10 Apps for Web Designers Using a Mac

Apple computers are known for their simplicity in design and excellence in performance. These are the two basic reasons that entice web designers and developers to use Macs as their work computer.

There are oodles of third party applications out there for web designers and web developers who use Macs. In this article, we share with you the top ten applications that web designers/developers on a Mac will find useful.

Though not all of them are exclusively for Macs, they are all build with Mac users in mind (and not haphazardly ported over for compatibility).

1. 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. Seashore provides a ton of features for its end-user including various textures, gradients, and anti-aliasing for its text and brush tools. Along with those great options, it also supports editing over multiple layers and alpha channels. It’s an awesome image editor for Mac users on a budget.

2. Coda


Coda can be the sole reason for switching to a Mac as a web designer; it is an extremely well-done and intuitive application that makes the web development workflow a breeze. It was designed to compartmentalize website-building processes and for team collaboration. Coda isn’t free, but at less than a hundred dollars, you get a lot bang for the buck.

3. TextMate


TextMate is an comprehensive text editor application designed exclusively for the Mac computer; it is the premier example of how text editors should function. A premium application, a MUST have for all web designers.

4. Paparazzi!


Paparazzi! is a basic tool for the Mac OS X which enables the user to take screenshots of entire web pages without any external editing. This tool relies on the Cocoa API and WebKit framework, written in C. A great tool for designers who need to capture entire web pages for design mockup presentation or as web graphics on a site they’re making.

5. Nvu


Nvu is a high-performance WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor built around Gecko (the rendering engine for Mozilla-based browsers). This application runs on Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later which makes web designing a cinch even to beginning-level web builders.

6. Think


Think is an excellent application for making you focus on the task at hand. This application creates an ‘Illumination Panel’ that replaces the Mac OS dock by creating a list of applications that you use to select the application you want to ‘Focus’ on.  This is an essential application for those that are easily distracted by other things such as Instant Messaging, Twitter, and emails.

7. 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. This editor is perfect for people who work with HTML, LaTeX, C/C++, Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, PHP and much more.

8. Xee


Xee is a straightforward application for browsing your images. This app can be considered as a replacement for Preview or any other default image viewer pre-installed on the Mac OS X. It’s sleek, fast, and uses very little system resources. Loads of shortcuts and a nice streamlined user interface add to its list of features.

9. Scribus


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

10. Smultron


Smultron is a gratis text editor which can be considered as a replacement for the default text editor that comes along with the Mac. Smultron is quite versatile and easy to use. It is meant to be used on the Mac OS X Leopard 10.5. The editor can be used as a basic text to a complete HTML & Script editor.

What are your favorite web design application?

Do you have a favorite Mac application that you can’t live without? Do you have experiences with the above list of applications? Please share your thoughts in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

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About the Author

Pranav Shirodkar is a 21 year old IT student currently pursuing a Graduate degree from India. With a passion for technology and a knack for writing, he owns and runs TechMirage, an online technology updates blog. If you wish to contact him, you can use Twitter or MSN.

This was published on Jun 9, 2009


Steven Rossi Jun 09 2009

I haven’t seen a better FREE text editor (particularly for designers) than Smultron. Until I purchased Espresso recently, I used Smultron exclusively.

Speaking of Espresso, I’ve never tried Coda, but I’m confident Espresso could easily compete with it.

Paul Radich Jun 09 2009

Great list. While I mainly use Dreamweaver, When I really want to get all the crap out of my way Coda is my go to.

Thanks for posting.

daftviking Jun 09 2009

Where’s CSSedit? That’s definitely on my list of critical web design apps for Mac, along with Coda.

Not sure about having Nvu and Scribus on the list, though – Nvu was last updated 4 years ago (how many eons is that in “web time”?), and I’ve always considered Scribus a desktop publishing system rather than a web design tool.

Nice list otherwise – I’ll have to check out a couple that I’m not so familiar with (like Paparazzi and Think).

cancel bubble Jun 09 2009

Aptana and Cyberduck (both free).

Vince Jun 09 2009

Question; Why would one use Textmate if they own Coda?

George Jun 09 2009

This is a great list! And the reason its great is that it is not the same list that everyone else has. I actually learn some new apps from this. That’s refreshing.

I find textwrangler invaluable.

Nick Wichman Jun 09 2009

I love posts like this! It’s great to find new software and popular tools that other web people use. I will totally check these out!


Vin Thomas Jun 09 2009

Great list. I will have to try scribus. I have seen it around, but never downloaded it.


aesch11 Jun 09 2009

uh oh…

Aquamacs but no macvim? Come on now, macvim is great. I wish I had it on my windows box (its much much better than gvim by the way, and yes it blends in.) I’m pretty sure theres no better tool for editing code quickly than vim.

Bruno Jun 09 2009

Transmit from the makers of Coda is the best FTP client I have seen for Mac and I use it every day.

James Irwin Jun 09 2009

Although technically not related to design, I always use Cyberduck as my FTP client and XAMPP for local testing. Oh, and The GIMP when Seashore doesn’t suffice.

cbuck Jun 09 2009

Good list. But I would have to add Pixelmator and CSSEdit to the list. While Pixelmator is NOT photoshop, it gives you some nice tools for under $100. Not too shabby. Also, CSSEdit is hands down the best way to keep large css files under control. my 2 cents, as it were.

Ref: Steven. Espresso and Coda are similar, but I find their overall scope is very different. The project centric way Espresso approaches the work flow is cool and helps out in the long run, but Coda makes it quite easy to get started on a new project quickly. Both companies are great and both offer other tools that are awesome as well.

