Apps, Tools & Services
This is a list of all the tools, apps, and services I use on my iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac. I’ll update this list from time to time.
📱iPhone/iPad • 🖥 Desktop • 📺 AppleTV • 🌐 Web
Things is my favorite productivity tool, my task manager. I use it on all devices and it synchronizes instantly via Things Cloud. It’s available for Mac, iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad.
It has won multiple prices, is easy to use, but powerful, has one of the best user experiences on the market.
It follows the GTD approach (Inbox, Today, Someday) and has areas, projects, tasks, and subtasks. Everything can have tags, due dates, start dates, and notes. Projects can be structured with headlines. You can send tasks via email, capture your ideas with a quick entry dialogue, and integrate Apple Calendar. You can also use the Things URL Scheme to send commands to Things.
DEVONthink is my complementary tool for Things. Things stores everything I have to do, DEVONthink everything I want to remember. I’ve also used Evernote for many years and Notion for a year, but both Tools had too many things I didn’t like.
The company DEVONtechnologies that creates DEVONthink (and a handful of other software products) is just 6 people but provides powerful tools for over a decade. Their tools are used by Attorneys, Journalists, Researchers, or Writers.
DEVONthink fulfills most of my wishes. Your data is your data, it’s stored on your local hard drive (encrypted or unencrypted). You can store anything in it: Text in various formats, including Markdown. Images, PDF, Videos. You can create folders and use tags, have multiple databases for different topics. It’s possible to sync your data with most Cloud solutions (Dropbox, iCloud, CloudMe, and WebDAV) or sync between devices via Bonjour. Your data is always encrypted on cloud storage containers. They also have an iOS app: DEVONthink To Go.
DEVONthink has data science algorithms that analyze your content and suggest a location to sort your file into. It has extremely advanced features to analyze, link, sort, and find your content. It has a powerful clipper that allows you to quickly grab the content of any website (converted and cleaned in a lot of formats), add text, video, audio, and screenshots.
I store everything in DEVONthink. Notes, PDF documents (scanned with OCR), images, videos, quotes, and use over 17000 different tags in 5 databases.
I use Scanner Pro on my iPhone and iPad. Nearly every document I get in a paper format I scan with this app. The documents get converted with OCR to PDF with searchable text and can be automatically saved to cloud storage like Dropbox or iCloud. From there I move the documents directly into DEVONthink.
Apple Calendar is the only calendar I use. It looks nice, can be integrated with Exchange servers, Google Calendar, and other calendar providers. My calendars are currently stored in iCloud, but I’m looking forward to moving them to ProtonMail, as soon as the Bridge supports (hopefully) their new encrypted calendar.
Itsycal is a tiny menu bar calendar that integrates with Apple Calendar. I use it to quickly add or look events without opening the full calendar.
Alfred is an award-winning app that boosts my productivity immensely. You can integrate the tools with an unbelievable huge amount of other tools and search, filter, move, control ALL THE THINGS™.
I use it to move files to folders on my hard drive, expand snippets, open apps, search on 20+ websites, calculate numbers, look up words in the dictionary, look up contacts, play music, convert colors and units, search DEVONthink, lookup my DNS and IP, emoji codes, generate test data, navigate to GitHub repositories, translate words and sentences, search for software packages, look up movies and TV shows, control my lights, or work with Things. Just to name a few.
There are hundreds of workflows available.
Hammerspoon is my window manager for many years already. It’s an open-source tool that allows you to interact with applications, windows, mouse pointers, filesystem, audio devices, batteries, screens, keyboard/mouse events, clipboards, wifi, and more. I just use it to launch apps, move them to my preferred screen, and navigate between apps.
I use Apple Numbers for everything I need to do with spreadsheets. Calculating and tracking my income, my stocks, yearly expenses, salary increases, etc. I usually store all spreadsheets in DEVONthink and just open it from there in Numbers. This way it’s encrypted and synchronized.
