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Must-have apps for your new Mac, iPhone or iPad


Good news: You've emerged from the holiday season with a brand-new Mac, iPhone or iPad! If this is your first Apple product, welcome to the fold. This post is for you, as I've listed some must-have apps for each device. The software below will let you experience just what your new friend can do. So enough jibber-jabber; let's get to it.

For your new Mac

1Password. Let's start at the beginning. So much of modern computing involves the creation and management of passwords. Make this burdensome task a lot easier by having software do it. 1Password from AgileBits requires you to remember -- you got it -- just a single password. The app itself takes care of the rest. It also stores notes, credit card information and more. I wouldn't want to work on a machine without it.

TextExpander. Oh TextExpander, you complete me! This handy utility lets you assign an abbreviation to a longer block of text. What that means is, you can type something like, ".bp" (for "boilerplate") and have the app replace it with a long email message. I also use it for common typos, signatures and on and on.

Alfred. I should have listed this first as it's always the first app I install on a new Mac. I use it most often as an app launcher, but it's so much more. Assign a quick hotkey combination (I use Command-Space Bar) to bring up Alfred's window. From there, you can open an app or webpage, control iTunes, find/move/copy files and so much more. Alfred should just be a part of OS X and in my mind, it is.

Evernote. Evernote is my external brain. I use it as "cold storage" for reference material, like hotel information, email archives, PDFs, user manuals and so much more. Sync means notes are available just about anywhere.

For your new iPhone

Fantastical. Apple's Calendar app for the iPhone leaves a lot to be desired. Fantastical is the alternative for me. It's beautiful, supports natural-language event creation ("Lunch with Janie tomorrow at 2"), syncs with Google calendars, supports alerts and reminders and uses color coding to keep your various calendars straight.

Google Search. I love this app just for the Google Now feature. It looks at your calendar (provided that you use Google calendar) and notes the start and stop stop times. With push notifications enabled, it lets you know when you ought to leave to make an appointment and offers driving directions. Now, it will also find restaurants, movies and other points of interest in your area. This is what Passbook should have been.

Due. While Evernote is my long-term memory, Due is the nagging pest that keeps me on top of my reminders. What I love about Due is that it does not let you off the hook. If you've told it to remind you to do [x] at 3:00, it will not stop pestering you until you do that thing. You can also set up repeating reminders, reuse older ones and more. Plus, it syncs with the Mac version.

Dropbox. There's nothing like having nearly all your files with you, especially when they don't eat up your precious storage space. Dropbox fits the bill.

For your new iPad

Google Maps. I don't trust Apple Maps completely, and Google's counterpart is beautiful and typically reliable. It really looks great on the iPad's big screen.

Day One. Chronicle your comings and goings with this very popular journaling app. It's attractive, universal and syncs with the Mac version. You can even set it to prompt you to write at regular intervals, if you really want to stay on top of your journaling.

Flipboard. This gorgeous news reader for the iPad has evolved into a nice community of users. You'll be hard pressed to find a more pleasant way to browse Twitter, Facebook and various RSS feeds in one place.

Netflix. I confess: This is what I use my iPad for more than anything else. It's a little TV! For just a few bucks a month, you can do the same. Enjoy streaming TV and movies on your iPad, on the go, almost whenever you like.

There you have it! Enjoy your new goodies, folks.

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