Editorial Other how-tos

My essential WordPress plugins: 2014 Edition

essential wordpress pluginsI’m throwing together a new hobby website to tinker with right now, and as with all my other sites I’m building it with WordPress. I know basic HTML and CSS but WordPress really takes the pain out of making a new website, especially hobby review sites like the one I’m making.

Every time I install WordPress I find myself searching the web trying to remember what plugins I to install. Last time I made myself a list in Simplenote, and this time I’ve decided to write a post and share my favourite essential WordPress plugins with y’all.

You’re not supposed to use too many plugins on a WordPress site as each one has the capacity to increase your load time, introduce bugs or conflicts, which itself could compromise your site security. However, these are the plugins I can’t live without. See what you think:

Essential WordPress plugins – free

Essential means I absolutely would not launch a WordPress site without these. They’re all available for free from the WordPress plugin depository, available within your WordPress site from the plugins panel.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

Yoast (aka Joost de Valk) is a world-renowned SEO guru, so you can trust his advice. This plugin consolidates a whole bunch of the most important SEO tricks into one, including meta descriptions for your Google search results, XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs and more.

You also get a little tool in the admin page for each bit of content on your site that allows you to specify what ‘keywords’ you’d like the content to rank for. The plugin then assesses how well your page is likely to rank for that keyword depending on how many times you’ve used the keyword in the content, if your links are appropriate, whether you’ve written enough text, if the keyword appears in your page URL, and so on.

Yoast’s tool doesn’t automatically guarantee high rankings for you – you’ve got to put the work in – but it gives you all the info you need to give yourself a massive head-start against those who don’t put the same work in.

Google Analytics for WordPress by Yoast

WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

Knowing as much as possible about your visitors is just basic webmaster stuff. However, the complexity of the Google Analytics interface makes it pretty tough to learn, especially for beginners. I don’t think I’ve looked at my GA page for any of my sites in over a year now, ever since I subscribed to the much friendlier alternative, Clicky (see below).

However, it’s the industry standard tracking tool and it’s free, so you’d be nuts to ignore it. Yoast’s plugin makes the fiddly work of adding the correct code to your sites as simple as installing the plugin and connecting it to your GA account.

Clicky by Yoast

WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

Clicky is an alternative to Google Analytics that I’ve been using for about a year now. You can track one site for free with limited features, or pay a subscription to track multiple sites with a bunch of extra features such as heat-maps. I particularly love being able to tag certain users so I can track their return visits and path through my sites.

This plugin by Yoast is similar to his GA plugin – you fill in your Clicky details and the plugin adds the Clicky tracking code to your site’s pages.

SEO Friendly Images

WordPress plugin page

The ‘alt’ and ‘title’ tags in the images on your site are very valuable SEO tools and you should set relevant tags for all your images. You can set these manually per image in the Media library, but if you’re uploading a ton of images every day, or don’t relish going through your existing images to manually add alt and title tags, this tool will do it for you based on simple rules you can set up.

Limit Login Attempts

WordPress plugin page

WordPress sites are prime targets for hackers because a staggering number of people leave the username as the default ‘admin’, and then use a terrible password. Hackerbots will spend all day long trying to break in using ‘admin’ and a password dictionary list. If you’re using ‘admin’ for your username, change it now!

Limit Login Attempts does exactly what it says. You tell it how many failed login attempts are allowed from an IP address before that IP is blocked for a certain number of hours, and have the plugin email you if too many repeated failed attempts occur.

It’s fun leaving email notifications on for a few days just to see how many automated hack attempts are made on your site, but after that just turn them off and let the plugin do it’s thing.

Bad Behavior

WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

This annoyingly-mis-spelt plugin (look, I’m British, it’s ‘behaviour’, okay? 😉 ) works well with Limit Login Attempts in that it uses a well-maintained list of known bot networks and blocks them from even accessing the login page. You’ll need to sign up for an account to get an API key but it’s free and well worth the peace of mind.


WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

The industry standard for filtering out spam comments before they even get to you, and is so good it comes pre-installed with every WordPress site. You’ll need to activate it with an API key which you can get one for free by registering on Akismet’s site, and you can use the same key with all your WordPress sites. It isn’t perfect, but you don’t want to launch a site that uses comments without Akismet activated. Trust me!

Regenerate/Force Regenerate Thumbnails

WordPress plugin page (Regenerate Thumbnails)

WordPress plugin page (Force Regenerate Thumbnails)

Regenerate Thumbnails is something you usually only need if you change theme to something that uses different image sizes. Regenerate Thumbnails uses your original uploads to regenerate new ‘thumbnails’ that will fit with your new theme’s media size requirements.

However, it also leaves behind all the original thumbs, which take up space if you don’t need them. Force Regenerate Thumbnails is an alternative plugin which will generate your new images and delete all the old ones, keeping your Media library nice and trim. Only use it if you’re sure you’re sticking with the new theme!

By the way, if you install Jetpack (see below) and use the Photon module you shouldn’t need either of these plugins as Photon will use the WordPress servers to generate whatever size of thumbnail is needed, on demand. Which is nice.

Smart 404

WordPress plugin page

I hate seeing 404 pages turn up in my visitor stats as it means a user didn’t get what they wanted and probably left my site. Smart 404 looks at what the user tried to get to, searches the site’s posts, pages, tags and categories for anything similar, and sends them there instead of the 404 page. If it can’t find anything similar then it generates a tweak-able 404 template that provides a list of suggestions to the visitor.

At the time of writing the plugin hasn’t been updated in two years, but it’s working fine on all my sites. If any up-to-date alternatives spring up, let me know!


WordPress plugin page
Plugin website is a long-running Yahoo service that reduces the file size of an image without affecting how it looks by stripping out unnecessary data, great for improving the load time of your site.

With the plugin active, all subsequent images uploaded to your site will automatically be sent to the service first before being sent back and added to the Media library as normal, without any effort on your part. You can also manually send your existing images to be smushed, either individually or in bulk.

This plugin fell into limbo for a while around 2012 but the team at WPMU DEV came to its rescue and it’s now fully functional and regularly maintained.

WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache

WordPress plugin page (W3 Total Cache)
Setup guide (W3 Total Cache)

WordPress plugin page (WP Super Cache)
Setup guide (WP Super Cache)

In very basic terms, caching speeds up the load time of your site which makes it easier to use and more attractive to Google, both of which you want. There are a variety of caching plugins out there, and arguing over which one is best is a full time occupation for various internet forum users! What I can tell you is that for most sites either of these will be absolutely fine.

Most, if not all, of my sites run W3 Total Cache these days as I found the clearest instructions for using that plugin with Amazon’s CDN. However, CDNs themselves can open up a whole can of worms, so for the most part I recommend you start off by setting up the basic caching options and seeing how much of an improvement that makes, then go from there depending on the size and popularity of your site.

A useful tip: if turning on your caching plugin immediately causes your site to break, don’t panic! It’s almost always either Javascript or CSS minify rules to blame, so start by turning off your minify settings one at a time until the site starts working again.


WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

Jetpack is an official WordPress plugin that bundles a whole bunch of useful functions into one handy package, including: publicising, short links, sharing, image caching, basic stat tracking, slideshows, backups, mailing lists, custom CSS, Google+ integration and more.

I use more powerful, dedicated plugins for many of these things, such as mailing lists and stats, but I particularly love the ‘Edit CSS’ option for themes that don’t have their own CSS panel, and the automatic publishing to LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, which takes so much of the legwork out of publicising a new post. The Photon tool also does a great job of speeding up image delivery.

