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.
ecto 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.
My 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.
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.
I’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 (a Firefox sidebar Add-on).
Flickr 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.
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.
InstantShot 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.
If 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.
Adium 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.
Skype 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.
Firefox 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.
Sometimes 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.
It 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.
I’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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