  3. I’ve got to agree with you about Adium – If only it did skype.
    For text editing, I use xPad as it autosaves and has all docs avaiable in a drawer.
    Jing is another great (free) screen recorder.

  4. As a recent switcher , this is a great resource, going off to test the ones i haven’t used so far

  5. Two essential Mac apps I can’t live without:

    Transmission: Super fast, efficient, free, sexy Bittorent client.

    Quicksilver: An application launcher but so much more. A Mac just isn’t the same without this. Also free.

    Also, two great websites to find other great Mac applications are IUseThis and Cool Mac Apps.

    One more thing, for Web Development–it doesn’t get any better than Coda.

    It manages multiple projects effortlessly and does exactly what I need without being bloated.

  6. Very useful list. I just made the switch to Mac and was looking for a Mac equivalent for Irfanview. Looks like ImageWell has all the features I’m looking for.

  7. I’ve found a new lover, ecto be thy name..

    Thanks for making blogging just that little bit easier Darren!

  8. That’s funny, I just went on a crazy hunt for blogging tools.

    I’m trying out ecto right now and I like it, but the tagging doesn’t mesh well with how the tags on my main site work. It’s otherwise decent.

    Skitch is out of invitation only beta and is now in public beta. It definitely is better than imagewell (I also use it right now in addition to picnik, which is amazing with the FF extension)

    I’m also pretty hooked on google notebook (not an app, but along those lines) to collect links for later reference.

  9. Lots of my favourites in your list Darren.
    I’d add FireFTP as the tool of choice for a Firefox user; easy and intuitive.
    Quicksilver is an insanely wonderful Mac-only application which you must try.
    TextEdit, yes, again lean and ideal for all text work.
    MarsEdit is also a top blog-writing tool.
    And thanks for the tip on ImageWell. Looks like the very thing I’ve been looking for.
    Not sure I (or the world) need another Twitter app, but have a look at Snitter. It’s another friendly-sit-on-your-desktop app that keeps you in the Tweet loop with your fellow Twits (!)

  10. How fabulous to see that Macs are becoming the blogging machine of choice! I definitely second a lot of the suggestions here.

    I use twidget as my dashboard twitter client which works well (it doesn’t have the distraction of everybody elses twittering, it is just for posting your own). The other thing I have found really useful recently is the Xinha Here Firefox plug-in for doing HTML editing in forms (I use it within movable type to add more formatting to my blog posts for the redesign I’m working on).

  11. We have had loads of visitors wanting Snagit for Mac. I hope it will be a reality soon :-)


  12. Thanks for the very good list Darren. It will help.

  13. WOW – how timely coming across this great post … I just switched to an iMac at Christmas so I’m slowly getting used to blogging and working in general with this great Leaopard platform and the other goodies that mac’s have to offer. Thanks again for the great tips !!

  14. One feature that I wish blogger had was the ability to store drafts of posts in folders. So if I prep a story, I’d like to file it away for future use.

    Does MarsEdit or Ecto have this “folders” feature?


  15. TaskPaper is pretty nifty. If anyone wants something a bit more powerful, they might like to check out my OSX Task Manager Showdown.

    I’d never heard of ecto — I’ve just downloaded it and am finding it great so far. Previously I’d written all my posts in the excellent WriteRoom.

  16. Suvendu says: 01/18/2008 at 3:44 am

    I am looking for a offline tool which allows me to read the blogs as well as write blogs from the same interface. In addition it can save files/links/images to local drive while reading and use it while writing back the blog…any clue will help.

    thanks in advance


  17. Kelly St. Germain says: 01/18/2008 at 5:01 am

    Hi Darren. Thanks for sharing these great products. I am looking forward to moving over to the mac. I work in the real estate industry and many of their asp based applications run only on the pc so trying to integrate business and the mac is difficult. Regardless, it’s great to look forward and learn about these possibilities.

  18. Some really good programs listed here, it will be obviously helpful for all mac users that are more and more recently.

