The Poor Man’s Mac Hardware and Software List

by Mar 13, 2013Tech

A reader named “A. Naselli” e-mailed me the following:

Suggestion: write a blog post reflecting on this one. In particular, do you agree with his take on Apple products and programs?

“A. Naselli” was pointing to a blog post by uber-blogger (and former Thomas Nelson CEO) Michael Hyatt explaining all the hardware and software he uses for his work. Hyatt is extremely sharp; the list is great. But he’s all Mac, so the podcast “A. Naselli” linked to won’t apply to half my readership.

It just so happens, however, that “A. Naselli” is about to have to go all Mac after years in Mordor. So I’m going to do what he asked. I’ll copy Hyatt’s list of recommended hardware and software and annotate it for those who are not top-flight self-help bloggers with money to spare.


  • 13″ MacBook Air — Go for it. I would if I could. This is the ideal size for a laptop, I think. 11″ will be too small for most, I think. 15″ is too big for portability, and that’s why you get a big external monitor.
  • 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display — I have a 27″ iMac for my graphic design business. Love it. But you don’t need such an expensive external monitor. I might go for a Dell.
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap 1300 Scanner — I use my iPad, though this looks cool.
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8100 — I have the cheapest laser printer I could find, the Brother HL-2170W. Love it. Don’t use it much.
  • Big Jambox by Jawbone — Eh. Who needs it?
  • Time Capsule — If every file you have is backed up in Dropbox, you don’t need this.
  • iPad Mini — I wouldn’t get this until it comes out with a Retina display. When they do, I think the smaller size will be a no-brainer except for those who use their iPads for public speaking like me. It has to be bigger so I can see it on the lectern. I’ll stick with my iPad 3.
  • iPhone 5 — No way for the poor man. Republic Wireless, Ting, and T-Mobile’s Pay-As-You-Go plans offer better prices.

Startup Software

  • Startupizer — Only necessary for people who present often from their laptops, but a genuine benefit to them. So if “A. Naselli” is a teacher, he should consider this.
  • iKey — Eh. Not necessary if you have Alfred.
  • Typinator — Love this for when I do use it, but I don’t use it tons and tons. I found it useful for my dissertation for Greek words. I’ve even thought about getting the whole GNT vocab list in there… It saves time typing accents. I also use it for New Testament (nta), Old Testament (ota), international (intl), and a couple other big words I type all the time.
  • Crashplan — Not necessary if you have Dropbox. I use Dropbox and Skydrive; haven’t found Box or Cubby or Amazon Cloud Drive necessary, even with all the large graphic design files and book PDFs I have.
  • Stay — Eh. Useful for Hyatt because he plugs into and out of external displays all the time.
  • DropBox — DING! Essential. I have everything important in it.
  • PathFinder — Try XtraFinder instead; it’s free. It adds “Cut,” which is awesome. Tabs, conjoined tabs… Very nice. HT: Dustin Battles
  • SnagIt — Not necessary for me, because I have professional image editing tools. But it’s something a blogger without Photoshop will probably want. Try learning the OS X keyboard shortcuts for screenshots first and see if that’s enough for you, however. I use the OS X shortcuts all the time. Command+Shift+4 is the basic one, but learn how space bar can help you as you set up your screen shot.
  • Cobook — I’m trying it. Worth a shot. Alfred may make it unnecessary, however, because it can search your contacts.
  • Messages — No brainer.
  • Apple Mail — I’m a Gmail man because I need my e-mail to be totally platform-independent and in the cloud. Even and especially drafts.
  • Hootsuite — I can’t handle Twitter. The Internet is already too distracting.
  • Evernote — Love it. Get the Chrome add-on, that’s what’s sold me. I also like the UI for Mac. Check out Notational Velocity (actually NValt) also.
  • Google Calendar — Ding.
  • Google Chrome — Ding. All the way. I sign into my wife’s Gmail account in Safari for when I need to check it for her. I believe Hyatt is right that having multiple tabs open in Chrome slows my computer down.
  • Nozbe — Trying it. May blog about it if I like it.


  • Byword — I’d use Notational Velocity instead. Learning Markdown seems unnecessary to me if you can compose your posts in the nice editor already provided by WordPress.
  • MarsEdit — No. Use the online tools so drafts are saved to the cloud. This way you can work on drafts on any of your devices.
  • Pages — No, just use Word. I have it, but I don’t use it much. The templates are nice, that’s all.
  • Word — Love it and use it, though the Mac version just doesn’t feel like it belongs on the Mac. And there’s no One Note. =(
  • Scrivener — Trying it. Looks promising.


  • Keynote — Definitely get it. Made by designers rather than homeless people like PowerPoint, which manages to be uglier than I can imagine nearly every time. More importantly, the transitions aren’t jittery like Prezi and PowerPoint. Love it, love it.
  • KeySpan Remote — I’ve used this. Very nice.
  • OmniOutliner — Overkill, but inventive.
  • Photoshop — Love it, but it’s expensive. Note that if you think you really would use it you can get a great deal if you buy it with a new Mac in the Education Store. The latest version has some terribly cool features I wish I had years ago.

One final note: consider doing literally everything in Notational Velocity (actually NValt). You might really like it. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. The downsides are that you don’t get a nice-looking UI with indicators of notebooks and folders and such. But you do get lightning fast search and file-creation. You get tagging, you get a preview window for HTML.

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