Default apps, 2023

I’m supposed to be frantically writing a story for National Novel Writing Month. But I also have a streak of posting to my blog every month this year and I want to keep it going.

To that end, I’m taking inspiration from Robb Knight and the Hemispheric Views podcast and posting a list of default apps I use for various purposes.

Bonus stuff:

See others’ default apps

Additional comments

I’m very macOS-centric. I know for a lot of people their phone is their most personal device. For me that’s macOS via my Mac Studio and MacBook Pro. I have an iPhone but can’t physically operate it. I use just enough Voice Control to get by and I use macOS for everything else.

Phone calls? macOS. Messages? macOS. Writing? macOS. Notes? macOS. Fun and games? macOS. Social media? macOS. Reading? macOS. Art? macOS.

For more on the assistive technology angle of my software, check out my assistive tech gear page.

Mail Server

I signed up with Pobox a decade ago. Since then Pobox was acquired by Fastmail. They still operate somewhat separately, as there are separate dashboards and settings and such. But for webmail they both use Fastmail (I’m assuming there’s a lot of shared infrastructure behind the scenes). If I were signing up now, I’d just get Fastmail.

As for why a paid mail provider:


I switch notes apps all the time, but I’m pretty happy with Bear 2 for my general note-taking and blog-drafting needs. I use Tot for Mac for transient text, Bike Outliner for outlining and long-form writing, and iA Writer for markdown writing and editing.

Obsidian appeals to me but unfortunately my onscreen keyboard’s predictive text feature doesn’t work well in browsers or Electron-based apps, so it’s a non-starter.

In the past I’ve used Craft, Simplenote, nvALT, Notational Velocity, and Evernote.

Cloud file storage

Dropbox seems to increasingly do more things than just keeping a folder synced on all my computers. There is also a pretty big change with Dropbox on macOS due to low-level APIs for opening online-only files. Anyway, I’m not really interested in Dropbox’s other services or online-only files. I longed for the simpler Dropbox of yore, so I switched to using the Dropbox client, Maestral, a few months ago and it’s been pretty great. It turns Dropbox back into what it used to be. I’ve seen a slight uptick in sync conflicts but not enough to dissuade me from using it.


Not too long ago I wrote about my multi-browser workflow. I’ve since decided to experiment with Arc. It has a feature called Air Traffic Control that lets me open certain URL patterns in one workspace versus the other. With that, I’m able to have separate work and personal spaces/profiles and have links open in the correct one.


I recently gave a conference talk using iA Presenter and it really changed the way I think about public speaking. That could be a whole blog post of its own but, in short, it not-so-gently pushed me toward writing a good talk first and sprucing up the slides second.


I like Apple Numbers for one reason: you can put multiple tables on a page. This is a hill I will die on, probably alone.


I’ve been using Spotify exclusively for almost two years only because the Apple Music desktop app is just awful. It’s a shame because iTunes in the early days is responsible for me switching from Windows to Mac in 2006. I was about to purchase another Dell, then I got to thinking about how awesome my iPod was and how iTunes was my favorite program on my PC. I decided to see what kind of computers Apple sold and the rest is history.