The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac

Akshata Shanbhag Updated 25-02-2019

Welcome to our ultimate list of must-have Mac apps. From email clients to system utilities, from time savers to productivity apps, on this page you’ll find the best Mac software you should be using.


We’ll continue to update the list on a regular basis, so be sure to tell us about your favorites in the comments!

Jump Ahead: Audio | Backup | Browsers | Calendars and Lists | Code and Text Editing | Email | Image Editing | Instant Messaging and Social Media | Miscellaneous | Notetaking | Office | Reading | Security and Privacy | System Tools | Timesavers | Video | Virtualization | Window Management | Writing


Audio Tools


Drum track in GarageBand

This old Mac favorite is a serious recording tool for beginners and enthusiasts, and it’s free for all Mac users to download. You can record audio, play virtual instruments, and access the Apple loops library of royalty-free sounds with the app.


Download: GarageBand (Free)


Audacity label track

Audacity is an open-source, cross-platform audio editor that can handle most common audio tasks for free. Should you choose it over GarageBand for music production? Our GarageBand versus Audacity comparison will help you decide.

Download: Audacity (Free)



Clementine music player interface on macOS

Clementine is one of the best free alternatives to iTunes for listening to local media. It supports a huge number of audio formats and external services including Spotify, Google Drive, and Dropbox. You can also transcode music, manage podcasts, and enjoy visualizations while listening.

Download: Clementine (Free)


Harmony music player interface on macOS


Harmony is another powerful alternative to iTunes. It can play music stored on your Mac and also bring music that’s scattered all over the web to a single location. The app supports Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, Google Play, and more.

Download: Harmony (Free, licensed version available)



Vox is a stylish free media player with a focus on high quality codecs like FLAC and DSD. Thanks to its compact menu bar option, it’s easily one of the best Mac menu bar apps out there.


Download: Vox (Free, premium subscription available)



Time Machine

Select Back Up Now from Time Machine menu bar options

Time Machine is your Mac’s native backup solution. It’s sturdy, reliable, and accessible from the menu bar. If you haven’t got around to backing up your Mac, it’s time to set up Time Machine.

Carbon Copy Cloner

As good as Time Machine is, you’ll find third-party solutions that are even better. They can give you all the advanced options you need, and Carbon Copy Cloner leads the pack in this area.

Download: Carbon Copy Cloner ($40, trial version available)


SuperDuper on macOS

If you want a bootable clone of your hard drive, you can get one for free with SuperDuper. The app is fast and easy to use. If you want to schedule backups, run user scripts, and perform other advanced tasks, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.

Download: SuperDuper (Free, premium version available)




MakeUseOf preview in Safari

Safari is the default browser installed on every Apple computer. It’s the best browser for most Mac users, plus there are plenty of useful extensions to make Safari better.


Google’s own browser, Chrome, is a powerhouse for those who need developer tools, extensions, and separate profiles for work and play.

Download: Chrome (Free)


MakeUseOf preview in Firefox

This free and open-source browser is an excellent alternative to Chrome. It’s fast, streamlined, and lighter on system resources than Chrome. If you haven’t tried Firefox in a while, it might be time to give it another go.

Download: Firefox (Free)


Calendars and Lists



The calendar that ships with your Mac pales in comparison with more feature-filled third-party apps, but it’s still a good app to work with.

Calendar supports the use of natural language. You can pair Calendar with Itsycal to view and create events from the menu bar.


Despite its steep price, Fantastical continues to be the number-one replacement for Apple’s basic calendar app. It integrates with Apple Reminders, has a today widget, and also a dedicated iOS app.

Download: Fantastical ($50, trial version available)


The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac shopping1

Like Calendar, Reminders comes with macOS by default. Use it with Siri to make a shared shopping list you can control using your voice.


weekly overview in TickTick task manager app on macOS

If Apple’s own Reminders app doesn’t cut it, you can’t do much better than TickTick. It has fast become a user favorite across both desktop and mobile for features like smart lists, task notes, attachments, and voice input.

(Another much-loved lists app, Wunderlist, while still functional, is all set to go away. That’s why we haven’t included it on our list, as much as it was tempting to.) But for other choices, check out our comparison of OmniFocus vs. Things for task management.

