Little design productivity gems



A couple of days ago I decided to reinstall my mac. Not because I needed to. It was running fine. But it felt cluttered. There was so much stuff around.

Once I reinstalled the macOS and was about to download apps I’ve realized I don’t want to end up in the same mess again. Especially not right from the start right. So I thought about what apps make my workflow efficient, and this is what I’ve come up with.

I didn’t list services like Dropbox, Google docs, Marvel and similar. Not because I don’t use them but because everyone knows about them, so there is no reason to introduce those. I hope I’ll manage to show you at least some you don’t know about and which will make your designing process easier.

QuickLook Plugins

There is this nifty little feature in macOS. If you select a file in finder and press a space bar, a quick look window pops up with a preview of the data. It works well for all the standard types of file formats. But it doesn’t support everything; luckily we have quick look plugins.

  • QLMarkdown As the name suggest QLMarkdown lets you preview your markdown files.
  • QuickLookJSON The same but for JSON files.
  • qlImageSize Shows image dimensions and file size in the title of the window.

Grammarly

Lots of conversations I do are in English. Be it in work or online communities. But I’m not a native speaker, so I’m always afraid that my grammar is not right and this is where Grammarly comes in. Grammarly checks your grammar and suggests changes that could improve it. It is as simple as that. They have a web app, “native” macOS and windows apps, as well as browser extensions. A must have for anybody who wants to sound right in English.

IconJar

IconJar is an icon management tool. If you work with various icon sets and you like to have your glyphs organized this is the right tool to do the job. The management itself is easy to do. It has powerful import options. It works well with a vast number of icons, and it has powerful tagging feature making it easy to find the icon you need.

The only downside is that some icon sets are provided in a single file which then makes the set up in IconJar quite bothersome.

RightFont

RightFont is a font management tool. I’m not a big font collector, so I can’t speak for the performance side. My font collection is at most two hundred fonts big. But the ease of use is where Right Font shines.

RightFont can connect with Google Fonts or TypeKit. It means you can search for fonts hosted on these platforms and manage them directly.

It might not be ideal for a heavy font user, but it works well for me.

Sip

My color management tool of choice is Sip. It has almost the same pros and cons as the other tools. The app is polished, has nice features like a color dock, and different color export formats. But doesn’t work well with huge collections.

It might not be for everyone. But its great for UI/UX designers working with smaller sets of colors.

Optimage

I work with transparent PNGs and JPEGs a lot. These files are usually app or web assets. Cover photos, icons, stuff like that. So to keep loading times and app file size minimal, it’s a good practice to minify those.

Optimage is one of the most efficient ones I could find. You drag & drop files onto the app, and it will handle the rest. ImageOptim is a free alternative with slightly worse results, but it is free.

Noizio

Now we are getting into something not directly connected to design. I don’t like much when I’m designing with music going on. It takes a bit of my focus and cognitive load. I’m able to tolerate (to some degree) classical music or those super deep spacey tones. But I prefer raining, storms and stuff like that. Noizio makes setting these up a breeze. You can mix your very own collection of sounds to get you into the zone. Like mixing heavy wind, thunderstorm and raining, with fire. “Hidden in a cave during storm” experience :) There is a lot of sounds you can choose. I love it.

Bartender 3

Bartender doesn’t contribute to my workflow directly. Bartender let you hide apps from menubar while keeping them accessible through a shortcut or Bartender icon. It helps to keep my menu bar nice and tidy and most importantly distraction free.

SelfControl

SelfControl is handy when you find yourself hard to focus. It blocks websites you tell it to, and it won’t let you access them until the timer runs out. Even after restarting the computer! What is also great about this is that it also prevent your apps from accessing these services. So Apps like Tweetbot won’t work either.

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