My Favorite Indie Apps

There has been a lot of talk this week about how hard it is to make a living selling software as an indie developer. It has never really been a license to print money, but that's a myth persists as a result of a handful of apps that struck it big during the very earliest gold-rush days of the iOS app store.

This week, Sam Soffes' app Redacted made it to #8 on the Top Paid chart on the US Mac App Store and the very top of Product Hunt, yet he only sold 59 copies of Redacted in the US netting $302 after Apple's cut. Granted, the Top Paid list is not a proxy for revenue — it's more complicated than that — but Sam's story is not new or unique. There have been multiple stories of about how tough it has become to make it as an indie developer and several have left the indie ranks al together.

After I read Sam's story I looked on my iPhone and Mac. Many of the very best apps I use and rely on every day are created by individual, or small teams of, developers. It's these people who are the heart and soul of the Mac community. They create some of the most innovative software, pushing the medium and platforms forward. This week is National Small Business Week in the United States, so why not support your favorite indie developer by buying an app? If you are reading this, you probably already have a bunch of apps from indie developers that you enjoy, but I thought I would put together a list (in no particular order) of my personal favorites. Check them out and if you see any you like, make an indie dev's day and buy one.

Disclosure: Many of the following are affiliate links generated, of course, by my own indie app, Blink: Better Affiliate Links.


Brett Terpstra

  • Marked. A Markdown preview app with a Swiss Army knife of other features to help you with your writing.
  • StretchLink. Expand and clean up short links in the blink of an eye.
  • NVAlt. I have over 1,300 plain text notes in NVAlt, but nothing slows it down.

Red Sweater Software (Daniel Jalkut)

Aged & Distilled, LLC (Guy English and Chris Parish)

  • Napkin. Great for support documentation, trouble shooting, bug reporting, communicating with designers and really doing just about anything that is easier said with a screenshot.

Rogue Amoeba (Paul Kafasis, Christa Mrgan and others)

  • Audio Hijack. I don't have to grab audio from my Mac too often, but when I do, I always go to Audio Hijack.

Flying Meat Inc. (Gus Mueller)

  • Acorn. There are so many great alternatives to Photoshop out there now. Acorn is one of the best.

Many Tricks Software (Rob Griffiths and Peter Maurer)

  • Moom. Moom is one of the first apps I install on a new Mac. I'm not sure how to manage windows without it.

Nikolai Krill

  • CodeRunner. CodeRunner is a great place to test snippets of code when you really don't want or need to open Xcode.

Bohemian Coding (Pieter Omvlee, Emanuel Sá and others)

  • Sketch. A great alternative to Illustrator.

Realmac Software (Dan Counsell, Nik Fletcher and others)

  • Ember. Ember is what I used to collect ideas when I was working with @forgottengtowel on the Squibner branding. Great capture and sharing features.

Sam Soffes

  • Redacted. I deal with tons of PDFs and Redacted is the quickest way to redact private information.


Agile Tortoise (Greg Pierce)

  • Drafts. Most of my text starts here and is sent elsewhere for processing using Drafts' powerful actions.
  • Terminology. Every writer needs a dictionary and thesaurus. Terminology is my favorite.
  • Phraseology. I love how I can quickly rearrange a list or paragraphs with this app.

David Smith

  • Pedometer++. I use this app every day to count my steps.
  • Emoji++. Emoji++ makes sense of the chaotic order of emoji.
  • Feedwrangler (Service/iOS). I use the Feedwrangler service in conjunction with Unread for all my RSS reading.

The Gravity Well Group (Gabe Weatherhead Jeff Hunsberger)

  • TapCellar. A great app for cataloging beers you try and want to remember.

Overcast Radio LLC (Marco Arment)

  • Overcast. I moved from podcast app to podcast app for years before I found Overcast, which perfectly matches how I listen to my favorite shows.

SuperTop (Padraig and Oisín Prendiville)

  • Unread. Easy to read RSS with powerful sharing features.

Lickability (Matthew Bischoff, Brian Capps and Andrew Harrison)

  • Quotebook. I love to keep track of quotes I come across. Quotebook makes it dead simple and fast to capture them.

Contrast (David Barnard, Josh Youens and others)

  • Launch Center Pro. While Drafts automates my text tasks, Launch Center Pro automates everything else.
  • Perfect Weather. Perfect Weather is beautifully designed with just the right amount of data.

Desk Connect, Inc. (Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Nick Frey and Veeral Patel)

  • Workflow. I love playing around with complex workflows. It's amazing how much you can do in this app.

Daniel Farrelly

  • GIFwrapped. Everyone should keep their reaction GIFs close at hand. GIFwrapped is my favorite.

Riverfold Software (Manton Reese)

  • Tweet Library. I like to keep an archive of my tweets somewhere that I control.

Loren Brichter

  • Letterpress. This game has stood the test of time for me. I have played it nearly every day for the last two years.

Snowman Inc. (Ryan Cash and Harry Nesbitt)

Sirvo LLC (Asher Vollmer)

  • Threes. Math is hard, Threes is fun.

Mac and iOS

TLA Systems Ltd. (James Thompson)

  • PCalc (Mac/iOS). PCalc has been around forever in Internet years. It's got every function I need plus so many more and is fully customizable.

Pixelmator Team (Saulius Dailide and Aidas Dailide)

  • Pixelmator (Mac/iOS. Another great replacement for Photoshop.

Bloom Built LLC (Paul Mayne, others)

  • Day One (Mac/iOS). Day One takes the hassle out of journalling.

SuperMegaUltraGroovy, Inc. (Chris Liscio)

  • Capo (Mac/iOS). I suck at guitar, but Capo gives me a fighting chance at picking out my favorite songs.

Big Bucket Software (Matt Comi and Neven Mrgan)

  • Space Age (Mac/iOS). So fun. And that soundtrack!
  • The Incident (Mac/iOS). Also a ton of fun and moved into the y-axis when that wasn't a thing in gaming.