Download: TickTick (Free, premium subscription available) [No Longer Available]


Notes view in NotePlan app on macOS

NotePlan is a one-of-a-kind app that comes across as a readymade digital Bullet Journal. It lets you create, view, and manage tasks, notes, reminders, and events in a single, easy-to-use interface.

Download: NotePlan ($20, trial version available)


Code and Text Editing


The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac xcode

Xcode has everything you need to start writing apps for Apple devices, including macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS. The development tools are free to download. For a yearly fee, you can enroll in Apple’s developer program to list your apps on their various storefronts.

Download: Xcode (Free)

Visual Studio Code

The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac javascript editor visual studio code

Microsoft’s extensible open-source code editor is perfect for scripting, editing HTML, or even Markdown.

Download: Visual Studio Code (Free)


Atom text editor on Mac

Atom starts off as a basic text editor that you can customize as you please using the add-on packages available. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a cross-platform solution or if you want a nice Markdown editor for Mac.

Download: Atom (Free)


Download docsets from app settings in Dash on Mac

This document browser and code snippet manager gives you fast access to reference materials for various programming languages.

Download: Dash (Free)




Apple Mail interface on Mac

Mail is among the less adventurous email clients available for macOS, but it’s free and works well. We recommend that you polish it up with a few visual tweaks and make it more powerful with the Mailbutler extension.


If you want a smart-looking email client with smart features like automatic email sorting, quick replies, and natural language search, install Spark. It has an iOS client too and supports cloud syncing of accounts, settings, and signatures.

Download: Spark (Free, premium subscription available)

Kiwi for Gmail

Kiwi for Gmail's default inbox interface on Mac

If you want your Gmail experience to be identical both on the web and on the desktop, get Kiwi for Gmail. It works with the popular scheduling plugin Boomerang.

The lite version of Kiwi limits you to one Gmail account. With a premium subscription, you get access to multiple accounts and Google Suite apps as native desktop clients.

Download: Kiwi for Gmail (Free, premium subscription available)


Thunderbird inbox view on macOS

You can ignore the rumors of Thunderbird’s death and install this no-nonsense email client that has been around for ever. It’s quite customizable, especially when you pair it with the right add-ons.

Download: Thunderbird (Free)


Airlmail inbox on macOS

If none of the free options above appeal to you, there’s another powerful and popular client you can take a look at: Airmail. It offers Markdown previews, snoozing, keyboard shortcuts, and trackpad gestures among other features. It’s a pity Airmail doesn’t come with a free trial.

Download: Airmail ($10)


Image Editing



Don’t be quick to dismiss your Mac’s default image management application. It comes with all the basic features and filters you need to edit photos and turn them into beautiful printed products.

Photos can handle RAW files and recognize people, places, and objects for you. You can also extend the app’s capabilities with powerful extensions like Pixelmator and Affinity Photo.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

Lightroom Classic CC is the ultimate photo editing and management app for the pros. If you don’t prefer subscription pricing, we have a few Lightroom alternatives for you.

Download: Adobe Lightroom Classic CC (Subscription required, trial version available)

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo preview on macOS

Affinity Photo is a well-planned, well-designed image-editing package for a one-off fee that makes it a solid budget alternative to Photoshop. You can work with Photoshop files, edit RAWs straight from your camera, use adjustment layers, and a whole lot more with Affinity Photo. Its sister app Affinity Designer makes a great alternative to Adobe Illustrator for vector work.

Download: Affinity Photo ($50, trial version available)

Pixelmator Pro

Pixelmator Pro competes with Affinity Photo for the top spot as the best Photoshop alternative. It has many of the same features found in Adobe’s pride and joy, except you can use it forever with a single payment.

Download: Pixelmator Pro ($40, trial version available)


image editing with GIMP on Mac

If you’d rather go the free and open-source route, GIMP is the most obvious choice. It comes in a macOS-flavored version with RAW support and a range of photo-editing plugins.

Download: GIMP (Free)

Autodesk SketchBook

SketchBook is the best free drawing app for artists and designers. It has support for graphics tablets and similar input devices. Once you sign up for a free Autodesk account and install the free SketchBook app, you’re ready to start doodling.

Download: Autodesk SketchBook (Free)


Inkscape is one of the best vector graphic design platforms on the Mac. Cross-platform and open-source, it’s the choice of many designers, illustrators, and web comic aficionados the world over.

