Apps that power our creative agency Part I – Invaluable Apps

Apps that power our creative agency Part I – Invaluable Apps

We’re a creative digital agency, and we need reliable, capable products that get the job done first time, every time, with high quality. We’re often asked what apps we use and rely on everyday to get the job done.

This is a 5 part series. Part I introduces apps we all use and agree make life easier. Part II introduces the visual creative team apps, Part III deals with content creation team apps. Part IV introduces the apps used by the management team, and finally, part V discusses WordPress plugins we find invaluable.

While many of the team use Macs, we also have team members who use MS-Windows based machines. Many of our favorite tools are cloud-based or platform independent which allows for greater productivity.

Part I of IV:

While no means complete, here’s our list of apps that power our creative agency, in no particular order.


Google Drive


Google Docs is our favorite, collaborative productivity suite. It runs on all platforms, is free, and is web-based making it available anytime, anywhere.

Why we like it: Frankly, what’s not to love about it. We still get a thrill from collaborating and watching where someone else’s cursor is – it’s like a grown-up Minecraft Creator.

Download here

Microsoft Office


Arguably the Swiss-Army of office productivity, the Microsoft Office suite has evolved over time into an rich, somewhat complex toolset.

Why we like it: Sure we use Google Docs internally, but we’re not fully weaned off our old mainstay, Microsoft Office, even if only for client compatibility.

Download here

Internet and Communications



It’s our opinion that Chrome is the best browser on the Mac. It’s fast, functional, and syncs everything across our devices, including iOs and Android.

Why we like it: To be sure, we use all the browsers out there, but when it’s all said and done, we love Chrome for it’s integration with all things Google. Tip: The mobile emulation mode is simply amazing, we love being able to emulate different mobile devices right inside Chrome.

Download here

Photos and Videos



Quite simply, Illustrator remains the best vector drawing tool, and thankfully it keeps getting easier to use. It supports all the industry standard file types and integrates particularly well with its sibling, PhotoShop

Why we like it: It works flawlessly and reliably. We’re in the job of creating quality products on time, from concept to web and print and Illustrator helps make it so.

Download here



PhotoShop is still the most powerful image-editing app on the planet. Having said that, it’s getting harder to support Adobe’s subscription-based software approach and with the explosion of high-quality, better-priced alternatives, we might be dropping Adobe soon.

Why we like it: Like a well-worn pair of shoes, we know it well, and it fits our creative needs.

Download here

SuitCase Fusion


Get more than a few hundred fonts on your computer and pretty soon you need a font management tool. SuitCase Fusion has a slew of useful features over and above its ability to activate and deativate fonts on demand,

Why we like it: With more than 15,000 fonts on some of our creatives’ computers we rely heavily on Suitcase to manage them. Keeping all 15,000 fonts active is simply not practical – it would cause the computers to be very slow.

Download here




DropBox is a cloud-based file sync product that just keeps getting better and better. Although you only get 2GB for free initially there are a host of ways of growing the free space without needing to pay for the paid service.

Why we use it: We use Google Drive internally to share and sync our files across devices, but DropBox comes in handy especially with sharing project files with clients.

Download here



PopClip (Mac) adds an intuitive little pop-up bar with options when you select text. But instead of just getting copy and paste buttons, PopClip can speak text, search the web for your selection, and a ton more.

Why we like it: Sure it’s a simple and cheap product, but this popup makes text editing a real breeze, it is a serious productivity enhancer. And with its expansion features, it is invaluable.

Download here



Spotlight is the universal OS X search app that allows you to quickly search files on your Mac’s hard drive.

Why we like it: Ok, this isn’t an separate app, it’s built into Mac OS X, but it’s become such a great feature that we just had to mention it.



LastPass is a password manager that integrates with any web browser. It can generate passwords and supports 2 factor authentication.

Why we like it: How we managed passwords before LastPass is a mystery to us. We love that it checks for duplicate passwords.

Download here

Keyboard Maestro


Keyboard Maestro is easily the most powerful automation tool for Macs. With it, you can automate almost any repetitive task you do on your Mac.

Why we like it: Not for the faint of heart, admittedly, it has a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you can make your Mac learn and perform repetitive tasks. A big bonus is it’s multi-media clipboard manager.

Download here



TotalFinder extends the Mac’s finder and offers tabbed browsing, a dual-window viewing mode, proper cut and paste support and much more.

Why we like it: This is the Mac’s Finder on steroids. We find it invaluable.

Download here



HyperDock (Mac) can preview app windows, easily resize windows by holding down a modifier key and moving your mouse, can let you snap windows to the edge of the screen, and offers plenty of handy shortcuts to save you time. Many of these features have been available in MS-Windows for a while now, but the Mac hasn’t had them until HyperDock came on the scene.

Why we like it: Resizing windows can be a real chore – with HyperDock, you simply drag the window and it resizes from full to half to quarter size. Love it!

Download here

Chicago’s 1871 Incubator – At the Intersection of Arrogance and Indifference

Chicago’s 1871 Incubator – At the Intersection of Arrogance and Indifference

On a recent tour of Chicago’s 1871 Incubator it was clear that it has become a legend in its own mind. In the past 1871 was an inspiring place to visit and work, to observe great minds collaborating on a sea of ideas. Today 1871 is overcrowded and uncomfortable, and devoid of humility and humanity.

What it’s like to visit there

At Rage Agency, we make a concerted effort to monitor the environment and introduce our staff and clients to those business vectors destined to foster growth and change. 1871 was one such vehicle, an organization to recommend to both startups and established businesses from which to learn and adopt ideas and practices. Sadly it is no longer on our bucket list of must-experience for our clients.

“Taking the tour, it’s really just a big ass coffee shop with a bunch of private rooms”

Taking the tour, it’s really just a big ass coffee shop with a bunch of private rooms. Throw in the funky seating, sound isolation booths, free seminars, and wine mixers and it falls somewhere between a cool startup company and a college union hall.

It was glaringly obvious that it can get very crowded, where you may not be even to find a decent seat. It felt like it was over capacity when we visited and we learned that it is in the process of building out even further.

What it’s like to work there

Chatting to people who work there, we learned that the three things most desirable in a tech situation are lacking: ergonomic seating, good internet access and quiet. That, and be prepared to pay handsomely for parking and battling the downtown traffic if you’re not getting dropped off. On the other hand, access to bright, committed young talent is in abundance.

“I’ve found myself leaving 1871 many times just because I couldn’t stand sitting there anymore cause it’s so uncomfortable and full of distractions”.

The collective IQ at 1871 is obviously astronomical.  Many great ideas are generated and more importantly, brought to market aided by the collective forces at work there.  But high intelligence has its downsides too. High intelligence tends to foster arrogance. Rare is the leader who has great intelligence, and the humility to realize the limits of his/her competence.

Lasting impression

In the end, the takeaway from 1871 was one of overwhelming arrogance. Arrogance is sometimes a cover for insecurity.  But in business, it’s often driven by the combination of early success, being one of the smartest kids in the room, and having been rewarded for cleverness. And that’s the way it feels at 1871 – they’re the brightest kids in the class and feel grandiose and entitled.

“In the end, the takeaway from 1871 was one of overwhelming arrogance.”

About 1871

1871 is home to over 350 companies.  The 75,000-square-foot facility provides Chicago startups with programming, access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that help them on their path to building successful businesses. Approximately 1,000 people a day visit the space with membership options ranging from just nights and weekends to shared space and reserved desks.