This post is a love bomb for products I can't live without on desktop and a brief explanation of how I use those apps (another post for mobile coming separately later on). I'm doing this to document my own usage patterns (and to benchmark against you others) and I look forward comparing this list down the line as I'm confident it will constantly change dramatically, because the rate of innovation is high, being really sticky is seriously hard and network effects can always be challenged long-term.
Permanent dock and desktop.
Below is a screenshot of my desktop and dock on any typical day. The dock includes the apps I constantly use.
In general I like getting rid of anything I don't use or need at the time. Hence, I remove all apps from permanent placement on the dock and instead find them when needed using the CMD+space Spotlight search. It's faster than using the trackpad and makes the working environment less cluttered. I'm also pretty OCD about keeping my desktop clean, except for temporary stuff such as sorting a large number of documents across different folders or sometimes creating a temporary TextEdit file with notes and reminders for myself. Most note taking is obviously done in Evernote as seen on the dock, but Evernote feels like such a "permanent" destination, and with certain light-touch writings which are meant to be deleted I find myself preferring to put them on the desktop (clearly without the downside of not being able to sync across devices). But the apps I always have open and who have a permanent home in my dock are:
Twitter - Consumption of news and other real time content. With a custom shortcut (CMD+Ä - yea my keyboard is 🇸🇪) to open and close this app I frequently pop in to browse what's happening in the world according to a curated feed of mostly tech and startup personalities. I still believe in the importance of this app but I do recognize my usage has definitely dropped in the past years.
Skype - Meetings and IM. Although I'm not a particular fan of Skype I tend to use it daily. It's still the standard form of global communications with external connections when you can't meet in person. And I also have a small graph of personal friends I still chat with regularly here. I also have Skype connected to my Facebook account meaning I get all messages from FB delivered in my Skype client. It works ok for pure text communications, but ever since FB Messenger became more of a platform with plenty of apps integrating into it (like the ever so awesome Giphy) much of the messages aren't delivered correctly into Skype. Instead I find myself using Skype as a notification center for Messenger, and once I see a message coming in there I navigate directly to messenger.com. Where I think Skype actually still kills it is for international calling where I use it to a fraction of the cost instead of calling directly from my phone carrier. Also instead using the phone I find it
Evernote - Note taking. Used for all type of notes, most frequently documenting meetings, action lists, ideas, etc. I also have a couple of note cards to which I come back frequently, which includes weekly to do list, sales/fundraising/HR/product/etc. best practices, loyalty program IDs, startup ideas and blog post ideas. By dragging these to the shortcut section on the left hand side, they are always within quick reach when needed.
Slack - IM/chat. I'm constantly logged in to 3 Slack channels; HDWR, Creandum and 500 Startups. With HDWR I'd say that 100% of all our internal communications in channeled through Slack. With Creandum and 500 there's still a lot of email action which complements the Slack channel, although I'm hoping more and more of this is pushed into Slack as it's pretty astonishing how powerful this tool is and it's impacts on making your email inbox lightweight.
Chrome - Browse. For obvious reasons this is where most of my time is spent. More on primary web apps used below, but to pimp out my Chrome experience I'm highlighting my extensions used: 1Password (import passwords frictionless into sign in forms - more about the 1Password app below), Chromoji (ability to see and write emojis in Chrome - honestly don't think I need this extension anymore as it seems to be integrated into the OS nowadays), Email Hunter (find people's email addresses), Facebook GIF button (I love gifs and this gives me a button in FB comments to easily insert a gif), Feedly Mini (RSS feeder which I still use daily for all blogs I follow), Giphy for Gmail (gif ❤️, and I can easily import gifs into emails), Google Cast (for sending content from my laptop to my TV), New Tab Clock (a minimalistic new tab page), Rapportive (shows LinkedIn profiles in Gmail), Save to Pocket (button to save articles into Pocket - more about Pocket below), Simple Auto Scroll (read long articles without manually scrolling), Streak for Gmail (a life saver add-on in Gmail giving me possibilities to snooze emails, send emails later, see viewed emails, and more), Avast Online Security (browser security plugin attached to anti-virus software Avast Mac Security), and Search in a Giphy (!!!).
As seen in the screenshot above I also keep as few apps as possible on the menu bar. But the ones I have up there are awesome and I'm deeply addicted to them.
Google Drive - Cloud storage and file sharing. I have 3 Drive accounts; my personal Gmail, HDWR and 500 Startups. Unfortunately Drive only allows you to have one account on your computer, so I've hacked this by sharing a folder where I basically keep everything from my 500 and personal Gmail to my HDWR account. This gives me access to basically all files through one account. It's not perfect, especially for new files being shared with me, but it does an ok job. Having the ability to be logged into multiple accounts has to be something they're working on over in Mountain View...
Chrome Notifications - Notifications. Currently used more or less only for calender notifications, but I'm looking forward to see how Google Now will evolve and bring some AI into these few pixels.
1Password - Password management. As more of my life is going digital, ensuring a high level of online security becomes essential. 1Password took a while to set up, creating unique passwords for all services, but once I got it up I can't believe I managed to live without it. One shortcut (CMD+') opens up the 1Password window and all I need to do is to input my "master password" and the app autofills my unique password (and username) when logging into services online. This makes log in in so much easier than before, and the app also syncs across devices (using Dropbox) so I have all passwords with me at all times.
