Top Apps for Graphic Designers 2012

by Steve Zelle, Graphic Designer, Ottawa Canada

Out of the many apps I download for my iPad and iPhone, very few end up being used regularly. The following is a list of the apps that survived the year on my devices—the ones that I think most graphic designers will find make their working day a little easier.

The two apps that I wouldn’t want to go without are Evernote and Dropbox. Both have changed the way I work, and organize documents and files. I recently upgraded my Evernote account to premium, and the ability to attach just about any file to a note is well worth the subscription fee. I also pay for a Dropbox Pro account, and the packrat add-on feature that saves your file history indefinitely. Both are indispensable.

Assuming you have both of those—and everyone probably should—here are my other top iOS apps for graphic designers:



Drafts is a different kind of note taking app. In Drafts, text comes first—open the app and get a new, blank draft. Don’t get bogged down in a timeline to tweet or post to Facebook and Don’t tap through multiple screens to compose an email or SMS. Don’t navigate folders, create files and name them just to jot down a note or create a todo. Drafts is available for both iPhone and iPad.



Share to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and account, all from one place and at optimal times.

Any link, text, picture or video you want to share, add it to your Buffer. Your updates will automatically be scheduled and posted well spaced out over the day to your favorite social networks. Of course, any update can also be “posted now” inside the app.

Say you find 5 great articles and 2 funny images you want to share. Posting them all in a row is a pain for your friends and followers. Instead add them to your Buffer and you are good to go with great social updates for the next few days.

Buffer is also available in a web version and supports many browsers and apps.


Assuming you have Evernote installed, Everclip lets you build a clipboard of items from various sources, organize the clips,  and then save as a single note to Evernote. A great tool when collecting data and doing research.

FTP on The GO

FTP On The Go lets you securely log into your server from anywhere using your iPhone or iPod touch!

Download files and use FTP On The Go’s built in text editor to fix text right on your iPhone. Find and Replace features make it a snap. Click the Save button to upload your changes back to the server and you’re done. You can even change file permissions (CHMOD) on the server to manage your website from anywhere.


Splashtop 2 is the easiest way to access all of your content from any device from anywhere! Experience multimedia that is up to 15X faster and better in quality than the competition!

From the comfort of your mobile device, you can now:

View and edit files remotely (no transferring or syncing)
Use your favorite Mac and Windows programs
Watch HD movies, TV shows and Flash videos at up to 30 frames per second with low latency
Stream your music collection from another computer
Give presentations with full audio and video and engage your audience
Play graphic-intensive games

iA Writer

Crowned by Apple as one of the Mac Apps of the Year 2011, iA Writer is the number one focused writing app in the App Store. It lets you keep your hands on the keyboard and your mind in the text. With over 400,000 copies sold, Writer has helped students, journalists, and bestselling authors to find more pleasure in working with text.

iA Writer syncs with iCloud and Dropbox. There is also a fantastic Mac desktop version.

Minimal Folio

I can’t remember the last time I actually showed a traditional portfolio.

Minimal Folio is the simplest way to present images and video on your iPad or iPhone. The app is unbranded so your portfolio does the talking.


  • Easy, minimal user interface
  • Pinch and zoom
  • Present on an external display
  • Use images, pdf and video
  • Lock to prevent editing


  • Manage multiple portfolios
  • Batch import from photo albums
  • Copy and paste items between portfolios or Apps
  • Cloud sync to multiple devices with Dropbox
  • Transfer files with iTunes


With so much information available online today, it’s increasingly difficult and time-consuming to find the content we want. That’s where Zite comes in. Zite evaluates millions of new stories every day, looking at the type of article, its key attributes and how it is shared across the web. Zite uses this information to match stories to your personal interests and then delivers them automatically to your iPad or iPhone.

Studiometry Touch


Studiometry Touch takes the best features of Studiometry and puts them in the palm of your hand. Track hours with running timers, enter expenses and fixed-rate work, even create and send invoices—all from your mobile device. It’s total functionality. No desk required.

Studiometry Touch is a companion to Studiometry for Mac or PC, the project management and invoicing application I have been using for years. I know many designers use Basecamp but I have always liked this application.


iScreen turns your iPad, iPhone or iPod into a wireless touchscreen for your Mac. Boost your productivity by increasing the size of your computer’s desktop. iScreen does not only turn your device into a screen, it also comes with a virtual keyboard and mouse.


WiTopi is not an app, but a virtual private network (VPN) service you subscribe to. Anyone that connects to public wifi networks should protect themselves, and their privacy by using a VPN. I have been a customer of Witopia for several years.


While not graphic design related, this has turned out to be one of my most used Apps this year. Audiotap allows me to listen to my entire iTunes library without having to store the music on my iPhone.

Stream your music to your iPhone at home and on the go

  • Full iTunes integration
  • Easy set up
  • Familiar interface
  • Supports Mac and Windows
  • Works over WiFi and 3G
  • Playlist management
  • Live bitrate conversion
  • Custom folders
  • Bookmarks and play counts
  • No user account required

Your Turn

What apps have  you tried out this past year and still find yourself using regularly? Are there similar apps to the ones I have chosen that you feel are better?

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Comments are closed for ‘Top Apps for Graphic Designers 2012’

  1. Mike Manson says:

    Hi Steve. Great list of apps. Thanks. One of my favourites is 1Password, for securely managing all the logins of your apps and online accounts, from all your Apple appliances.

  2. Great list. Will be trying out iScreen today. Thanks!