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://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I see to that Google Chrome, Skype and Google Earth are there in mine without fail.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use Skype, too, but not often enough to load it at startup. I know for some people, this is more important than the telephone. Thanks.

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

        Skype used to load for me at startup, but I found it to be incredibly distracting and time-consuming. Skype has replaced a lot of IM services, functionally.

      • Viv Adram

        Michael, have not tried the SnagIt app yet but usually I use the Apple keyboard functions of Command+Shift+3 to do a screen shot. Perhaps that would be more cost effective? :)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Yes, it is cheaper, but there is no functionality. I can do all kinds of things with the image once I get it into SnagIt.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      What does Google Chrome do? Is it really worth downloading?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Chrome is just an Internet browser. It doesn’t do anything that most other browsers don’t do—except that it’s really fast. I was also able to import my bookmarks from Safari.

      • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

        …and it’s a really clean design as well. I wasn’t convinced when I first switched, but I quickly became convinced when I tried to switch back to Safari. No comparison.

        • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

          And I almost forgot my favorite thing: just one URL window for both addresses and searching, not two. You just start typing, no matter if you know where you’re going or not. When I go back to Safari, it seems so antiquated to have to tab over to a separate search window.

          • Danny Zacharias

            Safari has the same URL bar now too

          • http://bretmavrich.com/ Bret Mavrich

            …And I’ve been using Safari ever since. :-)

        • OmnesLegal

          I also like the themes you can install on chrome. I gave mine an iPad type look, makes it even cleaner than the standard.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Google Chrome web browser makes your surfing experience smoother, easier and faster.

      • Karl Mealor

        Have you tried it yet, Brandon? If not, you should give it a test run. It far outshines other browsers.

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      Really, Google Earth? What do you use it for?

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Google Earth lets you navigate anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. Google Earth displays satellite images of varying resolution of the Earth’s surface, allowing users to see things like cities and houses looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle (see also bird’s eye view). The degree of resolution available is based somewhat on the points of interest and popularity. Google Earth allows users to search for addresses for some countries, enter coordinates, or simply use the mouse to browse to a location.

        • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

          Right, but I wondered what you use it for on such a regular basis that you load it automatically.

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  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    I’m venturing into Google Voice. Features include texted voicemails (technology is still choppy, but incredibly convenient!), one number to any phone, and integration with Gmail. I’m pleasantly surprised at how clear I transmit talking through my MacBook Air mic. I’m still getting used to it, but so far it has been very handy.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      I have heard about that…I even heard that you can get it free if you plug in a college email!

    • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

      It is a great service – my husband and I both use Google voice, but have it on our phones (Android) versus loading it up on our computers.

  • http://www.synapticlight.com/ SynapticLight

    Home (MBP):
    Background App : QuickSilver
    Foreground : FireFox – with HootSuite open, Apple Mail
    When my external drive is up: Final Cut Pro and Aperture

    Work (Windows):
    Cygwin, UltraEdit, Eclipse, FileZilla, MS OutLook, Firefox with, yes you guessed it, HootSuite

  • http://timothyfish.blogspot.com Timothy Fish

    Outlook is about the only thing I load at startup, other than the boring stuff that comes with the operating system, etc. In a work setting, I also use Communicator a lot.

    “Windows users are people too!”
    That’s almost like an insult to most of the people who read your blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I removed the comment about Windows users are people, too. I was trying to be funny, but I guess it didn’t quite translate.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I also use Outlook a lot. But it doesn’t start automatically. I turn it off and on all day long.

      As a Windows user, I laughed at the humor, Michael. :)

  • http://lynnrush.wordpress.com/ Lynn Rush

    Wow. Thanks for the list of programs you run. I’m into Apple Mail & iCal for sure. Tweetdeck and Facebook are always up and running, but for the most part, that’s it. *smile* I’m a Safari girl but might have to check out Google Chrome…. Great post.

    • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

      Use it for a week, you’ll never go back. :)

      • Danny Zacharias

        I did and went back :-)

  • http://twitter.com/lolajl Lola Lee Beno

    I use QuickSilver. It’s a very powerful program, and I get overwhelmed when I try to go through the documentation. It’s enough to just be able to launch applications just by typing the first 2 letters or so.

    And, I use Thunderbird – I love the way you can filter your search, and the many plugins available.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Aldred, LaunchBar, and Google Quick Search Box are all similar to QuickSilver in that regard. All any of them will boost your productivity. (I get overwhelmed, too, when I study all the features.)