JustFocus is a nice, free tool to make sure you work focussed and do regular breaks. It uses the Pomodoro Technique to switch between work and break time. You can adjust the length of work, short or long break periods. During break time the tool will block your screen and show a nice wallpaper and a quote to make sure you spend your break away from the screen.
Bartender allows organizing the menu bar icons on Mac. You can rearrange icons, hide them, or just show them for a short time when they update. It’s really helpful to see only what’s relevant at any given time on the menu bar.
Time Sink is a Mac app that allows tracking how much time you spend on which app. You can see which apps are active and how long and at what times.
I use Productive to track my habits. You can decide which habit you want to perform how often per day or week and then check off what you did during the day. You can see your streaks for each habit and stay motivated.
I use IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate a bunch of tasks across multiple services and tools on the internet or at home. There are hundreds of services and home appliances that can be connected.
You can create powerful workflows to handover of data between two of these services without programming: Automatically publish a new blog post to Twitter, save a new Instagram photo to Dropbox, save liked videos or tweets to Pocket, record your weight into a spreadsheet, send out an email when you enter or leave a specific geographical area, just to name a few.
And it’s free. I use around 20 services of that long list.
Workflow is another automation tool, this time just for iOS. Apple bought the company and integrated the tool into its ecosystem. There are much fewer services in Apple Workflow than in IFTTT, but it allows much more complicated workflows (not just data handover between two services). You can automate a lot of apps on your device depending on time, location, arrival, leaving, WLAN, BlueTooth, NFC, or opening an app. And also build complex interfaces taking user input and doing something with it. But you don’t need to learn to program, it’s mostly drag and drop.
My main tool for writing is iA Writer. I use it on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It’s the most minimalistic, distraction-free, most beautiful writing experience. It supports Markdown, has tools to analyze your words, count reading time, characters, words, and sentences. I write most of my text in Markdown and either open it from DEVONthink in iA Writer or save my texts in iCloud and index the contents of these folders in DEVONthink.
The British company Serif creates the best design tools I know. I also worked with and owned Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for over 15 years and also use Sketch at work. But Affinity Designer is just my tool of choice for everything I design: Websites, UI, Flyer, Logos, etc.
I switched away from Adobe when they started forcing people to their cloud solutions and making it impossible to just buy a new version every few years but instead have to pay monthly “rent”. Serif won multiple awards for Affinity Designer.
I also use the iPad version and soon plan to buy a big iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil to create even cooler things with Affinity Designer.
Affinity Photo is the second tool from Serif. I use it less often, but whenever I want to work on photos or photo manipulations I use Affinity Photo. Serif won multiple awards for Affinity Photo.
It has support for RAW, PSD, 360° photo editing, HDR, batch automation, smart objects, montage. I’m by all means, not a professional photographer, but it’s made for them.
Affinity Publisher is the newest tool by Serif. It’s an incredibly powerful DTP tool to replace Adobe InDesign or Quark Express. I just started working with it but I plan to create and layout a book with it. It seamlessly integrates with Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo and allows doing nearly everything you can think of.
Typeface is my favorite font app. It’s simple and beautiful, the price is fair and it does all I need.
I don’t use Blender very often, because it’s just an incredibly complex open-source 3D creation software. I used to work a lot with 3D in my first job (3ds max, Maya, and Cinema 4D) but when I moved to the web I stopped working with 3D software regularly. But I still love it and I’m currently doing online training to learn Blender properly.
Pinterest is my preferred tool for inspiration, usually on the iPad. I have nearly 250 public boards for everything that inspires me. The browsing experience is fantastic and the collection and curation of content are as easy as it gets. Pinterest has powerful tools to recognize parts of an image and search for photos showing that thing. This way it’s possible to identify nearly everything (brand, landmark, person).
Bēhance is the second platform I regularly browse for inspiration. The portfolios of artists and designers are of very high quality and it’s possible to remember interesting pieces on boards. You can also follow your favorite artists.
