The Five Apps I Always Download First

The Five Apps I Always Download First
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I recently set up a new computer from scratch and had to get it up and running so that I could use it as quickly as possible. That meant only installing the bare necessities up front. That made me stop and think for a moment – what are the must-have apps that I need in order to be productive as soon as a computer is set up?

Here are my first five apps. I mainly use a Mac but when I use a Windows-based system, I install equivalent apps. In most cases, the apps I use have free versions but I pay for annual subscriptions in order to support the developers where that’s possible.

  1. Evernote: I rarely open a “proper” word processing application these days as I do all my writing there. As well as being able to share notes easily, the checklist feature is handy as I can set up a list at the top of a document to make sure I cover everything I need to do and the ability to send content to it from other places, such as a web browser, my scanner or my RSS reader, make it indispensable.
  2. Pixelmator: I’ve never been a big fan of Photoshop; I find it too big and complex for my needs. But Pixelmator (there are Mac and iOS versions) does what I need. There are alternatives on the Windows side of the world but I’ve not found one that does what Pixelmator does for the price.
  3. Feedly: When Google killed of their RSS reader, I started using Feedly and it’s awesome. I have dozens of sites I can scan each day and anything I find that’s interesting I can send directly to Evernote.
  4. Chat clients: I’ve bundled these together as there are a couple that I rely on. Slack, Skype and HipChat are core tools I need to communicate with my clients and colleagues.
  5. TweetDeck: I’m not the biggest Twitter user around but I like how I can use tweetDeck to keep track of particular trends and for seeing what’s topical.

What are your first five apps? Do you have suggestions that would improve my list? For example, is there a tool that brings all my chat and comms into one place?

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • A browser account will bring along most of the add-ins like Feedly that I use. With that, a password manager and one of my Ninite executables kept in my cloud storage “bin” folder, I can get up and running with most of my core tools very very quickly.

  • Assuming the android phone already has chrome:

    1) Lastpass / Lastpass Authenticator – To pre-fill and get back my 2FA
    2) OpenVPN
    3) Feedly +1
    4) Social Media (Feedly/Snapchat/Twitter/Insta)
    5) Castbox

  • In Windows 10? Easy for me. Portable Apps. Then I can install Google Chrome and 100s of other apps I want without worrying about Windows registry etc errors. The best part? Messed your Chrome up? Close Chrome, delete the Data directory within where Chrome runs from, and you’re back to Super Clean copy of Chrome in seconds! And Portable Apps when lauched checks and asks you to update all apps that have a new version released.

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