The apps I really can’t can’t live without

essential apps

There are apps that keep you informed, apps that make your life more fun, apps that keep you constantly connected to your social networks, and apps that help you shop, shop, shop.

Most of these work for you for a bit until you tire of them and replace them with a newfangled version. Or you may cycle between using one (Instagram!) more than another (SnapChat!) and then back again (Wait, Instagram has stories, now?). It’s an ever-changing landscape, that iPhone screen.

But then there are the essential apps that run. your. life. 

Well, at least for me there are. These are the ones I open multiple times a day: Productivity apps that help me stay organized and on top of my game, that store important information and streamline my day-to-day existence.

They deserve a front row position on your home screen, preferably where it’s easiest to tap them using a ninja one-handed thumb grip.

In case you need a few to add to your go-to collection, I’m sharing the essential apps I can’t live without—and how I use them—below.

essential apps Evernote


Evernote basically acts as my bottomless digital filing cabinet and is key to my paperless life. I file away every note I take, relevant emails, travel itinerary, web clippings, photos, and anything else I don’t want to forget in here. It’s essential when I travel and at home I can instantly dig up old receipts, contracts, report cards, doctor’s records, and more.

Essential Apps: Todoist


Don’t tell me you’re still hanging Post-its everywhere? Todoist is my task list. When I think of something I need to do, I don’t keep it in my inbox or write it down, I put it in here. I organize tasks by context (personal or work, for example) and date (if they’re time-sensitive), so i know exactly what to work on at any given time.  And it’s oh-so-satisfying to check them all off throughout the day. Plus, with their new Amazon Alexa integration, I can add tasks hands-free using my voice. 

essential apps: Inbox by Gmail

Inbox by Gmail

Many great email programs have stolen my heart only to be acquired by big companies and shut down, so as of late I’ve landed on Inbox by Gmail. I like that it organizes my emails so I can see the most relevant ones first (from people, not companies) and then sorts the rest by Social, Purchases, Updates, etc., so I can easily scan and see what’s important. It also bundles related emails together—like emails related to the same trip—so I have a mini-itinerary in my inbox with reminders to check in for my flight, hotel confirmations, and car rental receipts.

  Essential Apps: Venmo


Babysitters, guitar teachers, friends who split the bill at lunch, friends who cover for me when I forget to bring in the field trip money… Venmo makes it easy for me to pay them all. Without cash, from my phone… even when I’m out of town. In short, it’s become a lifeline for making sure I don’t stiff people.


Essential Apps: Today Today

At any given time, I’m always working on establishing a few different habits. I might want to stretch more at night, meditate, or remember to take a probiotic. Today is a habit tracking app helps me make a game out of it. I’m able to set reminders and add pretty photos to help motivate me, kind of like using an interactive vision board. And a satisfying tap lets the app know I completed my daily mission.


essential apps : Slice


I don’t know about you, but the UPS guy is one of my besties. I do a ton of online shopping, for groceries, clothes, shoes, and household supplies and Slice helps me keep track of it all. It lets me know when things are coming so I can look out for packages and even alerts me if something I bought drops in price.


Apple wallet essential apps

Apple Wallet

My airline tickets, credit cards, and loyalty cards all go in Apple Wallet, and more and more, I also pay with Apple Pay. It’s easy to add things like concert tickets, restaurant reservations. Fumbling around in my purse for a bulging wallet gets so old, you know? 


Essential Apps: Spotify


Music is a huge part of my day, and Spotify has taken the stress out of finding and downloading music and of managing a collection. With almost no limits on the choices I have, I can create playlists on the fly and share musical knowledge with the kids whenever, wherever.

That’s it! Oh, and once you’ve got your go-to line-up, don’t forget to organize them too.

Which are the apps that run your life? Share your faves with me, below!


15 comments on “The apps I really can’t can’t live without”

    1. Good question, Michele! Right now, I’m a bit bummed, because I was using an app called Sunrise, and now they’ve been acquired and are shutting down. So I’m using Google Calendar’s app for iPhone, which I’d give a 7/10. Still searching for a top recommendation.

      1. I just started using 1Password, the learning curve is difficult for me. I regretted buying it, but I’m determined to learn it and it’s coming along finally. Do you have any tips and tricks for 1Password?

        I’d like to know if you ever review just the free version of apps? I’m hooked on Pocket, Evernote and Wunderlist, but I can’t afford the plans.

  1. Great tips! Totally appreciate hearing what works for you. I absolutely trust your recommends! As for other apps, I also use Amazon frequently to either quickly check on a price of an item. And I use my banking app to deposit checks, make quick payments etc. I second Phyllis’ question about password apps. I get kind of immobilized about that and haven’t used anything!

    1. Ann, agreed! Amazon is a lifeline for me… groceries, and pretty much anything else. Checking prices too, yes. And bank apps for sure! Just responded to Phyllis about 1Password. I will write a primer on that in January!

  2. I need you to write a post about how to make sure you use apps the right way to keep them relevant! I have Evernote – but didn’t know about tagging until recently. So I have a pool of untagged saved things! Also, Todoist … I figured out that you actually have to do the things on your list to win. I’m still getting notifications about stuff on my to do list that I haven’t gotten to.

    Whew. Good post, by the way, Carley.

    And I feel much better now.

  3. Bey7;&#821nns just about as good as buying stuff in HK yourself, without customs and baggage hassles to boot. He’s still the guy to beat in terms of price and delivery speed. I order from him and place payment deposits without hesitation.

  4. Hey Thamar! Veilig aangekomen zie ik! Fijn. We hopen dat jullie een hele mooie tijd tegemoet gaan. Geniet van die lieve kindjes en heel veel sterkte met de bouw. Het ga je goed! Groetjes Annalies

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