I don’t like Instagram too much, because the browsing experience is crappy and you can only use it on the phone. No iPad app, only a limited web app. But it’s still a nice app to publish some photos from time to time and follow friends and family.
I use Visual Studio Code as my primary code editor. It’s just the best editor available. But because I’m a Vim user for more than a decade, I use a NeoVim integration. This way I can combine the best of both worlds. And I still use NeoVim from time to time, when Visual Studio Code is not powerful enough for a task. I use a bunch of extensions which would be too much to list them all. Maybe I’ll do it in a future blog post.
Even though Visual Studio Code has a build-in terminal, I usually use it only for running tests or committing files in Git. I use iTerm instead. It’s the best terminal emulator available. I use additionally tmux and tmuxinator to manage and restore multiple terminal sessions. I can easily switch between projects or keep multiple servers running.
GitHub (or GitHub Enterprise at my workplace) is my tool for storing and working with source code. All my websites are on GitHub and also a few dozen other projects. I use GitHub for mobile and sometimes GitHub Desktop. But usually, I use Git on the command line.
Netlify is my favorite hosting service. All my websites are hosted for free. If I push a new feature to GitHub Netlify will automatically deploy my website on a preview URL. After all the tests have been running successfully and I merge the feature the new feature goes live without needing to do anything more.
Dash is an API documentation browser. You can browse over 200 API documentation without searching on the internet. Dash downloads the latest documentation offline to your computer and makes it possible to even look things up when you have no connection to the internet. And I also use an integration in Alfred.
I used Kaleidoscope as my default tool for merge conflict in Git, but Visual Studio Code has a much nicer way of fixing merge conflicts, I use Kaleidoscope mostly to compare complete codebases or the differences in images. I think it’s currently way too expensive and I’m sure I bought it for much less.
Image Shrinker is a nice, free tool to minify images and graphics with just one drop. Easy, fast, and useful.
I use Integrity regularly to check all my websites for broken links. It’s not something I do every month but when I do it, this tool is really helpful.
Feedly (Pro) is my main source of information. I follow all my RSS/Atom feeds, my YouTube subscriptions, and news sources. The iPad app I use most of the time while reading my news during breakfast or on the sofa.
I save everything of interest into Pocket for later research. I use Feedly since the Google News Reader shut down and never regretted paying for the service.
They have useful features like muting specific words or phrases (for new contracts only with Pro+), annotate and search and also store a copy of everything you saved into Dropbox. I use DEVONthink to index this folder to search for everything I ever saved in Feedly since 2006.
Pocket (Premium) is my tool to save and read my content. Every article, video, or content I want to remember I save into Pocket. Mozilla bought Pocket and the Firefox browser has the feature built-in. I use tags to organize the content. Pocket allows reading articles without all the clutter and noise in a font, with line-height and width of your choice. I automatically save my favorite articles with IFTTT to Feedly and Pinboard – it’s always a good idea to have your content not just in one service.
Pinboard I use mostly as a backup for all the links I save. They get automatically transferred from Pocket to Pinboard with IFTTT. I joined Pinboard when the price was a one-time payment of 9 USD.
I use Tweetbot for iOS and Tweetbot for Mac as my primary Twitter client. The Twitter feed is otherwise just too messy, unordered, and full of advertising. I don’t like Twitter in particular, but unfortunately, a lot of industry news is just published there. I mute everybody annoying instantly in Tweetbot, sometimes for a week, a month, or forever.
I wish more people would use Mastodon because it’s much nicer, friendlier, and decentralised. Nobody owns it, nobody can control it or cash it and nobody can silence people. There are hundreds of instances talking to each other.
I use Slack mostly at work. I also have my account but use it just to push deploy messages, Git commits, Twitter feeds, or RSS updates to my websites in my channels. But I like the tool and I’m the administrator of a workspace with over 800 people.🤘
Messages is the messenger I use with my family. We all have Apple devices and even my grandmother can use the app. The app has also some nice features. I wish the Desktop app would get more love by Apple.
