17 Essential Mac Apps for Web Designers

February 3, 2009

We use Macs at DesignHammer for all of our Web design and development needs. There are PCs in the office too, but only for the cross-platform and cross-browser testing of websites.

Several months ago, as a PC user, my perception of Macs was that they were overpriced technology that gave graphic and Web designers an excuse to feel elite. As I learned my way around OS X at DesignHammer as a Web designer and developer, it became evident that Macs serve as more than eye candy. They're actually practical for getting work done!

Below is a list of Mac applications I've discovered that catalyze my workflow.

1. Firefox (Web Browser) Free
Firefox has a host of plugins that are crucial for Web developers: Web Developer toolbar, Firebug, and more. Indispensable for building and testing websites.

2. Photoshop (Image Editor) Commercial
Yes, it costs one Alex, but it's the industry's most robust image editing tool. You're welcome to explore the alternatives.

3. TextMate (Text Editor) Shareware
Simple and powerful with the capability to use Subversion built-in. Text editor alternatives include BBEdit and Coda. Subversion GUI alternatives include Versions and Cornerstone. You'd be in good shape with any of these.

4. CSSEdit (CSS Editor) Shareware
Edit CSS files with ease. The autocomplete and Visual Editors win me over; they remind me of all the available properties that can be applied to an element.

5. MAMP Pro (Local Web Server) Shareware
Turn your computer into a local Web server for quick testing of code. MAMP is free with fewer features.

6. xScope (Web Design Tools) Shareware
Magnify and measure windows on your screen or elements in a window. Loupe, one of the tools in the suite, is useful for instantly finding out what color is being used for a particular pixel.

7. Transmit (FTP) Shareware
Drag'n'drop files from one side of Transmit to the other side of Transmit and you're done! Files: transferred.

8. On The Job (Time Tracker) Shareware
Track how much time you spend on clients, projects, and jobs.

9. SpamStopper (Email Encoder) Free
Want to display an email address on your website but afraid that spam bots will harvest it? Use SpamStopper to encode the email address as funky HTML characters that deter spam bots but look normal to regular website visitors.

10. VMware Fusion (OS Virtualization) Shareware
Run Microsoft Windows on your Mac without having to restart. Good for testing websites in a variety of browsers. Alternatives: Parallels and VirtualBox.

11. OnyX (OS X Maintenance & Optimization) Free
Configure hidden parameters of your Mac to your heart's desire. As a bonus, OnyX allows you to add a Develop menu to Safari.

12. Quicksilver (Application Launcher) Free
Open Quicksilver to search for and launch applications. But that's not all! You can also email, copy, and compress files on-the-fly. Useful for accessing applications that you don't want to clutter your dock.  After it's installed, press Control + Space and type in the application you want to load.  When it shows up, press enter.

13. ColourMod (Color Picker) Free
ColourMod is a dashboard widget for picking a color. Easy to access and use. Quicker than loading Photoshop just to choose a color.

14. Integrity (Link Checker) Free
Integrity checks all the links on a website you specify and identifies which links are broken, a necessary step before going live.

15. Things (Task Organizer) Shareware
Keep track of which projects are due when. Syncs with iPhone. Good for getting things done.

16. k-notes (Note Taker) Free
k-notes is a dashboard widget for jotting notes.

17. LittleSnapper (Website Screenshots) Shareware
Take screenshots of Web pages and save in a variety of image formats. Integrates with QuickSnapper and Flickr for image sharing goodness.