What are your new workflows and apps for 2021?

At the end of each year I review and refine my workflows, which includes making changes to my catalog of apps. My intent is to not change for at least 12 months after these revisions. Below I’ve shared the apps I’m using on my MBP and iPad Pro. I’ve also included a few comments about my hardware use.

I’d love to hear about revisions to your workflows, apps, and hardware, if any, for the new year.

On my MBP

  • 1Password 7
  • Alfred 4
  • Bookends (new)
  • Brave Browser
  • Calendar (considered Fantastical but decided against it)
  • Contacts
  • DEVONthink Office Pro
  • Drafts Pro (New as I decided to subscribe)
  • Apple Notes (due to periodic syncing issues, I only use AN occasionally; I rely mostly on Drafts Pro with DEVONthink for note taking)
  • Keynote
  • Logos Platinum Bible
  • Mail (Still my default)
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • MindNode
  • Music
  • News
  • Numbers
  • Obsidian (New for PKM–connected with DEVONthink)
  • Pages
  • PDF Expert
  • PDFpenPro (New for when I need OCR on the MBP)
  • Photos
  • Safari
  • ScanSnap Home
  • Things 3 (New, moved from OF)
  • Ulysses (all writing projects)
  • Zoom

On My iPad Pro

  • 1Password 7
  • ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap
  • Bookends (new)
  • Brave Browser
  • Calendar (considered Fantastical but decided against it)
  • Contacts
  • DEVONthink to Go
  • Drafts Pro (New as I decided to subscribe)
  • Apple Notes (due to periodic syncing issues, I only use AN occasionally; I rely mostly on Drafts Pro with DEVONthink for note taking)
  • Keynote
  • Kindle app
  • Logos Platinum Bible
  • Mail (Still my default)
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • MindNode
  • Music
  • News
  • Numbers
  • Obsidian (New for PKM–connected with DEVONthink)
  • 1Writer (new for accessing Obsidian files on iPad)
  • Pages
  • Paprika
  • PDF Expert
  • Photos
  • Pixelmator
  • Safari
  • Things 3 (New, moved from OF)
  • Ulysses (all writing projects)
  • Zoom

Hardware
My revised workflow also includes minor revisions to how I use my hardware. For the past several years I’ve used my iPad for ~80-90% of my work.

This year I’m changing to using my MBP for the majority of my work. I’m narrowing the use of the iPad to reading, annotating, taking interview notes with the Apple Pencil or Drafts, and for writing. While I do my research on the MBP using Obsidian, DEVONthink, and Bookends, I’ll write exclusively on the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard.

While these don’t directly affect my workflow, I also have an Apple Watch, HomePods, HomePod Minis, AirPod Pros and an iPhone.

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I’ve replaced Graphic, Acorn, and a whole bunch of older graphics / photo apps (Nik Collection, CreativeKit 2016 etc.) with Pixelmator Pro for $19.95 on sale & ready for M1. Other than that I can’t be bothered with experimenting too much.

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I’m finishing up my bachelors in Computer Science and Design in 2021 so my workflows are incredibly dependent on what classes I have.

That being said here’s all the things I use:

The Full List

Essentials

  • 1Password 7
  • Safari
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Mullvad VPN (new)
  • Bartender 4
  • Little Snitch
  • Alfred 4
  • Keyboard Maestro
  • Spotify (new)
  • Things 3
  • Backblaze (new)
  • Bumpr & Finicky (new, was just Bumpr prior)
  • CleanMyMac X (new)
  • BetterTouchTool
  • Airbuddy
  • Pastebot (new)
  • Timing
  • Dash
  • Ejectify (new, super awesome!)
  • Grudgingly, Zoom and Slack
  • f.lux
  • Photos
  • Quitter

Development

  • Firefox (for Web Development, Google/Facebook in Containers)
  • Alacritty,tmux (new)
  • CLion (only for comparing results of failing tests)
  • VSCode (new: foam extension for PKM)
  • Vim (new: vimwiki plugin for PKM)
  • Secretive (new)
  • Element (new…only in Development category because the server I run is with other developers)

Design

  • Figma
  • Affinity Suite (for anything that can’t be done in Figma)

Reading/Writing

  • Readup (new)
  • MindNode
  • iA Writer (for any non-PKM markdown writing)
  • Hook (new, still trying to figure out where this fits)
  • Pages, Keynote (for anything that can’t be Markdown)
  • Raindrop.io
  • Reeder 5 (new)
  • Audible (new)

It hasn’t been a big year in terms of workflow changes. I spend even more time in the terminal (not sure how that’s possible!) but, this was the year I discovered Zettelkasten and so I have 4 different directories with the same notes to try out so many apps! At the moment I’m sticking with vimwiki as my primary PKM manager.

If you're interested in Terminal workflows too
  • fzf
  • ripgrep
  • fd
  • exa
  • fish (new)
  • exiftool (new, fixed 12,000 photos date metadata this year!)
  • ffmpeg
  • git
  • git-delta
  • bat
  • gnupg (new)
  • hyperfine (new)
  • imagemagick (new)
  • jq
  • mas
  • mackup
  • macos-trash
  • mdbook
  • meilisearch (new)
  • pandoc
  • pipx (new)
  • neovim (all references to vim use neovim)
  • ripgrep-all (new)
  • starship (new)
  • topgrade (new)
  • youtube-dl
  • Zola (new, re-did my website using this)
  • spicetify (new)
  • xdv
  • gib (new)
  • miniserve (new)
  • tldr
  • zoxide (new, replacing z)

since when is Alfred 4 on iPadOS?
Can you add the link?

