15+ Incredibly Useful Mac Apps For Freelance Web Designers

January 29th, 2009

In today’s post you will find 15 incredibly useful Mac Apps for freelance web designers to get their website or application styled in a fraction of the time it took before and help them manage their project efficiently to get their job done.

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1. Espresso

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Extremely powerful web development tool, created by the minds behind CSSEdit. Providing a powerful editing, sleek projects, live preview, real publishing and synchronization tools.

Espresso features an immensely powerful rule-based syntax engine, CoreSyntax, that transforms your text documents into semantic structure. Espresso has an extensible Navigator that’s best compared to the CSSEdit styles list.

2. CSSEdit

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

CSSEdit’s unique focus is on style sheets, it offers a wide range of features for any level of expertise. Starting out? Selector Builder, advanced visual editors, Live Preview, intelligent source environment and a powerful X-Ray web page inspector for an unbeatable CSS debugging suite.

3. Pixelmator

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Pixelmator, the beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images. Pixelmator is a layer-based image editor. You can quickly create layers from your photos, other pictures, from selections or even your iSight. Pixelmator can add a layer to your composition directly from your Mac’s little camera. With Pixelmator’s powerful, pixel-accurate collection of selection tools you can quickly and easily select any part of your images to edit and apply special effects to portions of your pictures.

4. Coda

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Panic Coda is a great all-in-one Web development environment tool, keeping many of your commonly used tools in separate tabs. Tools include: text-editor, css editor, file transfer, svn, terminal & smart Spelling. All of the usual languages are supported and styled appropriately including: CSS, HTML, Javascript, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, SQL, XML, and straight text.

5. Lineform

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Lineform is an ideal Mac app for vector art, diagrams and illustrations. Lineform has all of the most popular tools, including everything from freeform gradients to compositing effects, enabling you to create the designs you want without getting in your way with superfluous “features” you don’t need.

6. Fontcase

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Fontcase is a font management application that provides an elegant and powerful workflow to help you organise the fonts you have installed on your system. Designed to be an iTunes for your fonts, Fontcase has a powerful tagging system, which is designed to let you control your fonts like you control your music.

7. Deep- Image Search

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Deep calculates the range of colors used in each of your images by analyzing the pixels and calculating the most popular colors. This is what makes the palettes in Deep powerful, you can find images that have similar colors, which is great when you are looking for the perfect picture to go on your web site. In fact, just drag any image on to Deep and it will find and rank all the images on your computer that are similar.

8. Cyberduck

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Cyberduck is an open source FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Mosso Cloud Files and Amazon S3 browser for the Mac. It features an easy to use interface with quickly accessible bookmarks.

9. Flow

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Flow is another file transfer coming in style. Flow brings the best of the Mac to your server’s files and folders. Put simply, Flow makes working remotely every bit as intuitive and natural as working locally with the Finder. With Flow, you can edit files directly on your server, connect to (FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV, and MobileMe iDisk servers), Quickly Upload Without UI and many other features.

10. Sequel Pro

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Sequel Pro is a Mac OS X MySQL Database Management app. Sequel Pro gives you direct access to your MySQL databases on local and remote servers with support for importing and exporting data from popular files including SQL, CSV and XML.

11. Things

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

Task management has never been this easy. Organize your to-dos with Projects and Areas of Responsibility. Features include: A smart Today list automatically gathers all you need to look at, Repeating To Dos, Every list can easily be filtered and sorted by due date, iPhone Sync and many other features.

12. xscope

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

xScope is a powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, aligning and inspecting on-screen graphics and layouts. Quickly available via the Mac OS X menu bar, xScope’s flexible tools float above desktop windows and UI elements making measuring a breeze.

13. KeyCue

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

KeyCue gives you an instant overview of the overall functionality of any application, plus lets you automatically start working more efficiently by making use of menu shortcuts.

14. TextExpander

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

TextExpander saves you countless keystrokes with customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings, code snippets and images.

15. OnTheJob

Mac Apps For Web & Graphic Designers

On The Job has a lot of power under the hood but maintains it’s reputation as the easiest to use time and expense tracking solution available for Mac OS X. On The Job offers flexible invoice creation. Create invoices for specific date ranges, covering a single job, or spanning multiple jobs.

Other Mac Apps you will find interesting


Let us know your favorite Mac App and why do you find it useful and may be can’t live without it :)

The jungle is alive: Be it a collaboration between two or more authors or an article by an author not contributing regularly. In these cases you find the Noupe Editorial Team as the ones who made it. Guest authors get their own little bio boxes below the article, so watch out for these.

