In my four years of designing, I’ve come across many cool and useful design tools that make my job as a designer more efficient, if not easier. Here are a few of my favorites!
Alfred is OSX’s Spotlight on steroids: it launches applications, finds files, searches the web (including Google and Amazon), does calculations, and so much more. It’s elegant and lightweight, which means it’s much easier to dig out files in a heartbeat.
Bartender is purely cosmetic. It lets you hide the apps you use, making sure your screen isn’t crowded with applications, buttons, or toggles that you use but don’t need to see at the moment.
For someone who repositions and bumps windows around frequently, BetterSnap Tool is ideal for quickly resizing and snapping windows to different areas of the screen. If you’ve ever used Windows 7, it works like a more robust version of the way window snapping works–grab the window and drag it to a any edge of the screen and let go to resize or fill the screen. This is particularly useful if you find yourself juggling different windows and at only $1.99, it adds functionality that feels right at home on OSX.
Clear is a great check list app. Whenever I receive feedback from a client or a change list from Dario, our creative director, I can consolidate the tasks into to-dos that can be checked off. Clear helps me organize my thoughts, rearrange priorities, and have a lovely interface to keep track of what I need to accomplish. At $9.99 it is a little bit pricy, so if you want to go a cheaper route I’d suggest using the native OSX app, Reminders.
I take dozens of screenshots throughout the week and before DotSnap, they would all be cluttered on my desktop with no naming convention. DotSnap lets you set the name of screenshots before they’re taken, as well as moving them to any folder of your choice, keeping your desktop clean and your screenshots organized. Did I mention it’s free?
One of my favorite design tools is InvisionApp because it’s the easiest way to simulate a developed product. Not only that, but it gives me the ability to test these interfaces before they even reach design on smartphones, tablets, as well as desktop browsers. It’s the best way to share wireframes and designs, especially with clients.
Hyperdock increases the functionality of your dock, allowing you to hover over open applications and get an at-a-glance view of all your open windows. It’s great for helping you jump around not only between applications, but within individual windows in them.
Memory Clean optimizes your Mac’s memory and helps your computer run faster and better–for free. (Note: I recommend setting it to auto clean at certain thresholds. Works wonders!)
The Noun Project is a great site to find iconography when you are having a hard time trying to figure out how to represent abstract words like “interactive” or “outlooks.”
Reflector works kind of like an opposite to Skala. Reflector lets you push your screen from your phone or tablet onto your computer, and lets you make recordings of what’s on your screen. It’s great if you have to present something at the mobile size to a client, but don’t want to play hot potato with your phone or tablet.
With Screenfly, checking the responsiveness of your site is super easy. The best thing about Screenfly is the vast amount of options there are for tablet, phone, and computer screen sizes that you can choose from.
This tool is indispensable when designing for mobile versions. Skala lets you send JPEGs or PSDs to your phone or tablet through WiFi so you can view your files live on the intended device.
A Photoshop plugin based on the popular resource library, Subtle Patterns lets you plug in a huge breadth of patterns for those scenarios where you might need a little bit of texture.
As you can see, there are a lot of tools out there that will add to your functionality as a designer. Have more questions about what we do as designers, or want to get started on a project? Contact us today!