In the last few weeks, I've worked from home, from five different coffee shops, three different airports, on I don't remember how many airplanes, and even an Uber. That's pretty much normal for me. 

If you work remotely, you can probably relate to the  challenges that come from not having an office. At the same time, I love the flexibility of being able to work wherever I want, and with the right tools, I can be productive wherever I'm at.

Here are my eight favorite apps for the Mac for working remotely:

1. Trello

If you work on projects, which there's a pretty good chance you do, Trello is a must. The list-making app doesn't have some of the fancy bells and whistles like Basecamp, but if you work on pretty much anything with other people, Trello is flexible enough to handle it. 

There's a free version available, but honestly, it's worth the $5/month for the Gold version that includes additional integrations and automations (called power-ups).

2. Slack

Like a lot of people,  I have a love/hate relationship with Slack. A lot of the time, using it feels like standing in the middle of a busy intersection with traffic moving in all four directions. That said, it does one thing really well for remote workers. Better than just about anything else I've used, it helps create a virtual version of the casual interactions that naturally happen in a workplace. 

Don't underestimate how important those interactions can be at keeping your team connected and productive. Just be sure to turn off the constant stream of notifications and focus only on what's most important.

3. Ulysses

I started using writing tool Ulysses at the beginning of this month. I told myself I was going to commit to using it to write this column to see if it was worth all the hype. Let's just say I won't be switching back. I'll still use Evernote for organizing research--especially online--since Ulysses doesn't have web clipping or contextual search at this time. For actual writing, however, it's the best app I've used. 

4. Zoom

Working remotely doesn't mean working alone. Even though I work from home, I meet with other people at least two to three times a day. Unfortunately, most of those people are located far enough away that getting together for meetings isn't practical. Zoom bridges that gap with a simple video conferencing tool. I guess there's a paid version but honestly, I just use the free version and have never had a problem. 

5. Dropbox

Unless you're super paranoid about your files, there's very little reason to not store them in a cloud-based app like Dropbox. They still live on my Mac, but the fact that they automatically sync to any device or computer, and are backed up in the cloud makes work so much easier. I share a lot of files, and Dropbox makes it painless compared to sending things via email, or even Slack. 

The browser interface isn't my favorite, but it is pretty cool that you can create Word documents directly from your Dropbox, and the business plan supports Google Docs integration. 

6. Google Docs

Basically, Google Docs (and G Suite for that matter) is the best team collaboration tool for document creation there is. Technically you don't have to download it, you can simply use it online, but it's still one of my favorite tools for staying productive remotely.

The real time sync and commenting features are better than anything from Microsoft, or anyone else for that matter. I just wish they'd hurry up and roll out the integration with Dropbox beyond business customers since right now using Docs means using Google Drive which, let's just say, is not my favorite. 

7. Things 3

I'm pretty much a "make a list on paper" kind of person, but when it comes to productivity apps, Things is the best overall for the Mac (or iOS device). The reality is it's pricey, and there are definitely more affordable options out there--especially since you have to purchase separate versions for your desktop and iOS devices. The newest version of Things (v3), however, won me over because of the simple interface and integration with most of the other tools I use everyday. 

8. Take A Break, Please

Sometimes simple is the best. This app only does one thing--force you to take a break. Admit it, when you work remotely, sometimes you need a reminder. Take A Break, Please lets you set both the time between breaks, and the duration, and dims your screen for the amount of time you set. I love that it makes me stop, walk around, stretch, and usually get more coffee. Plus, it says please, right there in the name. How polite.

Published on: May 28, 2019
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