A Summary List of My Electronic Tools

Here is a quick list of some of the main tools I use:

At some point I will provide more detail on each of these and how I use them, but a straight list is hopefully a good place to start in the meantime.

Note that this list is just the electronic side of things (with the exception of my moleskine notebook for a capture tool), and I’m probably leaving several things out. I also have recommendations for the physical side — what type of stapler to get, what type of physical in box, and so forth.

Note that most of the above software is for the Mac. When I was on Windows, I used Outlook for email, calendar, contacts, and task management — and was relatively happy with it because I customized things very heavily (for details, see the David Allen Company whitepaper on Customizing Microsoft Outlook for GTD).

(Thanks to one of my readers for suggesting this post!)

  • http://www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com Zach Nielsen

    I recently switched from Microsoft Office to iWork and have not regretted it in the least. Office programs were the only ones that would freeze up on my Mac. Imagine that! The disease that is PC even is in the software!

    iWork just feels more intuitive and looks way better. That have some great and useful templates that look very good and can get you started with some really great forms and posters.


  • http://braintags.com Jeroen Sangers

    Besides the iPhone (data plans are way too expensive in Spain) my set-up is very, very similar:
    Macbook with Mail, iCal, Address Book and OmniFocus, cheap notebook for capturing, CrossOver to run Windows applications and Carbonite for backups.

  • Matthew Molesky

    I’m curious how you incorporate the Moleskine into your life. I’ve hopped back and forth between tactile and electronic (the Moleskine with a fountain pen feels particularly romantic to me). Also, I’ve now switched from OmniFocus to Curio. I’ve really liked their “idea space” concept, and I don’t think I sacrifice any of the project planning muscle. Of course, I’m a pretty visual guy. Blessings friend!

  • Matt


    Interesting that you have switched to Curio — I’ll have to check that out.

    Here’s how I use my moleskine. Actually, this interchange is a real-life example. I want to check out Curio, but can’t do it now. So I jot down into my moleskine “check out Curio.” Throughout the day, stuff like that collects in my moleskine.

    Every morning or so, I process it like an inbox. I do the less than two-minute stuff, and put the other stuff on action lists or in project plans, etc.

    There’s more to it also — I’ll flesh out ideas in there sometimes and so forth, but its main function is as an inbox that captures action items.

    The reason I don’t just put those items into my OmniFocus in is that I find it faster to write down in my Moleskine. That also works well when I am away from a computer.


  • http://philgons.com/ Phil Gons

    I find the absence of Bible software curious. You should definitely consider Logos for Mac.

  • Brian Current

    i suppose you can’t use macros or vba code with iWorks (?)

    Matt, since you mentioned Twitter.. What’s your take on it? useful in any way? i’ve avoided it because i’m assuming it will be a huge distraction. curious what your opinion is from a GTD standpoint.

  • Matt

    Brian: I like Twitter. It’s like a continuous stream of conversation. Can just follow and jump in with as can. Good way to keep up with people in small ways. So I’d say it’s worth giving it a shot.

    David Allen made the point that social networking tools are like another virtual inbox. He wasn’t saying that’s bad, just that it’s another point of input that implies the question “is there any action here?” But there are rarely action items (unlike email), so it’s more like listening to the radio, except it’s real people, and you can participate.

    I had Tweetdeck on all day the other day with its default alarm going off every time there was a new tweet. That was distracting. But if, like email, you don’t have it up continually, but check in batches, it doesn’t have to be distracting.

    David Allen is on Twitter now. He also has an article on the productive use of social media, which I linked to in one of my posts within the last couple of weeks.

  • Chris

    Does anyone see any advantages in running Entourage? I have used it for my work email, but I would prefer to Mail and iCal instead.
    Matt- what instant messenger program do you run?

  • Matt

    Chris: I looked into Entourage when I first switched to a Mac, and didn’t see any advantages! :)

    For instant messaging, I use iChat and, sometimes, Google Chat. But I don’t do much instant messaging at my laptop as of yet. I do text message a lot via my iPhone when on the go or when I just need to touch base with someone real quick on something.

  • http://www.myintervals.com John

    We use Intervals for our collaborative task management and time tracking. But then, there are five of us and it helps us all stay on the same page.

  • Chris

    I am forced into using Entourage for my job because of its Microsoft Exchange capabilities. I would much rather work with iCal/Mail.
    Regarding chatting, I suggest Adium as a great program for getting multiple chat clients into one program. It has a nice interface, and it incorporates Growl.

  • http://www.visionforvanuatu.wordpress.com J. Gary Ellison

    Having used PC’s since 1985, I have been considering the change from PC to Mac. (About time?) Besides the initial purchase of the MacBook Pro, how much of the software that you list comes with the MacBook and how much of an investment are we talking about to add these other tools?

    Thanks for a very helpful site!

    (Sorry to be slow to respond, but I have been away from my office with very little Internet access.)

  • Matt

    Gary: I’m sure you’ll love having a Mac if you choose to go that route! In regard to the software, most of it is free.

    Mac Mail, iCal, and Address Book come with your Mac. So does Time Machine (for backups).

    Firefox, NetNewsWire, and Tweetdeck need to be downloaded, but are free.

    OmniFocus does cost something. Jott for iPhone either costs a few dollars or is free, but requires a paid monthly subscription of $8 or so.

    MindManager, OmniGraffle, and Quicken cost. I’d still have MindManager and Quicken on a PC, though, and Visio in place of OmniGraffle.

    Microsoft Office is relatively expensive, in my opinion, but I think that Apple’s iWork may be more reasonable.

  • Hugh

    Just made the PC-to-Mac switch at home… the only real gaping hole I have left to fill is a replacement for Windows Live Writer for offline blogging. What do you use?

  • Matt

    I wish I had a good recommendation for you there. I don’t have anything to enable me to do offline blogging. I use WordPress.org as my platform.

  • Matt

    Hugh: A friend of mine just said that he likes MacJournal (http://www.marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=85) and Memoirs (http://www.codingrobots.com/memoires/).

  • Aaron Mayfield

    Matt, I need a new printer. Got one you love?

  • Matt

    Aaron: I really like the Canon Pixma MP620 All-in-One Printer. It prints, scans, faxes (though I don’t use that) and copies. Also, it is wireless. It’s not perfect–sometimes there is a “communication error” and I have to re-send the print command. But it is the best experience I’ve had with a printer so far, meets my needs well, and isn’t too expensive.

    Here’s a link to it: http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=116&modelid=17406