A list of all the 3rd party apps currently installed on my devices
From time to time, I like to publish this kind of post. Not only they are easy to write, but I like to think that they are somehow useful to a reader or two. I have always enjoyed discovering what apps were used by people I read on a regular basis.
As you may know, as much as I love trying out new software, I like to uninstall it too. I like preinstalled software, I like default apps. I like the idea of an OS being a complete package of everything you may need. The better I use system apps, the less I need to use third-party software. It may feel unnecessary, and a little stupid, but this is a minimalistic way of using computers I now enjoy, allowing me to not think about what is the best app for A or B.
It is worth noting that this post is about my personal use and personal devices. For work I use a Windows laptop, and all my professional tools/apps/services only live on that machine: that is why I can keep my Apple devices free of all the Asana, Slack, and Google Workspace noise.
So here is the list of all the apps I have installed on my iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch:
That’s it, that’s the whole list.
All the other apps I use are Apple apps, which are to me the best thing about the Apple ecosystem; not the App Store, not the hardware, but the software that runs on these devices, which is included “for free.”
Apps like Reminders, Notes, Photos, and even Mail to some extent, are truly premium apps and any company making them could comfortably charge users. It is easy to ignore them and search for more advanced software, but for me, in most cases, these apps are not only more-than-enough, but pretty good.3
The quality of these already-installed apps allows me to barely need anything else. I just have to use a content blocker (Wipr) to be able to browse the web without losing my mind; I have to use the excellent Dropbox client Maestral to be able to publish on Blot; and of course I wouldn’t be able to communicate with half of my friends and family without WhatsApp.
Having a limited number of apps also forces me to better use some of them. For instance, I could use uFocus, iA Writer, or the amazing Drafts for writing and enjoy a better crafted app, but TextEdit, once set up the way I want — and coupled with the right font with a decent line-height — turns out to be good enough, and, more importantly, is already installed.4 I could use the pixel-perfect NetNewsWire, but the Feedbin web app is good and has a lot of cool features: it would be a shame not to use it.
Like I do with the design of this blog, I start by removing the maximum number of elements, making things barely usable, before slowly adding back what I want and need the most for a satisfying experience. I like to compare this journey from barebones minimalism to balanced essentialism to the recent Apple’s MacBook product line: making them as minimal and thin as possible first (removing MagSafe and ports, opting for thin and shitty keyboard), realising it was not a satisfying product, before adding back the most essential features (SD card slot, HDMI, function key row, etc.)
That is why I keep a Dropbox client. That is why I keep a content blocker. I could do without them both by using the Dropbox website to upload and replace files, I could use Safari without Wipr, but my computing experience would be far worse. I could just tell people “just email me, I don’t have WhatsApp anymore” but I can’t really do that to my friends can I?
This exercise is something I would encourage you to do: what apps do you have that can be replaced easily by a quick visit to a website? What software do you use but don’t really need to? Which apps do you really want to keep? It will either make you appreciate more the apps you have, or free up some not-so-precious space in your dock or on your homescreen.
If you don’t want to use a content-blocker but something improving your privacy and browsing experience, I recommend StopTheMadness.↩︎
Now used through CLI, so I barely see it anymore.↩︎
That is why I was hoping for slight improvements to TextEdit in MacOS Ventura, but as far as I can tell, nothing new under the sun.↩︎
Of course, I can’t talk about writing text files in Markdown in TextEdit without talking about the excellent Markdown Service Tools by Brett Terpstra.↩︎