in Productivity

How I get things done on the Mac

Having moved from a Linux desktop to a Mac, I have been forced to find new applications to help me read email, manage tasks and projects, take notes very easily and everything else work related. After investigating the options, I have found some applications which does their job very well. Read on to find out which applications are on the top of the game.


For reading email, I now use the built-in Apple Mail client. It does its job very well indeed, but it does lack some features. It is for instance not possible to use client certificates for IMAP and SMTP yet for some strange reason, but it was a breeze setting upp stunnel to listen for unencrypted connections on localhost, and forward these to the mail server, encrypted using my client certificate.

I also have problems with my todos, especially when trying to attach them to email messages. The following message appears in the log:

WebKit discarded an uncaught exception in the webView:didFinishLoadForFrame: delegate: trying to set a non-ToDo MailboxUid for a ToDo. The MailboxUid for a ToDo must be a ToDosMailboxUid

Hopefully Apple will have a solution to this problem soon.

For some pointers on how to keep the mailbox sorted out, have a look at 43 Folder’s Inbox Zero series, or one of the many Lifehacker posts.

Taking notes

Even though it is quite possible to store notes in Apple Mail, there is definitely a use for a more powerful application such as Evernote. If you are a Lifehacker reader, you will probably have it downloaded for free. With it, it is possible to take notes on just about anything, and if there is something interesting on a website, it is just a matter of selecting the text and select “Paste to Evernote” in the menu. Brilliant!

evernote.png evernote-attributes.png evernote-menu.png

Evernote has a built-in syncing facility, which makes it possible to browse all notes directly on the web from any computer! There is also a Windows client, but I have not had the chance to try that one out.

Managing tasks

To manage tasks, the popular Things is the perfect choice. Although it is just a beta, it does what it’s supposed to do – and it does it very well! It also seems to match up well with other popular project management applications. For instance, read the iGTD2 vs Inbox vs OmniFocus vs Things comparison (Thanks Maria).

I fell head-over-heels in love with this application. Right from visiting the excellent website and then firing up the application for the first time, I knew Things was something special.

A pictures says more than a thousand words, so here is one (but with the words censored out though).


It displays the task in true GTD style, which will hopefully make it fairly easy to actually manage everything. For a more in-depth introduction, have a look at the screencast on the Things website.


Most people would assume that using iCal would be the optimal choice. Perhaps. But most people I work with are using Google Calendar, which basically forces me to use it as well. There are some tools such as Spanning Sync for syncing iCal with Google calendar, but they all seem to have some problems. It works very well syncing to the phone using GooSync and subscribing to it in iCal.

I am quite happy with this setup, and it seems to be working really well. The only thing I can complain about is that Evernote does not save all formatting from websites, like for instance Apple Mail does with its notes feature. Not a big issue of course, since the text iself often is the important part, but still an annoyance.