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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. I don’t use Mac :(
    but thank you very much for the great review.

  2. I’ve been using Ecto since you recommended it a few months ago, now I can’t imagine how I ever managed without it. It takes the technical pain out of writing blog posts (adding links, images etc.) and allows me to focus on the actual writing.

    Since switching to Mac a year ago I’ve found Pages really useful for creating e-book pdfs – it’s light years ahead of Word in terms of creating something attractive fairly quickly. http://www.apple.com/iwork/pages/

  3. Some useful tips here. I use iPhoto a lot, and Firefox. Everyone in my closest circle of friends uses Macs.

  4. Love it! Going to have to try out all of these…

    I’ve been drafting my posts in TextEdit, too.

  5. Great tools, as soon as I update to a mac.

    Now what would you recommend for PC users?

    Justin Dupre

  6. This is surreal…

    After reading so much about the great productivity apps on a Mac, about the ease of video editing and video chatting, I was warming up for the switch to a Mac.

    Two days ago (after an agonizing experience with video editing) I decided that I’m buying a Mac next week. I just hadn’t decided upon MacBook vs iMac yet. But video editing on a laptop doesn’t really appeal to me.

    Yesterday was the launch of MacBook Air, which made me decide to buy the iMac (huh?). The iMac offers a better solution for my current needs, and the Air is what I was looking for in a laptop.

    Today, you give me a list of all the essentials for my blogging activities on a Mac. Excellent timing! I’m deeply grateful.

    Curious to see what this wonderful world offers me tomorrow. A huge discount maybe…

  7. Thanks for the tips. Will try out the ones missing from my list.

    Keep up the great work :)

  8. I use pretty much all the apps you mention on my Mac book pro. One thing I do that I have found helpful in separate my RSS feeds. I have a few hundred in Google reader, but no more than 5 in Mail. This way I wont miss some of the most important feeds. I also separate my email. I have Gmail, and then another email address that goes to Mail.

    So I keep Mail open, and when something comes in, I jump at it. But it’s only the relevant important stuff that goes there.

  9. Oh, and I also use Mind Manager from Mindjet to do my planning and brain storming.

  10. Thanks for the tips. I need to go off and download a few of them.

    News Net Wire is one of the best RSS readers I’ve seen. Now it’s free I am delighted.

  11. Sadly I don’t have a mac yet. But I’m going to get one soon. Thanks for sharing all the tools.

  12. Skitch has such potential. I love the concept and am excited by this BETA so I can’t wait for it to roll out in full form.

  13. You might also consider giving MarsEdit a try.

  14. I’ve been exploring the idea of getting a Mac and this is a great resource for the software that I would use on it. Just started using Ecto for Windows and I’m quite impressed on what it can do.

    I’ll be bookmarking this page for future use.


  15. darren.

    Yet another great list – now do I make the switch to a Mac or not. Decisions, decisions….

    Don’t suppose you have an upcoming contest that just happens to be giving away a Mac, do you?

  16. Darren,

    I have been using most of the apps on your list. My differences are that I use Transmit for FTP and I use Camino for my browser. I also use Skitch’s screen capture for my captures. I especially love the Crosshair capture that is available.

    New reader to your site as I strive to make my blogs a little better. Thanks for all that you do.

  17. Hi Darren,

    nice list you have over here.

    I would suggest another RSS reader though:

    I used the lite version for awhile however the creators made the total version available for free.

    Thanks :-)

  18. I personally really don’t like this list.

    I’m also a (semi) Mac user and the only two apps from the list that I use are Adium and TextEdit. Why have a whole set of desktop apps? You >will

  19. Thanks for this. I have been looking for a definitive list of mac blogging applications and already use quite a few ( I love CyberDuck!)…I currently live on my mac at home but blog from an old XP box I remote to. The reason I go that far is that I enjoy using Windows Live Writer. I tried ecto in the past and it just didn’t seem as friendly and simple to use ans WLR…I’ll give it another shot at your recommendation.

  20. Nice post, darren. I’ll be checking out a lot of these once I move into the new home!

  21. In Europe, we don’t really use Macs as much as they do in the states (and Australia I guess) … Actually, most Macs here are Big Macs…

    Indeed most apps are also available on the PC and it’s still nice to see what your weapons of choice are Darren…

    Which, actually makes me think … Don’t you use an off line RSS feed reader as well ? Cause they can be really handy…

    Lex – http://www.newmediatype.com

  22. Nice list Darren. Thanks. As a busy student and aspiring writer Scrivener ( http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html ) is my one-stop DISTRACTION FREE writing tool of choice. It’s revolutionised my writing tasks.

  23. I use Keynote for charts & graphs, too, but mainly to create interactive Flash presentations that I embed in my WordPress blog.

    A quick example: http://blog.cathy-moore.com/?p=67

    To do it:

    1. Make your slide a size that will embed in your blog easily.

    2. Create your slideshow. Slide transitions don’t survive the export to Flash, but many object builds and the new animation effects do.

    3. If you want it to be interactive, make the presentation use hyperlinks only (in the Document inspector, under Presentation). You’ll need to include links, of course.

    4. Export to Flash.

    5. Upload to WordPress.

    6. Embed using the usual HTML object embed code or the Kimili Flash Embed plugin.

    One hitch: Embedded Flash doesn’t always appear where you want it to appear in your RSS feed. Some readers see the Flash at the beginning of the post. So I just write the post in such a way that it makes sense no matter where the Flash ends up.

  24. I recently purchased my first mac and I’m loving it.

    I went a little nuts on the apps

  25. Mac has always interested me… but I’ve never had an opportunity to try one yet. Hope something happens in the near future.

