It’s time for a new year and so, inspired by an initiative spawned by the Hemipsheric Views podcast and further expanded by Robb Knight for folks to share their default apps, I thought I’d share a default app list of my own! This is primarily focused on stuff I use outside of my actual job, which also means my list is extremely iPhone and iPad focused. I have a personal Mac, but I use it shockingly little as of late.

📨 Mail Client

  • Gmail and Fastmail for iOS. I don’t particularly love them, but they do the job.
  • RIP Mailbox, the only good mobile email app

📮 Mail Server

  • Gmail for personal. Because of course it is. I certainly don’t use Yahoo! mail.
  • Fastmail for domain mail. Particularly good is you have a bunch of domains you want to manage on one account.

📝 Notes

  • Apple Notes. I find the system app to be sufficient for the vast majority of my quick note-taking needs.
  • Day One for journaling. I highly recommend everyone try journaling, at least for a bit. It may not be for you, but I find that getting whatever thoughts I have out of my head to be immensely valuable.

✅ To-Do

  • Reminders. I have no formal task management system. It mostly boils down to “Siri, remind me to do laundry tomorrow at 11 AM

📷 iPhone Photo Shooting

  • Camera. I’ve tried third party camera apps and, while they’re great, they never end up sticking for me.

🟦 Photo Management

  • iCloud Photos. I live in the ecosystem, and so iCloud is all I really need for photo management.

🎞️ Image and Vector Editors

  • Pixelmator Pro. Truly one of my favorite apps and developers of all time. They make a stellar image editor and have been continually improving it for over a decade.
  • Pixelmator for iOS. You’d think it would be hard to do complex image edits on a phone, but I’ve done this time and time again. If I have an idea for some silly meme, I can make it on my phone right then and there.
  • Affinity Designer 2. I’m not great at making vector graphics, but the Affinity suite is still a really great tool whenever I need to make some.

🎬 Video Editor

  • Final Cut Pro for Mac. I’m far from a professional, but I always find a great deal of joy whenever I open Final Cut. It makes editing fun for me.
  • LumaFusion for iPad and iPhone. This serves a similar purpose to Pixelmator for iOS. Good for making quick meme videos. I’m not at all competent at using it well, but it’s a good tool to have if I need it.

🎧 Audio Editor

  • Logic Pro for Mac. Logic is super powerful, and I barely know how to use it. But it’s got everything I need if I want to play around with music, edit podcast-style stuff, or just clip something out. Not as fun as Final Cut though.
  • Ferrite for iPad. It’s incredible what you can do with this app. It makes it easy to work on podcast-style audio with the same speed I might in Logic, but on a much more comfortable device.

📆 Calendar

📁 Cloud File Storage

  • iCloud Drive. I don’t rely that much on cloud storage beyond basic documents, where iCloud Drive is sufficient
  • Google Drive for sharing files, because iCloud is still not quite sufficient in that area..


🙍🏻‍♂️ Contacts

  • iCloud Contacts. Why are these in iCloud but my calendar is in Google? I don’t really know.

🌐 Browser

  • Arc on Mac. I love love love some of its UI innovations. The sidebar and Mini Arc are truly great features.
  • Safari on iPhone and iPad. Safari is the only browser on iOS that supports extensions, so I wouldn’t even consider switching.

💬 Chat

I will basically use whatever app I need to to reach folks

🗣️ Social apps

🔖 Bookmarks

  • Safari. But tbh I basically never make bookmarks.

📑 Read It Later

  • GoodLinks. A really nice app with a really easy to use extension that I don’t use nearly enough. I add a bunch of stuff there, sure. But I don’t often go to actually read it.

📜 Word Processing

Equal opportunity word processing!

📈 Spreadsheets

  • Google Sheets. Numbers confuses me and Excel sheets are harder to live collaborate on, so Google Sheets it is.

📊 Presentations

  • Keynote. There really is no comparison here. Keynote is ahead of the other presentation apps by a mile. It’s another one of those apps that feels fun to use.

🎵 Music

  • Apple Music. I like the library-focused approach Apple takes, as I’d built up my iTunes library for years before Apple Music launched, and still add in a bunch of stuff that isn’t on Apple Music to my library regularly. I also find their playlists and some of their radio shows to be quite good.
  • Sonos Radio. It may have ads, but I find their mixes to be quite solid, and wish they offered more than radio.
  • Rarely YouTube Music if I’m looking for something not on Apple Music

🎤 Podcasts

🔐 Password Management

  • 1Password. I don’t despise 1Password 8 like many do, but it can be frustrating at times. In general, though, I still find it to be the tool that fits my needs the best. Except…
  • iCloud Keychain for Passkeys. I find the system integration for passkeys to be smoother, at least for now. Maybe this will change in the future, but I’m split at present.

📋 Clipboard Manager

  • Pastebot. Everybody should use a clipboard manager. They;re truly invaluable tools that can change how you work, I find that Pastebot’s simple overlay and features like sequential paste work well for me.

🧑‍💻 Code Editor

  • VS Code. I’ve tried everything, but always keep coming back to VS Code. Yes, it’s Electron. But it has every feature I need, extensions for any language I will ever use, and works everywhere. As someone who primarily works with JavaScript, it works great for me.

⌨️ Terminal

  • iTerm 2. The built-in macOS terminal is fine, but I appreciate the extra customization options that iTerm provides.

And that’s my list! I hope you found something interesting in the list. And be sure to check out Robb’s web page which links to everyone else’s app defaults.