What Software Programs Do You Load at Startup?

Yesterday, when I posted about buying the new Macbook Air, several people asked in the comments or via email what programs I use on a regular basis. I thought I’d post a list of mine in the hope that you will post a list of yours. Even if you are a Windows user, I’d also like to see your list.

Solutions Key in the Middle of a Computer Keyboard - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/rubenhi, Image #14255777

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/rubenhi

Here are the programs that I launch automatically when I turn on my MacBook Air.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.
Background Programs Amount
Alfred Alfred is a productivity application for Mac OS X, which aims to save you time in searching your local computer and the web. I like it better than Spotlight, LaunchBar, QuickSilver, or Google Quick Search. Make sure you check out the PowerPack. Free
CloudApp CloudApp allows you to share images, links, music, videos and files. Here is how it works: choose a file, drag it to the menubar and it provides you with a short link automatically copied to your clipboard that you can use to share your upload with co-workers and friends. Super simple. Free
dosomethingwhen.png I use DoSomethingWhen to change my TimeMachine target drive when I change my location. When I am at home, I want to backup to my backup disk there. When I am at work, I want to backup there. I explain the process here. Free
DropBox DropBox allows me to do two things: sync files across different computers and share files with colleagues. If you want to share a file, you simply drag it into the DropBox folder and it is available to everyone with whom you have decided to share the folder. Free
ikey.png iKey allows me to create keyboard shortcuts for all kinds of actions, including launching programs, loading web pages, and running scripts. It is a huge time-saver, particularly if you don’t like using a mouse. (I hate taking my hands off the keyboard.) $30.00
pathfinder.png PathFinder is how Apple should have designed Finder. It is a file browser application that has all kinds of bells and whistles that make me vastly more productive. I especially like the dual-pane browser. $39.95
snagit.png SnagIt for Mac is my screen capture application of choice. I like it better than SnapzPro, which I used to use. It allows for all kinds of enhancements and annotations. It’s a little pricey, but I think it is worth it if you do a lot of screen shots $49.95
synergy.png Synergy gives you total control over your music without interrupting your workflow. You can set shortcut-keys that allow you to pause, skip, or start a song without ever having to flip to iTunes. (Yes, that funny currency symbol is a Euro.) €5.00
typinator.png Typinator boosts your productivity and eliminates errors by automating the process of inserting frequently used text and graphics and auto-correcting typing errors. I couldn’t live without it. €19.99

Here are the programs I run in the foreground. I load these at startup, because I always want to have ready access to them. Before I bought an Air, I did this manually. But with the Air, it is so fast that I barely notice.

Foreground Programs Amount
zzz-evernote.png Evernote allows me to capture and remember everything. I can clip web pages, save emails, or just jot notes. Best of all, it has an iPad and iPhone apps that can share the same database. As a result, my stuff is always readily accessible. Free
zzz-google-calendar.png Even though my company uses Microsoft Exchange for calendaring, I use Google Calendar. The reason is that I need to share my calendars with others outside the company. I run Google Calendar as a stand-alone Fluid app. Free
zzz-google-chrome.png I have used Safari and Firefox but switched to Google Chrome a few months ago. I have found it faster than the others (especially Firefox). I also like the way I add to it via “extensions.” It is a joy to use. Free
zzz-hootsuite.png HootSuite is the program I use to manage my Twitter and Facebook interactions. It enables me to segregate my followers into “streams” or columns. So, for example, I have one stream for my direct messages, one for “mentions,” one for family, etc. I run HootSuite as a stand-alone Fluid app. $5.99 a month
zzz-mail.png Apple Mail comes free with every Mac. It is built into the system. I like it better than Microsoft Outlook, because it is simple and focused. It doesn’t try to be a Swiss Army Knife. It does one thing well: email. Free
zzz-nozbe.png I have tried numerous to-do list managers. However, I like Nozbe best, because the program syncs in the cloud (unlike Things). As a result, I always have my to-do list with me, whether on my Air or my iPhone. The developer, Michael Sliwinski is super-responsive. I run Nozbe as a stand-alone Fluid app. $9.95 a month

Okay, now it’s your turn.

Question: What programs do you load automatically at startup? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I run very few: RoboForm, and a couple of security programs. My needs change from day to day, and my computer is fast enough, so I just open what I need when I need it.

  • Ashley Musick

    I always have Skype and Evernote running. Skype is just so convenient for those quick one-question convos I have to have with people either in the office or long-distance.

  • Todd W.

    I use Alfred, DropBox and Cinch in the background. I have Mail and Firefox open at startup. I am going to try Chrome.

    Michael – I am curious – can you expand a little on how you use both DropBox and Evernote? I would assume that DropBox is more for file storage and sharing and Evernote more for “information” storage and sharing. Is that the case with you?

