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My Top Productivity Apps of 2011

  1. OmniFocus (also versions for iPad and iPhone)
  2. Byword
  3. OmniOutliner Pro
  4. nvAlt
  5. Launchbar
  6. 1Password
  7. Dropbox
  8. Marked
  9. Pathfinder
  10. Scrivener

Runner Ups: Fantastical, Soulver, TextExpander, Sparrow

OmniFocus was my most-used app of the year. It formed the basis for how everything got done all year long and got stronger as I was able to better determine how to get the most out of it. The Review mode worked best on iPad so I did almost all of my reviewing on there. The ability to access it from anywhere on the iPhone meant that that’s how I did most of my quick entry. Integrating the iPhone with Siri made it even more helpful. The desktop app is extremely powerful because of Perspectives, the ease of use and the level of customizability.

I did a lot of writing in Byword this year. I thought it would be the year of Scrivener for me but Byword was just enough writing tool to get the job done. I find I spend far too much time fucking around with Scrivener and less time just writing so Byword is my go-to app. The ability to write straight in markdown is key and having it integrated so easily with Marked is extremly powerful.

OmniOutliner Pro and nvAlt transformed my workday. I take all of my notes, using my Macbook Air, and sync everything to Dropbox (which forms the hub of everything written). Every month, I’ll export my notes from OmniOutliner format to plain text and store them in Dropbox for easy searching using nvAlt. nvAlt, it turns out, is amazing. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to integrated it into my workflow but somehow it is used for pretty much everything.

Launchbar does all of my app launching as well as simple math, quick Safari navigation and more.

1Password is still a key to getting things done quickly for me. I want to be as secure as possible so having different password for every site and a way to quickly access them is a great way to keep my terrible memory from getting in the way.

Dropbox is the hub. I wish I could say iCloud is, but it isn’t. Using text files like I do, Dropbox is the ideal solution for me. The fact that so many iPad, iPhone and Mac apps integrate so well with Dropbox makes it essential to the day-to-day use of all of my devices.

Kudos to Brett Terpstra for being in my top 10 list twice, this time with Marked. It is, at its heart, a Markdown preview tool, but with some forethought, it can be a document formatting app (using PDF printing), conversion app (I use it to convert OmniOutliner notes into text) and nvAlt live preview (using Brett’s Markdown watcher utility scripts). And its cheap. Go buy it.

Pathfinder is my Finder replacement. It has tons of great features. I have the drawer on the left with running processes and use the integrated Terminal window more than I thought I would.

Scrivener is still awesome for larger work. I write up white papers, research papers and will someday work on a great American novel or a sitcom script in it. For now, I’ll tweak it to become a long form Markdown editor and try to get the watcher script to work with it.

I’ve written about TextExpander before and it is damn helpful. I have it on iOS too and tend to use it quite a bit. It’s one of those apps that just sits in the background, saving you time everytime you sit down to write anything.