Not-Quite-As-Essential WordPress plugins – free

I don’t always install these plugins, it depends what kind of site I’m making. For example, I only use the Image Metadata Cruncher on my photography sites, and some themes come with their own options for social media badges or Mailchimp signup forms. But when I need them, these are the plugins I turn to:

Mailchimp for WordPress

WordPress plugin page
Plugin website

Despite the name this isn’t the official Mailchimp plugin for WordPress, but it should be. It’s an excellent third-party plugin that makes it incredibly easy to drop signup boxes or forms into a page with a short code, and also includes the option to add a ‘sign up’ tick box to your comment and contact pages.

You can upgrade to the Pro version for more options, but I’ve been doing okay with the free version so far.

Social Media Widget

WordPress plugin page

There’s a metric ton of social media widgets out there but I just wanted one that displays nice icons in a row in my sidebar or my footer, and this does the job with optional animations to boot. Simple, lightweight, with a range of different icons to suit most tastes and the flexibility to install more. I really love that it includes Instagram, it took me ages to find one that did!

Image Metadata Cruncher

WordPress plugin page
Plugin website (don’t let the weirdly unpleasant design put you off!)

I use this plugin on my professional photography sites because it gives me full control over how EXIF and IPTC details are used by WordPress, based on the contents of those fields as edited by me in Lightroom or Photo Mechanic.

For example, by default WordPress extracts the EXIF ImageDescription and the IPTC Headline of an uploaded image and uses that to fill the Description and Title fields of the Edit Media form. Image Metadata Cruncher gives you full control over this by letting you tell WordPress which EXIF or IPTC elements to use, where.

It even lets you build up complex sentence ‘strings’ to use on your site, such as:

Photo taken with Canon 7D at ISO 800. Shutter speed was 1/125s and aperture was f/2.8.

Some awesome paid WordPress plugins

Sometimes I find the best option is a paid plugin, and I usually turn to CodeCanyon first. Here’s the two plugins I’ve bought that have been very useful across multiple sites:

Justified Image Grid

CodeCanyon plugin page
Plugin website (try out all the options in the demo!)

This. Is. Amazing. It takes all the images you’ve attached to a post, or a subset of them WordPress-gallery-style, and presents them in an elegant justified grid according to the options you set. It’s effortless and awesome and makes your image galleries look fantastic.

You can opt for one of dozens of pre-made themes (all of which look good out of the box) or delve into the incredibly powerful options to tweak almost everything, including the general size of the images, if they animate when hovered, title styling, lightbox options, and more.

I use it on my professional photography site for blog galleries and portfolio galleries, and on my photoblog for the homepage gallery.

Taqyeem (reviews)

CodeCanyon plugin page

Boasting an oddly not-very-descriptive name, this plugin is actually one of the best available for turning any theme into a review theme. You can add a review box to any post or page using admin options or a shortcode, every element of the review box is customisable using well-documented CSS options, and you can drop the overall star rating into any part of your theme with a line or two of PHP, also covered in the instructions.

That’s yer lot!

Installing the essential plugins I listed above, and setting them up right, will be sure to get your WordPress site off to the best start it can. Enjoy, and good luck!


The Brightness control in iOS 7’s Control Center sucks

I’ve written before about changes in iOS 7 that have left many users feeling a bit lost and confused. Over time I think that users will become used to the changes, and that Apple will likely fix most of those problems. For example, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they centre up the Home Screen page dots, as they were in iOS 6 and before. Real slick, that little slip.

But here’s something that’s been really annoying me lately: the Brightness slider in Control Center, the panel of collected controls that slides up from the bottom of the screen with a swipe. It’s mostly all quite useful stuff but I have one big problem with it: the background screen/app you were looking at fades a little when the Control Center is brought up, making accurate Brightness adjustments nothing but guesswork.

My wife doesn’t think this is an issue but it drives me absolutely fucking nuts, sorry to curse but it really, really does. I read my iPad in all sorts of places and frequently manually adjust the brightness to match. It used to be that I’d go to the Brightness slider in Settings and look at the screen as I adjusted it till it got to where I wanted it – at the lower end of the scale a small adjustment makes a big difference so it makes perfect sense that one would use the brightness of the screen as an indicator of how bright the screen will be once you have adjusted the slider that controls the brightness of the screen.