  • http://twitter.com/joerob577 Joseph Robinson

    I also am a Chrome junkie, but I have recently discovered a couple of other browsers that are built on Chrome’s lightning fast engine. My favorite is RockMelt, which is still in beta, I believe. It is the first “social browser” I’ve seen that really gets it right. If constantly being signed into Facebook isn’t a problem for you, it’s a great way to merge browsing the web and sharing content with Facebook and Twitter. The built-in rss feature has also replaced Google Reader for me, though if you have more than 15 or so streams you follow, you run out of sidebar space…

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Thanks for sharing, Michael. I’ be interested to hear if you get a productivity boost from running sites as fluid apps vs. In a browser. I have hootsuite, gmail, and salesforce pinned as tabs in chrome and they open automatically at startup. I don’t have to switch between windows, only tabs.

    Is it faster for you to switch between windows?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it’s largely a matter of personal preference. I can switch apps with out taking my fingers off the keyboard, so I like it better.

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

        I love Fluid. I have Fluid apps all over my home iMac… Planning Center Online, Google Calendar, Google Voice, ToodleDo, Hulu…

    • http://twitter.com/joshploch joshploch

      Justin – what version of Salesforce are you running?

      • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

        The Group version. Can’t imagine running anything else.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        For me, it is, but i think this is largely how I have trained my brain.

  • http://jhwist.tumblr.com/ Henrik Wist

    At work this would be: Winamp (yes, I work best with music on my ears), Outlook (sigh) and Firefox (with a bunch of tabs preloaded), and then depending on my tasks of the day (managed in Outlook) the appropriate application.

    At home: Firefox and a bunch of terminal windows (yes, I love the CLI). For my personal task tracking, I am a big fan of ‘Remember the milk’ (RMT), liked it better than Nozbe (ymmv, though). The RMT page is open by default in a tab at home, as are the assorted Google tools (Reader, Calendar, Mail).

    • Rachel Boyd

      I’m also a great fan of Remember the Milk. I’ve used it for over a year now, on a daily basis. (if not hourly!) It is still by far-and-away the best todo management I’ve found without being forced to pay. There is a Pro option (added features allow ipod syncing) at $25/year that seems reasonably-priced that has been tempting me recently.

      I’m afraid I haven’t tried Nozbe, so can’t really compare. If I had to guess, I’d say the only missing feature from RTM that Nozbe may have is the ability to group tasks and sub-tasks into “projects”, however tagging and location-awareness have been more than sufficient to meet my needs.

      • http://jhwist.tumblr.com/ Henrik Wist

        Rachel, good to see another RTM fan! If you can spare the money, go for the Pro option; I did this even before I had my Android phone just to support such great software.

  • Paul

    SnagIt is one of my favorites, well worth the cash. Chrome is at the top of the list. You should check out the Chrome extension for shortening url’s and sending it to Twitter, Gmail, creating QR codes, etc. It’s the best extension for Chrome that I’ve found.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use the Bit.ly Pro Chrome extension. It shortens the URL, using my custom domain (mhyatt.us). Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/delhokie Barry Wiseman

    I have multiple Macs in my house (and at my church where I serve) and I use Dropcopy (it’s in the Mac App store- free): gives you a dead simple way to transfer files between computers. I also have TextExpander (very similar to Typeinator), Skitch running as well. I also just purchased Network Location- little menu bar app that changes your settings based on what network you are on (Work/Home/Coffee shop…).

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Interesting list , Michael. I am a minimalist when it comes to computing. On both the Mac and PC, I don’t load anything automatically. I use Chrome as my major browser, with IE8 and Firefox as backups for pages that do better with them. For blogging I use Windows Live Writer on a PC. I haven’t found anything on the Mac that I like that works with WordPress (suggestions?).
    One the Mac, I am really enjoying iPhoto 11 and iMovie 11. The new trailer feature in iMovie is amazing. On the PC I use Office 2007 and on the Mac I use the iWork suite. For graphics work I use Photoshop and Jing. For a quick edit I use Picnik webtools.
    Since I am an I.T. guy by trade I have to fix a lot of computers with a myriad of startup programs that were installed by the PC makers. This junk causes all sorts of problems. Best thing you can do is a fresh operating system install and then load the programs you really use.

