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6 Must-Have Productivity Tools & Apps for Developers on Mac

By Bryant Gillespie on April 4, 2023

No matter your favorite language or your go-to stack, having the right tools can help you save time and produce better results.

If you believe the hype, every new “Productivity” tool will deliver superpowers on top of superpowers on top of superpowers. But many fail to deliver on their promises.

As a Developer Advocate, my goal is to make your work-life just a little bit easier. So in this article, we'll take a look at some of the productivity tools I’m using daily on my Macbook.


Launcher and search tool

What is it?

Raycast is a launcher and search tool for Mac that allows you to quickly access and launch apps, files, and commands from a single interface. It offers a customizable experience with the ability to create your own custom extensions, making it a versatile tool for productivity.

My take

I’ve recently fully converted over to Raycast from Alfred (my longtime squeeze for launcher apps). There’s been a few little hiccups with the switch due to differences in searching, but it’s definitely been a net positive. There’s documentation extensions for my favorite frameworks and even a SavvyCal extension for quickly accessing my calendar links.

One of the things I like most about Raycast is the development experience. Creating your own custom extensions is buttery smooth.

For example, it took only a couple hours of total work to put together our Directus Raycast extension and get it live within their store.

Check out the Directus Raycast extension.

Clean Shot X

Screenshot tool

What is it?

Clean Shot X is a tool for taking great looking screenshots on Mac. Its features include the ability to capture a specific window or screen, annotate and mark up screenshots, and quickly share them with others. With Clean Shot X, you can save time and make your screenshots look more professional.

My take

I’ve been through a lot of screenshot apps over the years and Clean Shot X is as close to perfection as I’ve found. It’s super easy to use and has the ‘right’ number of customization options. I’m also making good use of their new background feature.

Tip: If you’re a Dropbox user, make sure you enable the screenshot sharing setting on the Dropbox Desktop app to automatically pull those screenshots into a Dropbox folder instead of littering your desktop.


Async video recordings

What is it?

Loom is a tool that allows users to create quick videos for asynchronous communication. With Loom, users can easily record themselves talking through a problem or solution, and share the video with others to facilitate collaboration and communication.

My take

Is Loom technically a productivity app? Maybe not. But it’s one tool that’s saved me a crazy amount of time.

Need to explain a complicated concept without spending 30 minutes typing an email? Loom it.

As devs, we’re not used to being on camera but short videos can enable good async communication practices and help prevent unnecessary meetings.

Tip: Don’t forget the audio. **Yes, I know you hate the sound of your own voice. But it’s super helpful if you talk through it and add the additional context.


Calendar notification app

What is it?

A simple menu bar app that connects to your calendar and reminds you about meetings. The reminders don’t go away until you dismiss them and it’s let you send a quick notification if you’re running late.

My take

If you’ve been coding for long, you’ve inevitably had this happen to you: You’re working on a project, knocking out some code. Things are moving really well. You pause for a minute… seems like you’re forgetting something. Then you look at the clock and realize your 10 or 15 minutes late for that important meeting. 🤦‍♂️

I was introduced to this tool by our CEO (Thanks Ben!) less than a year ago but it’s saved me from headache and professional embarrassment many times since then.


Text utility

What is it?

A scriptable scratchpad for developers. It transforms plain text and code using preset scripts or using custom ones you write yourself.

My take

I love banging on the keyboard as much as anyone. But when it comes to the command line – I’ve always had trouble remembering all the different commands. So when I found Boop I was excited.

Boop doesn’t sit so neatly into any single category. But Boop does make cumbersome tasks like formatting JSON, converting JSON to CSV, case conversion, decoding URLs, and more super simple. Quickly do all the text / json things you need without the command line or browser console. It’s also open source like your favorite Headless CMS.


Color picker

What is it?

ColorSlurp is the ultimate color tool for developers and designers. Pick any color on your screen using the high-precision magnifier. Create and organize palettes with advanced color editing tools. Check color contrast for perfect accessibility. Pick colors with your camera on iOS.

My take

As a developer with a former design habit, I’m dealing with color codes day in and day out. ColorSlurp strikes the right balance between ease of use and powerful features. The Ctrl + Click feature to select multiple colors and quickly create a color palette saves a ton of time. I geek out on little details, so the slurping sound effect whenever you pick a color is also delightful.

And there you have it! My (current) must-have productivity tools for developers on Mac that will help you save time and give you superpowers on top of your superpowers.

Give them a try and let me know which ones are your favorites. And if you have any other tools that have helped you with your development work, hop into our Directus Discord Community and share them with us. Happy coding! 😎

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