I mean, that’s such an obvious use of feedback that it doesn’t even need saying, right?


In iOS 7 the screen is dimmed when Control Center comes up. When you put your finger on the Brightness slider to adjust the Brightness, the screen brightness still adjusts in real time relative to the movement of the slider but when you close Control Center the goddamn screen gets brighter again. For. Fucks. Sake. Back into Control Center we go, adjust the brightness down a bit more. This time as I move the slider I feel like I’m adjusting the screen to be darker than I want it, but remember it’s going to brighten up when I close Control Center. Maybe it’ll be where I want it this time.

So adjusting Brightness is now a game of trial and error. Great!

There’s a very simple way to fix this: when you touch the Brightness Control the screen could temporarily brighten up to the correct level, allowing you to make the adjustment accurately instead of trial and error. Release the control and the screen drops back to the ‘Control Center’ level.

Alternatively, I considered suggesting they don’t fade the background when using Control Center, just softly blow it out of focus, but that probably looks weird on an iPad. Also, those blur effects are only supposed to be used on layers that sit above other layers and on the iPad the Control Center layer only covers a small portion of the bottom of the screen so lowering brightness probably seemed like the next best thing to differentiate the layers.

Well, it drives me round the bend. Grrr, and argh.

Editorial Photographic

Do Not Buy Nikon Software From iMixer or ImageMixer

This is a strong warning to all photographers or anyone else considering purchasing a license key for Nikon software, particularly Nikon Capture NX 2, from a Canadian company called iMixer Media, previously known as Imagemixer Media:

Do not buy any software of any kind from them. They have a known history of selling license keys that Nikon considers invalid and subsequently disables, and nobody I know has ever received a refund from them. Both Nikon USA and Nikon Canada specifically warns against them by name on their website. Read on for all the details.

Who are Imagemixer?

They are known on the internet for having sold Capture NX 2 license keys that Nikon later claimed were invalid. Capture NX 2 ‘phones home’ to Nikon’s servers whenever you launch it (unless you block it from doing so using a tool like Little Snitch) to check for updates and to confirm the validity of the license key. When Nikon decides a license key is invalid it sends a command back to your software to shut down immediately, and flashes a message on the screen informing the user that the license key is considered invalid.

I was one of the poor unfortunate mugs who, in 2008, purchased a license key for Capture NX 2 from ImageMixer Media. I was just starting out in photography and not yet making money from it, and Imagemixer had a good deal on, or so it seemed. I purchased the key and used the software just fine until one day in 2010. That day as I fired up NX2 it dutifully informed me that Nikon now considered my license key invalid. The application shut down and that was that. No RAW processing for me!

Of course I ran straight to the Nikon website, hoping for some sort of standard ‘Follow these steps to re-validate your purchased license keys’ process or something, but to my horror I found this:

It has come to our attention that product keys for Nikon software are being illegally sold and distributed from websites. We have confirmed the illegal sale and/or distribution of product keys for, as well as the unauthorized use of, the following products:

– Capture NX
– Capture NX 2
– Camera Control Pro
– Camera Control Pro 2

When unauthorized software use is confirmed in relation to the software license agreement, measures that prevent the use of Nikon software are implemented. Please contact Nikon if you believe that you have purchased an authentic product key, but the software indicates that the product key is unauthorized and the software can no longer be used.

Ah f***, is probably what I said. Or more likely something a lot harsher. Just to hammer home the point I also found this statement from Nikon USA about Imagemixer specifically:

It has come to our attention that a website called “” is attempting to sell Nikon software keys. This web site is not an authorized dealer and is not affiliated with Nikon Inc. in any way. Nikon Inc. cannot assist with any license keys sold by this site and cannot replace any non-working keys without proof of purchase from an authorized dealer.