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96 comments for „15+ Incredibly Useful Mac Apps For Freelance Web Designers
  1. DVQ on January 29th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Nice collection of apps.

    What about Transmit?

    • forbetaorworse on January 30th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

      Transmit is part of Coda. Same dudes. So it kinda was included.

      • Evan on January 30th, 2009 at 1:28 pm

        Then why wasn’t Espresso and CSS-Edit combined into one? Same dudes.

        I Too was shocked that Transmit wasn’t individually mentioned. Great list though.

      • curtismchale on January 31st, 2009 at 7:42 am

        Transmit was the one app I expected to be mentioned. While cyberduck is alright it doesn’t hold a candle to Transmit. I have used them both lots and Transmit is by far the superior. While the transmit engine is inside Coda you still don’t have the whole thing and would have to purchase Transmit on its own.

      • forbetaorworse on January 31st, 2009 at 11:29 am
  2. John Wang on January 29th, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Versions – client for subversion.
    Apple’s XCode, Dashcode?

  3. Nicolas TAFFOREAU on January 29th, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for this nice list !

  4. Gelay on January 29th, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Coda, CSS Edit, Textmate, MAMP are the apps that I use every day. You missed Transmit.

    • Justin on January 30th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      Why do you use CSS Edit if you have CODA?

      • Caroline Blaker on January 30th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

        CSS Edit allows you to point to elements and see the level of html embedding, applied styles to that level by name, and furthermore, you can click on your breadcrumb back each level and see the same information for those. Extraordinary help for troublesome styles.

      • Justin on January 31st, 2009 at 10:05 am

        Is it any better than using Firebug? Maybe I’ll give it a shot and find out. Just seems like i’m bloating my MBP with more programs I don’t need.

      • Caroline on February 2nd, 2009 at 11:07 am

        I use Firebug only for Javascript, so I can’t relate directly, but one thing CSS edit does that I didn’t mention before is allow you to download and override styles that are live, i.e. navigate to a webpage, change a style locally, and preview it using CSS edit. Make no-matter-how-many changes, then once you like it, make your edits live (I do this with a regular text editor, not CSS edit, but since CSS Edit talks to Coda it makes it very easy.)
        If you’re a Coda user already its an extremely useful sister program.

  5. Corey Martella on January 29th, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Skitch is a must have

  6. Sarah on January 29th, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    great list! will be exploring these apps!!

  7. kyle on January 29th, 2009 at 10:22 pm


    Tried Cyberduck, but needed a double pane editor, and I’m loving Transmit to pieces.

    I’ll add Launchbar, although anything that has a clipboard manager so I can copy/cut 5 things from an app, and then reverse paste them into another is super useful. I think I prefer Quicksilver, but for some reason the clipboard library isn’t working with it.

  8. Henrik Hedegaard on January 29th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    What I use everyday for XHTML, CSS and JS is Aptana.

    • Porfitron on January 30th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

      Me too… Aptana is a MUST for any web designer that doesn’t want to fork over cash for Dreamweaver. Also, it has integrated FTP and even SVN for those that need to check in code.

  9. Evopub on January 30th, 2009 at 1:31 am

    For FTP and more I use ForkLift by Binarynights ( ) which is much more powerful and fast than other apps I’ve found ; just before buying Things I’ve found The Hit List by Potion Factory ( ) far better un my opinion ; I’ve used a lot Pixelmator, but I’m now returning to Gimp, more powerful ; instead of Deep I use the freeware ImageSorter ( ). And, of course, instead of Sequel Pro, I just use PhpMyAdmin and personal developments. Other softs I use daily: Textmate, Journler (I use it as a CRM, it’s the easiest way I’ve found to have a complete history), FileChute, Mamp, Code Collector Lite, Namely (launcher), CSSedit, Jumpcut, etc.

  10. jyoseph on January 30th, 2009 at 2:24 am

    I second Transmit. Great writeup though with some interesting apps to check out!

  11. V1 on January 30th, 2009 at 2:29 am
  12. Pierre Canthelou on January 30th, 2009 at 2:38 am

    Espresso isn’t as good as everybody want’s to say (especialy comparing to Coda)…

    Missing Evernote and Paparazzi !

  13. Ole on January 30th, 2009 at 2:54 am

    TimeLog for time tracking and GrandTotal for invoicing.

