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Khoa Pham
Khoa Pham

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20 recommended utility apps for macOS in 2018

Depending on the need, we have different apps on the mac. As someone who worked mostly with development, below are my indispensable apps. They are like suits to Tony Stark. Since I love open source apps, they have higher priority in the list.

Open source apps

iTerm 2

iTerm2 is a replacement for Terminal and the successor to iTerm. It works on Macs with macOS 10.10 or newer. iTerm2 brings the terminal into the modern age with features you never knew you always wanted.

iTerm2 has good integration with tmux and supports Split Panes

Term2 allows you to divide a tab into many rectangular “panes”, each of which is a different terminal session. The shortcuts cmd-d and cmd-shift-d divide an existing session vertically or horizontally, respectively. You can navigate among split panes with cmd-opt-arrow or cmd-[ and cmd-]. You can “maximize” the current pane — hiding all others in that tab — with cmd-shift-enter. Pressing the shortcut again restores the hidden panes.


A delightful community-driven (with 1,200+ contributors) framework for managing your zsh configuration. Includes 200+ optional plugins (rails, git, OSX, hub, capistrano, brew, ant, php, python, etc), over 140 themes to spice up your morning, and an auto-update tool so that makes it easy to keep up with the latest updates from the community.

I use z shell with oh-my-zsh plugins. I also use zsh-autocompletions to have autocompletion like fish shell and z to track and quickly navigate to the most used directories.


Spectacle allows you to organize your windows without using a mouse.

With spectable, I can organise windows easily with just Cmd+Option+F or Cmd+Option+Left


Insomnia is a cross-platform REST client, built on top of Electron.

Regardless if you like electron.js apps or not. This is a great tool for testing REST requets

Visual Studio Code

VS Code is a new type of tool that combines the simplicity of a code editor with what developers need for their core edit-build-debug cycle. Code provides comprehensive editing and debugging support, an extensibility model, and lightweight integration with existing tools.

This seems to be the most popular for front end development, and many other things. There’s bunch of extensions that make the experience to a new level.


Built by me. When developing iOS, Android and macOS applications, I need a quick way to generate icons in different sizes. You can simply drag the generated asset into Xcode and that’s it.


Preview markdown files in a separate window. Markdown is formatted exactly the same as on GitHub.


A mininal but complete colorpicker desktop app

I used to use Sip but I often get the problem of losing focus.


I built this as a native macOS app to capture screen and save to gif file. It works like Licecap but open source. There’s also an open source tool called kap that is slick.


Itsycal is a tiny calendar for your Mac’s menu bar.

The app is minimal and works very well. It can shows calendar for integrated accounts in the mac.


I often need to test push notification to iOS and Android apps. And I want to support both certificate and key p8 authentication for Apple Push Notification service, so I built this tool.


A menu bar app to show the lyric of the playing Spotify song

When I listen to some songs in Spotify, I want to see the lyrics too. The lyrics is fetched from and displayed in a wonderful UI.


GitHub Notifications on your desktop.

I use this to get real time notification for issues and pull requests for projects on GitHub. I hope there is support for Bitbucket soon.


FinderGo is both a native macOS app and a Finder extension. It has toolbar button that opens terminal right within Finder in the current directory. You can configure it to open either Terminal, iTerm2 or Hyper

Atom one dark theme

This is about theme. There is the very popular dracular themes, but I find it too strong for the eyes. I don’t use Atom, but I love its one dark UI. I used to maintain my own theme for Xcode called DarkSide but now I use xcode-one-dark for Xcode and Atom One Dark Theme for Visual Studio Code.

I also use Fira Code font in Xcode, Visual Studio Code and Android Studio, which has beautiful ligatures.

Chrome extensions

I use Chrome for its speed and wonderful support for extensions. The extensions I made are github-chat to enable chat within GitHub and github-extended to see more pinned repositories.

There are also refined github, github-repo-size and octotree that are indispensable for me.


Caprine is an unofficial and privacy focused Facebook Messenger app with many useful features.

Close source and commercial apps

Sublime Text

Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose. You’ll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features and amazing performance.

Sublime Text is simply fast and the editing experience is very good. I’ve used Atom but it is too slow.

Sublime Merge

Meet a new Git client, from the makers of Sublime Text

Sublime Merge never lets me down. The source control app is simply very quick. I used SourceTree in the past, but it is very slow and had problem with authentication to Bitbucket and GitHub, and it halts very often for React Native apps, which has lots of node modules committed.

1 Password

1Password remembers them all for you. Save your passwords and log in to sites with a single click. It’s that simple.

Everyone need strong and unique passwords these day. This tool is indispensable


Make screenshots. Draw on it. Shoot video and share your files. It’s fast, easy and free.

I haven’t found a good open source alternative, this is good in capturing screen or portion of the screen.


iTunes or Quick Time has problem with some video codecs. This app VLC can play all kinds of video types.


Xcode is the go to editor for iOS developer. The current version is Xcode 10. From Xcode 8, plugins are not supported. The way to go is Xcode extensions.

I have developed XcodeColorSense2 to easily recognise hex colors, and XcodeWay to easily navigate to many places right from Xcode


Sketch is a design toolkit built to help you create your best work — from your earliest ideas, through to final artwork.

Sketch is the most favorite design tool these days. There are many cool plugins for it. I use Sketch-Action and User Flows

Where to go from here

I hope you find some new tools to try. If you know other awesome tools, feel free to make a comment. Here are some more links to discover further

Original post

Top comments (6)

eerk profile image

Nice list! Just FYI, the OS X finder can already open a terminal window in the current directory by right clicking a folder > open terminal at folder. If you don't have this option you can enable it in system preferences > keyboard > shortcuts > services > open terminal at folder.

onmyway133 profile image
Khoa Pham

Thanks for the tip

k1pash profile image
Christopher Toman

Hey Khoa,

I personally work with C# .NET and Unity3D, so main portion of the listed programs are useless for me. But there is still a few useful ones.

Thanks for the list, it's awesome

waytoobadass profile image
Way Too Badass • Edited

Some must-have quality apps for Windows. Some of them do the same thing these apps do but for Windows OS.

yacheika profile image

hey Khoa,

What's the name of the terminal extension you have in your image for the iTerm2 description? Thanks in advance

onmyway133 profile image
Khoa Pham

Hei, I use oh my zsh with a custom theme