As a graphic designer you know that there’s no such thing as “good enough,” and that the status quo can always be improved on. That being said, you’re probably constantly adding things to your arsenal of tools that help you get the job done well and efficiently. Here are seven essential tools that every graphic designer like you should have in their tool box, no matter his or her specialty or medium of choice.

iMac or MacBook

Simply put, Apple is the brand of choice for most successful graphic designers for a number of reasons. You need a computer with a fast processor and a huge amount of memory to complete your projects efficiently. The programs and add-ons for designers that are available for iMac and MacBook are leaps and bounds more sophisticated than those for Windows computers.

iMac Monitor

Whether you choose a desktop or a laptop model is up to you, but the Apple OS lays the best foundation of tools for graphic designers. Of course, Windows has design tools as well; Apple simply has a longstanding history of providing optimum equipment for design professionals.

Lorem Ipsum Generator

Littlelpsum is a convenient Lorem Ipsum text generator that lives in the menu bar of your Internet browser. Through this handy browser add-on, you can quickly pick up Latin-style placeholder text to use during the creation of your design. This text fills the space of your design during the preliminary planning phase that’ll ultimately be written by a client or professional writer, but needs to be filled to demonstrate the look and feel of the font you’ve selected.

LittleIpsum Generator

You have complete control over how many words, individual lines, or whole paragraphs it generates; simply hover your cursor over the coordinating selection of the pop-up menu on the tool.

Mac OS X is great for Littlelspum, but Windows users may find this site easier to work with.

Library of Congress Digital Collections

If you’re in a creative rut and looking for a bit of inspiration on the Internet, look no further than the library of congress. This massive archive collection (that most people don’t know about or don’t use) is a great way to find inspirations for graphics and typography. Not only that, but you’ll likely learn about a lot of stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise. The best feature of the digital collection is that you can – in most cases – use the content without copyright issues or payment.


Another great tool for Mac users is Jumpcut. It works with your clipboard to increase the amount of text you’ve cut or copied. Through “clipboard buffering,” you’ll be able to get access to your clipboard that’s much more intuitive than the standard paste option. Instead, you’ll be able to use your entire clipboard history. This enhanced capability should really enhance the efficiency of your design process.

Jumpcut clipboard

To use Jumpcut, just download the application, open it, drag the file to your applications folder, and launch it. Then, each time you cut or copy something, the program will add it to the list of items on your clipboard for you to get access to later. Get to your clippings either through the menu bar or through the pop-up box using the hotkey (Control-Option-V), scrolling through them using the arrow keys.

Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription

As a seasoned professional you’re likely fully versed in the Adobe Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. They’re indispensable tools for turning ideas into reality and really making design concepts shine. The latest versions of these programs are only available through subscriptions, rather than in boxes.

You can enroll in a subscription to one piece of software at a monthly fee of $19.99 per app. The more efficient (and cost-effective) option is to subscribe to the Creative Cloud plan that includes full versions of all the most popular Adobe applications for the monthly rate of $49.99 per month, or $599.88 per year.

The suite includes:

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Acrobat
  • Several other apps to keep your creative juices flowing

adobe creative cloud

File-Sharing Apps

Graphic designers undoubtedly share a lot of files with colleagues, clients, and other parties throughout the design process. These apps make facilitating those processes as fluid as possible:

  • Dropbox is great for securely sharing large files with customers and collaborators.
  • Google Docs makes generating ideas with a group much easier.
  • Asana helps with task management.
  • Skype is an essential tool for effective outside communication and doesn’t cost a penny.


With these apps in mind, it’s important to note that a fast, reliable Internet connection should be non-negotiable in your office. It’s crucial that you have a high-speed connection to help you get your design work done, considering how much you use online resources or browse online for inspiration. Some ISPs such as Verizon offer speeds of 30mps or more with their FiOS packages. Check out all your options to see what works best for you.

Promotional Tools

Both freelance and actively employed graphic designers should always utilize promotional tools to get their name into the network of designers out there. No matter whether you’re focusing on digital promotion or old-fashioned word of mouth, and whether you’re firmly established in the industry or just starting out, don’t overlook these tools:

  • Social media and online networking. Facebook and Twitter reign supreme, of course.
  • Unique business cards. Vistaprint offers plenty of choices at a suitable price.
  • Professional portfolio. Squarespace and Weebly are great websites to use to showcase your portfolio if you don’t want to design your own.
  • Networking with professionals and clients. If you don’t already have a profile on LinkedIn, it’s time to step your game up and sign up for one now.

Each of these seven tools are essential for any graphic designer to implement in their creative process. What are some of your favorite tools and tricks of the trade? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

2 responses to “7 Essential Tools Graphic Designers Should Have in Their Arsenal

  1. Nice resource guys. You also need to add a couple more:

    – ProofHub : we couldn’t live without this awesome project management tool!

    – Uservoice : community feedback done well / helpdesk

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