28 Indispensable Tools That Help Me Run My Site

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Indispensable tools

I love great apps and am always on the lookout for new software that can help me save time and make me work more efficiently. This is the list of the indispensable tools that I use to run my site and that I highly recommend. Majority are free. I am a fan of the open-source philosophy and use open-source tools when possible. I use a Mac so some of these might be Mac only.

Devices

  • MacBook Air – I’m a Mac. My MacBook Air 13-inch late 2010 version is my primary workstation. It is very light, tiny, fast and it just works. It also has a decent camera and mic that I use for videos.
  • iPad – When I’m on the road and want to travel very light I use an iPad 3rd generation for everything. There’s a nice WordPress iOS app for example. I do find that I work much slower on an iPad and focus more on consumption rather than creation of content, so lately I’ve been trying to minimize my iPad usage. I’m thinking that MacBook Air 11-inch display might be the all-in-one machine for my hardware needs.
  • Kindle – I use my Kindle to read whenever I have some free minutes. I read a lot and use the highlighting feature to note some interesting ideas and stories. I just use the basic e ink Kindle display as I find that it helps me read without putting too much strain on my eyes. Reading on an iPad, despite being presented very beautifully, strains my eyes.

Content publishing

  • WordPress – I just love WordPress and use it for all my content publishing needs. I do all my writing within the WordPress post editor. WordPress is simple to use, yet a very advanced tool too. See how to get started with WordPress. I currently have seven plugins activated on this blog to help me add extra functionality, but I also use a variety of other plugins on other sites I’m running. This is the full list of plugins I like.
  • Bluehost – WordPress needs a domain name and hosting in order for you to have your site accessible to the world. Bluehost is the WordPress recommended provider of these.
  • Genesis Framework – To get a better and more unique looking site I use a premium theme from Genesis. They have a wide range of great theme designs.

Social media

  • Feedly – For subscribing to feeds and following different sites. I don’t subscribe to many sites anymore (I use Twitter lists instead), but for a handful of sites that don’t publish very often and/or don’t have Twitter feeds I check here.

Wellbeing

  • Time Out – Staring at the screen for long hours does not feel too good. I use this to take 20 second breaks from the screen every 20 minutes. I try and close my eyes for those 20 seconds or look at something that is not a screen.
  • Self Control – Sometimes I do find myself mindlessly browsing the web. I use Self Control to block sites that waste my time. Using this has actually made me more focused as I no longer need it that much as I have stopped typing Facebook.com or similar at any possible time.

Visuals and other imagery

  • iPhoto – For keeping all my pictures nicely organized. I use a lot of my own images in my content so this is very nice way to keep track of them all. I also like the option to “Enhance” a photo which is a very simple way of getting a better picture without any manual editing.
  • Preview – For basic image editing like adding notes, cutting and resizing. When saving it also compresses the size of images for faster load on the web. Also helps me merge and rearrange PDF files.
  • Gimp – For all the more advanced image editing needs I have like creating graphics and adding text and text overlays to my images. It’s kind of like Photoshop, just open-source and free.
  • Flickr Creative Commons – In some posts where I don’t use my own images I use Flickr to find pictures that I am free to use on my own site.

Screencasts and other videos

  • Screenflow – I use this to record my computer screen when I do instructional videos and other how-to screencasts. Quicktime is a simple and free alternative. It comes with your Mac, does the basics but you might miss couple of advanced features.
  • OmniDazzle – I use this to draw shapes and to write on my screen. Very useful in order to create better presentations and screencasts.
  • Keynote – I’m using this to create presentation slides when I need to present something. These presentation can be uploaded to Slideshare and you can even create screencasts of them. I also use it to create simple graphs and table images.
  • iMovie – Simple app that is easy to use but has some very professional looking video editing features. I use this when I am editing video footage.

Text

  • Simplenote – I keep my notes, book highlights, post drafts and other ideas in here. Simplenote is where I keep my ideas doc.
  • Flycut – Clipboard manager that saves and allows easy access for multiple cut-and-paste texts so I never get rid of something by mistake.

Browser and extensions

  • Firefox – If I’m not using one of the apps, I am usually doing all the work in Firefox. Most of my day actually is spent in Firefox.
  • AdBlock Edge – This is so good. It blocks all the ads on all the pages that I browse. Even blocks ads like those pre-rolls you see on Youtube. This is the real banner blindness and every should have it on.
  • Rapportive – Browser extension that sits next to your Gmail email and tells you more details about the person you are in the conversation with.

Communication

  • Skype – For meetings (when really necessary) and other video/voice calls online. Have recently started using Google Hangouts as an alternative.
  • Google Mail – My emails, contact form submissions and all the other mail communication happens in here.

FTP

  • Cyberduck – For all the FTP file uploading needs to my web server.
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