  14. Brando on January 30th, 2009 at 2:54 am

    I see Inkscape e Lineform: why not Intaglio?
    Rapidweaver is cool as wysiwyg editor.
    Transmit had to be mentioned.
    Espresso is still young.

  15. Macbook Pro on January 30th, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Another vote for:


    But some nice apps here that I had not heard of before.

    Not sure Coda is any good for me as I code mostly in PHP…

  16. Bruno Abrantes on January 30th, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Great post, I see a lot of apps I use day in and day out. I didn’t know Pixelmator though, I’ll be sure to give that a try. Also, am I the only one who also uses Coda for FTP/SFTP and SSH? ‘Cause you can’t beat that kind of integration :P

  17. Bruno Abrantes on January 30th, 2009 at 4:16 am

    @MacbookPro I use Coda everyday, and if there’s a language I think it supports best (aside from XHTML) I think PHP is the winner. Sure, I code a little faster in Textmate, but as I said before, you can’t beat integration with an FTP client and shell.

  18. Edo on January 30th, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Banalities. Pure linkbaiting.

  19. lowell on January 30th, 2009 at 4:30 am


  20. Adrian on January 30th, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Is there exist any Picturesque like application, but for Windows?

  21. Andrew Leyden on January 30th, 2009 at 6:28 am

    I use a small program called HyperEdit for quick PHP pages and previews locally. I also agree Textmate is a very useful and expandable text editor, especially if you are using Subversion version tracking.

  22. Davi Ferreira on January 30th, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Textmate should’ve been #1! :P

  23. Tom Peever on January 30th, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I am a list guy so use Anxiety for “Lightweight To-do Management”. It’s non-obtrusive and syncs with all my other scheduling apps like iCal and Studiometry. Best of all it’s free.

  24. Renee on January 30th, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I’ve been working on MACs for quite some time, but just recently purchased my first Macbook Pro. This was a great list for me as I can finally use apps like these. Thanks!

  25. brainpicker on January 30th, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Excellent collection. And on the image search note, you should check out these two fantastic free apps:

    Multicolr Search Lab


    (Also wonderful: CoolIris (formerly known as PicLens) and the Flickr Related Tag Browser.)

  26. Timothy on January 30th, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Awesome list. When I actually own a Mac this will be of more use (I plan on getting one soon)

  27. Jerome on January 30th, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Aw, Textmate is underrated in this post! Obviously because it’s not as user-friendly as Coda or Espresso, but it’s much more powerful when you’re used to it.

    Layers is a great app too. Been waiting for something like that for a long time.

  28. larisa on January 30th, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Great post. I especially liked Pixelmator and Lineform.
    Thanks for the useful info.

  29. Michael on January 30th, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I personally don’t care much for CyberDuck, I prefer Filezilla another great freeware FTP client.

    • jessemoya on January 30th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

      I agree. I’ve really tried to like CyberDuck, but it actually kept crashing on me. I’ve never had a problem like that with software before.

      FileZilla does everything I need it to.

    • Porfitron on January 30th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

      I agree… I prefer the 2-window UI, too. What’s local on the left and where it’s going on the right :-)

      Cyberduck is just waiting for a drag-and-drop accident to happen.

  30. Shawn on January 30th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Great list. A few of these apps I have never used and am looking forward to giving a try. Here are my everyday apps:
    Textmate – It might not be as pretty as coda or espresso, but if you take the time to learn it, you will write your code faster with it.
    Coda – I really only use it for the rare occasions that I want to edit something directly on the server, but if it weren’t for Textmate, this would be my standard.
    MAMP – unless you have a development server, this is kind of a necessity.
    Quicksilver – absolutely hate any computer that doesn’t have this installed already.
    Transmit – I like it a lot, but their are some things lacking. Probably will check out Flow and Forklift to see if I like them better.
    Growl – I like to be notified.
    Cuppa – tells me when my tea is done.
    Photoshop/Illustrator – They might not be the popular choice, but I can’t give them up.

  31. OrganicPixels on January 30th, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I think Transmit would of been a good one to add in there. Imho it’s the best FTP client to date.

  32. mehedi on January 30th, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Just gr8!

  33. Mehmaani on January 30th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Nice list!

    Any recommendations of an IDE editor for the Mac?

  34. lune on January 30th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I love the 3.1.2 version.