But perhaps that isn’t damning enough. Perhaps you (and Imagemixer) are thinking, “but they’re based in Canada – maybe Nikon Canada recognises them?” and the answer is – nope. Here’s what Nikon Canada have to say:

It has come to our attention that a website named “” may be offering for sale Nikon software keys. This web site is not a Nikon Canada Authorized Dealer and is not affiliated with Nikon Corporation or any of its affiliates and subsidiaries.

Nikon Canada Inc. offers product support for Nikon products sold by Nikon Canada Authorized Dealers only, and will not assist with software license keys sold by unauthorized sources. Nikon Canada Inc. will only replace non-working software keys with proof-of-purchase from a Nikon Canada Authorized Dealer.

I did some more frantic Googling, hoping against all odds that maybe there was a loophole, maybe Nikon would make an exception, maybe Imagemixer hadn’t just taken my money and run. What I found told me the opposite. Lots of forum posts from similarly stranded NX2 users like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one

I could go on. You get the idea.

Imagemixer customers using Capture NX 2 flocked to the web to complain but I don’t think a single one of us got anything out of Imagemixer because they simply stopped bothering to answer any correspondence. And Nikon replied that it was out of their hands because we’d not used an authorised dealer – something Imagemixer clearly claims to be on their website (see screen grab below). An expensive lesson learned.

I have to say that this spelled the beginning of the end of my on-again-off-again love affair with Nikon Capture NX 2. Partly because I couldn’t afford to buy it again, and partly because frankly it’s always been a steaming turd of an app whose main benefit to me was the ability to generate a JPG from the RAW that looked exactly like how I’d set my camera up. The software was slow, clunky, and a chore to deal with for bulk edits, but I really valued that Nikon look, a look I had never been able to match in Lightroom.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Getting screwed by Imagemixer was the mother of my desperation and so I found myself researching Lightroom once more. In the intervening years since my first look (Lightroom 1) it had come on leaps and bounds and to my delight now included a bunch of Nikon camera profiles that precisely recreate in RAW the look of my D700’s JPGs. Rejoice! It was with much glee that I scoured every last bit and byte of Nikon and Nik software from my iMac, and I’ve never looked back.

They’re baaa-aaack!

So yesterday I got an interesting email from a company called ‘iMixerMedia’ which is basically Imagemixer trading under a slightly different name. Turns out they’re still hawking ‘cheap’ license codes for Nikon and Nik software as this sloppy AdWords ad I just grabbed shows:

imagemixer ripoff nx 2
Imagemixer’s AdWords ad for their discounted Capture NX 2 license keys

Seeing as I’m a previous customer they obviously thought I might be interested in throwing away more of my money on their worthless products before being completely ignored when it all goes horribly wrong, and so they kindly sent me a marketing email this week.

Here’s the hilarious opening line:

We hope you’re getting the full use of the software you purchased from us.

A-HAAAAAAA-hahahahahahahaha! Ha! Ha. Haaaaaargh. You’ve got to admit, that’s pretty funny. To quote the delightfully sarcastic Blackadder, thank God I wore my corset because I think my sides have split.

Hey Imagemixer guys, quick newsflash: No, I’m not, and you know it – because I emailed you enough times trying to get a refund or an explanation, all of which you ignored.

Well anyway, having fallen off my chair laughing at the outrageous brass balls on these two-bit chancers, I decided to see what amends, if any, they might have made to their inventive business plan (‘Stage 1 – rip off customers; Stage 2 – write to them five years later and try to rip them off again’) and headed over to their website. Right there on the contact page I saw this little gem:

About Us is owned and operated by Market Click. We represent Pixela Corporation, the Rights Owners of ImageMixer software. We are also a Registered Dealer and Reseller of products from companies such as Sony, Nikon Inc. Adobe Systems Inc. and Nik Software Inc.

In case they edit that, I grabbed it:

imagemixer nikon scam

So then I headed over to the Nikon website again to check their list of Authorised Nikon Dealers, updated January 6th 2014 (four days ago at time of writing). Guess who isn’t on the list? Market Click, Pixela, Imagemixer or iMixer. Funny that, isn’t it?

