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My Essential Software


I spend most hours of most days behind a computer.

And I don't like it one bit. I'd rather be doing all kinds of other things.

So I'm obsessed with working efficiently and effectively. I want to automate everything possible. I hunt to find the best tools to save my all-too-limited time and brain power.

I've been this way as long as I can remember. It boggles my mind that everyone else isn't this way. How can you willingly waste your life when you're an hour of research away from finding a solution?

I think, in fact, that most people do want better tools. But they won't call timeout on their current problem — seemingly letting things get worse in the short term — to find a permanent fix.

Whenever I'm forced to get on a new computer without my essential software, I feel lost and basic things take way too long. I end up installing the same software over and over.

I want to share the essential software I use to run my life and work so you can benefit from my research. I plan to keep this list updated, and I'll write and link to a longer post about each tool.

My Essential Software


"OmniFocus is powerful task management software for busy professionals," its makers say. That about sums it up.

I've been using OmniFocus since 2012 — when I started to get super busy between multiple productions and Tortuga — and I had been struggling to find a perfect and capable-enough task manager for years at that point.

It hasn't let me down in the last 12 years.

OmniFocus is the one thing that allows everything else in my life to work.

It'll take you a few days to learn the software. But if you commit to it, OmniFocus will keep you organized and stress free.


You probably know about Dropbox. That doesn't make it unimportant.

Access your files everywhere, and easily share with people.

It integrates better with the Mac than all the other solutions.


TextExpander is the best text expansion tool.

We all type the same things — like our address and common websites — over and over. What a waste of time.

TextExpander allows you to speed up your typing by creating shortcuts for all those common phrases, as well as more complicated uses.


Obsidian is my note-taking tool of choice.

It's fast, flexible, and extensible through thousands of plugins.

If you take a few notes a week and don't think much abou it, stick with Apple Notes.

If you write a lot or are an obsessive notetaker, I can't recommend Obsidian enough.


Raycast is a fast and free (of course there's a paid upgrade) app launcher for the Mac.

It replaces Spotlight. Instead of touching the mouse and searching for what you need, use the keyboard to open anything instantly.

Raycast can do all kinds of things like function as a calculator and integrate with other apps. It also can replace the functionality (to some degree) of other utilities, including TextExpander and Paste that are on this list.


Paste makes your Mac's clipboard just work.

The clipboard becomes endless and syncs between your computers, phone, and other devices. You can search for what you've copied.

Makes all kinds of projects go much faster.


Superhuman is the best and fastest email experience I've ever had. But... It's incredibly expensive at $30 per month.

Like most people, my life is run between a few email accounts. It sucks up way too much time

When we had a baby, all of a sudden I had way less time. All the inbetween moments that I used to use to clear my inbox were gone.

Superhuman allows me to get to inbox zero easily everyday. It probably saves me hours a week.

I value my time way more than $30 per hour. It's become a no-brainer.

CleanShot X

CleanShot is everything you want a screenshot tool to be. For $29, every problem you have taking, editing, and sharing screenshots and screen recordings is fixed.

Readwise Reader

Readwise Reader is an upgraded solution for read-it-later apps like Pocket or Instapaper. It's designed for power users, and it handles RSS, newsletter subscriptions, PDFs, and ebooks.

I think the most important use case is clearing my email inbox from newsletter subscriptions.

If you find your phone or browser's default solution lacking, checkout Readwise Reader.

Final Draft

For years, I hated Final Draft. It was clunky and ugly (it still is), and it froze too often.

I tried to replace it with everything I could. I loved writing in Fountain.

But I kept finding I needed Final Draft's revision and tagging features, and I hated going between software. Just as importantly, Final Draft became stable and stopped crashing.

Additionally, Final Draft added excellent outlining features that match what I love about writing in Fountain.

I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb (or, in this case, Final Draft). More on its new outlining features in an upcoming post.

CapCut Editor

CapCut for Mac is the newest addition to this list. Think of the software as a super-charged iMovie.

CapCut doesn't replace Premiere or Avid.

What it does is allow you to get video ready to share on the internet in a fraction of the time as other solutions.

Their automated captioning, as well as their voice and video correction, are incredible time savers.

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