I’ve put together a comprehensive list of my favourite (non-science) applications that I think everyone (especially those working in science) should be using.

I will be writing about each of these Apps in more detail soon, including a breakdown of the alternatives I’ve tried and reasons why I have settled on these particular choices. I also plan to write up articles on each of my favourite Apps, describing tips and tricks for setting them up and using them to get the most out of each program.

For now, here’s a simple list of some of my favourites. I hope it will be useful for other people out there looking to either set themselves up on a brand new Mac (e.g. new PhD students or Postdocs), or for people interested in discovering new Mac apps. For each category, I have tried to list my favourite options in rough order of personal choice. In many cases I use more than one option (depending on what I need to get done). I encourage you to give each of them a go, see what works for you and let me know how it goes (or if you think I’ve missed anything off the list!).


πŸ“¨ Email application

Microsoft Outlook (or Mail.app/Spark/Browser-based)

πŸ’¬ Communicating with your team, collaborators & friends

Zoom | Slack | Clocker

πŸ§‘πŸ½β€πŸ’» WEB BROWSER

Google Chrome (or Safari/Brave/Vivaldi/Firefox)

Essential Chrome Extensions I will cover these in a future article.: Password manager (e.g. Bitwarden) | Cold Turkey Blocker | Full Window Youtube | Grammarly for Chrome | Honey | Hypothesis | Loom for Chrome | News Feed Eradicator | Paperpile extension | ReClipped | RescueTime | Save to Pocket | Speechify for Chrome | uBlock


πŸ—“ For organising your calendar

Fantastical (or native Calendar.app/Microsoft Outlook)

πŸ“Œ A To-do list app (i.e. Task Manager)

Todoist | Monday | Trello | Notion

⏱ Time trackers & blockers

Toggl | Rescue Time | ColdTurkey Blocker | SelfControl | Be Focused


πŸ“ A decent text editor (or four)

Sublime Text | Atom | GNU Emacs | Vim

✍️ Note-taking

Roam Research | Notion | Evernote | Bear | Notes.app | Drafts | simple text editor (see above)

⌨️ A word processor

Google Docs | Microsoft Word

πŸ“„ A reliable reference manager (or several)

Paperpile | Zotero | Mendeley

πŸ—£ For presentation slides

Keynote | Google Slides | Microsoft Powerpoint


Illustrator | Indesign | Photoshop | GIMP | InkScape | BioRender


☁️ Backup & Cloud Storage System

CloudStor | iCloud | Time Machine (external harddrive) | OneDrive | DropBox

🌏 Remote Desktop Applications

AnyDesk | TeamViewer

πŸ” Password Manager

Bitwarden (or Lastpass/Dashlane/1Password)

🎬 A decent media player

VLC Player

πŸŽ™ For recording talks & tutorials

MouseposΓ© | Loom | OBS

πŸ‘Ύ Terminal alternative


βœ… Grammar check


πŸ“š For keeping up with literature

Feedly | I follow The Fraser Lab Method of following the scientific literature

🀯 Apps that you didn’t know you needed

BetterTouchTool or Magnet | For window management + more.
Amphetamine | For keeping your Mac awake.
Alfred | Spotlight search but better + more
TextSniper | For copying text from images/PDFs.
TextExpander | Saves you retyping common phrases.
f.lux | Blue-light filter