Do Not Buy Software From Imagemixer Or iMixer

In case the point has not yet been made (and it has, but I love the drama) here it is one more time:

Nikon clearly states on their website that “(t)he only web site authorized to sell software keys alone (not boxed copies of software) is the Nikon Store”. And yet here comes ImageMixer trying to sell exactly that at a knockdown rate on their website under a blurb that claims they’re authorised to do so.

To me that reeks of bullshit. Please don’t give them your money.

Disclosure: It may well be that Nikon and Imagemixer have kissed and made up, and that Nikon just forgot to take down their page warning against Imagemixer, and that Nikon just forgot to add Imagemixer to their list of Authorised Dealers, and that Imagemixer are hawking entirely valid cheap-ass license keys despite Nikon officially claiming that nobody but Nikon may do so. I gave Imagemixer or iMixer or whatever they’re called ample opportunity to comment, emailing them once in reply to their marketing spam, and twice via their Contact Us page. If they ever get back to me to correct what may well be numerous egregious errors and misrepresentations on my part I’ll be sure to post it in an update.

If you don’t see that update on this page, please don’t be buying their ‘products’.

Update – 12 hours later

Well this is interesting. First of all, this post, this website, in fact everything I do online has proven very popular in the last 12 hours with a certain IP address in Toronto, Canada. I wonder who that could be? Hi guys!

Secondly, Imagemixer replied to my original email to them, in which I questioned the value of trying to re-sell me Capture NX 2 and suggested that if they thought I was going to fall for it twice they were in urgent need of medical attention and should ring 911 immediately (well, I laughed).

Their answer? That I likely “abused” my license key and either way it wasn’t their fault, Because. Their words:

Thank you for your email.

Sorry to hear that you are experiencing trouble with your Nikon Capture NX 2 software.

We understand customers have had issues with their product keys when attempting to reinstall or migrate their software in the past, however, this was an issue with the Nikon end user license issued by the manufacturer and not with the resellers. The end user license allows for the installation of the software on two computers, owned by the license holder only and will become null and void if abused. Any issue when attempting to reinstall or migrate the software, however, has now been resolved.

Please note too that all orders for Nikon products are processed through our affiliate program and every product key is authentic, legal and unique to each order.

A convenient pair of excuses: both almost impossible to prove otherwise by me at this stage as I have no intention of digging out my license key and reinstalling NX 2, and Nikon refuses to be drawn further on the topic. Still, let’s take them at their word for one fanciful second:

  • If it has been resolved why weren’t all customers informed? They’ve evidently got my email address – did they ‘lose’ my emails of complaint three years ago?
  • Why is Imagemixer still named as a company to avoid on Nikon’s US and Canada websites?
  • Why is Imagemixer still not listed as authorised resellers on Nikon’s sites?
  • If their keys are “authentic” and “legal” how do they explain that Nikon clearly states “(t)he only web site authorized to sell software keys alone (not boxed copies of software) is the Nikon Store”

Here are the facts as I see them: I did not abuse my license key; I installed Capture NX 2 on one laptop and one desktop computer which are my computers that I own. It did not stop working as a result of uninstalling it or reinstalling it, I simply loaded it up one day to do some work and Nikon shut the license key down and it stopped working. Same as it stopped working for everyone else I’ve linked to. Did we all abuse our software?

As for it all being a mixup that has since been resolved I defer to the authority, Nikon. They name Imagemixer as a company to be avoided, and Imagemixer aren’t listed on the official Nikon Authorised Resellers page.

The evidence speaks for itself, don’t you think?


Quick! YNAB is 75% off on Steam right now!

you need a budget iPhoneUPDATE: The Steam January 2014 Sale is now over so unfortunately if you’re reading this you’ve missed out on 75% off YNAB – but you can still get a $6 discount all year round using my own personal ‘10% Off YNAB’ referral link.

