10 powerful workflow apps

To get the most out of my production workflow I use a variety of smaller applications.  Applications like After Effects, Cinema 4D, Illustrator and Premiere are all integral to production.  

Yet, they aren't the only applications I use everyday. Here are the apps I've found that helped me find success in professional production. From small tools running in the background, to apps useful at certain times - here is your transparent guide.

 
 

ALFRED

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: Free / $20

Alfred is another "did it before Apple" application I use everyday. Alfred saves you tons of time when launching apps or searching for files. OS X Yosemite has Spotlight Search (cmnd+space) which is a similar productivity tool. But in my opinion, Alfred still offers much friendlier usability and customization.

You can create custom shortcuts and macros for just about everything. Access System commands from your keyboard (ex: launch Alfred and type "shutdown" to shutdown). Get fast answers to questions with any combination of Search Engines (Auto Google search).  Save time from opening other applications with a built in Calculator and Dictionary. Honestly, the list goes on and on.

On average (another built in feature) I use Alfred 213 times a day. I'm not sure what kind of time that saves, but I have to assume it is significant. Another must have addition to my everyday workflow.

 
 

BETTER-SNAP-TOOL

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: $1.99

I'll start by saying BetterSnapTool is one of my favorite applications. BetterSnap is the first app I install on any Mac I use, without it I'm a lost traveler on a dark road. Analogy aside, there are amazing features that the price tag doesn't do justice.

I'd compare the basic functionality of BetterSnapTool to Aerosnap on Windows. The basic use is the ability to snap Windows to various sizes and positions on your screen. Set up custom "snaps" only when certain applications are running. In the Advanced Features, you can also create complex sizes and positions. Additionally, set shortcuts and hotkeys to make "snaps" even faster. A hint for where these custom snaps might be helpful is Cinema 4D and the many tool windows.

For $1.99 this utility app has payed for itself many times over.

 
 

CLEAN-MYMAC3

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: $39.95

To start, yes we've all seen CleanMyMac ads plastered across the Internet. A couple months back I gave CleanMyMac a try and have to say I'm impressed. 

For the small price this application does a couple things and it does them well. Although I use a RAID system for my storage, CleanMyMac gives me peace of mind. As an absolute performance fanatic I'm obsessed with system optimization and improvement. Knowing that extra Language Files and Caches are off my system helps me sleep at night.

If you're in the market for a high-end system clean up application - this is it.

 
 

DISKWAVE

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: Free

Diskwave is a fantastic application for finding wasted hard drive space and reclaiming it. I've tried applications like Daisy Disk and Disk App - and always return to Diskwave.

Other applications, to me, are too focused on design that they becomes a chore to use. I like the simple and straightforward approach that Diskwave brings. Diskwave makes finding large files or folders and removing them a snap. As a user, you can Trash them right from the app window and also Reveal them in Finder.

I'm a huge fan of function over form. Diskwave might not have the 12-color gradiated color pallette and engaging animations as alternatives. For me, I want to get the task done and move on. Diskwave is perfect for this.

 
 

MAILTAB PRO FOR GMAIL

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: $1.99

MailTab Pro for Gmail does one thing and that's it. MailTab Pro for Gmail adds a small icon in your Menu Bar with pop up alerts and a counter for new email. When I do freelance work or have important emails - responding fast is a must. Knowing exactly when emails arrive and responding fast is imperative for securing future work. By clicking the Menu Bar icon a floating window opens above your other Windows. When you're done MailTab fades away when you click to a new window, like it was never there.

MailTab Pro for Gmail a phenomenal way to stay on top of essential emails . I love always having my email available without cluttering my Chrome tabs or Dock.

 
 

ONYX

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: Free

OnyX is another powerful system optimization and customization application. OnyX is a long-standing application in my lineup for many years. To put the benefit of using OnyX right up front - it can prevent a hard-disk failure. 

OnyX runs a complete hardware and system verification test to ensure system stability. Warning: it may take some time and will appear to "freeze up" until test is complete. OnyX will rebuild permissions and incorrect System LaunchServices and caches. Additionally, OnyX crawls into deep system files to clean out old components and kernels. These small unseen background files limit optimal system performance.

This might sound like a ton of nerd talk, but OnyX is also user friendly. To run a default clean, go to Automation and click Run. Warning: After the initial cleanup, your system will appear to run slow. This is because OnyX has cleared old or useless caches and they need to be rebuilt.

Another cool feature is being able to Customize many hidden features of MacOS. Under Parameters OnyX gives you controls to change many "secret options." These options typically have to be altered in Terminal with many lines of code. For those that won't the customization without the code, that screen is for you.

Can't say enough good things about OnyX. Do yourself and your computer a favor and try it out!

 
 

POST HASTE

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac/Windows
Price: Free

Post Haste is a small application that helps create standardized folder structures. This application is for large teams and personal projects that demand organization and structure.

When working for a professional production company, organization is essential. For projects that have a "hand-off," knowing where to find and save files is a huge asset. On the surface, Post Haste might not seem that helpful. Post Haste can export/import various custom Folders structures for projects. Creating folder structures and start-files for large teams makes Post Haste an indispensable tool. 

I highly recommend using Post Haste to set up upcoming projects.

 
pasted-graphic.png
 

RENAME

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: Free

Rename is an oddly helpful utility when working with image sequences. Rename is the easiest tool I've come across that has all these abilities. I use Rename for mass renaming, changing extensions and adding new suffixes or prefixes everyday.

For me, this utility has been a lifesaver. At times, I focus on getting what I need more than naming structures. If you've seen any of my Summits you might know what I'm talking about. Sometimes it's hard to remember what "supercool_001.png" actually is.

Rename is a useful addition to any motion graphics artist's toolbox. When I need to mass rename or add numerical information - Rename is my goto.

 
 

SCREEN-FLOW 6

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: $99

For me, Screenflow is the gold-standard of screencasting and recording. Screenflow's quality is immaculate and when exporting it shines. The Publish tool puts you in a "fast lane" for uploading to YouTube, Vimeo and other popular video hosting sites. The latest update to Version 5, brought a simple UI and even more capabilities. I've tried other software and they all fall short of Screenflow. 

The interface is easy to understand and user friendly.  Warning: On first use remember to change the default record time to more than 10 minutes.  Screenflow also includes a consumer grade editing interface and suite of tools. Once again, the editing interface is user-minded, simple and fast.

Screenflow is going to remain in my most used applications for a long time. If you have screencasts or any content that demands high-quality recording - Screenflow.

 
 

XTRA-FINDER

DOWNLOAD

OS: Mac
Price: Free

 

This tiny utility application has become an essential part to using my Mac. XtraFinder provides an tons of tweaks and optimizations that improve the default Finder. XtraFinder brought Tabbed browsing to Finder, before Apple introduced Tabs in OS X Yosemite.

I don't use everything from  XtraFinder, but couldn't live without these preferences turned on. Narrow Tab Bar (places the Tabs at the top of Finder), Automatically adjust width of columns (reading entire file names in Column browsing is useful), Go Up button in toolbar (navigate into Parent Folder of selected item) and Add XtraFinder's functions to the toolbar (provides some nice additional icons and tools).

XtraFinder could easily be paid software. The Auto-Adjust feature alone is a must have in my opinion.