    Thanks for your great articles. Keep up the good work!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that is correct. DropBox is for sharing files. Evernote is for storing information. I really don’t share this with anyone else. Thanks.

  • Colin

    I love caffeine, easy to use and such a big help. In place of SnagIt, I use Skitch which is free for the normal model, but you can upgrade I think for 14.95. I like Alfred also and Evernote is a must for me. I also enjoy Bodega for keeping all my Mac apps up to date and it’s free!!! Twitter desktop client is tweetie. I like it better than the twitter version itself just due to the fact that tweetie leaves off from the last tweet you seen, where twitters version goes to the last tweet and i have to back and see where I left off. This is just a few for my list

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Action Method Online, Mail, Firefox, Hootsuite, CrashPlan

  • Sjohnston

    I mostly use MS Entourage, Safari and Excel. I like Google Reader which I began using after you did a blog post explaining how to take advantage of it.

    I am really interested in checking out some of apps you use. Several look very helpful.

    Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelNozbe Michael Sliwinski

    Mike, thanks for mentioning Nozbe – I also use it as a Fluid.app and it works really great like this. (I love how Apple shows these big beautiful icons on the Dock and app switcher)

    As I wrote in your blog post about Macbook Air, I yet need to try Alfred. Typinator and Dropbox launch on startup here as well. I can’t imagine life without Typinator and these handy shortcuts.

    I’ve completely switched to Evernote, too. I try not to create too many files on my computer anymore. I just use notes and put stuff to Evernote which really makes it my second brain. That’s why I had to integrate it with Nozbe… there was no other choice :-)

    Thanks for sharing your apps… curiously enough they are almost identical to the ones I use… :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think you and I are twins separated at birth—and by a few decades—and a few countries. But we are definitely kindred spirits.

      You are the one who got me using Google Quick Search Box. It is good, but I like Alfred better.

      • http://twitter.com/MichaelNozbe Michael Sliwinski

        Just got back to this thread today…. your comment made my day, my twin brother! :-)

        Just downloaded Alfred and checking it out ..

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Cool. Let me know what you think.

  • http://www.webemphasis.com/fashion-accessories-jewellery-store Jewellery Website Design

    My advice for better results is to test one browser at a time.

  • Jeff

    Does fluid app have automatic login feature or do you use 1Password for this purpose?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It simply loads a browser page. If the site requires login, you will have to login in Fluid. Yes, 1Password will do the trick. Thanks.

  • Aled Wyn

    I always like to see the applications people use and how they use them.
    Startup apps for me are:

    Outlook with Google Calendar sync
    Dropbox is essential
    LogMeIn – I don’t think this one came up as I was reading the comments. This allows me to access the office computer through my browser and use it as though I were sitting in front of it.
    As for foreground apps. Chrome instantly established itself as my browser of choice since I tried it only a few months ago Haven’t looked back.

    I’m still looking for a tasks/todo list app that works for me and can sync with my Android.

  • Mrwilliams18


    Thanks to this post, I downloaded Fluid and have started creating Fluid apps. I love it! My problem is I can’t figure out how to get Nozbe as a fluid app. Everytime I do it asks me to log-in, and then when I click sign-in it takes me to my internet browser.

    Thanks for your help!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That confused me for weeks. Here’s the fix: In the fluid app, open up apps Preferences (⌘-,). Go to the Behavior Preferences and make sure that “Open a new tab in the current window” is selected under “Links from other applications.”

      Did that fix it?

      • Mrwilliams18

        In my case, that was already selected for me. What did the trick though, was under “Advanced,” I clicked “Allow browsing to any URL”.

        Thanks for your help!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Great. I’m glad that worked.

  • http://twitter.com/jonwellman Jon Wellman

    Until the new MacBook Pros come out, I am using a PC laptop at work (music and outreach pastor). Here’s what I open at startup…
    -Microsoft Outlook
    -Google Talk
    -Chrome, with which I open the following tabs (much of my workflow is online)…
    -Planning Center Online
    -WordPress Dashboard
    -ESV Online
    -Google Voice
    -Google Calendar
    -Google (Apps) GMail

  • http://twitter.com/mickmel mickmel

    Great list! Mine is somewhat similar:

    - TweetDeck: You can’t clear columns in HootSuite yet; too messy

    - Jing: Similar to SnagIt, but it can capture video. I do a lot of two-minute “how to” screencasts every day. Clients LOVE those compared to “click here, then click there” emails.

    - Pandora: Though it’s only playing music 50% of the time

    - Evernote

    - FilaZilla: FTP transfers. When my designer drops an updated image in Dropbox, I can quickly toss it up on the server.

    - phpDesigner: When a client calls with a “quick change”, I can actually do it quickly.