Download: Inkscape (Free)


Instant Messaging and Social Media


Carpine Messenger client interface on macOS

Your search for a good-looking, lightweight Facebook Messenger client with a focus on privacy ends with Caprine.

Download: Caprine (Free)


Tweetbot Twitter client on macOS

If you want the best full-featured Twitter client there is and are willing to pay for it, install Tweetbot. It supports the Dark Mode introduced in macOS Mojave and integrates with various third-party services like Pocket and

Download: Tweetbot ($10)


Franz all-in-one chat app for macOS

Bring all your communication into a single interface with Franz. It supports every service from WhatsApp, Messenger, and Skype to Gmail, Twitter, and Slack. You can even run multiple instances of the same service, such as two Gmail accounts.

Download: Franz (Free)




The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac siri sierra

If you’re using macOS Sierra or later, you already have access to Siri via the menu bar, dock, and Spotlight.


Dictater app interface on macOS

Do you use Apple’s in-built text-to-speech service? Dictater improves that feature by allowing you to pause, skip, replay, and even read along. It hasn’t seen an update in a while, but it works fine.

Download: Dictater (Free)


The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac transmission

Every Mac owner needs a BitTorrent client at some point, and Transmission is the best of the bunch. Not only does it support a web UI and magnet links natively, it’s regarded as a “trusted” client by many private trackers.

Download: Transmission (Free)



Mac menu bar looking a little messy? Use Bartender to tidy it up and hide the icons you don’t want to see and make the rest easier to find. Try Vanilla for a cheaper alternative.

Download: Bartender ($15, trial version available)


Waltr gives you one of the best seamless ways to sync music and other media with your iPhone wirelessly. That means no more struggling with iTunes.

Download: Waltr ($40, trial version available)


MakeUseOf as a Mac desktop app with Fluid

You have a few ways to turn any website into a desktop app for your Mac and Fluid is the best of the lot.

Download: Fluid (Free, premium version available)





Apple’s own note-taking app has shaped up to be a surprisingly strong competitor to the likes of Evernote and OneNote. The lack of export options, Markdown support, and a few other features dull its shine a little. But Apple Notes is still a solid choice if your life revolves around macOS and iOS.


Evernote interface on Mac

Evernote is probably the most popular and best-supported note-taking solution in the world. Its Mac client is not the best notes app there is, but it’s still the ideal option for Evernote users. Of course, given the service’s now-toothless free tier, you have reason to ditch Evernote altogether.

Download: Evernote (Free, premium subscription available)

Microsoft OneNote


The closest Evernote competitor is OneNote, and it’s completely free. Access your notes from any device, save files and sketches, clip web pages and collaborate with others. Unlike with Evernote, there’s no two-device restriction to deal with here.

Download: Microsoft OneNote (Free)


Preview of Simplenote app on Mac

If you like the simplicity of Apple Notes, but the lack of essentials like Markdown, tags, and text export bothers you, get those features with Simplenote. The app is lightweight, clutter-free, and cross-platform. By popular demand, Simplenote now comes with checklists and a distraction-free mode, too!

Download: Simplenote (Free)


Bear Notes Tags

Bear is the notes app everyone is raving about, and with good reason. It has the polish and the power to impress. Bear’s switch to a subscription model was a turnoff for many users, but if subscription pricing doesn’t bother you, you’ll get along well with Bear.

Download: Bear (Free, premium subscription available)



iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote)

Pages Mac app interface

Apple’s native office suite, iWork, can prove to be quite capable and likeable once you stop comparing it to Microsoft Office. It has three apps: Pages (for word processing), Numbers (for spreadsheets), and Keynote (for presentations).

Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition


Despite the high price, if you think you’ll get enough mileage out of the whole Microsoft Office suite, this starter edition is a good place to begin. It includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for a one-time payment.

Download: Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition ($150)


Looking for an office suite but can’t justify the $150 Microsoft is asking for their budget version? LibreOffice is as good an option as iWork for the price of free. It’s open-source and includes a word processor, spreadsheet tool, and a presentation app.