  19. See, this is why I actually READ Darren’s posts, rather than immediately trash them like I do most of the other so called “blogging experts”. Stuff like this is pure gold, just pure gold.

    I already use some of the stuff that was listed there, but I have to disagree with you on one thing. The new version of Safari is FAR superior to firefox.

    But the rest of the article is great. Adium is an AMAZING IM tool, especially when you custom skin it, it looks great. Flickr Uploader inspired me to start uploading my semi-pro photography, and it’s gotten me a fair bit of traffic. Skype is cool, but somewhat useless to me, but I’ve used it before mainly to talk to people in Europe from the US. Keynote is great, not really for blogs, but what it shines for is when you write something REALLY good, like say, this post for example, you can convert it into a stunning looking presentation. Then publish it with the other iLife and iWork ’08 tools.

    I find Instantshot to be somewhat worthless actually, when you consider that in OS X 10.5 you can use Cmd+Shift+3 to take a full screen shot, and Cmd+Shift+4 to get a draggable selection box screenshot. Much faster, and it saves it right to desktop for you.

  20. MitchMcDad: iWeb USED to be too limited for a blogging tool. But if you have iLife ’08 it is much better since now you can install any kind of HTML code you want.

    The biggest downside to iWeb is that it’s really designed to use mac.com, so unless you want your blog to be hosted at yourmacdotcomusername.mac.com you might be better off finding a better tool.

  21. I like to use MacJournal for some of my blog posts.

  22. Darren,

    As a fellow impassioned fan of Macs, thanks for the list.

    I love Inspiration, the outlining/diagramming program, for getting my thoughts together for blogging. It’s also great for other diagramming like mapping a website’s structure.

    I use MS Entourage for keeping my notes on blog ideas, half-finished posts, etc. Then I paste the post into Dreamweaver to make sure things are looking good and functioning well before posting. It takes an extra minute but I prefer it to discovering the boo-boo after posting. Dreamweaver would be expensive to purchase as a blog-previewing tool, but I use it for my work so it’s already here.



  23. Very good suggestions! I found Picnik to be a very good online photo editing tool. It’s nice because it integrates with Flickr, and allows you to keep your photos hosted online. It provides most of the features you see in ImageWall…..just FYI

  24. I just discovered TextWrangler for handling xhtml etc. Super smooth.

  25. thanks everyone for your comments. Also for those who suggested other apps – you’ve just given me something to do this weekend!

  26. I found the newly free Netnewswire a really excellent feeds reader. Now that I’m using it I wonder how I managed without it..

  27. BBEdit has proved an invaluable tool when modifying my blog template! May be worth a look for those who are happy to edit HTML!

  28. I use MacBook and I’m very proud of this post… :)
    Thank you very much for this review. A good list ;)

  29. Excellent list, started to write a comment on how easy it is to use Keynote for website/blog graphics (using the Export function together with ImageWell). But I got over enthusiastic, so put it into this Photoshop Smackdown post. Realise you are already using Keynote graphs for your posts so are probably doing it this way, but figure Export is such a useful feature for Mac users it is worth highlighting. There are links in the post to some Apple tutorials that show more detail.

  30. I use MarsEdit for writing blog posts and NetNewsWire/ NewsGator for reading RSS. It’s all quite handy how natural it feels compared to the other OS X apps I use.

  31. If you want to buy a Mac, the cheapest one they sell is the Mac mini ($600 new). Bring your own keyboard, mouse, and display.

  32. Hmmm… I love GiMP for image editing, Inkscape for creating vector drawings (banners, etc). For FTP, I found OneButton FTP to be very straight forward and reliable. Nvu is useful for to check any layout changes I might be making (it’s like FrontPage but Open Source) and of course, I use NeoOffice. I’m a fan of open source softwares. Free, easy, and supported. Can’t ask for more than that. :)

    I agree with you that Firefox is much handier than Safari. But both are 200 times better than IE. ;)


  33. Great tools

  34. I’m a Mac user and use some of these tools everyday. Thanks for a great list, Darren. I thought you might like to know that Skitch is now in public beta, so no waiting to use it.

