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30 Apps to Run your Business By

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I’ve been a Mac user for many years now and a business owner for just as many. I’ve needed apps for everything from invoicing and time tracking to contact and money management. I’ve used literally hundreds of applications over the past few years and know how frustrating it can be to find something that works for you.

So to help with that I’ve compiled a list of some applications I’ve used over the years including the ones I think are the best. There are certainly more applications out there that aren’t listed here so if you’ve used something that has worked well, definitely let me know about it.

Time Tracking & Invoicing

On The Job
On The Job – If simple time tracking an invoicing is all you need, On The Job is the app for you. It purposefully has less features than some of the competition and that is something it definitely has going for it. It’s my app of choice for time tracking.

Studiometry – Full-featured time tracking, invoice, and client management. This is really one of the most solid applications for any client-based business. The $190 price tag is seriously worth it if you need all of the features it has.

Billings – Billings is a newer player in the full-featured time tracking and invoicing market but they’ve made a solid splash. Billings doesn’t have quite as many features as Studiometry but the features it does have are the core ones you’d be using regularly anyways. It’s $59 price tag also makes it significantly more affordable than Studiometry.

QuickBooks – While QuickBooks does not have any real time tracking abilities, it does have a fairly stout invoicing system that can be very convenient if you use QuickBooks to manage your business finances.

Web alternatives:
BlinksaleI use this for all my invoicing needs. Straightforward invoicing at its best. Prices starting from $12/month (not including the limited free plan).

Harvest – Solid time tracking (OS X Widget included). Prices starting from $9/month (not including the limited free plan).

Money Managment

QuickBooks Pro for Mac
QuickBooks – The industry standard for business finance management. The Mac version of QuicKBooks is frequently chastised for its clunky interface compared to its Windows counterpart but in all honesty I’ve yet to have any real gripes. This app is a core part of running my business. Pricing for this is $200.

Cha-Ching – Arguably one of the best looking applications on the Mac, Cha-Ching has somehow managed to make a boring financial application hip and fun. Class OS X features like smart folders and iSight integration make this a fairly easy application to learn and use. This one will cost you $40.

iFinance – Fairly simple interface. At $15 it’s one of the cheapest solutions available.

iBank – Pretty full-featured with things like report and chart creation and budget tracking. It’s $50 for one license with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Money 2 – Jumsoft’s Money has recently seen a major upgrade to Money 2. The new feature set in Money 2 really is extremely solid though some may find the extra features as a little overkill (ie. a built in web browser). For the number of features it offers, the $40 price tag is steal.

Web alternatives:
DimeWise – Super cheap ($5 a month).

Wesabe – Includes a helpful community for tips and suggestions.


Apple Mail

Mail – This pretty much goes without saying. I know some people prefer other mail applications but Apple’s own really is the best mail application I’ve ever used. This app is included with OS X.

Skype – Despite the recent outage, Skype is still one of my favorite tools for phone communication. With bookoodles of add-ons from personal phone numbers to voicemail and more, Skype has raised the bar and become a viable solution for many small business owners.

Adium – Whether you think chatting is productive or not, it’s great for hitting up co-workers or clients for quick questions. This one is free in every way possible.

Web alternatives:
Mailroom – Mailroom is a fairly niche mail application in that it’s mainly built for customer support teams. Pricing starts at $9 (not counting the limited free plan).

Campfire – Perfect for group chats with co-workers and clients with features such as file attachments and chat logging. Pricing starts at $12/month. There is a free plan that would work fine for smaller groups.

Project Management

Daylite Productivity Suite – An incredibly full-featured project management application, Daylite is one of the most useful applications on the Mac today. The full suite includes some killer features such a Mail integration, shared calendars, contact management, and more. A 1-user license costs $189.

OmniPlan – One of the newer Omni Group applications, OmniPlan makes heavy use of Gantt charts to help schedule out any project you have. The full version costs $150.

Web alternatives:
Basecamp – 37signals’ flagship product, Basecamp has become the standard for project management in many offices (especially small/home businesses). I keep Basecamp open almost the entire day to help manage things. Pricing starts at $12/month.

Contact Management

SOHO Organizer
Address Book – Some people prefer simplicity (myself included). I prefer Address Book to keep up with all my contacts and it has served me great over the years. It is included for free with OS X.

Daylite – In addition to being a great project management app (as mentioned above), Daylite also does a killer job of managing contacts. I’ve used it to manage everything from new client leads to team members on a project. A 1-user license costs $189.

SOHO Organizer – SOHO Organizer is a bit less business focused than Daylite. In addition to helping you organize contacts, it also helps lets you attach everything under the sun to those contacts as well as group them together however you wish. This one will cost you $100.