    - Google Earth: I spend a lot of time in there. Partly for fun, mostly for Google Earth Blog.

    - Chrome
    — Gmail. This is also my primary use of video chat and IM, though I use Skype on occasion.
    — Google Reader
    — Google Calendar
    — Google Analytics
    — Google Voice: Text messaging through there is GREAT.
    — Nozbe
    — WuFoo: Quick form building.
    — FreshBooks: Keep those invoices going!
    — Google Docs

    That’s it for now. If I’m on the laptop, the load is a bit lighter (no automatic Google Earth, among others).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Even though I use HootSuite, I agree with you. I wish it had the ability to clear columns like TweetDeck.

  • http://twitter.com/HSchiefelbein Hans Schiefelbein

    Wow – what a resource. Michael, there’s almost more info in the COMMENTS section! High quality stuff. Great post, interesting insight.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I learn so much from the comments. It is my favorite part of blogging!

  • Jim M Whitaker

    I use Outlook and SharePoint due to work. I also like springpad.com (I think it is much better than evernote and it is free regardless of the amount of info you store) I use calendar in Outlook. Search with Google Chrome at home.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have heard great things about Springboard. I keep meaning to try it. So much software, so little time!

  • Blacktrainstudio


    Great list. You should check out SPARROW – an email app for Gmail. Give it a whirl you might even like it more than mail!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The problem is that I still have to have something that works with Microsoft Exchange.

  • http://twitter.com/Whitakerous Jim Whitaker

    I use Outlook for calendar and e-mail primarily due to work. Also use SharePoint and I had found I like springpad.com better than evernote.

  • http://twitter.com/davegreider Dave Greider

    This is a real treasure trove for productivity enthusiasts. I’m a big GTD guy, and it looks like Nozbe blows Things out of the water. As always, thanks for sharing your vast wisdom and experience :)

  • http://twitter.com/btravisbrown Travis Brown

    Thanks for the tip about Alfred. It’s way better than Google Quick Search Box, which I replaced Quicksilver with a few months ago. My one complaint is that it doesn’t import data from Chrome, only Safari.

    Also, I’ve grown very fond of AwesomeNote on the iPhone and iPad and I sync those notes via Google Docs. Evernote has honestly never been a first choice for me. Why are you so fond of it?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Mostly, because my database us universally available to me via the cloud. I also like how you can share folders with others.

  • http://twitter.com/Sbush30 Sarah Bush

    I am a PC user and looking for the best most efficient way to manage my daily/ hourly tasks. I’ve tried One Note and Outlook tasks and both work however I’m not impressed. Any suggestions?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, I am on a Mac, so I can’t be much help. When I was on a PC, I used Outlook. David Allen has several guides for how to manage your time and get things done using Outlook and other software.

  • http://tasramar.com tasra

    Thanks for this tip! I now have Evernote and my new Calendar app load at startup. I set up Hootsuite as an app, but don’t load it right away because it’s too easy for me to get distracted!

  • Anonymous

    Great info! Thanks for sharing your startup programs. Here’s a short screen capture of what I do when starting up Safari. http://www.thecatchsystem.com/2011/05/safari-auto-click-bookmarks.html

  • Indytide

    Have you switched over to iCal or are you still on google calendar? I just bought a mac air and love it, but have been on google for a while. I am trying to decide if I should just completely switch.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am still using Google calendar, but I am considering switching over.

  • Florence

    I like Wunderlist for my to do app. It syncs across all my devices – iPhone, iPad, PC at the office, Mac at home.

    I also use Evernote a lot (and have learned how to use it better from you, Michael) but I do not like it for list making. Outlook for email and calendar. My calculator is always at the ready, and I use a post it note app (name escapes me) for things I must have ready acces to but can never quite remember.

  • Shawn Roberts

    A lot of the programs I use are in the cloud and run through my browser. However, here are the programs that run on my Mac and which start when it starts:

    1. Text Expander

    2. Google Chrome

    3. Twitter

    4. Moom

    5. Evernote

    6. Producteev

    7. Dropbox

  • Katie Sturm

    My go-to loads are Chrome, Mozilla Thunderbird (an incredibly flexible email client with heaps of add-ons and much less clunky than Outlook), either Spotify or iTunes (depending on how much I like my current collection of music), and a Chrome-assisted web-app of Paymo.biz, my time-tracking and billing software for my business. If it’s a writing day, Word comes up, and if it’s a meeting day, Skype comes up. I use the built-in Windows sticky-notes to keep me up to date on what needs to be focused on.

  • Danny Zacharias

    Interesting that chrome is faster for you – safari is faster for me.

    I use 2Do for tasks/GTD. I love the flexibility and syncing. Might not work for sharing tasks. Syncs with iCloud, which is great.

