Niko Heikkilä


The tools I use to survive my hectic days as a software engineer.

By Niko Heikkilä / May 20, 2023 / ☕️ 3 minutes read

Some people are often puzzled about my setup or want to hear my recommendations for a given task. On this page, I will describe the tools I use to survive my day, accompanied with links for the readers to try them out. I keep this page updated as often as possible. That probably won't happen more often than every other year, but anyway...

The works of Wes Bos inspired this page. If you decide to make your own /uses page after reading this, please include me among the sources.

Office and Computer Hardware

I regularly work from home, so a functional office setup is something you shouldn't be a cheapskate about.

Therefore, I work with...

  • MacBook Pro 2021 with M1 Max CPU and 64 GB RAM for all my personal and work needs.
  • Autonomous Standing Desk since getting up off my ass helps me stay more alert when feeling drowsy.
  • Samsung 27-inch WQHD curved monitor. I was surprised by how nice curved monitors are to look at.
  • Blue Yeti USB microphone, since pair and ensemble programming require constant and clear communication. I sometimes visit podcasts too. It has a great physical mute button, and I can plug in my Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones via a 3.5mm jack for zero-latency audio feedback for my voice.
  • Mozi AR-2 BaseStand lifts my laptop to a comfortable height for my eyes, which helps with neck pain.
  • Keychron K8 mechanical keyboard with brown switches and a satisfying tactile bump.
  • Logitech MX Master 3 mouse with custom macros for taking, e.g. screenshots. Nearly all the other mice feel too tiny for my hands.
  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for reading e-books, which I mostly strive to buy in DRM-free ePUB format.
  • Remarkable 2 for handwriting notes and sketching confusing diagrams.


Although I am an open-source advocate, in most situations, I have no problem paying and using commercial software when it delivers the job. This will be a mouthful, so I'll list my used apps below. I've marked the apps I've purchased or subscribed to with a moneybag (💰) sign.

Most apps offer a limited free plan which you should check out too, if it covers your needs.

Desktop Applications

  • Microsoft Edge for browsing the web. In the past, I've used Vivaldi and Safari, but there was always something off in the user experience. Edge is surprisingly stable.
  • IntelliJ IDEA 💰 for larger codebases that crave safe and automatic refactoring tools.
  • Visual Studio Code for general-purpose programming activities.
  • Raycast 💰 to boost my productivity with a variety of workflows and snippets.
  • Cleanshot X 💰 to capture screenshots and record videos. It's rather useful for reporting issues with websites.
  • MindNode 💰 for drawing, exporting, and sharing mind maps. Miro covers the same need as well.
  • Obsidian 💰 for writing notes, drafts, checklists, and keeping a personal journal around. I kick off each day with a daily journal page, including a to-do list for important tasks. Previously, I used Notion for this, but Obsidian is more simple with its pure local Markdown approach.
  • Insomnia for testing REST, gRPC and GraphQL APIs.
  • TablePlus 💰 for accessing relational databases, Redis caches, and more.
  • Todoist 💰 for reminding me to pay my monthly bills and a heap of other stuff.
  • Toggl for tracking the time spent on projects and tasks, which is a mandatory evil thing to do at work. I hope our country will someday remove the 7.5 hours working day requirement altogether.

Terminal Applications

Web Services

  • 1Password 💰 with Business and Family subscriptions paid by my employer. I use it to store passwords, secure notes, software licenses, movie tickets, and SSH keys. It's the best password manager out there, and using anything else would cause me a mental breakdown.
  • DigitalOcean Spaces 💰 to serve static assets to this blog and other purposes.
  • Dropbox 💰 with a two-terabyte subscription to dump all my random things into.
  • HEY 💰, for the email. I didn't know I needed its powerful features until I screened out the first obnoxious marketer sending unsolicited sales emails.
  • Fastmail 💰 for using a custom domain as my email since HEY for Domains is, sadly, another product.
  • GitHub for storing my code unless work projects require otherwise. I love Copilot — which I have access to due to being a popular open-source maintainer — and it's the best invention since refactoring shortcuts; sue me freely.

In the end, I use too much everything so I've probably forgotten the most. 🤷‍♂️

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