Tools of the Trade 2015

I frequently have conversations about which programs I use on a regular basis. Depending on what I am working on, I go back and forth between quite a few tools.

I work on a Mac but also have Windows on Bootcamp. Since since I rarely work with windows at home I’ll limit this to Mac stuff. I do not have an iPad or an iPhone, which does influence a little what I use.

So this is where I am in early 2016.

Tools of the trade

Information and Project Management

For information and project management the tool I probably use the most is DevonThink. You have to try it to have a glimpse of its power and then adapt it to your workflow and vice versa. I have tried Evernote, but it just is not the same market as DevonThink. I also use Things, and Reminders, which comes with OSX. I also use Xmind for mind mapping and Scapple. Finally, I still use plain paper notes or notebooks. A couple of years ago I switched from Moleskine to Leuchtturm (much better quality overall).

This combo is not a perfect solution, but it works for me. I have tried Microsoft Project and Merlin. Both were overkill for my situation. Project and task management solutions really depend on your work circumstances, but also on how you work.

For bibliography management I use Bookends


For small documents I write text files in TextMate mostly (which I also use for CSS, HTML, and Php) or with Vim (basically a Unix text editor which also comes installed on OSX). For everyday writing and accumulating textual information I work with Mellel. I am on Word only occasionally when I need to interact with Word people.

For longer documents Adobe Framemaker was my solution of choice when I was on Windows. Upgrading Framemaker was just too expensive and is not developed on OSX. I have been working with \LaTeX for several years now. For the first stages of writing of any document that goes beyond a few pages I use Scrivener almost exclusively now. From Scrivener I transfer documents to Word if necessary or to \LaTeX if I can just send a pdf document to whoever needs my file. For more graphic design intensive documents I use Adobe InDesign (I am still on CS4 and use Photoshop and, to a lesser extent, Illustrator).


If I need slides for public speaking I go to Keynote.

My other tools are Path Finder, TextExpander, 1Password for password management, Yummy FTP for … well, FTP or simply the Terminal, ScreenFlow for screencasting, and Lightroom to manage my pictures.

In Short

That’s a lot of software. Most of them I probably don’t use to half their power. The programs I use the most are definitely DevonThink, TextMate, Mellel, Scrivener, Things, and Path Finder and the terminal for access to Unix.