Superb free and inexpensive specialist tools
The Mac has always been great for web development – being Unix-based means you can easily run the same code on your computer as you do on your server.
Web developers always need to optimise images, format JSON and pick colours, and the Mac app developer world has stepped up to fill those niches.
These are some of our favourites.
You can test out ideas and rough out code in a REPL environment, so you can see the output as you type.
It also has some nifty features like top-level await, TypeScript, and NPM package support. Great app.
Delightful name, delightful app. Contains multitudes.
It will replace all the times you Google for
base64 string or
json to yaml converter.
url encode string.
csv to json.
replace smart quotes.
date to timestamp.
And best of all, as it’s all local you can put sensitive data in there without worrying some nefarious site is pilfering your secret csv info.
Not the most beautiful icon, but a great utility for making local copies of websites.
We use it to take snapshots of client sites that we can quickly search or reference when we’re offline.
It pulls down images, PDF’s and zip files as well as all the HTML and CSS.
This lightweight text editor packs far more features than we use it for.
From the developer of the great Lingon app that runs scripts and tasks on a schedule, Smultron is our go-to pasteboard for when we need syntax-highlighted code snippets floating around.
Being a Mac native app it opens in a snap and hogs no resources. We always have it open with tons of tabs.
Aside from being beautifully designed by the Mac app stalwarts RealMac, it offers great features like batches, presets, split previews, renaming and resizing. Plus watermarking and filters if that’s your bag.
We output all our webp’s and avif’s with this app.
Also, there’s an Easter egg where if you drop a photo with a dog in it, it barks at you.
A new one for us, Fig is halfway between a Mac app and a terminal app.
It has a lot of cool features like environment variables and SSH server shortcuts, but what we’ve been most impressed by is the autocomplete.
Particularly for z, npm scripts and git commands.
We have been creating favicons with this app for what must be decades now.
It’s a simple, single-purpose icon machine. If you’re feeling lazy you can drag an image on to the largest well and it’ll create variants in all your specified sizes, or, more professionally, it lets you add specifically-sized icons one at a time.
One cool feature is that it has the option to preview the current icon in your Mac’s dock. $7 well spent.
Not an exciting app, but if you do much local WordPress development then you’ll love being able to connect to all your local MySQL databases and fiddle with the contents.
Useful for when you have forgotten your WordPress password and need to manually reset it, and it’s a damn sight prettier to look at than phpMyAdmin.
Formerly, this was Paw – a paid tool for working with APIs, which for some reason got renamed and released as a free app.
It allows you to create and sync collections of API documents – fantastic when you’re developing multiple web apps for different projects.
You can add plugins, like Fetch Generator which auto-creates
fetch() functions for you, and it has great GraphQL support.
With so many features and supported protocols, it’s more than just an API Swiss army knife, it’s an essential part of our product development toolkit.
System Color Picker
Sindre Sorhus is some sort of cyborg open-sourcerer sent from the future to make Mac-user’s life more pleasant.
His apps are so numerous and helpful that we could write a whole post on all his apps alone.
However, the one we use the most of all is his System Color Picker – we have a global shortcut for it and call it multiple times a day.
It allows you to copy the sampled colour in various formats like hex, oklch, hsl and rgb. It also allows you to paste INTO it, so you can adjust colours no matter what app you’re currently using.
Simple, free, useful and well-designed, the epitome of a great Mac web dev app.