Best and Essential Tools For Web Development on Mac

December 11, 2010 · 13 comments

by Dustin Betonio


Mac OS X  is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, Mac OS X has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems. It is the successor to Mac OS 9, released in 1999, the final release of the "classic" Mac OS, which had been Apple’s primary operating system since 1984.

Mac OS X are well know for their simplicity and performance.  Mac OS X are well know for their simplicity and performance.  If you’re a web developer who’s using a Mac, then chances are you’ve come across at least one the popular development tools for a Mac. Finding Useful Mac Apps For Freelance Web Designers was a challenging task. In this article I will feature some essential bits of software that every Mac-owning web developer should have in their toolkits. From text editors to command line tools, editing, file and data transfer, collaboration, database management, image editing, invoicing, time tracking, expenses tracking and much, much more. Most of them are relatively inexpensive and almost all of them offer a free trial period.





MAMP is a quick and painless way to set up Macintosh, Apache, MySQL and PHP in the same environment. What used to be a tedious process now literally takes just a few seconds between downloading MAMP and installing the software. Instantly you’ve got a fully-functional web testing environment for your PHP applications. It also comes locked and loaded with PHP extensions like Zend, and you can specify different cacheing types like APC, eAccelerator or XCache.

2. Cyberduck


Cyberduck is an incredibly user friendly FTP client that’s provided for free and licensed under GPL. It can be used in many different settings, like FTP, SFTP, WebDAV and Amazon S3 straight out of the box. Cyberduck also integrates seamlessly with essential Mac functionality, like Bonjour, iDisk, Growl, AppleScript, Spotlight and even Quick Look to instantly see the guts of the file with a tap of the spacebar.

3. Transmit


It offers almost all of the same functionality as Cyberduck, but adds a little more robustness for advanced user. For example, you can edit any remote file (even a picture or graphic) in any software using Transmit.

4. CSSEdit


cssedit is a CSS editor with a fantastic user interface. It has the look and feel of a Mac application, which makes the experience of editing CSS much more enjoyable.

5. phpMyAdmin


phpMyAdmin is the kindly old grandfather of database management scripts. Not necessarily hip to an attractive user interface, phpMyAdmin still has the skills to pay the bills. You can manage your databases locally using this stable script. It ships with MAMP, so installation is a breeze. If you’re not MAMP, then you’ll have to configure PHP to run on your Mac, which is a much more involved process. Still, phpMyAdmin is a tried and tested solution for managing databases with a UI.

6. Yummy FTP


Yummy FTP is an FTP and SFTP client application for the Apple Macintosh, built as native Mac OS X software from the ground up, with the goal of providing a reliable, powerful, yet easy to use file transfer utility.

7. CocalMySQL


CocalMySQL is a database tool developed specifically for Mac with Cocoa. It has the elegant look and feel of a true Mac application, and is laden with features. CocoaMySQL is much easier than phpMyAdmin on almost all fronts; it’s easier to setup, has a much more intuitive interface, and runs more like a Mac program. The software is also licensed under the free GPL license.



VirtualHostX is the best way to host multiple websites on your Mac. It lets you easily create Apache virtual hosts on Mac OS X.

9. Coda


If you’re building a site from scratch, it’s nice to have a program like Coda where you can manage all the files and FTP functionality from within one program. Built by Panic, the same guys who develop Transmit, Coda is a one-stop solution for web developer. Within code you can manage files, ftp to a server, preview the code, use a css editor (like cssedit), and even use Terminal all from within Coda.

10. TextExpander


TextExpander saves you countless keystrokes with customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings, code snippets and images.

11. TextMate


Textmate is one of the most popular of the text editors. It has a bevy of features, like file tabbing for having multiple files open in a project, works with xcode, and integrates with FTP clients. It also comes equipped with “bundles” that allows you to have multiple different configurable languages.

12. Colloquy


Colloquy is an extremely helpful IRC client for the Mac. It’s open source, allows for plugins and styles, and even has an iphone interface. Robust, elegant and powerful.

13. SubEthaEdit


SubEthaEdit is a collaborative text editor for the Mac. You can use the software as a text editor, note-taker and for co-writing text. It integrates with Bonjour, iChat and Mail, but isn’t limited to those integrations. SubEthaEdit also has a fairly robust editing syntax for many different languages. So really, this is a swiss-army tool for developers that work in a collaborative environment that share code often.

14. Skype


While it’s not typically thought of as a web developer’s tool, Skype can be a lifesaver. Not only can it save lots of coin on your cellphone bill, Skype adds a lot of features that a traditional phone can’t touch. For example, Skype has a pane for text messaging, screen sharing and sharing files. :-)

15. Flow


An excellent workflow manager, which helps to organize things related to your project more easily. It shows Workflow maps of your projects, it allows you to track the connections between project files etc.

16. Komodo Edit


A powerful and robust open-source text editor offers many advanced and attractive features for the developers who have to work on dynamic web programming languages.

17. iTerm


iTerm is a “Terminal emulation program” that adds a bit more functionality and user friendliness to Terminal. It offers features like multiple tabs, bonjour support, bookmarks, and much more.

18. Seashore


Seashore is an open source image editor that utilizes the Mac OS X’s Cocoa Framework. It’s a full-fledged image editor that gives Photoshop a run for its money.