FaceTime is the video chat messenger I use with my family.
ProtonMail is my main email provider, end-to-end encrypted emails. I stopped using Gmail as my main email provider 3 years ago. I sometimes use the web app or the new beta version of the web app which looks nice.
I use Apple Mail on Desktop to connect to my work email on an Exchange server and my ProtonMail server via the ProtonMail Bridge.
Telegram I use just with my co-workers and friends. It the messenger with the nicest features. You can edit a send text and fix errors, create public or private chat rooms and encrypt your communication (unfortunately not the default setting, so people don’t do it often).
Keybase is a nice and free end-to-end encrypted messenger, file-sharing, group chat, and profile tool. Everything is end-to-end encrypted by default. You can share files between users or groups, or the public, or even host a website.
You can use encrypted Git repositories and link and validate your profile with a bunch of external services. You can send messages that auto-delete and even send messages to users not yet on Keybase.
It has grown over the last years and I hope it will win the messenger wars one day. With corporations trying to control the ecosystem or governments to weaken encryption, free internet and free communication must move to a decentralized messenger. The messenger is as powerful and feature-rich as Slack, but completely free.
A lot of big companies (as a recent example Mozilla) move their communication to a self-hosted instance of Matrix. And every instance can communicate with all other instances.
Matrix even allows bridges, to communicate with a user of Slack, Apple Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or similar. The bridges are still early development but the future for Matrix looks good.
You can contact me on @kogakure:matrix.org.
Another nice open-source tool for video chat is Jitsi. It supports a lot of users (currently 75) at the same time. To create a room is as easy as to click a button. No extra software needed, it runs in the browser. There are also mobile versions available. It’s also the default video conferencing system of Riot.
My default browser is Firefox Developer Edition. I simply love the features of Firefox. The developer experience is fantastic and I like in particular the bookmarking system (this sucks with other browsers). Firefox supports tags and has a nice bookmark bar to quickly filter and search bookmarks.
Also, Mozilla has privacy as a much higher priority than Google. Google works actively on ways to prevent ad-blocking while Mozilla blocks trackers by default and also allows and provides all kinds of additional privacy tools (like container tabs). I also use Firefox Mobile as my browser on mobile.
My secondary browser is Brave. It has the same engine as Chrome, but ad-blocking is included by default. Plus: It supports all Chrome extensions.
I use Spotify (Premium) as my only music streaming service. I stream Spotify music to my five Sonos boxes around my home and use it to wake me up, do workouts or relax on the sofa.
Sonos is my favorite sound system since 2012. I have two Play:5, one Play:3, one Play:1 and the Playbar. It’s super cool to sync all boxes around the home and have no lag between the music in different rooms.
I use the YouTube app and website a lot to watch videos from channels I follow. I use the extensions DF YouTube and Enhancer for YouTube to make the viewing experience more enjoyable. I hide all sidebars, comments, suggestions, and other needy crap. Also, all videos stop by default and are automatically switched to fullscreen mode.
IMDb is one of the more often used apps on my devices. I look up actors, directors, movies, TV shows all the time. I also log all my watched TV shows and movies to keep track of what I already watched.
TMDb is a nice collaborative movie database and I started using it to link to movies on my website because I like to support open projects.
WerStreamt.es (German for WhoStreams.it) is my favorite platform to keep track of movies and TV shows. You can put movies and TV shows on a watchlist and add the streaming services you have. The app will send out emails with reminders if something on your watchlist has a new season or is available for streaming.
I use Netflix mostly on my Apple TV and sometimes on my iPad. I stopped watching real TV seven years ago and just watch movies and TV shows mostly on Netflix. Here is a list of things I watched on Netflix.
Apple Photos is the default app Apple comes with. It’s good enough for me and easy enough to use by all generations of the whole family. This is where we share photos in the family.