  35. lune on January 30th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I love the 3.1.2 version.
    and it is free

  36. David Fisher on January 30th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I’m kinda shocked that Textmate isn’t higher up on this list. Its not free, but it really kicks ass more than just a footnote.

  37. Benjamin Falk on January 30th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Useful list here — I use quite a few of these apps in my regular design/development work. I wish I liked Espresso more… it just feels a bit light on features at the moment. The way it handles open files is much more intuitive than Coda, at least in my opinion. Still, I’ll stick to Coda for the moment.

    I think someone else mentioned… I really love Evernote. Gives me a place to organize useful links, screenshots of designs I like and code snippets.

  38. Tice on January 30th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Pictures: Pixelmator
    Coding: TextWrangler
    FTP: Transmit

    That’s all I use.

  39. Steve K. on January 30th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Vector Designer > Lineform

    Built-in scanning and raster to vector tools plus it’s the only vector app for the Mac other than Illustrator that will parse an EPS file so you can edit it.

    Vector Designer

  40. John Turner on January 30th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Cyberduck is not that good. I recommend Filezilla

  41. Caroline Blaker on January 30th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I LOVE MacJournal by Mariner – I use it for lists, thought snippets, and blogs throughout the day. Its a fantastic note pad.

  42. Tim on January 30th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I’m very stunned that Xyle Scope is not mentioned in the list. I think it’s an invaluable CSS analysis tool.

  43. Nick on January 30th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I’m surprised I didn’t see KomodoEdit on the list.

    Its gotta be my favorite app for code editing and can handle every code language in the book!

  44. Mark on January 30th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Good post, this site is like smashing magazine but better.

  45. dave's not here on January 30th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned BBEdit. Hands down the best editor for building web pages

  46. John Nicely on January 30th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I’m soooooooo glad Coda was included on this list. I’ve only been using it for about a week and I’ve fallen in love with it and wouldn’t go back to Dreamweaver if Adobe gave me a copy for free… The user interface is seamless and perfect, and all of the little modifications they’ve made to coding’s usual workflow (in-editor SVN, editing remote files directly instead of editing locally and then uploading, the CSS editor) make it way better than anything else I’ve ever seen!

  47. Mike on January 30th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    One very important application for hardcore editing, is BBEdit.

  48. Noupe on January 30th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks everyone for the great feedback and wonderful suggestions you sent here. I will definitely include all of your suggestions in a special post next week with More focus on “TextMate” :)

  49. Nazz on January 30th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Info.xhead – the best password / data management app.

  50. Todd Austin on January 30th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Expandrive is also a very useful application. I am currently using it in conjunction with TexMate.

  51. SC on January 30th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I would add Color Scheme Studio as well

  52. J.R. on January 30th, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Just to chime in.

    I’m surprised TextMate isn’t higher.

    I downloaded both TextMate and Coda trials and though I tried and tried to make myself like the friendlier Coda more I just couldn’t bring myself to it. It just felt clumsy.

    My votes go to
    Duck (even though I just bought Transmit)

    • David B on January 31st, 2009 at 10:14 am

      @ J.R.

      Amen. I tried Coda once or twice, but for the serious CSS work I’ve done over the last couple years, CSSedit along with Textmate and Version’s SVN gets the job done without dealing with managing and setting up sites ala DW ways. I like to open CSS files immediately, start working away, save directly to my desktop, transfer to a PC and do any additional testing. Great list of apps though, many I didn’t know about.

  53. Thijs Scheepers on January 30th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Thank You so much for this blog post. I didn’t even heard of most of these programs. I’m sure there gonna help me a lot, especialy On The Job.

  54. PM Hut on January 30th, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    All of the above are mainly used for production/development. There are no collaboration/Project Management apps. That would have been a nice addition.

  55. Plinio on January 30th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I’d recommend XAMPP over MAMP, just for the ease of use and modificacion of configuration files (like php.ini, httpd.conf, etc) =)

  56. Miles on January 30th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I use Eclipse with plug-ins for XHTML, CSS and ColdFusion for web development on my Mac. Much like the theories behind Coda and Espresso, it allows front-end and back-end coding into a unified application. Plus, it’s free.

    Transmit is great for moving files. I tried Flow when it first came out, but it corrupted the root directory of my web files. Never had an FTP program do that before!