19. Versions


Subversion client that enables you to manage different versions of your development work on Mac OS X.

20. Xcode


Xcode is Apple’s development package. This gi-normous 900mb download adds tons upon tons of system mojo that you’ll probably have to eventually install to your system that you’ll probably use down the line. Many serious development software like SVN and the like use dependancies that Xcode takes care of. Xcode is free for the taking.

21. Fontcase


Fontcase is a font management application that provides an elegant and powerful workflow to help you organise the fonts you have installed on your system.

22. Pixelmator


Pixelmator is a beautiful image editing program for the mac. It’s incredibly intuitive and useful, but doesn’t have all the features of a Gimp or Photoshop. It’s got all the layer editing and retouching tools that we’ve grown to love, and the interface is gorgeous.

23. Quicksilver


Quicksilver is a launcher tool that does so much more for developers. If you’re wanting to save time and keyboard strokes, consider giving Quicksilver reign over your computer.

24. Aquamacs Emacs

Aquamacs Emacs

Aquamacs Emacs is an extended version of the original and robust Emacs text editor with an addition of the new Aqua look-and-feel making the application blend right into the Mac OS X user interface.

25. Isolator

Isolator copy

Isolator isn’t a crucial application for developers, it’s quite handy for blocking out distractions while you’re getting work done. Isolator is a free program that blocks out everything but the single application you’re working on. This gives a distraction-free environment for writing, programming, or whatever else needs your attention.

26. EditRocket

Edit Rocket

EditRocket is a source code editor, text editor, and software development tool with custom tools and support for over 20 languages including HTML, PHP, JavaScript, CSS, Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, XML, C, C++, Shell Script, and many more.

27. Spaces


Spaces is a handy built-in application for Leopard users. It allows you to set up virtual “spaces” for different screens on your computer. This is helpful for developers because you can separate your work flow into different panes. For example, you could have ftp and terminal open in one space, Textmate in another, Firefox in the third and Gimp or Photoshop in the fourth. It’s easy to toggle between the spaces using the command ctrl + arrow, or you can use ctrl + the number of the space you want to switch to.

28. RAGE Domainer

Rage Dominator

Rage Domainerit let’s you keep track of all the domains you own.

29. Lineform

Line Form

Lineform is an ideal Mac app for vector art, diagrams and illustrations. Lineform has all of the most popular tools.

30. Gimp


Gimp is the second-most popular photo editing software program on the market, second only to Adobe Photoshop. The difference? Gimp is absolutely free!

31. Scribus


Scribus is an open source application for creating high quality page layouts for Mac and Linux users. Some of its publishing features include: CMYK Color, Separations, ICC Color management, and flexible PDF Authoring and Editing.

Author : Dustin Betonio

Dustin Betonio is a Translation Management graduate at University of Mindanao. His earlier career was devoted on customer service outside the information highway. Currently studying Law in the same University.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Pravat Maskey January 15, 2013 at 6:11 am

hey, time to update I guess. and add Sublime text 2 also


annesofie January 15, 2013 at 10:50 am

Your right, this article need to be updated a bit. We will take a look at it. – thank you for letting us know!


Ryan G October 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Great post. Thanks for sharing! I will be checking several of these out.


Nilesh March 14, 2011 at 6:26 am

Nice post. Information provided in the article is really informative to me.Thanks for sharing this information


Synthetic Tone December 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I guess I am opposite of Pete, I been using Transmit (very old screenshot by the way or new screenshot of old version) for several years and been really happy. Cyberduck hasn’t been that stable for me didn’t like the interface. I have Filezilla on a PC and while it does have lots of features for free… the interface lacks much visual appeal and seems a bit cluttered to me. I prefer to use FireFTP extension in Firefox on the Windows side. I wish Transmit made a version for Windows 7.

Text Mate is really nice app but I wished it had FTP functions. Currently I am using Coda and like it but still haven’t really got into a groove with it in my work flow.


Pete December 11, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Its hard to leave out Filezilla. For many years it was only reserved for Windows, but its recent introduction to Mac has help me a lot because I use it so often at work on PC. I’ve used Cyberduck and Transmit in the past, but no other freeware out there compares with Filezilla.


Lars December 16, 2010 at 12:00 am

Well I have to agree that it is a great tool…however I use it on Windows and if it is just as good on Mac I believe it is worth giving a try…!


Keir Davis December 11, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Storing code snippets for re-use is also very important in web development. Try Code Barrel to save those bits of javascript or css that you’ve put together and use on a regular basis.


Chantal December 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I miss Sequel Pro in the list. Probably the best MySQL client for Mac OS X.


Sjan Evardsson December 13, 2010 at 6:13 am

I’ll second that. I use Sequel Pro daily. I like that I can connect via an SSH bridge to my dev server and then from there to the DB server without opening any DB server ports to the outside.

I would add jEdit – – another tool I use daily for Perl, PHP, Bash, HTML and CSS. It may not be as pretty or offer quite the same level of code completion (although it does have some decent HTML/CSS/PHP support) but there is something to be said about an editor that has tons of easy-to-install and manage plugins, including SFTP and SVN support. And it runs on any platform and is GPL software.

I would also toss in a recommendation for RegExr – – for testing your regular expressions.


Lars December 16, 2010 at 12:01 am

Thanks Chantal, your input is appreciated… and Sjan really agree with you!


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