I also use Google Photos to backup all my photos from the mobile devices and have them also in the browser. Also as the space is free I save everything image into Google Photos, not just photos.
Apple Podcasts is my default app for Podcasts. There are better apps available, but this app syncs across all of my devices. I don’t listen very often to Podcasts, mostly just during doing chores.
QuickTime is a nice player and it’s the default on a Mac. Not much more to say. I also quickly record screencasts with it. It’s quicker and easier than recording with apps like ScreenFlow.
I use Shazam only for one case: To recognize songs and find them on Spotify.
1Password is my Password manager and I use it already for many years. I store passwords, logins, personal information, and software licenses in it.
Cryptomator is a free tool to encrypt cloud data. I encrypt all private data either in DEVONthink or with Cryptomator storages in Dropbox.
AddGuard is a good way of blocking advertising on iOS devices. I use it to block advertising system-wide on my iPhone and iPad.
I love Duolingo! I learn on Duolingo without missing one day for more than 2 years now. It’s an intuitive and fun way of learning. And it’s free! I started switching to Plus recently which removes advertising, adds offline support and streak repair. I learn Japanese and Spanish every day. They also have really good Podcasts for Spanish and French, Stories, Progress Quiz, Leagues, and much more.
TinyCards is another cool, free app by Duolingo. It’s fun and easy to create flashcards. You can select out of hundreds or thousands of free decks or create your cards (private or public). I created this deck to learn the Seven Principles of Japanese Aesthetics.
Drops is a fun app I started using a few months ago. I use it for learning vocabulary as a companion to Duolingo. You can learn for 5 minutes for free every 8 hours which is around 10 minutes every day.
Japanese is another really beautiful Japanese dictionary for iOS and Android. You can even use Flashcards and tests your knowledge about Kanji.
Human Japanese is a paid app to learn Japanese. The interface is a little bit dated, but the content is really good.
Goodreads is the only decent social reading platform. I use it to track the books I want to read and the books I’m reading and update my status once a week. You can save books to shelves, follow friends, and get inspirations about what to read next or do a reading challenge every year. You can follow me on Goodreads or look into the books I’ve read.
I use the iPad and iPhone Kindle app and the MacOS Kindle app as a companion to my Kindle Paperwhite. I use the app usually either to look at color photos or illustrations or after I’ve finished a book to review my marginalia (notes and markings).
I already finished most courses and thought about meditating without the app, but Headspace constantly releases fantastic new content: Courses for nearly every topic, special courses for students and kids, Today’s Headspace meditation, or a complete section dedicated to sleep and another one for sport.
The sleep section has Sleepcasts, sleep music, sleep radio, soundscapes (hours long 3D recordings of awesome nature environments), and more. The move section is quite new and full of mindful workouts.
They also started recently a new format: The Wake Up. Every morning they have a nice short documentary or topic of the day. A pity these really good documentaries are gone after a day, I would love to rewatch some of them.
I like the Health app of Apple, the only drawback is that there is not an iPad or Desktop version of it. It gets better with every release and aggregates data from all kinds of other apps and services. I get my Meditation times, movement data and workouts from my Apple Watch, audio data from my AirPods Pro, my weight from my Withings Body Cardio scale, and my sleep from my Fitbit Charge – though this needs an extra app to get the data over an API, as Fitbit and Apple have a vendetta and Fitbit doesn’t give their data to the health app.
The Activity app is the app delivered with an Apple Watch. It’s nice to track workouts, movement, and changes in your activity over time. It also allows competing with family and friends. And the data is transferred to the Health app.
The Health Mate app by Withings is a nice way to have an insight into my weight, fat, water, muscle mass, heart frequency, and pulse wave velocity every morning.