    • http://www.walterwillis.net Walter

      John, I use MarsEdit to blog with. I have also tried Ecto but I just liked the “feel” of MarsEdit better.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I have used both. I actually like ecto better. I have really customized it. However, I gave up on it about two months ago and went to MarsEdit. The company that bought ecto just isn’t developing it. Their support board is dead. Conversely, the developer of MarsEdit is VERY responsive.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use MarsEdit for composing my posts. It is a huge time-saver. I can write offline and have defined all kinds of markup macros.

  • http://www.walterwillis.net Walter

    Hi Michael,
    Great post. I use some automator scripts to start up applications. I have one for the weekdays, and one for the weekends as I use different programs with each.

    Do you still use / write Applescripts for any of you workflow. Would love to know what you are doing with Applescript these days.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use Applescripts, but not much. I use it to change my backup drive, depending on my location. I also use it to move things to Evernote.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    Yahoo IM, iTunes, Word, Excel <~~ I am people too. ;)

    In Chrome: Facebook, Gmail, HootSuite, Twitter, Google calendar, Google Docs, the two blogs I manage & the wordpress admin for each

  • Alex Murphy

    On my MacBook…

    Dropbox, Visor (a plugin for Finder that adds tabs), growl for mail, Default Folder X, IDrive, Evernote, AllBookmarks

    Foreground: Chrome, Mail

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      I’m going to have to look into Visor. I use Finder quite a bit.

  • Mike Ketchum

    I use a PC at work and a Mac for everything else. I travel and am looking for a way to have my Outlook sync my PC & Mac. Any advise?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Assuming you keep your mail, including archived mail, on the server, it should be the same regardless of where you open it.

  • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

    I use all those same foreground apps except for Nozbe. I’ll have to check it out.

    I use Dropbox too. One caveat with shared folders. If someone you share a folder with deletes a file from the shared folder, they’ve deleted for YOU too. I tested it. Unless there’s some special security feature I’m missing, make sure any files you share via Dropbox are someplace else on your computer just in case.

    I also use Gmail, Google Apps, and ShootQ.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree on DropBox. I have learned the hard way on this, too.

  • http://www.southerngospelblog.com/ Daniel J. Mount

    I used to load more, but now I’m taking a fairly minimalistic approach. Dropbox loads automatically, and then I load Chrome and sometimes iTunes.

    Within Chrome, I load Gmail (within which I load all my email accounts) and sometimes Google Docs and Google Reader.

  • http://pinprickoflight.blogspot.com/ Sara Rassler

    I run Ubuntu on my machine (I just switched from Win7 a couple months ago) with only few startup programs. In my main workspace, I run Opera with no less than 9 tabs (I used to be a complete Chrome junkie, but I really like the “panels” in Opera), I always keep OpenOffice Word in my second workspace, and Rythmbox Music in my third. My last workspace usually has my /home folder open as well as my flash drive folder open so I can transfer and find files without doing any minimizing.

    Thanks for sharing; I always find these posts of yours very interesting and I love looking up the programs you use and trying out some of them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S27NUGJ3ZSUYIRMLSUJB6E6YAY emuelle1

    I use Windows at home or work. I plan to get a MacBook Pro or Air someday, but it hasn’t fit into the budget as a high enough priority yet.

    One program I wouldn’t want to live without is Tea Timer, which comes with SpyBot Search & Destroy. It monitors registry changes and allows you to approve or deny programs trying to change the registry.

    Mike, I’ve seen you go through quite a few todo managers over the years. How hard is it for you to change from one to another? I’m currently using MyLifeOrganized at home and work and on my iPhone. Their cloud sync works really well.

  • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco

    Firefox – I just can’t get Chrome to do what I can get FF to do yet. Maybe someday I’ll switch but not yet. – I have 4 locked tabs at all times; Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and Facebook. (I have 17 tabs open at the moment)

    Outlook – As a Sys Admin in a Windows Environment with Exchange, I don’t really have a choice.

    Remote Desktops – This allows me to see every server desktop in the organization.

    wunderlist – For tasks that sync with “every” device and computer I use. It’s free!

    Log Me In (free) – So I can get to the desktops of computers not on my network.

    Virtualbox (free) – A virtual environment. I like it better then VMWare, less resource intensive. I’m always testing things and its easy to create copies of VM’s, verses formatting and loading computers when I break stuff. (Plus it works on my Mac at home, and still free!)