Redlien Account Executive – Redlien is almost exclusively for people who are in sales. With features such as email logging and opportunity management, I can’t imagine this not helping you increase your sales to other people. Cost is $130 for a new license or $90 to upgrade from a competing applications (such as Daylite).

Web alternatives:
Highrise – The newest application from the 37signals crew, Highrise is contact management in the usual 37signals style. Simple, straightforward, no feature-bloat. It has just the tools you need to customize it to your workflow. Prices start at $12/month. There is a limited free version as well.

Miscellaneous Tools

Yep – Yep (formally known as Kip, and covered here) is an application for organizing your documents. I use it religiously to digitize and organize paper receipts and other documents so I can keep a paper-free work environment as much as possible. The $34 price tag is well worth it.

VMware Fusion – Prior to VMware Fusion’s release, I was Parallels guy. But since Fusion came out I’ve exclusively moved to it. Doing so much frontend development, I keep it open almost all day to do browser testing on Windows browsers. Right now you can get it for $60 (after a $20 mail-in rebate).

OmniGraffle – Whether you need to build a simple wireframe for a new web project or create a flow chart for any type of information, OmniGraffle is really the best option for you on your Mac. Pricing starts at $80 for the standard version.

MailTemplate – If you have a lot of email that frequently requires the same response (such as customer service emails), I highly suggest you check out MailTemplate. You create custom mail templates for either new mail or replies that will ultimately save you tons of time on responding to certain types of email. MailTemplate costs around $15.

128 Responses to “30 Apps to Run your Business By”

  1. For project management, you can also look at xTime Project from This is a product much more simple than Omniplan and Merlin. You can also take a look at xTime Planning, an amazing product to manage the daily schedule of a team.

  2. Great article. I can’t do business without Studiometry anymore (ain’t that scary), and I also switched from Parallels to VMware’s Fusion (rocks). Recently I dropped DEVONthink Pro for Eaglefiler ( to archive almost anything. Question: what about MS Office products? Do you use them, or are you using iWork or another alternative. Not a day goes by or I have to open a Word document.

  3. John Davis

    What about iCal? With publish and subscribe I run my business on it. It’s free with every Mac!

    And a significant upgrade will be coming in Leopard!

    John Davis

  4. @Tony: Thanks Tony. I actually got in on the beta a few days ago and have been using it and love it. I was actually going to include it in this list but since it was private beta I left it off since it wasn’t readily accessible to folks.

    Definitely a great app though.

  5. RescueTime is a Mac-friendly time management tool… Provides analytics to understanding how you use every second of your computer time. Drop me an email if you want a beta invite!

    (disclaimer: I helped build it– this is a shameless plug!)

  6. @TheMacThinker: Yes. It’s quite incomplete. I mentioned that it was some of the applications I have used over the past few years.

    Obviously I haven’t used every single business app ever made.

    And I didn’t mention Apple applications because it’s pretty much a given that Apple users know about Apple products. The point of this post was to show a few more options.

    You have to keep in mind that any sort of post listing applications for something will never list everything under the sun. That’s precisely why I asked for people to post the apps they’ve used.

  7. Thanks for this article!
    There aren’t enough of these sorts of things around. I have used Macs for years and years and never heard of some of these apps. Yep looks especially promising in terms of organising all the little scraps of paper that clutter my home office.
    My only problem is that I now have to admit I actually found something useful on Digg once. :-(

  8. Thanks for this article. Though I’ve played with a few of these applications, its refreshing to find a “Mac App List” thats oriented toward business usage.

  9. @MacRat: I made no guarantees about this being an exhaustive list in any form or fashion. So I’ll say this again…it’s a listing of products I’ve used…nothing more, nothing less.

    This has nothing to do with “credibility” my friend. It’s a simple post of stuff I’ve used when running my business. Just because I haven’t used an app that you like says nothing about the “credibility” of my business.

    So, how about you tone down the sensationalism a bit?

  10. I’m not asking about every product on the earth. MYOB has been a cornerstone for businesses using Macs and it is really strange that you don’t even mention it. The fact that you’ve never even used it just raises questions about your credibility on the topic.

  11. Great article! Big thumbs up for Daylite….. it’s such a great app that integrates so well with Mail if you have the DMI module. Perfect for saving emails in there and then deleting them from Mail to keep my mailboxes nice, small and tidy!

  12. @Neil: We’ve got an article in the works that covers a lot of Fusion’s positive aspects, but for me Fusion just runs significantly smoother than Parallels. Even on my MacBook Pro with 3GB of RAM Parallels seemed clunky most of the time and Fusion really has run flawlessly.

  13. @RevrendMaynard: Actually I’d say it’s nothing like Yojimbo. Yep is solely for scanning, storing, and organizing PDFs. Yojimbo is significantly more feature-heavy and made for many different tasks while Yep has specific tools for handling and organizing PDFs.