Reeder RSS reader interface on Mac

Reeder is only desktop RSS reader you’ll ever need. It has the best interface, great themes, and customizable shortcuts. It also supports a wide range of services to give you a premium reading experience. If Reeder’s $10 price tag stopped you from getting this gem before, now it won’t—Reeder is absolutely free!

Download: Reeder (Free) [No Longer Available]


Vienna RSS reader on macOSIf you want a classic Thunderbird-like look or prefer an open-source RSS client, Vienna is a good option that gives you both. Thunderbird also has an integrated RSS reader, by the way.

Download: Vienna (Free)


Security and Privacy

iCloud Keychain


Integrated into Apple’s Safari browser is a password management solution called iCloud Keychain. The service syncs with iOS devices and other Macs, so you have access to your credentials wherever you go. If you rely on Safari, Keychain might be perfect for you.


1Password is a stellar password manager. It not only generates and stores passwords, but also secures other sensitive data such as credit card and identity information. Despite drawing flak for its switch to subscription pricing, 1Password continues to be a must-have for many Mac users.

Download: 1Password (Free, subscription required)


If you want a password manager that’s free to use on all your devices, give LastPass a shot. For $3 per month, you can get extra features like group password sharing and advanced 2FA options.

Download: LastPass (Free, premium subscription available)


Secrets password manager preview on Mac

If you don’t like LastPass or subscription pricing, or if you want a cheaper 1Password-like solution, get the unlimited version of Secrets with a one-off payment. The app has a free version, but that’s quite restrictive, with support for only up to 10 items.

Download: Secrets (Free, premium version available)


Parameters pane displaying General category in Onyx settings on macOS

OnyX is one of the best free tools to detect and fix common macOS problems. This all-purpose system maintenance tool will help you keep your Mac in top shape. It’s helpful for deep system tweaks and cleaning up caches.

Download: OnyX (Free)



Your Mac can get malware, but it’s not a particularly common occurrence. There aren’t too many security apps your Mac needs, but MalwareBytes is a nice free safeguard to have around. And there are several reasons why you should upgrade to Malwarebytes Premium.

Download: MalwareBytes (Free, premium version available)

Little Snitch

Little Snitch on Mac

Block unwanted connections with Little Snitch, a dedicated firewall tool for your Mac. Not only does it show you exactly who your computer is talking to, it also allows you to control what gets said on a per-app basis.

Download: Little Snitch ($45, trial version available)

You can set up a virtual private network with Apple’s built-in networking tools. But if you’d rather have an app-based VPN solution to browse securely and access blocked or region-locked content, try It’s fast, gives you 2GB data a month, and maintains no logs of your online activity.

Download: (Free, premium subscription available)


Prey is laptop- (and mobile-) tracking software that you can activate remotely if your device goes missing. You can use the free plan in combination with FindMyMac to overcome a few limitations of the free tier. Of course, instead of that, you can sign up for one of the premium subscriptions to get the best of Prey.

Download: Prey ($10, free and premium subscriptions available)


System Tools

The Unarchiver

File extraction with The Unarchiver on macOS

Unlike Windows users, Mac users don’t have the option of using 7zip. Luckily, The Unarchiver can open just about any compressed archive including .ZIP, .7Z, and .RAR. It’s one of the Mac apps you wish Apple had preloaded.

If you want a file-compression utility that supports multiple formats and has password encryption, try Keka.

Download: The Unarchiver (Free)


Amphetamine settings on macOS

Stop your Mac from going to sleep with Amphetamine, a small utility that lives in the menu bar. This is a great replacement for Caffeine, which no longer works on modern versions of macOS.

Download: Amphetamine (Free)


Files found for removal in AppCleaner on macOS

If you need to get rid of an app without leaving any traces, you need AppCleaner. It removes all preferences and system files while uninstalling apps, to the point where it can reset many shareware trials.

You can use AppCleaner to restore an app to its default state. To do this, uncheck the app name from the list of files found when you run the app and go ahead with the deletion of the remaining files.

Download: AppCleaner (Free)

Night Shift

The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac mac night shift options 1

Have trouble sleeping after working at night? Let Night Shift auto-adjust your screen to a warmer hue, to simulate the day’s natural light cycle and help you get a better night’s sleep.


The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac flux

f.lux came long before Night Shift and works in the same manner. It offers users a more customizable experience, which is better for power users.

