b*designs :: on my dock

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This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for awhile. I’m always curious what applications others use regularly, so I thought I’d show you mine (and I want to hear yours, so comment away). It’s taken awhile, but I’ve managed to reorganize and refine my dock into a configuration that really jives with my workflow. I’m sure I’ll add and take away many more times, but for now, this is the line-up of my most-used apps. From right to left;

MAIL :: Does this even require an explanation?

THINGS :: Love this app! It’s a bummer that it costs so much. I will say that (for me) it’s worth every penny. I use it to organize to-do’s, lists of upcoming blog posts, lists of admin tasks I need to tackle, house projects, etc, etc, etc. It’s great for wrangling a bunch of ideas, tasks and things into one organized space. You can tag to your heart’s content, and it even syncs with iCal (a feature I don’t use right now). It’s always open, and I have to say, this app helps me stay sane.

iCAL :: A year ago, I had a paper calendar with a few things scrawled on the pages. It was a mess, and honestly, I mostly relied on my memory. It’s a wonder that I didn’t miss several important events. It’s taken awhile, but I am now fully and firmly committed to iCal. I love the color coding for categories, which allows me to turn personal and/or work stuff on and off as I wish. I keep project schedules in here, plus meetings, personal stuff, bill reminders, etc. It’s great. Love it, and can’t live without it anymore!

FIREFOX :: I know that there are newer (better, faster, stronger) browsers out there, but I’m still loyal to good old Firefox. I know it, and it works for me. ‘Nuff said.

iTUNES :: Sometimes I stream Pandora from my browser, but if not, then it’s almost a guarantee that iTunes will be open. Currently, I’ve been on a Brandon Flowers kick. He is tiding me over until Mat Kearney comes out with his new album.

TWEET DECK :: Admittedly, I’ve been neglecting Twitter. It requires too much brain space to stay in the game, so this one hasn’t been getting much use. But I do pop in daily to tweet a link to my blog post, plus an occasional comment here or there. At any rate, this app makes managing Twitter a breeze. There are four or five columns, which allow you to display separate lists, mentions, direct messages, and/or all friends. You can even sync it with your Facebook account (not a feature I currently use). Basically, it helps corral a lot of info and stuff into one nice, organized place.

EVERNOTE :: I’d heard great things about this app for a long time before I actually became a believer. At first I couldn’t get the hang of it, but now I can’t imagine life without Evernote. It syncs with my iPad, so any notes I take on there automatically show up on my iMac. You can set up various notebooks (such as “client notes”, “inspiration”, and “good info”) and your “notes” can include anything from written to sound clips, images, or screen captures. You also can tag to your hearts content. And there is an Evernote add-on that goes in your toolbar at the top of your screen, making it easy to type, capture and clip directly to the app from anywhere at anytime. Oh, and it’s free. Have I convinced you yet??

IMAGE CAPTURE :: Used daily to download images. I like organizing my photos my way, so I don’t use iPhoto. This is just a basic app for getting the images off the camera and onto the computer.

PHOTOSHOP CS4 :: Used almost daily to create blog layouts and edit photos for posts. Photoshop is raster based, which means that images are based on a grid of pixels. You can layer, mask, distort, apply filters and effects and do all sorts of crazy things. This is probably my favorite program of the (Creative) Suite, mostly because I am so comfortable working in Photoshop, and I know how most of the features function.

BRIDGE CS4 :: I use Bridge to preview and choose images for blog posts. It allows me to star favorites, and select groups to see how they look together.

ILLUSTRATOR CS4 :: It took me a few years to really fall in love with Illustrator, but I’ve finally come around. I use Illustrator for all logo work, plus I often use it for creating elements for blog designs (which I then import into Photoshop). Illustrator is a vector based program, which means that images are created using points, lines, and curves that are all based on mathematical equations. It sounds complicated, but in reality it’s not so bad. The cool thing about vector graphics is that you can create something really small (say 1″ x 1″) and then resize it so it’s HUGE (say 5′ x 5′) without losing any quality. This is because the graphics are not pixel-based which, when stretched, will appear blurry and lose quality.

INDESIGN CS4 :: InDesign is a layout program, so I use it primarily for print design (which I don’t do that much of anymore). It’s great for combining elements, such as a photo that was edited in Photoshop, and a logo that was created in Illustrator with text that is typed out and set in InDesign. It’s the only way to go for multi-page project, such as books or magazines.

FINDER :: It’s name says it all. I use this to find files and folders on a regular basis.

Okay, and a few honorable mentions that I use frequently, but that don’t live on the dock: Fetch (for accessing my FTP), FontBook (for finding fonts) and Address Book. I’ve also played with On the Job, Bento and Billings, but haven’t fallen for any of them. I’m currently on the hunt for a great project management software. Any tips?

Okay, your turn. What apps can you not live without?

  1. ashley says:

    I find myself using pretty much the same programs as you as a fellow freelance designer! :) I do recommend MacFreelance for your project management. ITS AWESOME. You can create invoices custom to your design, invoice by time, rate, or set project amount. Its very versitale. You can track payments and do pretty much anything a freelancer needs to do. Highly recommend it, as I have found no flaws whatsoever. Good luck :)

  2. nellie says:

    I am so glad you shared this. Just the other day I was trying to remember the “todo” app that you had mentioned that you use. I tried to search your blog to find it, but no luck…maybe it was in your video??? I dont remember. But anyways…perfect timing for me…I need a todo list app :) I will check out “Things”

  3. Jamie says:

    I downloaded Evernote last night on my iPad – I’m excited to try a new app that could connect my iMac notes with my iPad. I liked this post as it’s fun to hear what applications/programs you use all day as a designer.

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