Tools & Resources I Use Every Day as a Designer – Part Two: Software & Apps

Tools & Resources I Use Every Day as a Designer – Part Two: Software & Apps

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Design Software

I’m always fascinated to see where and how other people work and  I wanted to share my personal set up, focusing on the tools & resources I use every day as a designer. I recently posted part one on hardware I use as a designer and today I am featuring the software and apps I use on a daily basis.

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  • Slack – Team chat
  • Tweetdeck – Desktop + mobile Twitter client.
  • Chrome – My browser of choice. Plugins include Buffer, Ninja, Panda, FireShot, Honey, Notion, Bookmark OS, Video Speed Controller


  • Spotify – My music player of choice. I subscribe to their Premium subscription so I can sync & listen to the music on my iPhone too. I use the iPhone Spotify Remote App to change songs from wherever I am.


  • Skype – International phone calls and meetings.
  • Zoom – Video conference calls
  • – Book meetings with me online
  • TextExpander – Saves me from re-writing commonly used phrases & emails. See how to use TextExpander to conquer email.
  • Alfred – Launches my software & searches with speed. Super productive. I use the shortcut key Cmd+E.
  • Google SuiteDocs, Sheets and Drive
  • Apple Time Machine – Backs up my files to external hard drives.

Web Apps & Services


Have any other recommended software or apps or designers?

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33 thoughts on “Tools & Resources I Use Every Day as a Designer – Part Two: Software & Apps”

  1. Hi Tanner,
    I haven’t tried out either of them, but to be honest I don’t really use much FTP other than basic uploading so I don’t need any fancy features. Cyberduck is quick, easy and fast so that works for me.

  2. Thanks Jacob for completing this Article. I really got alot of information to start my career as a Designer. Keep it up. Thanks.

  3. Great list of tools here, I found that you and I use many of the same things. I have never used textExpander (looking into it now), but I would have to conquer with the Tanner, I bought Coda ($99) and absolutely love it. It is hands down my favorite editor because it looks good and it works good. While auto complete can be annoying at times (personal preference)it is a nice option. Panic makes some great software.

    When you use PayPal for billing, I am guessing you are adding in the PayPal fees ontop of the profit percentage that you are looking to make? I currently use Square to process Credit Cards and On The Job to do billing, invoicing, etc.

  4. Nice list there, would very similar to mine – thanks for sharing. I use ColourLovers personally, how do you find ColorSchemer?

  5. I started with Macromedia (now Adobe) 20 years ago. Today my main tools for my design studio are as follows.
    Adobe Dreamweaver is my web design/editor.
    Adobe Fireworks for any bitmap web design (easier and faster than Photoshop). I even use it for print illustration.
    Adobe Illustrator for all vector work, both web and print.
    Adobe Indesign for most print ad design work.
    Adobe Photoshop for pre-press image editing (though I use Fireworks for the faster editing).
    SketchBookExpress replaced Painter for drawing and illustration on my Wacom tablet.
    Abobe Flash has largely been retired, only used to update older websites.

    Studio admin:
    GrandTotal for all invoicing, combined with TimeLog and Alarms to manage projects.

    I’m watching the Apple App Store for alternatives to some Adobe software, as the ongoing cost of Adobe is hard to justify when apps are starting to appear for a quarter of their pricing.

  6. Idk how you don’t use chrome…… Could you explain that more. I get like personally offended when people don’t use chrome, because it is so obviously the best choice you can get right now. I support Open Source software and all but still…

    (Not saying I am offended just stating that is how strongly I believe it is the right choice).

  7. Thanks for this list Jacob, it was interesting to know. For bookmarks, I prefer diigo, because it allows me to get dofollow backlinks.

  8. I like the Skype most as it ease my work like whenever I need to get in touch with my clients it does for me. It works really fast and the amazing thing about Skype is that It’s FREE..:-D

  9. Project Seven widgets inside of Dreamweaver (mobile phone capatability is awesome..pricey bu worth it)
    Square for credit card payments on the go.
    BizxpenseTrkr – for on the go tracking of my business expenses
    Quickbooks Pro is great for web and graphic designers.
    Business ringtones, so i don’t sound like every iphone in the room.

  10. Nice to see I’m not the only one still using TextMate. Have you been using the 2.0 alpha, or are you still running 1.5.10? Most of my developer friends have switched over to SublimeText, but I still prefer TextMate.

  11. Sir, which software do you use for your logos, banners and brochure designs?
    Do you create your own fonts, if yes could you tell me through which software?
    Thank you.

  12. Jurgen,
    Thanks for sharing and for reposting from the email you sent me earlier.

    No worries, always interesting to know how others work heh?

    Looks like I will have to look into Coda, some of my work colleggues use it too.

    As for PayPal fees, there was a good discussion about this last year, see ‘PayPal Fees: Should you charge your clients?‘.

    Does Square work without having an actual credit card in your hands? How do you receive money when clients are not in person?

    Works great! ColorLovers is good for inspiration but I think Color Schemer is great for building your own.

    Thanks for sharing, interesting you use SketchBookExpress. Why is this?

    I prefer the plugins available for FireFox. I use Chrome as the second alternative.

    Thanks for this share!

    Will get back to you on that, need to check when I’m home.

    I use Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop) mainly. I don’t create my own fonts but a quick Google search should help.

  13. SketchBook Express is more stable on Mac than Painter (though Painter was once a brilliant application). I like being able to sketch and paint with the ‘natural’ effects of these applications. I also use it (SketchBook Pro) on my iPad. Illustration is making a comeback, in part because stock photos and illustrations are so cheap it’s becoming hard to find original images for clients that have not been seen elsewhere.

  14. Your personal set up almost matches with mine, however I do recommend looking for some more powerful alternatives to TextMate – You won’t regret it and will save a lot of time 🙂

  15. A great and very useful article Jacob – thanks!

    WeTransfer is really handy for sending large files. It’s possible to send up to 2 GB for free which for me totally blows away You Send It’s measly 100MB (for the free version). You can also create your own business page for a certain amount per month.

    For bookkeeping & accounting software ClearBooks apparently is pretty good. Invoicing reminders so I can carry on with more important tasks? Yes please!

  16. With square you can get the clients credit # and type them in manually and will send the client a recepit for purchase.

  17. This is a wonderful list of softwares for designers. But I would also like you to consider the cloud based time tracking software from Replicon listed in this wonderful list.

  18. How come you’re not using a design feedback platform, like ViewFlux?
    It comes in handy when gathering feedback from your clients.

    • Hi Andrei,

      Email works for me right now. I don’t often get a lot of feedback that requires something like ViewFlux. Thanks for sharing though!

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