Download: f.lux (Free)

Duplicate File Finder Remover

Pie chart of duplicates found in Duplicate File Finder Remover on macOS

Duplicate File Finder Remover gives you a quick and easy way to scan your Mac’s hard drive or any folder on it for duplicates and delete them in a snap. You can also preview similar folders, and for a small one-time fee, you can get rid of these or merge them.

If you want fine control over the scan settings and are willing to pay for it, Gemini is the best option available to you.

Download: Duplicate File Finder Remover (Free, premium version available)

Disk Drill

Disk Drill is a pro at chasing down lost files and recovering them for you, but it does a lot more than that. You can also use the app to analyze disk space, free up storage, delete duplicate files, protect and back up your data, and watch disk health. If you want Disk Drill’s complete set of features, give its Mac App Store version a miss.

If you want a dedicated app for disk space analysis, DaisyDisk is a great choice.

Download: Disk Drill (Free, premium version available)



Using your smartphone’s personal hotspot to work on the go? TripMode restricts which apps and services have network access, saving you precious data. It’s a must-have for remote workers.


Finder pane in Tinker tool on macOS

TinkerTool gives you point-and-click settings to make useful changes to macOS. For starters, you can add a Quit option to the Finder menu and change the default save location and file type of screenshots.

Download: TinkerTool (Free)




List of preset actions in BetterTouchTool on macOS

BetterTouchTool is worth getting for its customizable keyboard shortcuts and trackpad gestures alone. If you add support for key remapping, text expansion, and window management, you have the ultimate productivity app for your Mac.

Download: BetterTouchTool ($9, trial version available)


Dropzone menu bar panel preview on macOS

With Dropzone, you can install apps, copy/move files, shorten URLs, share files via AirDrop, and do a lot more. What’s so great about that? You can take care of those tasks from the menu bar! Dropzone also gives you a temporary place to stash files for quick access.

Download: Dropzone ($10, trial version available)


Alfred 3 web search mac

Spotlight not cutting it for you? Switch over to Alfred. It’s an advanced launcher app that lets you control files, applications, and online services from a single location. Ensure that you download Alfred from its official website; the Mac App Store version is out of date.

Download: Alfred (Free, premium upgrade available)

For similar tools, take a look at more Spotlight alternatives The 5 Best Spotlight Alternatives for Searching Mac Files and More Spotlight is great for searching your Mac, but it's not perfect. Try a better tool with one of these macOS Spotlight alternatives. Read More .

Keyboard Maestro

Next to Alfred, Keyboard Maestro is a must-have app if you aspire to be a macOS power user. You can use it to create macros for pretty much any set of macOS functions. Clipboard management, text expansion, iTunes control, app launches, Share actions, mouse-click automation—Keyboard Maestro can do it all for you.

Download: Keyboard Maestro ($36, trial version available)


TypeIt4me text expander on Mac

If the text expansion feature built into macOS isn’t enough for you, TypeIt4Me can step in to give you a better option. It’s not as well known as the pricier alternatives of TextExpander and Typinator, but it does a good job. Of course, if you use an app like Alfred or BetterTouchTool, you already have powerful text expansion features at your fingertips.

Download: TypeIt4Me ($20, trial version available)

Video Tools

QuickTime Player

The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac quicktime trim

QuickTime Player is handy if you want to make quick screencasts, trim audio and videos, and record your iPhone’s screen. It’s one of the most useful default Mac apps.


The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac vlc

Open any media file or stream with VLC, the world’s best media player. Don’t miss VLC’s top secret features!

Download: VLC (Free)


The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac mpv mac

If QuickTime’s limited codec support trips you upr and VLC isn’t right for you, mpv makes an excellent alternative to both video players.

Download: mpv (Free)

Duet Display

Want to use your iPad or iPhone as a second Mac screen? Duet Display lets you do this better than any network-based alternative ever has with virtually no lag. The Mac client is free, but you’ll need to pay $20 for the accompanying iOS app.

Download: Duet Display (Free)


AirServer turns your Mac into an AirPlay receiver and lets you stream your iPhone or iPad’s screen to your laptop or desktop computer. If you’re looking for a way to mirror the screen, you can also do so using your Lightning cable and QuickTime.



Plex is a robust, database-driven media server. It automatically scans incoming media and keeps your collection organized.