    Michael, I’m curious if you’ve tried Evernote alternatives. I use Devonthink. I tried Evernote and some aspects I like better, but I can’t get past the fact that the preview window doesn’t show all files. Especially when they just need to tap into quick look. Devonthink shows a full view in the preview of almost any type of file.

    Are there things google calendar does that iCal sharing an iCal feed with google calendar doesn’t do for you? I love iCal’s interface so much, I just can’t tear myself away.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I actually used DevonThink before I started with Evernote. I haven’t looked at it in a long time. One of the things I really like about Evernote is that it is ubiquitous, meaning I have it everywhere on all my devices.
      I have never really liked iCal. I found it buggy. I like Google Calendar, because it is hosted in the cloud and it is easy to share. I use a separate Google Calendar app I created using Fluid. Thanks.

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    The only two things on your list I use are Dropbox and Hootsuite. I usually have Firefox,  Safari, Microsoft Works Calendar, Adobe 1.5, Disk Clean up, Kindle App, Microsoft Picture it 7.0, Windows Media Player, iTunes, Lightning Study Bible,  Rainbow Study Bible 4.0, Google Chrome. I usually have both my PC and MacBook Pro open. So on my Mac I use Dropbox, Hootsuit, Firefox, Safari, Kindle App, Mac sWord Eloquent, Yousendit, iChat, Adobe Photoshop Cs5 & 6, Adobe Acrobat, Vital Source Bookshelf. Calculator, Dictionary, Realplayer Downloader, Realplayer converter, Real player, Quicktime Player, Photo Booth, iTunes, iMovies, Garageband, KeyNote, Pages, TextEdit, Excel, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and App Store. lol!

  • Elba Iris Perez

    I use Scrivener  for all of my writing projects and sync them between my mini ipad and air, using Dropbox and Simplenote, a free app. I cannot imagine writing without Scrivener, the 15″ air with its backlit keyboard,  and the new mini ipad.  When I travel, all I take is the mini.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love Scrivener too. I wrote Platform on it.

  • http://twitter.com/Snydejon Jon snyder

    I automatically start up:

    istat menus
    NV Alt
    Keyboard Maestro
    Dragon Drop

  • gregdbrown

    I think its time to update this post. Things does sync to the cloud. Just sayin, love the Blog.

  • John Evdemon

    Screenshot of my Run registry settings (these run on startup in Windows). http://www.flickr.com/photos/jevdemon/9899490603/

    Always on Top is a custom script that allows me to toggle any window to stay always on top.

  • Joshua Little

    I experimented with Fluid apps, but I found they take too long to load, and I often have to log in again, if they are web apps. Instead, I’ve arranged all my frequently used apps on my bookmark bar in Chrome, and installed extensions for the ones that have it (feedly, hootsuite, asana, evernote & evernote clearly).

  • JeffManning

    This post needs a little updating as Things now syncs in the cloud, just like Nozbe does.

  • marktenney2

    Here’s what I launch using Startupizer 2:

    Alfred 2
    Creative Cloud
    iTeleport Connect
    Text Expander

    Watts replaces my battery icon and guides me through battery calibrations on a regular basis. Fantastical is an incredible calendar app that makes adding appointments and seeing my schedule effortless, Hazel can delete or move files after specific periods of time. Some file types that I know I don’t need hanging around my downloads folder I have deleted the next day (like QIF files from my bank). I also have hazel moving files older than 30 days out of my Airmail Attachments folder in dropbox so that my dropbox doesn’t fill up. PictureLife backs up all my photos from all my devices on a separate cloud server and allows me to access them from anywhere. Bartender takes all these apps from my menubar and moves them to a drop down menu so they don’t take up the whole menubar. iTeleport Connect allows me to easily remote to my computer if I leave it in my office and need something during a lunch meeting or if I just want to walk to the copy room to change the paper tray out and then want to print my files. I purchased text expander months ago in a bundle, but just started using it to paste templates into my Evernote and Day One journal.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Your list is gold. How could I not know about Bartender? What a great find!

      • marktenney2

        Yes! I love it. I was surprised at how much customization it allows, and it makes me forget how much of an app addict I am because most of my icons are hidden :)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I can’t even see all my apps because they were taking up so much room.

  • skip_preble

    Michael, I’ve seen in the past that you also use (used?) Basecamp for project management. May I ask how you use Nozbe and Basecamp together? Or have you just gone to Nozbe alone?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great question. Right now, I use Nozbe for individual task management, but I use Basecamp for team task management. However, we will likely do away with Basecamp after the first of the year, based on some new features Nozbe has coming. Thanks.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Awesome list, Dave.

  • yuzhengwen

    I open Firefox, EVernote, Todoist ( preferred task manager )