MailTab Pro for Gmail - Unread email notifications. I like being able to see the unread email count. I'm the kind of person who rarely goes through a day ending with +100 unread emails. I snooze (see Streak above) and archive emails quickly as they come in to manage my workflow. Since Google pulled back on its Google Notifier I haven't found a really good app for seeing my unread count in the menu tab, and this app isn't the most beautiful one but this app does the work. Would love to hear if there are better apps for this out there.
Dropbox - Cloud storage and file sharing again. Currently connected to my personal account, which only includes automatic camera uploads and my 1Password key chain, and my shared Creandum files. I was using Dropbox much more a few years ago but have seen myself migrate more and more over to Google Drive. Dropbox is superior to Google Drive when it comes to social sharing, but I prefer Google Drive due to its seamless integration with Google Docs (having all "files", cloud or not, in one folder in Finder makes sense).
Avast Mac Security - Free anti-virus and security tool for Mac. Don't believe just because you're not using Windows that you are 100% secure from this kind of crap. This app is always switched on but not visible anywhere on the dock or menu bar.
Gmail - Email. Needless to say email is still a primary tool for my professional life. Slack has helped bring down the noise in there but for external communications nothing beats it. With Gmail I use their 5 inbox tabs which automatically channels emails depending on sender, receiver and content into "different" inboxes. I also have all my different email accounts imported into one Gmail account, meaning I only need one email tab open, keeping everything in the same place. Because of the different email accounts I use I also use labels for all emails, both automatically filtering certain email and adding labels to them as well as manually archiving emails by moving them into specific labels. This in combination with my Streak extension have made me found a workflow which makes email pleasant and less overwhelming and noisy.
Google Hangouts - Video conferencing. Hangouts is by far the best online video conferencing software I've tried (much superior to Skype, WebEx and the others) although I still find myself struggle with it often. The integration into Google Calender makes it so easy to create a video URL in a meeting invite, and the tool is truly optimized for internal communications.
Sunrise - Microsoft owned these days, but the best calender app I've ever tried. I import all my different calendars (including the Warriors game schedule) into this one app giving a full view and access of all my activities and schedules. I also import all my Swarm check-ins into the calender to have a track record of physical locations over time. The latest "meet function" for scheduling 1on1 meetings is epic.
Google Docs - I very rarely use the Microsoft Office suite anymore (often only when working with someone else who requires it). The synchronous and collaborative work abilities are best in class, and the lightweight and easy sharing of files is superior to the old way of uploading and sending heavy files. However I still sometimes find Spreadsheets to be slower than using Excel (maybe due to lack of shortcuts and/or online latency), and when creating presentations that are meant to be beautiful I prefer Keynote as Slides presentations look like 💩.
Instagram - Personal networking. My primary go-to social network. Using it a lot on desktop throughout the day.
Facebook - Personal networking. For obvious reason. Still a lot of stuff happening here. Also using Messenger.com extensively as the site is less noisy for messaging and IM, and this is currently by far my most used messenger app exceeding usage in WhatsApp, SMS, Google Chat, etc. Cross-platform, permanent connection (no change of phone numbers or email address) and platform play with plenty of interesting app integrations. Well done Zuck!
LinkedIn - Professional networking. For other obvious reasons. I try to add a contacts as soon as I start working with them. But I do not accept connection requests from people I've never interacted with. I don't require (although prefer) a physical meeting, but I need to have at least spoken to the person over the phone and/or have had numerous email conversations related to this person's professional role. The more I use LinkedIn the pickier I've gotten in drawing the line of when to connect.
Pocket - Storing and reading websites/articles. I primary use Pocket to save articles and content which I like and want to be able to access in the future. Most of the time these are articles advice or frameworks related to my professional life. Each time I archive a website into Pocket I label it with relevant categories so I can easily find it when needed. I also use Pocket to some extent as my "to read list". Most of the time when I stumble upon an article I want to read (often through my RSS in Feedly, Twitter or some selected email newsletters I subscribe to) I simply have them open as a tab until I read them. But if the number of opened tabs are too many I use the Chrome extension to save the articles into Pocket.
Trello - Task management and project planning. All our work with HDWR is planned in Trello with tickets for each feature to build, feedback item to discuss, bug to report, etc.
There are also some other apps used frequently which don't get a permanent placement in the dock and are only surfaced when used.
Spotify - Music. By far the best music product in the world, and the pride of Swedish tech. My usage pattern with Spotify is keeping a playlist with all the latest songs I stumble upon and want to listen to, regardless of genre and type. This list is extended with material every time I hear something new I like, and each quarter I remove the oldest tracks on the list leaving me with an aggregate list of 12 months of fresh music. Each track added to the new list is also simultaneously added to a genre-specific playlist, for example my rap/hip hop list, which gives me a time-independent directory of all music I liked sorted by style. When I need to really focus and concentrate I have found it very effective to put on headphones and listen to plain and simple noises such as clothes dryer or simple white or brown noise (...and no it's not the same brown noise as featured in South Park). Although the results whether noise like this truly improves your abilities to concentrate are inconclusive, for me it really works and I would highly encourage you to try it out.
VLC - Video. The best media player to watch videos.
Alinof Timer - Timer + alert. A simple timer which gives you a very prominent alert over the screen when time runs out. After I get a meeting notification from Google or Sunrise often 15 min before the meeting, I set the timer to 14 minutes which allows me to minimize being late.
Divvy - App window manager. A slick minimal app using shortcuts to resize and organize my various app windows.
Keynote - Presentations. Still the best one out there.
uTorrent - Content delivery. Simply the easiest and most lightweight app for torrents.
That's pretty much my MacBook Air 11" experience. Big ❤️ to all the amazing companies producing these apps and step by step making life a little more efficient.