Download: Plex (Free, premium subscription available)


Handbrake for Mac

Convert videos with a click using Handbrake, the go-to open-source video transcoder for Mac. It’s also available on Windows and Linux.

Download: HandBrake (Free)

Kodi (formerly XBMC)

Pictures view in Kodi on macOS

The world’s best media center makes the perfect place to collect and view all kinds of digital media. The good-looking interface doesn’t hurt. Kodi is one of the must-have Mac apps if you’re an entertainment junkie.

Download: Kodi (Free)




Setting up Windows with VirtualBox on Mac

Run Windows on your Mac for free with VirtualBox. Keep in mind that you’ll still need a valid Windows license to get anywhere.

Download: VirtualBox (Free)

VMware Fusion

VMWare Fusion app menu

If VirtualBox doesn’t cut it, VMware Fusion is another great option with better support for demanding applications like games. It doesn’t come cheap though.

Download: VMware Fusion ($80)

Parallels Desktop Lite

Startup screen in Parallels Desktop Lite on macOS

Parallels Desktop Lite lets you run windowed Windows and Linux applications on your machine. You don’t even have to reboot your machine or switch to a virtual desktop first. The app also supports Modern.IE virtual machines and can be a good testing ground for macOS versions too.

Download: Parallels Desktop Lite (Free, subscription required)

Parallels Desktop

The Lite version above has a few restrictions, such as missing Bootcamp support and no file sharing from the virtual machine with macOS. To overcome these restrictions, you’ll need the full-featured Parallels Desktop. You can opt for a licensed version of the app or pay for an ongoing subscription.

Before you make a choice between the two apps, read the official comparison of Parallels Desktop Lite and Parallels Desktop.

Download: Parallels Desktop ($80, trial version available)


Wine lets you create “wrappers” for Windows applications that run via a compatibility layer on your Mac. It’s not the perfect solution available, but it comes in handy for certain apps when you don’t want to run them on a virtual machine. PlayOnMac, Crossover Mac, and Porting Kit are other options you can consider to get similar functionality.

Download: Wine (Free)


Window Management


Spectacle window manager settings on macOS

Spectacle is a free, no-nonsense way to switch between various window sizes and positions with keyboard shortcuts. It’s lightweight and easy to set up. Spectacle doesn’t add to menu bar clutter; you can hide its menu bar icon and summon it from the background with a shortcut or with Spotlight.

Download: Spectacle (Free)


Magnet for Mac

With Magnet, you can snap windows to create custom tiled workspaces best suited for the task at hand. The app works with various window sizes including halves, quarters, and thirds. If you use multiple displays, Magnet has support for those, too—for up to six of them.

Download: Magnet ($1)


Do you need advanced window options like custom snap areas and app-specific snapping sizes? Head straight for BetterSnapTool. You don’t need the app if you already use its equally terrific sister app, BetterTouchTool. The latter has built-in window snapping functionality among other features.

Download: BetterSnapTool ($3)




Typora’s beta tag is misleading. The app is stable and reliable enough to go live, plus, polished and easy to work with.

A sleek interface, live Markdown previews, stats, import/export options, a focus mode—you get all this and more with Typora. Mind you, feature rich does not equal clunky and cluttered in this case.

Download: Typora (Free)



If you want a clean, capable, distraction-free text editor with WYSIWYG Markdown support, you’ll love Byword. It gives you much-needed writing basics like a word counter, typewriter and focus modes, and iCloud sync. But it also ensures that your focus isn’t pulled away by too many knobs and buttons. If sidebar access to drafts is a must-have for you, give Byword a miss.

Download: Byword ($11)


three-pane editor preview in Ulysses on Mac

Ulysses prides itself on two things: excellent Markdown support and a distraction-free environment. But there’s much more to it than that. For five dollars a month, you’ll have access to an impressive set of writing, productivity, and organization tools.

Download: Ulysses (Free, subscription required)


A few staff members at MakeUseOf swear by Scrivener, a cross-platform software for writing drafts and managing lengthy writing projects. It’s popular among screenwriters and novelists for its efficient workflow and rich feature set.