Roukus Jun 09 2009

Thanks for the list.

I like Smultron. It is a smooth application with a clean user interface. Smultron also allows quick file editing straight from some ftp clients.

ZenZen77 Jun 09 2009

Okay here is my list for coding…
– Textmate
– Espresso
– CSSEdit
Now for uploading files
– Espresso (depending on what I’m working)
– Cyberduck
For images
– Picturesque
– Pixelmator (only for basics)
– LittleSnapper

I’ll have to thanks MacHeist bundles….. :p

CSSEdit forever!

Chris McCorkle Jun 09 2009

Is it just me, or is this a very poorly constructed list? Why are there five text editing apps in this list of 10 items?

Coda, Firebug (for Firefox), Transmit, Photoshop, and VMware is all I need. I know Firebug and Photoshop aren’t Mac-specific, but still.

Derek Jun 09 2009

Coda! +1. I just bought it during their 1/2-off sale.

I never knew development was so easy.

Israel Jun 09 2009

You forgot to mention MacVim, all the power of Vim in a Cocoa app:


Rene Zammit Jun 10 2009

Useful tools :) THANKS . Gonna use some for my website :p

Bertrand Jun 10 2009

For me, Coda is better than Espresso. CssEdit is very good too and I love LittleSnapper for screenshots

Neal Jansons Jun 10 2009

I gotta say I like Textwrangler more than Textmate. Coda is good, but if you have DW then using that works out better (IMHO).

Kailash Gyawali Jun 10 2009

CODA is the best thing I have ever used for web development

Fares Farhan Jun 10 2009

I’m currently using TextMate after working with quite long lines of code in javascript (approx. 5000 lines), in Coda I can easily get lost due to the lack of code folding. If Coda has code folding feature and extension like Sugar for Espresso or Bundle for TextMate, for sure it will easily stands out among the crowd..

and this is my list :
1. TextMate
2. CSSEdit
3. Versions or Cyberduck (SVN or FTP, it depend)
4. Photoshop CS2
5. Firefox with Firebug, screengrab, JSView

Htoo Tay Zar Jun 10 2009

Here’s the Apps I can’t live without

1 – Pixelmator
2 – RapidWeaver
3 – Coda

Jacob Gube Jun 10 2009

Hello everyone, I sincerely appreciate you sharing your additional apps. Two things I’ve been thinking of: I would like to write a follow-up to this one listing the applications listed here in the comments. The other thing I wanted to do, which I’ve been sort of writing on and off for about a month now, is apps for PC users. It’s basically a list of the apps I use in my computers. So keep sharing your list of apps please, thank you.

Alex B Jun 10 2009

Two I really like are Firebug pluggin for Firefox and an app called PlainClip, it clears all formatting from the text in the clip board.

auctoris Jun 10 2009

I don’t suppose anyone here has ever heard of BBEdit? It’s only the most feature rich text editor on the Mac and about the only thing I use for development. Some think the price is too high, but they can use BBEdit’s free little brother TextWrangler.

swape Jun 10 2009

nice list. There are lot more apps for web designers for mac but this list has some of the most essential apps.

Jad Graphics Jun 10 2009

Great collection of MAC programs.

Andy Ford Jun 10 2009

@Vince – Probably because one finds TextMate more powerful and flexible

sportlogoday Jun 11 2009

I am using Smultron all the time. Thanks for that list. I will take a look at other 9. Thanks

firstbyte Jun 11 2009

i recently start using mac and i haved try every possible editor for mac, and until now i haved reach at a conclusion windows has many good editors and free, for scripting i’m using eclipse and netbeens, even pspad from windows is much better then textmate, everywhere i see just good things about textmate, but still i did not found one, just that is commercial

I second adding Aptana Studio — it has great modules for many languages, including HTML, PHP and jQuery, and for programmers it’s way ahead of the free text editors for Mac. This is a great list though.

‘Smultron is a gratis text editor’ should be ‘Smultron is a free text editor’

Michael Dennis Jun 11 2009

NetBeans! It’s free!

Bart Gysens Jun 12 2009


– CoRD: for remote clienting
– Chicken of the VNC
– OpenOffice
– Eclipse (Aptana’s core) with SVN-integration
– Firefox with Firebug, FirePHP, Webdevbar and many more plugins
– Cyberduck
– VirtualBox (OS vmware)
– Adium
– Twitterific
– 7zX
– Automator
– CotEditor, for the quick and dirty way
– svnX

That’s it; grtz from @wadje12

MAMP is critical for developing dynamic sites.

Leonid Lezner Jun 13 2009

I use Versions for SVN. Great app!

Red Dirt Jun 13 2009

I still use BBEdit, CSSEdit, Transmit and Fireworks for 95% of my work, I also own Textmate, Coda, Espresso, CS4 Design.

xScope and Imagewell are very useful as well. Of course VMWare Fusion and Internet Explorer Colection help with the dirty work.

Eric Baldoni Jun 14 2009

Unfortunately I have yet to find a good Photoshop “killer”. All the open source apps (not sure about GIMP tried it early on and hated it) are missing the one really important feature…image slicing! Any software developer who wants to take a bite out of Adobe should create an image processing app for web developers, focused on slicing, processing, and optimizing images, I’ll be first in line to beta test.

Hafees Jun 18 2009

Thanks for the list. But I think most of them are editors and missing some real IDEs.

I have also compiled a list of five free Mac applications for Web developers. Please read it here

Sascha Sep 21 2009

Very cool !!!!

eclipse or netbeans
photo tool
vector tool

what else do you need?

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