    Thanks for the awesome list, guys! =)

  57. Per F T Nilsson on January 30th, 2009 at 6:22 pm


  58. josie on January 30th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    @PM HUT … i agree, it would have been nice addition. overall some great apps here

  59. DVQ on January 30th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Another great app for freelancers is Plainview – The fullscreen web browser based on Webkit.

    Works great for display your work!

  60. Broccoli on January 31st, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I prefer Billings 3 over On The Job. On The Job invoices are too simple and allow very little customization. They made some of the application visuals pretty but it lacks in organizing information at a glance and many simple features. Billings 3 is much more robust and has much better organization of information and visual queues that summarizes information/accounts at a glance.. plus a boatload of more features. I heard Billings 3 will have a iphone companion app coming out soon. :)

  61. Scott on January 31st, 2009 at 2:11 am

    I can’t believe how many people here are praising a program for letting you edit live files directly on the server. That’s about one of the best ways possible to COMPLETELY hose an entire project. One erroneous Cmd-S can bring an entire server grinding to a halt.

    Seriously. That’s, like, Internet 101 level knowledge.

    • Justin on January 31st, 2009 at 10:09 am

      Agreed, I would never edit a file live on the server. You’re just asking for trouble. If it’s your personal blog site and just sillyness who cares, but not with clients. CODA still rocks.

  62. Turki on January 31st, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Great FTP and sFTP client:

  63. Christopher Ross on January 31st, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I love Billings, it’s a pretty simple tool but it’s saved me thousands over the past year by letting me accurately track over runs.

  64. Emil Bonsaksen on January 31st, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Earlier on I used Textmate/Photoshop/CSSEdit/Transmit/MAMP/PHPMyAdmin. But then I bought Coda. Since then my list is a bit shorter. Coda/PhotoShop/MAMP/PHPMyAdmin.
    I use Things for GTD, and MindNode for mapping and sorting the hierarchy.

    Have been testing Espresso for a while, but Coda is by far the best at the moment. Will give it a try though when they release final version.

  65. wardom on January 31st, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Is this releated to Firebug or what?

    I will take a try and write back. Thank you

  66. Prabin Prajapati on January 31st, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Its good job you did
    i like your sites to submitting
    its really a fabulous to get information regarding soft tech

  67. Wim on February 1st, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Thanks for this usefull list of Apps. I just bought me my first Mac so this comes in handy.

  68. Andi on February 1st, 2009 at 8:46 am

    instead of Transmit I use Path Finder… and I love it

  69. John Whorfin on February 1st, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    PRICING INFO for each would have been very helpful and appreciated. ;-)

    • Noupe on February 2nd, 2009 at 3:30 am

      Next time, i will add the price. Thanks for the tip :)

  70. Sirwan on February 1st, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    could you a list for ubuntu please, thanks

  71. Yan Charbonneau on February 3rd, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Great list thx! I’m using Billings, it’s wonderful!

  72. Amber Weinberg on February 4th, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Awesome list of apps! Definitely going to try some out!

  73. ATV on February 4th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I was just about to recommend textmate when i saw it in the other apps section. Textmate is imo the best mac program ever

  74. Leo on February 5th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    For me: ForkLift + TextMate

  75. blogsarticle on February 20th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Great list thx! I’m using Billings, it’s wonderful!

  76. sonique6784 on February 23rd, 2010 at 2:25 am

    for versionning, you can use SPMPT for MAMP (9euros).
    To get a perfect web developper environment with versionning. Its a easy to install package working out of the box ! Its permits you to get Trac (from edgewall) and Subversion server on your MAMP installation. Then because Trac needs Python and mod_python (included in package) it’s a very nice tool for Python programmers.

  77. Web Site Design Victoria on March 29th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Excellent Blog! I recently switched from PC to Mac; I find resources such as yours extremely helpful!

  78. rudychidiac on May 20th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    you should have added couldapp :)

  79. Manuel on May 29th, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Awesome article, I find specially helpful two apps here: “Things” and “On the Job”, these were two apps I was looking for!

  80. Graham on June 29th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Yip these look top knotch. I am getting my first Mac next week and can’t wait to try some of these.

  81. Nathal on September 4th, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    What an amazing list of free tools.
    Does anyone have any review for applicatiob Kdevelop? Now i’m using Coda which is pretty good but i always support open source software so i thinking about Kdevelope.

  82. Dylan Lott on May 21st, 2013 at 3:29 am

    Absolutely fantastic article. I use Mac’s everday, I love them, and even I haven’t heard of some of these. I’ll definitely be trying some of these out soon!