I used my Fitbit every day before I got the Apple Watch, but know I just use it for sleep tracking. It has still the best sleep tracking I know of, but I would love if Apple would release an app or hardware for tracking my sleep.
iFinance is my tool to track income and spending. Every day I track my expenses and income for ~5 minutes and make sure everything is fine with my accounts. iFinance has nice tools to automate and analyze your expenses to find out how you spend your income.
I also use the iOS or Apple Watch version to track expenses while I’m on the way. The data is synchronized with iCloud or WiFi across devices.
I use the Apple Stocks app to keep track of my stocks and funds. It’s simple and easy to use and available on iOS and macOS.
Calcbot is a beautifully designed calculator and unit converter I use already for a lot of years. It’s also available for the Apple Watch and has nice features as sending your calculations as an email, syncing across devices with iCloud, and much more.
I use the Netatmo weather app to monitor the temperature, CO₂, humidity, noise level, and air pressure in all my rooms and also on the balcony. I also use a rain monitor. The devices are beautifully designed and have a very long life-duration (I use them since 2013).
WeatherPro is the best and most accurate weather app I know. It’s a free app but for 9,99 € per year, you can get more detailed data, hourly forecasts, and some other nice features. Also, all advertising gets removed from apps by MeteoGroup.
RainToday is the second app from MeteoGroup on my devices. It gives live updates on upcoming rain on your location and shows the estimated duration, intensity, and direction of the rain.
AlertsPro is the thirds weather app by MeteoGroup on my devices. It shows weather warnings for your locations and visualizes the length, region, and severity of severe weather.
MeteoEarth is the fourth app by MeteoGroup on my devices and has also a free online version. It allows visualization of real-time data of temperature, rain, clouds, wind, air pressure, and tropical storms around the globe.
SolarWatch is my favorite app to show the sunrise and sunset.
I use the Philips Hue app to control the light in my home. Nearly all of my light bulbs are now from Hue and I automate a lot of my light cycles. I turn on light automatically on when the dusk starts and wake me up with lights during wintertime. I also dim down my lights every day at the same time and shut them off at the same time. As I always follow the same routine this works quite nicely. I also use multiple different switches and Siri to control the light around my home manually. I even use an Alfred workflow to control my light directly from the computer.
Google Maps is the best map app available. I use it all the time to navigate, search, and bookmark locations.
Google Translate is my favorite translation app. It got so good in the last years that most sentences it produces don’t need any manual changes.
Dropbox is my cloud provider. Most providers have the same price and nearly the same features, but Dropbox has the best integration in 3rd party providers and Smart Sync is one of the features the competitors don’t have. I also use a small package of iCloud but the service is way to slow and unreliable to use it as my main provider.
The Unarchiver is just the best, free, and the only app you need to unpack nearly every format available.
I use DaisyDisk to find and delete unneeded files from my computer. It’s the best visual representation of your hard drive I know. Files can be easily collected and delete with one click.
AppClearner is a nice and free application that allows uninstalling unwanted apps and delete all traces and left-over settings at the same time.
I use the Find My app to find my devices … and my family. And also to get random calls by my grandmother why I’m at home and not at work. 😆
If you’re into Biking or Hiking Komoot is the best app I know. It’s free, but possible to buy better Hiking maps for regions or the whole world. It allows for creating tours and send them to the iPhone or even Apple Watch app and navigate with it. The route gets even broken down into different kinds of streets, height profile, and difficulty. And of course, you can also record your tours and share them.
Citymapper is a fantastic routing app available for selected big cities around the globe. My home city Hamburg is included. It knows all available transport options and times and calculates the best tour to your target. It even shows you when to get on and off transports and on which side of a subway you have entered.
DB Navigator is the app of the Deutsche Bahn (Geman Train). It got better over the last years and allows today to not only book tickets but also see all data and trains in real-time. The information is much more accurate than asking a conductor on the platform if a train is late again (which happens a lot in Germany). Germans are known for being always on time, but not our trains …
The DHL Paket app is the best way to see all packages on the way to your home or somebody from your home.