No, that’s a mistake. I did not mean to include Alfred on the iPad. I’ll make the correction.

real shame, that would have been awesome! :slight_smile:

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In early December I wanted use iPad for more file management, note taking etc. On Mac I use hook and hyper links is big part of my workflow. I have not found easy way to replicate this method on iPadOS and open Files stored in Files iOS app via url scheme or x-callback-url from drafts for example.

I have tried keep it, Notebooks 10. Both are cross platform and supports item links stored in their databases, but find some downside with both apps… I tried to import a folder with around 100 files in keep it and got several iCloud errors during this process. So I stopped import and deleted this app hehe. Have also read before it here on mpu that some users had experience with poor import of databases. But I tried with folder where most files is .md and few pdf.
I’m aware of devonTHINK, but it is overkill for my needs. I store for the most .md and pdf files. Plus I experience DT sometimes slow with VoiceOver, while in Finder I can fly thru my nested folders. Also our mutual good friend Alfred helps me a lot.

So I stick to my old workflow which means basically do most from MBP. If I need to write something for my blog or other things, I can use drafts which has rock solid sync and there I manage my Zettelkasten notes etc anyway.
For file management on macOS adopted PARA method from Tiago and it’s fine so long. Use Finder because it is built in and fast.

So I figured out, since I own an iPad, it does not necessarily have to be another productivity machine.

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Agreed, sat straight up in my chair seeing it on that list lol

@JKoopmans and @Aaron_Antcliff sorry about that; I did not mean to get you all hot and bothered to only disappoint. :slight_smile:

Perhaps someday Alfred will come to iOS/iPadOS, that would be awesome!

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Hook is coming to iPad and iPhone.

Yeah I know about it, but no date announced yet about when hook for iOS will be ready

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@MitchWagner @RDK do either of you have a concern that if Hook were to go away for whatever reason that you will end up with a bunch of non-working links? This may not be legitimate but I prefer “native app” links like in DEVONthink, Ulysses, etc., to avoid this problem. Thoughts?

It will hurt for sure if hook goes away, many workflows will be affected. But at the same time it’s just links, and any software can go away. Many apps which was mentioned on this forum are made by single developer or small team. I don’t know how correct to ask this, but imagine app you use daily is made by one guy and he dies in a car accident or something similar. What happens then?

I more worried about applications with proprietary databases.

In 2020 I have twice switched back and forth from Day One to drafts for journaling, later tried diarly and now I ended up with writing monthly draft in drafts and export as pdf.

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You seem to be missing three of the first apps I install on any new computer… Hazel, Keyboard Maestro, and TextExpander. No use for these in your workflows?

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Agreed and this is why I use DEVONthink for keeping essential notes, files, etc. Even if the developers all died in the same plane crash, the app will continue working, and I can convert, export any and all documents in any format needed including plain text, markdown, PDF, etc. The links will also continue to work because they link directly to DT itself. I also link to and/or archive selected emails from Apple Mail, which will preserve those links. I’m fairly certain that Apple will be around during my lifetime :slight_smile:

I also use DT for journaling for all of the reason listed above but I input the basic text via Drafts.

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New 2020 and going into 2021 are:

  • Affinity Photo (I don’t use Photoshop any more)
  • Epsilon 14 (My favorite Emacs clone, I’ve used over 30 years, 64-bit app came a year late)
  • Firefox (Safari alternate, switched from Chrome)
  • H&R Block 2019, 2020 (New one every year)
  • Zoom (already had used GoToMeeting, Skype, and FaceTime)
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After I read your answer I started again to thing about getting license for DEVONthink. Also on sale now for 25% via winter sale.

What stops me from buying DEVONthink, because it is overkill for me. But this application amazing for sure. Remember when I launched DT for first time, right clicked on a file and got around 24 actions with sub menus. Also settings panel, could spent there all day probably.

@RDK Yes, it is complex because it is featured rich. I just began by using the features I needed and then as I recognized new needs I learned that new feature. It has been a steady progress. At this point I’m not an expert but I am getting pretty good. Just the ability to send a PDF to DT and have it automatically OCRed is fantastic. The ability to convert files is, to use an overused cliche, “a game changer.” I also like the ability to merge documents. I can’t speak for you regarding spending hard earned money but I think DT offers tremendous value and high ROI. If you decide to purchase, I recommend you carefully review the feature options of the different versions. I went with the Pro version.

dumb question, but when I search in Alfred with ‘in’ command to find something in a pdf or other file. Does DT it better after OCR?

I have Hazel but the truth is I just don’t have a need for it. My wife handles all of the bills and related paperwork so I don’t need to download and process a lot of digital files in that regard. I save other files during the course of the day to Desktop in iCloud but those are never more than 5-6 and I can process them easily in a few minutes. I add other files to DT and add tags, etc., when I add them. These files are so diverse that it is not possible to set up effective Hazel rules.

I like Text Expander but I don’t care for the iOS/iPadOS implementation and there are few updates making it hard for me to justify the subscription. I use Alfred Snippets on the MBP to deal with text expansion needs and I’ve setup some Shortcuts and Drafts templates for text expansion on the iPad.

I’ve not tried Keyboard Maestro. Based on everything I’ve read and heard, it probably would add unnecessary “overhead” to my workflow given my particular needs.