Download: Scrivener ($45, trial version available)

Day One

If you’re looking for a diary or journal application, Day One is the way to go. But there’s no escaping that many of the best features of Day One are now hidden behind a premium subscription. With a monthly payment, you can keep unlimited journals, draw in them, add unlimited photos, sync across devices, and do a lot more.

Not willing to shell out for an ongoing subscription to Day One? Then your best option is to pay a one-time price for Journey.

Download: Day One (Free, premium subscription available)

You’re Spoiled for Choice With Mac Apps

After that mammoth list of apps, it’s now time to discover our top choices for Mac menu bar apps The Ultimate List of Mac Menu Bar Apps These tiny smart utilities don't get in our way like the dock apps do -- Mac menu bar apps sit in a corner and swing into action only when you need them! Read More .

Related topics: Best Of, Longform List, Mac App Store, Mac Apps, macOS Sierra.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Pete schramm
    December 28, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Anybody have an idea for a simple to use photo app - crop, size, exposure adj other than preview ...

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      February 4, 2020 at 8:05 am

      Hi Pete, I recommend Photos and PhotoScape X.

  2. MK
    August 16, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Parallels desktop lite isn't free. You need a paid subscription to use it.

  3. MK
    August 16, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Parallels desktop lite isn't free. You need a paid subscription to use it.

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      August 17, 2019 at 7:50 am

      The Lite version did have a free tier when we published this article. We'll be sure to update the content now that the free option has gone away.

  4. Heart
    March 5, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    I really hate this website because of lots of old articles which always pretend to be a new article.

    Can you write down the original post date?

    Waste my time.

  5. c.Cristi
    July 24, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    This is an awsome list. Most of these applications I use day by day. Have you ever heard of an application called "iClock PRO"? Most of these applications I use day by day. Have you ever heard of an application called "iClock PRO"? I really think this should be part of this top. I like two things about it: highly customizable alarms and break time which forced me to organize very easy time spent in front of computer.

  6. Emmy
    July 13, 2017 at 10:58 am

    This is cool. Please how can install mac os on new hardisk?

  7. BW
    July 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Notational Velocity continues to be the workhorse of my stable.

  8. BW
    July 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Notational Velocity continues to be the workhorse of my app stable.

  9. Dee Anna
    December 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the awesome list! Curious why not included here? Using it on a daily basis and it's absolutely indispensable.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 5, 2017 at 3:26 am

      Hi Dee,

      Freeter looks pretty awesome, first I've heard of it. I'll try it out and keep it in mind for future updates.


  10. Anonymous
    December 15, 2016 at 2:02 am

    You should update this. There is a very good app called "Spark" that is new to the Mac App Store and is a really, I mean REALLY, good mail client. But the list is awesome as it is. Nice job!

  11. Kevin Farrell
    September 30, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Sad to see that Pixlr is not on this list. I mean come on, who else besides Autodesk is giving you THAT MUCH functionality for free?

    • Layered comps
    • Full image editing capabilities
    • Layer effects
    • Ability to insert images as new layers
    • Ability to save your layers in their proprietary format (PXD).

    What gives? How was this missed? This list should include Pixlr, thats all there is too it!

  12. Andy
    September 29, 2016 at 5:13 am

    WHew! What a list...but it's a good one.

    Well done.

    • Tim Brookes
      October 3, 2016 at 1:09 am

      Yeah we're a bit spoiled for choice really ;)

  13. Shoki
    September 29, 2016 at 3:45 am

    Quiver: The Programmer's Notebook
    By HappenApps, Inc.

    Quiver is a notebook built for programmers. It lets you easily mix text, code, Markdown and LaTeX within one note, edit code with an awesome code editor, live preview Markdown and LaTeX, and find any note instantly via the full-text search.

  14. Ahmed Raza Ansari
    December 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for this article.

  15. Anonymous
    August 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Video >> VLC is the best!
    download online video from Youtube etc >>Grappler
    security >> Lantern
    Image edit>> Seashore and image editor ( if you don't wanna use Photoshop for little things)
    RSS reader>> newsflow

  16. Anonymous
    May 22, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Flexiglass! It makes such a joy to use OS-X. An amazing tool to work with windows in mac!

  17. Matt
    April 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Loved VLC for the longest time. Great as a player, but not so good for video management. You can create playlists, but to access them, you have to do a file open. Then it often doesn't play the playlist in order. Have yet to find anything that handles playlists well.

