There are plenty of advanced, powerful software filled with enough features to do almost anything. And then there are the tiny utilities that don't do much, but that are great at what they do do.
Screenshot tools. Apps to write down virtual sticky notes. Calculators. A tool to search for the right emoji. An app to convert obscure measurements. The Unix philosophy said each software should be best at one thing, and these apps took that seriously.
What are some of your favorite tiny tools, the little software you'd miss if they disappeared and that only do one thing—but do it well?
I wrote a huge list on my Twitter:
Here are a few that I like for each platform:
This is made by a Microsoft team for Windows 10 that has many different types of utilities in it, such as a color picker, bulk renamer, File Explorer addons, and more. Specifically, there is one called FancyZones which is amazing for productivity. You can set up various zones on the screen and place your applications there, and they will stay there across desktops. You can save and reload these configurations as well.
This app allows you to lay out your windows on-screen in a simple way.
Divvy is also available for Windows but since I use PowerToys, I don't need it on Windows.
This is an alternative to VSCode. Onivim is a powerful text editor (currently still in alpha) that runs on Vim but also provides a nice GUI with integration into VSCode extensions. Best of all, it's not based on Electron so it loads in less than a second and only takes up double digit megabytes of RAM.
NewPipe is a lightweight YouTube app that has some features that make it very useful for power users. For one, it can go to 3x speed and save that speed for all videos automatically. It can also play videos and audio in the background which the official YouTube app won't let you do unless you pay for YouTube Premium. There are of course also no ads.
For alternatives, look at YouTube Vanced which sadly only goes up to 2x speed.
This audiobook player is unique in that it connects to your cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox and streams or downloads your books from there. It can be very useful if you don't have much storage on your phone.
This should be the first extension that anyone installs. It's a very efficient adblocker that not only blocks ads but also other trackers that stalk your browsing online. It is remarkably effective and is not bought out by advertising companies like many adblockers, including Adblock and Adblock Plus.
Note that uBlock is not the same as uBlock Origin, the former is a malicious version.
— Twizzle for a tweet box in my menu bar (keeps me from going to twitter.com and getting lost in distractions)
— TextSniper (converts screenshots into OCR'd text instantly, great for research)
— ImageOptim (one-drag-to-the-dock image compression)
— Fluid.app and/or Flotato for converting websites into standalone Mac apps
— Workona, TabXpert, Session Buddy, and/or One-Tab for tab management
— Raindrop.io for bookmarks
Gonna be mostly mac apps, but Yoink is my all time favorite, Paste for iOS and Mac clipboard management, and I recently rebuilt my own tool Serenity which is a must have for my own sanity (Yac.com/serenity)
Thought I'd put some of my favorite iPad utilities here, since Mac stuff got covered so well already:
Tot for short notes. I keep it as a slide-over app, so basically no matter what I'm doing, I can swipe in from the right of the screen and write down quick notes.
AnyFont to install extra fonts. There are a few other options now, but this gets the job done and has worked reliably for years.
Inspect to get something close to Chrome or Safari's Inspect Element on iPad. Invaluable for web design.
Figurative for a closer-to-native Figma app for iPad (though Figma does work ok in the browser, too, now that iPad has mouse support).
Paper is still my favorite for quick sketches. It manages to make your designs look reasonably good even if you're not an artist.
a-shell for a (basic) Terminal on iPad. You'll still need to SSH into a server to use full *nix in a Terminal, but this is a nice start and makes you hope one day we'll get the real thing, natively.
GoFullPage Chrome Extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gofullpage-full-page-scre/fdpohaocaechififmbbbbbknoalclacl?hl=en
- Want to share an email or landing page you're building? This will do all the scrolling for you, so you don't have to stitch together several screencaps
Aspect Ratio Calculator: https://andrew.hedges.name/experiments/aspect_ratio/
- If you're ever managing images in HTML, this will help you make safe adjustments without altering the image dimensions
WayBack Machine: https://archive.org/web/
- Let's you see what websites used to look like
Convert SFDC IDs from 15 to 18 characters: https://www.adminbooster.com/tool/15to18
- Useful for anyone in Marketing/Sales/Revenue Ops
Visbug is one of my top and most recommended extensions. It has helped me quickly visualize quick A/B tests on live pages, inspect elements, troubleshoot, and experiment with other site layouts.
Open source browser design tools
Give power to designers & content creators, in a place where they currently feel they have little to none, by bringing design tool interactions and hotkeys to the browser
Tiny tools to share (I'm on a Mac most of the time so these are Mac-specific):
https://healthier.lessapps.net/ - forces (or tries to force!) you to take breaks from your screen at regular intervals - settled on this one after trying a bunch
https://getcommande.com/ - easy keyboard shortcut to open any document, contact, file or record from the cloud. I use it like Spotlight for Google Apps - a great time-saver
https://textexpander.com/ - mentioned by others - great snippet shortcut tool. Really useful when you take the time to put in everything you type more than once
https://manytricks.com/moom/ - window management for Mac
Apple Notes - much better in their latest release - quick/easy way to share amongst multiple Apple devices
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