  35. I’ve been using Text Edit and Adium. Another tool I like for Mac is the Taco HTML editor. A free HTML tool to construct documents and works pretty well. Thanks for the other tips going to look into a few of these for my laptop.

  36. Ecto has totally changed how I blog! It’s great for handling links & adding images, which to me is the most tedious aspect of blogging as I prefer to focus on my actual writing. I also love that I can very easily upload my images onto my web host. Really great recommendation!!

  37. For managing tasks, I jumped from iGTD to OmniFocus. I couldn’t get MailTags to work after Leopard and the ability to record tasks from any program is critical. Plus, OmniFocus has this built in and doesn’t depend on a secondary app to git ‘er done.

  38. Has anyone noticed how imagewell doesn’t work as well since their upgrade in the past few weeks? I’m on a mac, so not sure if I’m the only one who noticed that pictures now look fuzzy once I edit them.

  39. I just read your post on Anywired’s “Under The Hood” interview. Gina of Lifehacker did one too. I’m fascinated to discover what gear others are using, I just hope it doesn’t start to hurt my credit card!!

  40. I can’t believe no one said anything about Quicksilver! I use a MAC and could not function without this cool little application that runs in the background. I disabled the “Apple-Spacebar” shortcut for spotlight, and I use it to launch Quicksilver. Go look up what this little FREE utility can do on Google, YouTube, anywhere. It rocks and I can launch applications with only a few keystrokes. I no longer have to go to my applications folder to hunt through the list of programs. I can launch my web browser and go straight to my ebay account simply by pressing “Apple/Command”-The letter “E”-BAM I am there and I am logged into my account too.

    Don’t use a MAC without Quicksilver! Don’t do it. :-)


  41. Stephanie says: 08/16/2008 at 2:10 pm


    I’m a new blogger and thus far, I have successfully established a domain name, acquired hosting from hostgator.com & installed WordPress.
    Now I’m really struggling with getting an FTP on my Mac.
    I have Mac OS X Version 10.4 and it appears to me that the FireZilla FTP download supports 10.5 or newer … are there no other FireZilla download options for Mac users with an older version of OS X?
    After FireZilla wouldn’t work, I tried CyberDuck, which loaded on my computer, but looks nothing like the tutorial I’ve been using (modeled after FireZilla); therefore, I’m unfamiliar with how it works and it doesn’t look like it’s connecting to my site at all.
    I can’t find any good help docs or forums on either of these programs and am feeling pretty lost right now. HELP, PLEASE!

  42. Stephanie,

    CyberDuck is a single-pane FTP application. When you make a successful connection to your server, you’ll simply see the files on your server in CyberDuck. You can drag and drop files between your server (i.e. CyberDuck’s window) and your Mac.

    FileZilla has two panes: one for files on your machine and one for files on the server. That’s how a lot of FTP applications work. You shuttle files back and forth, from local machine to server, keeping a similar structure on both.

  43. I also recommend that you add EventBox to the list. It’s a very interesting software where you can include “all” of your social networks.

    This way you don’t need to log in to facebook, twitter, digg, reddit and so on (even rss). It handles everything, and it works great (I have just been testing it a short while).

    For more info see: http://thecosmicmachine.com/

  44. Thanks for this great list. I switched to Mac this week (new Macbook) and your list has saved me a huge amount of time collecting it all on my own :-)

  45. So what do you use to actually build your blog? I started out with iWeb, but I’m not pleased with the way it works with Google. Any advice?

  46. I don�t usually reply to posts but I will in this case. WoW :)

  47. You know I have been looking at many posting the last three or four months about blogging and I have not found most to be as insiteful as this one is about about the programs that are insightful and very helpful to a blogger like me. I appreciate the help.

    I learned of this site only a couple days ago, but it has already hit the top of my RSS feeder.

    Thank you.

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