  • http://twitter.com/joshploch joshploch

    Gmail, Hootsuite, Pandora (does this count?)? Open office, Skype. I tried Rockmelt but haven’t fully embraced it yet.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Those are a lot of apps! haha…The only kind of stuff I use right now are Microsoft Word, email, etc…

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Oh just curious… Do you use the WordPress app? I was wondering if you can actually manage a website from it?…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I mostly use MarsEdit to manage my posts. I can write them off line and then upload them.

  • Ron Lane

    At this point in time, I am still on a PC laptop, besides my iPhone and iPad. On Start-up on my laptop, I have the following programs to open.

    PersonalBrain – a mind mapping program that I use to help clear my thoughts.
    MicroSoft Outlook – I use this for email and calendar functions.
    I use Google Chrome as my base browser but I use Safari as a secondary. (I have those and firefox and Internet Explorer on my computer.)

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    I load up TweetDeck and Firefox. I used Chrome for a good while, but recently on the Windows end, for some reason it got very frustrating to use. Many of the main sites I visit on a daily basis – like my college website – were just coming up all gakked (same thing happened for my husband on his laptop). So I switched back to Firefox for a stint of time to give Chrome a chance to catch up with whatever it needs to catch up with on the Windows side of things.

    I also have Evernote running, as well as Microsoft Word.Throughout the day I always get ideas I need to jot down, or have something I want to write out.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      TweetDeck is great. I think it’s a toss up with HootSuite.

    • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

      I like Tweetdeck, too, because it integrates Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all in one program. (I don’t know if HootSuite does all 3.) Setting up lists/groups in T & FB you can add as individual panes in it. I love it.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Yes, HootSuite does all three—and more.

  • http://www.davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    At startup I always load Google Chrome, Action Method as an Adobe Air app (my task manager), Twitter for Mac, OmmWriter (for distraction free writing), iCal, and Evernote occasionally.

    Thanks for recommending some new apps!

  • DrDavidFrisbie

    Still on Safari. Intrigued by your comments about the speed of Chrome. You may be converting us!

  • http://leighwilliams.blogspot.com Jenn Williams

    Facetime – I like it much more than Skype, our staff works in different places and different cities, but we’re always available to each other on facetime (works great on iPhone as well if you’re away from your computer)

  • Rjbernabe

    Snag it is cool – but give the free version of Jing a try. It rocks and also does video capture. I like IGoggle and the related tools, gmail through Apple mails’ interface and my regular websites.

  • Mary

    Firefox, MS outlook, zotero, xmarks, dropbox, pandora.

    Need to replace my laptop and keep toying with a Mac — yet there are so many programs that I run in windows (SPSS and other data analysis programs that don’t have Mac versions).

  • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

    These are a must. Evernote, Dropbox, Komodo (coding), Cyberduck (ftp), Chrome (simply an awesome browser), and Skitch (screenshots).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use Skitch for some stuff, too.

  • http://twitter.com/rodneyeason Rodney Eason

    First of all, our company runs on a Windows server so it is all MS based. Mac is an option but we almost have to develop a case for IT to plug in a Mac at our desk.
    I always load up:
    -Outlook for email and calendar
    -Action Method running on Adobe Air for task management. I have tried Franklin Covey, Nozbe, Ta-da, and others but the Action Method is the one that sticks for me. I am out in the gardens a lot and I use the Action Planner to record notes and Action Steps.
    -Evernote for files, websites, and ideas
    -Google Chrome
    -iTunes: we have a Cisco IP phone system and I have iTunes as my default player. All voice mail is routed through the iTunes player.
    -Picasa: I take quite a bit of pictures and Picasa is as close to iPhoto as I can get on Windows. I sort and name in Picasa.
    -Photoshop: when editing photos, there is nothing better than Photoshop.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I know several people using Action Planner who love it. I need to check it out.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Just downloaded and tried Action Planner. Looks good for a GTD aficionado like myself.

  • TNeal

    I appreciate the information download–sharing what you use, the links, and the cost. I’ll have to check out Google Chrome.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Pro

    While we have some similarities (Chrome, Hootsuite & Evernote) I’m going to have to give this CloudApp a try. Been hearing good things about it.

    Thank you for the Fluid app suggestion too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Both Fluid and Cloud are great. I especially like Cloud for sharing large files. It is amazingly simple.

  • LanaVaughan

    Evernote links up with the OliveTree app as well. Great resource.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It also connects to Nozbe.

