Trying to Narrow Down Applications

I posted this on my blog, but thought I’d share.

In the spirit of streamlining my workflows, I’m revisited the tools I use for my workflow. This was inspired by an interview with [Matt Gemmell] on the Mac Power Users Podcast who transitioned all his work onto an iPad and [Shawn Blanc’s piece] on how he uses Ulysses to streamline his writing.

Like Mat Gemmell, I Initially considered moving completely to iPad, but instead, I’ve decided to use this opportunity to streamline my workflow and apps. As a tenure-track faculty I get the privilege of having the summer to focus on my writing and research (after summer teaching), so why not take advantage to have some “fun.”

There is one caveat, I have little control over some apps I use in my work (e.g. I need to use Word and Google Drive documents with collaborators), I will attempt to focus on using a set of programs for my own work. I will attempt to focus on using the following set of apps from now until December break. I admit it’s a long list. I’m hoping to identify how I’m using each app will clarify steps and apps I can remove from my workflows.

Teaching and Presentations

  • Keynote (Presentations prep and Academic presentations)
  • Explain Everything (Teaching presentations)
  • Pages (Handouts)

Text Capture and Drafts of Emails/Texts

  • Drafts (I’m looking forward to the MACos release)
  • Paste


  • Ulysses
  • Grammarly
  • DayOne
  • Apple Notes (Meeting Notes)

Article Management

  • Papers
  • Devonthink||(out after 1 day)


  • Zoom
  • Good Notes (Meeting Notes, diagrams, student meetings)
  • Apple Notes


  • PDF Expert
  • Voice Dream

PDF Editing

  • OCR Kit (quick OCR)
  • PDF Pen Pro
  • Preview
  • ScanBot (receipts)

Task Management

  • Things 3
  • BaseCamp 3 (assign student tasks)

Image and Video Capture and stuff

  • Napkin
  • Screenflow


  • Spark


  • Omnigraffle

I did something similar last year:

I definitely found it helpful to be intentional about what tools I’m using rather than just using stuff because it’s easy or it’s what I’ve done in the past. Probably about time that I did another inventory and see what I need to rethink.

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I did something similar when I did a Nuke & Pave a few years back. Saves the work of reinstalling.

I’ve gone through all my applications and realize certain ones that I just don’t need anymore or are replaced by others. I think this is certainly healthy and sometimes I think that we as people that listen to the MPU podcast want to use as many different applications as possible sometimes even for the exact same thing. At times less is definitely more.


So, @omarruvalcaba, what’s the status with your article management software? Is it Papers or Devonthink? I wasn’t sure what you mean by “out after 1 day” :slight_smile:

I’m tempted of trying to organize all my PDFs in Devonthink and using Papers to organize PDFs on a per-project basis. In the spirit of reducing software use, I’ve decided to only use papers for now. I just have to remind my self how to use papers with Ulysses (I figured it once before).