My Personal Tech Stack

From time to time, a friend switches to Mac, and I end up recommending apps and software they could try. I intend to keep this page as up-to-date as possible both for my benefit and to share with you.

I've been using a Mac for more than a decade after being a PC gamer, with my first one being a great little Mac Mini.

These days I mostly use the latest generation of Macbook Pro I can that then I hook up to an external monitor and Magic trackpad. As far as audio, I prefer overhead earphones with Arctic Steelseries being my favorite.

If you're thinking of getting a Mac (or any Apple hardware), I'd recommend checking out MacRumors Buyers Guide that simply spells it out and tell you if you can expect a new model to come out next month.

Mac Podcasts and App Reviews

I would recommend if you want to get the most of your Mac to check out the Mac Power Users, Automators, and App Stories podcast.

The Sweet Setup has the best Mac app roundups that they frequently update, while Federico Viticci's Mac Stories has the best mix of Mac app recommendations, tips, and relevant news.

David Spark's blog (the host of Mac Power Users) is also a great read, while John Gruber's Daring Fireball (the guy who also co-created Markdown) has provided essential Apple analysis for more than a decade.

Discovering you can play around with the menubar is something that adds so much potential to your Mac because the menubar is always at hand.

Bartender Is Essential

To take control of your menubar and not have dozens of little icons pile up, you need Bartender. The first thing it does is give you an extended menubar by hiding items you don't need to see all the time. Using Bartender, you can drag-and-drop rearrange, hide, search as well as trigger menubar items.

  • Meeter to show next calendar event and quickly join calls;
  • ChatMate for WhatsApp;
  • Flagtimes to show other time zones, specifically US;
  • iStatMenus to show performance of my Mac;
  • CleanMyMac menubar menu and summary;
  • Simplify menubar summary and menu for Spotify music.

Writing To Deadline - In Ulysses

While I've tried Bear and some other Mac writing apps, I keep going back to Ulysses because of its simple interface and powerful filters. Also because the app was created for novelists and one day I'll use it for its intended purpose.

Messaging With Texts

While I'm one of the Stackers that supported the multi-app browser Stack, I've realized I only used Slack in it, and honestly - Stack was slow... so went back to full screen, dedicated spaces (virtual windows on Mac) for Slack and Discord, as well as using WhatsApp's and Telegram's official apps in my menubar.

That worked, but in the end, I discovered Texts for Mac, Windows and Linux which is a really powerful multi messaging app (remember Trillian in the good old ICQ, MSN days?) that also has an inbox zero email mentality. It's in private beta, but you can sign up for it and so far - it's really good and supports all the messenger apps and social network DMs I use:

  • Slack
  • Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Telegram
  • Discord
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

One of my favorite setups now is to have a dedicated space (50/50 - more on spaces later) for Texts and the default Slack app:

Texts on the left (sidebar blurred) and Slack on the right.

Keep in mind: Texts is a messaging (DM) app. So the focus with networks like Slack and Discord is a focus on individual and group messages, not channels! This isn't bad - it's actually a big advantage since Texts can have a messaging UI similar to iOS Messages.

Focus With Spaces

Speaking of the 50/50 setup for Texts/Slack, what are spaces? Spaces in Mission Control are Macs' virtual desktops so basically: Fullscreen for apps so that they have your full attention.

You can move between them with shortcuts or in my case swiping with three fingers on the Macbook Pro trackpad or Magic Trackpad when I'm on an external monitor.

Personally, I use spaces to always have my most important apps to focus on:

  • Ulysses, my writing app, is first so I can just start or continue writing;
  • Texts and Slack together, for communication;
  • Spark for email so I can check my email when I want since I don't have email notifications turned on;
  • Spotify for music.

How To Lock Your Spaces' Order

Spaces by default rearrange based on most recent use, but if you want to lock an order, just go into System preferences > Mission Control and then uncheck the "Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use".

I explain Spark and Spotify more so keep on reading...

Spark For Inbox Zero... Hopefully

I've used Google App... What, it's called Google Workspace now? Fine... I've used Gmail PRO for years and thus relied on the web app which hasn't been ideal because of the web app's speed. Gmail's featureless iOS app isn't any better either.

So after testing Mimestream and Spark, I've switched to Spark because of its speed, native send later, reminder features and fairly good iOS app. Mimestream is definitely faster but doesn't support "send later" since it's not available through the API.

Spark on the other hand hacks its own scheduling which is fine. I also kind of like the fact that Spark is made by the Ukrainian developer Readdle. #slavsoftware

I only use the Mac and iPhone app. I'm sure the watchOS one is fine too.

Before Spark, I used a solution for reminding me of emails that were 'due' that now I use for filtering - Sanebox. While not cheap, it's a great filter and for now I'll be using it alongside Spark. Sanebox has a guide on how to use it with Spark.

Firefox + Gmail?

If you decide you don't want to use either Spark or Mimestream and want to use Gmail's web app in Firefox, then Michale Leggett's Simplify plugin for Firefox. It makes it faster and just better.

CleanMyMac For Keeping Your MacOS Fast

While MacOS is great, you do have to clean it up from time to time and the easiest utility to check for large and old files, optimize your system and remove malware is probably CleanMyMac.

Note: While CleanMyMac is great, its menu bar app can eat up resources and slow your Mac down. So if you don't need it to see your stats (I use iStatMenus for that), I'd suggest turning off CleanMyMac's menu bar app.

Spotify for Music

While Rdio and Deezer are available in Croatia and I even use YouTube Premium which would make YouTube Music free for me, I still prefer Spotify. I initially used Spotify in Croatia thanks to US gift cards, but today - it's finally available and the catalog includes most Croatian albums I listen to. Why Spotify?

  • Great recommendation engine;
  • The best interface among music streaming platforms;
  • Lots of friends use it so Spotify's feed is actually useful;
  • Great cross-device support (ex. control Spotify on iOS from your Mac;
  • Lots of Mac Spotify mini-apps and integrations with other apps.

As far as said mini apps, I like using Simplify for Mac which gives you a desktop alubm art widget and menu bar

Inspired by Paul Stamatiou's Software I use and Brian Lovin's Stack pages.

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