It seems like every Mac user is obsessed with productivity and Getting Things Done (GTD). As a result there is a plethora of tools to improve efficiency, track tasks and get your work accomplished. I’ve tried my fair share and have recently reached a steady state with my tools. Here’s an overview of what I’ve found most useful.

###LaunchBar

This is the most recent of my selections and, ironically, one of the most crucial. Together with Spark it has replaced Quicksilver as my application launcher and activation tool. LaunchBar is a deceptively simply tool that makes it trivial to launch any application with a few keystrokes. It can dial your contacts, keep a clipboard history, open files, act as a calculator, run scripts and even play music from iTunes.

I moved from Firefox to Safari when the Safari 4 beta came out and I very much missed the Firefox awesome bar and shortcuts for searching wikipedia. That functionality (and much more) is built into LaunchBar.

I initially fought against letting LaunchBar replace the Spotlight command-space keystroke but after a few days I switched over. Everything worked much more simply after I did.

###Spark

Spark is a keyboard shortcut manager. In other words, you can set hot keys to launch applications. I originally used Quicksilver to do this job but when I dropped Quicksilver I needed a replacement. Spark does that job better and with a few additional twists. I use Spark because I like to map hot keys to launch very frequently used applications: ctrl-option-command-B to launch the browser, ctrl-option-command-E to launch the editor, etc. Though since I’ve been getting deeper into LaunchBar I’ve started to get the feeling that Spark will become redundant.

###The Hit List

This is an awesome task manager. It does an excellent job tracking tasks in an intuitive manner while looking fantastic at the same time. It supports Applescript as well so you can do things like setup keystrokes in Mail to automatically create tasks from emails.

###Path Finder

Path Finder is loaded down with features. For me, it’s better then Finder for my file handling tasks. But it has it’s drawbacks. I tried to use it as a Finder replacement and it just never fit. I ended up configuring it as the primary file handler but left the desktop untouched. That makes the integration with the system a little awkward.

There’s one major missing piece of functionality that I wished Path Finder had. Solid integration with source control systems. Path Finder has Subversion support but it’s poorly thought out and tacked on as a floating window. A much better solution would integrate source control directly into the file listings like TortoiseSVN on Windows. Hopefully Cocoatech will do that not only for Subversion but for Git as well.

###Skitch

Skitch is a gem. It does screenshots on steroids. You can mark up the screenshots, post them to an online account, annotate them, add shadows to them and do timed screenshots. I even turned off the keystrokes for the built-in screenshot functionality in macOS and mapped those keys to Skitch.

###Address Book and iCal

These almost go without saying. There are some people who eschew them for Gmail or other programs but they’re missing out. Apple has woven Address Book and iCal throughout the system and third-party developers have followed suit. If you’re not making use of them you’re throwing away a big productivity boost.

###MenuCalendarClock iCal

This is a tiny little program that replaces the normal menu clock. In addition to letting you format the date and time how you like it provides a drop down window that displays your iCal appointments and events.