  • Anonymous

    I load Skype, Firefox, Dropbox, and occasionally Digsby.

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    Mike, a lot of good ideas (like Typinator!)

    I substitute OmniFocus for Nozbe. Also, I go back and forth with having my Mail open automatically. Sometimes I need to get right into work and email can be a huge distraction, especially when it’s the first thing you see.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I do keep email turned off (though still loaded) when I am trying to focus. Thanks.

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    Also, I’ve scaled back my open-at-login usage quite a bit. I used to open a dozen things in the foreground, all spread out with spaces. But now I use Finder to quickly open things that I find I need rather than open them and realize I don’t need them every minute like I do my web browser.

  • http://twitter.com/keithseabourn Keith Seabourn

    Thanks for the list, Michael. Our company uses Microsoft Exchange while I would prefer Google Calendar for sharing reasons. How do you allow people in your company to see your free/busy time in order to set appointments with you?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      My IT team has my Google calendar synching with Exchange. From the company’s perspective, it looks like I am using Exchange.

  • http://www.stormyfrog.com/ Andrew Buckman

    Background: 1Password, LittleSnapper, Dropbox, Facebook Notifications, and iLoveStars (now I’ll have to check out Synergy though)

    Foreground: Apple Mail, The Hit List (to-do list), Chrome (with pinned tabs for HarvestApp, Gmail, Google Calendar, and a custom status page that reports various numbers from my website projects for me with links I need the most), iChat, Panic Transmit, Macromates TextMate, and iTunes

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use 1Password, too. Love it. But it loads with Chrome. Then I have a shortcut key for loading it when I need the stand-alone app. Thanks, Andrew.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I use my laptop at work, home and church. I tend to use the sleep mode a lot when changing from one location to another – so, the apps that open up are the ones that I was working with when I last left off. When i do have to start up my computer, I always immediately have MS Outlook running, Internet Explorer and MS Visual Studio.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Here are the programs I automatically launch when I turn on my Flintstonian PC from 2004. These are the ones that are checked in my Startup menu, and I have no idea what they are:

    hpsysdrv, hkcmd, hpqcmon, hphupd05, hphmon05, KBD, sgtray, realsched, RECGUARD, NvCpl, nwiz, ps2, shwicon2k, hpztsb04, DeltTray, NvMcTray, mcagent, jusc hed, DeltaIITray, ctfmon, wben, spamsubtract.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think those are the names of dinosaurs. ;-)

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        At least one of them must be a dragon, for my PC tower periodically emits flashes of fire.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    My windows laptop automatically loads: Dropbox, Keyboard switcher, Google Calendar Sync, Blackberry manager and the Dell Dock program. Then I’ll hit open: Firefox, Outlook, Tweetdeck, Logos and iTunes.

    I’ve got Chrome and use it some, but not always. I did use Evernote but never really figured out how to be productive with it, so I haven’t started back to it. My office has no internet, so I have a portable hard drive that keeps my two computers in sync.

  • http://christopherscottblog.typepad.com/blog/ Christopher Scott

    I run Windows.

    At start up I have:
    Firefox (usually GoodSearch, HootSuite, Netvibes, & Foursquare)
    Microsoft Outlook (where I keep my email and to-do list)
    Rainbow (software for charitable donations)
    My Computer Files

  • Jeff

    I’ve been using a free to do list app called Wunderlist. It has both a iPhone app and a desktop(multi- os’s). Both sync to the cloud so I always have my list with me. Very clean UI.

    FYI. For those of you who want to run Mac mail but your company is still on exchange 2003, there’s a nifty little program called DavMail that will allow communication between the two.

  • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

    I haven’t tried Chrome yet but I may have to after reading it’s praises. I keep a tabs in Safari for Facebook, Twitter, etc. because I’ve never found a desktop app that I liked for either. I use Firefox simply because I like the Brief add-on for my RSS feeds. It may sound tedious but it works for me. I use many of the others on your list but don’t need most of them quite as often as you do. Thanks for posting!

  • http://www.davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    Mike, how do you get that list box within some of your posts (as above)? Is it a plugin?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, no. I hand-coded the HTML. Thankfully, I have templates created in MarsEdit that let me do this quickly.

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    HootSuite is listed as $5.99 a month, but is actually free unless you have more than 5 social networks and 2 RSS feeds. I use it and have found it especially helpful for posting to multiple Twitter accounts and scheduling tweets/posts.

    Josh Hood

  • 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 )