  26. Darren, this the thing I was looking for!

    I changed to Mac about 6 months ago and had been struggling to get all the necessary blogging (and other useful Win) stuff installed.

    Thanks for the info!

  27. Sorry for the double-post.-Browser glitch :)

    I personally really don’t like this list.

    I’m also a (semi) Mac user and the only two apps from the list that I use are Adium and TextEdit. Why have a whole set of desktop apps? You >will

  28. I already use most of the items on your list. But I definitely want to check out CaptureMe, and ImageWell. Thanks for sharing.


  29. I was testing out Ecto and MarsEdit and decided to go with Mars because of the ability to quickly edit a post in Textmate (where I composed my posts). Everything else is the same in my setup except I use Safari because I collect information through the clipping services in to DevonThink for research (this doesn’t work with Firefox). I have a hotkey on my mouse for clipping to a rich text note in devonthink for any articles I come across for future reference or blog writing.

    For longer writing of either posts or articles/books I am using Scrivener – which just rocks when you have a longer bit of writing that you are writing.

  30. Wow, that last sentence points to my grammatical and eloquent skill in prose…. lol

  31. You’re totally going to have to poll the audience and get their advice on the best tools for PC users, now, Darren. :)

  32. I personally use Transmit rather than CyberDuck for my FTP needs.

    As a photo blogger I would have to say Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS3 are two daily applications I use when post processing my photographs and resizing them for the web.

    As for my RSS reader, I use NewsFire but I will probably start using Google Reader when I get five minutes to transfer my subscriptions.

  33. Freeverse has a great tool for focusing your attention one program at a time. Think is free and it allows you to darken your screen, illuminating the one app that you are using.

    This is a must download app if you’ve got a huge screen and find it difficult to focus on your writing. (mac only)

  34. I’ve looked at all of these and used a couple of them. I have Text Edit, but rarely use it preferring, of all things, AppleWorks for quick word processing tasks… I also like that poor old abandoned program for quick and dirty illustrations.

    For photo editing, I have Photoshop and ImageReady. I also have ImageWell, but I could never get the hang of it.

    For screen caps, MacOS X does a fine job for me and I don’t work with video enough to care.

    But, really, I find that more and more I am browser based… I use Google Docs, iGoogle, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Remember the Milk (what?!? No Google? Not affiliated with Google… just like software that works and is not platform dependent) and Scribefire.

    That said, this is a good list for a person that doesn’t mind being platform dependent and I would agree with most of the selections.

  35. Great 14 Tips! Thanks….

  36. Nice list!

    I started using Cyberduck a few weeks ago but used Yummy FTP for a couple of weeks before that.

    Cyberduck has a single pane (for the destination directory) while Yummy FTP has two panes (for the source and destination directory).

    I like both a lot so far.


  37. Great post. Very helpful, thanks.

  38. Oh reminds me of a post that I made awhile back when I was setting up my MacBook Pro.

    If you’d like, check out my 17 Must Have Mac Apps.

  39. Great list! I am going to check out a few of apps that I haven’t heard of before (like TaskPaper).

    When I first started using my MacBook I used Cyberduck… but since I have started using FileZilla (http://filezilla-project.org/) and like it much better.

    Its more like a classic FTP app. with a “local” and “remote” side… and it works on windows and mac which is a big plus for me.

  40. I’m a quicksilver junkie, and I twitter with a script for that. Ecto rules, as does its sister app, endo. captureme is definitely on my to-download list. That was a hole that needed plugging.

    oh! you might like my most recent blog post called “Success’s Six S’s” Hahahaha, I know. I write a blog for new photographers, and, while it’s directly aimed at that group, there’s stuff there for bloggers, too!

    check check it. word to your mother.

  41. I’ve used most of these tools, but the most useful to me is TextEdit. I know it’s a simple tool, but it’s great for pre-publish formatting. It’s also a no-worries way to save a post that’s not finished yet. My other favorite is definitely Keynote. You can create simple animations with it that will export as Quicktime videos and can be added to your blog to entertain and educate simultaneously. I love it.

  42. Wow, awesome list – thanks Darren, that’s a huge time saver. Now to try out the programs on your list that I haven’t…

    All success

  43. I use NetNewsWire (now free!) for off-line reading and MarsEdit for writing blog posts. Google Docs allegedly lets you write blog posts, but I have yet to get it working with my host.

  44. Thanks for this nifty list, Darren. I’ll have to give some of them a shot.

    My favourite Mac apps are MagiCal, Snitter, Journaler, and Quinn (a Tetris-like game that more distracts me from my blogging work :P).

  45. Is iWeb just to limited to be a main blog platform?

  46. Thanks Darren! I also use VLC to watch videos, MacIrssi for very geeky IRC chatting, and of course iTunes – essential for good blogging :)

  47. Great list, Darren! I just ordered an iMac last night. These applications will come in handy.

  48. I use the Flock browser for blogging and networking. It has the same service as ecto built into it. My favorite part of it is the web clips feature where you can drag images and text from the web into the sidebar and then straight into your text editor.

    Skitch looks like it will be a new tool, thanks.

  49. Justin – ‘Now what would you recommend for PC users?’

    Switch :-)

    Seriously – I’m not really sure as it’s been so long since I blogged on a PC.

  50. Good list – I use five of the apps you mentioned every day.

    I have to give shouts to two of my favorite apps that haven’t popped up yet – Shrook for RSS, and Seashore for quick image editing tasks.

    Can’t wait to try ecto. Is it possible to make it talk to a custom CMS?

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