ORIGINAL POST: If you’re quick – and I mean very quick, there’s only 9 hours left at the time of writing (9am GMT on 2nd January 2014) – you can grab the utterly fantastic home budgeting app You Need A Budget for just £7.49 on Steam, a 75% discount!

Unfortunately you can’t also take advantage of YNAB’s $6 referral discount stacked on top of the Steam discount, like you can when YNAB have a sale on their own site, but you can’t have everything and hey, 75% off is an utterly amazing deal for this app, easily the best home budget software I’ve ever used.

What is Steam and how do I buy YNAB there?

Steam is a huge digital software store specialising mainly in games but it carries serious software too. If you’re new to Steam and nervous about buying from there rather than YNAB’s official website, don’t be, purchasing from Steam is easy and you’ll get a completely official copy of the app:

1. Download the Steam Store app here, and while you’re on their website create an account.

2. Launch the Steam app, login to your account and search for YNAB on Steam.

3. Purchase YNAB from Steam, then download and install it.

4. Now launch YNAB – all done!

Now then – because of how Steam works it will usually want to launch the Steam app whenever you launch your official copy of YNAB purchased from them. This is more a feature for games players who use the Steam app in the background while playing a game to chat with other Steam users. Here’s how to ‘divorce’ your copy of YNAB from the Steam app so you don’t need to worry about having the two apps open at once:

5. With your Steam copy of YNAB open: if you’re on a PC click the ‘Help’ menu, then ‘About’; on a Mac click the ‘YNAB 4’ menu, then ‘About’.

6. At the bottom of the ‘About YNAB 4’ window you’ll see a button labelled ‘Copy Activation Code to Clipboard.’ Click that.

7. Download a copy of YNAB from – the trial version will be fine.

8. Launch the trial version.

9. Paste in the activation code when prompted.

10. As you now have two copies of YNAB it could get confusing so we need to delete the one you downloaded from Steam. Go back to the Steam app, select the Library tab at the top, select your Steam-purchased copy of YNAB, right-click on it and select ‘Delete Local Content’.

All done! You now have an incredibly inexpensive official copy of YNAB, without having to open Steam every time you want to use it!


10% off YNAB 4 with my official discount

I’ve been a YNAB user since February 2013 – almost a full year now, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to our money, putting us properly in control of how we spend it, and plan to spend it. Even better, they sent me a discount coupon to share so if you’re about to buy You Need A Budget you’ve come to the right place!

To save $6 off YNAB on their website (equivalent of 10% off) simply click the big blue button below (or click this link) and the saving will be automatically applied to your basket. Easy!

Click here to save 10% at

ynab discount coupon
Look out for the orange banner at to confirm your YNAB discount

For full disclosure I should tell you that it’s a referral link so while you save six bucks on YNAB, I get a small commission in return so thank you very much in advance! 🙂

Why we use YNAB

I’m already a massive fan of YNAB so I’d recommend it even without the referral. It’s the only household budgeting app that’s ever really made me feel like I’m in control of our finances, and as a bit of a control freak I can tell you I’d been looking for a long time, so I can’t recommend it highly enough. They’ve even got a lovely little iPhone app that makes keeping up with your expenses a breeze.

I first heard about it in some money forums where existing users were exchanging stories about how it had sorted their finances out. I was looking for something to make personal budgeting easier to manage and ‘The Four Rules of YNAB’ certainly sounded a lot more interesting than the alternatives, so I gave the demo a go. A month later we were hooked – I headed back to the forums to snag my discount and haven’t looked back.

ynab discount
We’ve been using YNAB since February 2013 and love it

It’s probably a little weird to ‘love’ a personal budgeting app but it helped us come up with a budget we understand and can stick to. The biggest change is that when annual subscriptions roll around or unexpected repairs have to be done we’ve got the cash already ferreted away to pay for them, so it’s been well worth the price – especially with the discount!

I want to write a full review of YNAB 4 soon but to be honest if you’re here because you’re undecided the best thing to do is download the demo and give it a go for a month. Then come back here and before you buy click the button for your discount! 😉