  18. Anonymous
    April 24, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Coda 2 - Web development

  19. film_boy
    April 7, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Definitely, my Mac app favourites are Beamer and WALTR.

    I use beamer to airplay my AVI and MKV to my AppleTV.
    And I use WALTR to put avi, mkv, flacs and ringtones to my iPhone. (since I don't like iTunes, it's so much better to manage the media with waltr)

  20. Joseph Guthrie
    March 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    And now that I have an iMac (late 2010 model, custom spec), I can try my hand at a bunch of these apps, particularly the photo/graphics ones. Excellent work! Thanks for putting this together.

  21. Niv
    March 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm


    Unsure if you're still having the issue but I thought I'd let you know what I've done.

    I was searching for a good VPN and found hotspot shield and, as we now know, it's garbage since they collect info and sell it to their ad company. So here's what you can do.

    Click Finder hold the Option key and click Go (in the top taskbar) then Library (library only shows if you hold option).
    Go to the "Preferences" folder
    You should see "com.anchorfree.Hotspot_Shield.plist" or something to that effect. Drag that to the trash (it may prompt you for an administrator password.
    Log out of your user account and log back in.

    That should take care of the ads. But, for good measure, lets make sure everything's gone.

    Click the Apple in the top left and go to System Preferences.
    Click Users & Groups
    On the right you should see a small square picture and then "Login Items"
    Click HotSpot Shield and click the "-" button in the bottom left.

    Next (and this one gets pretty intense, so stick with me here)
    Click Finder and go to the "Go" drop-down menu again
    Click "Go to folder" and input this without quotes "/Library/Application Support"
    Delete the "HotSpot Shield" folder
    Go to the "Go to Folder" again and input this "/Library/LaunchDaemons" and delete "com.anchorfree..."

    • Jamie
      July 15, 2017 at 12:47 am

      Ive used Hotspot shield on mac and windows and its not spyware.

  22. Duncan
    March 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Anybody wanting to build a nice looking website without the HTML/CSS fuss should look at Sparkle.

  23. Anonymous
    February 20, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Beamer is awesome

  24. iMikeZero
    January 15, 2015 at 12:40 am

    OneNote is infinitely better than Evernote.

    CleanMyMac 2 is the way to go to clean up your Mac.

    • Moira Yao
      February 3, 2015 at 3:44 am

      DesktopAd is a good way to monetize your Mac OS X apps. Please leave your Email at the bottom of the page, we will inform you ASAP.

  25. L A Cutter
    January 12, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Very helpful Thanks.

  26. NM
    January 9, 2015 at 6:14 am

    a $5 alternative to the $35 TextExpander

    a free alternative to the $50 1Password

  27. jeab
    December 25, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    After Apple destroyed Pages I switched to Nisus Writer Pro and have not looked back.

    • Jon
      July 6, 2017 at 6:27 am

      MUO has completely overlooked Nisus. I don't think they know it exists. This isn't the first time they have made a list that doesn't include it. They really need to check it out. It is the most elegant but powerful word processor out there now, and the output is beautiful as well.

  28. Ozy.M
    December 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    You should include below apps

    - Beautiful Backup
    I use to prepare single bakcup folder for all my photos. Best and easiest that I could find.

    - Boxcryptor
    Encrypting my private files to store on cloud servers. I dont trust companies even they say they are secure.

    • Moira Yao
      February 3, 2015 at 3:44 am

      DesktopAd is a good way to monetize your Mac OS X apps. Please leave your Email at the bottom of the page, we will inform you ASAP.

  29. t
    December 16, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Nice list... here are some of my essentials...

    Carbon Copy Cloner
    Onyx - Disk Cleaner
    DaisyDisk - Large File Size Finder (~$10)
    Duplicate Detective
    NetSpot - WiFi signal strength finder
    Blender - animation video
    Indigo - Images
    Scribus - Desktop Publishing
    Zotero - Publications Manager
    Join.Me - Web Meetings - Free Conference Calls
    FileZila - FTP
    Avast - Anti-Virus
    BootChamp - Much Easier than Boot Camp

    And I'll just "second" the following already mentioned...


  30. Bakari Chavanu
    December 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Keyboard Maestro for automation
    BetterTouchTool for automation
    Pages iWork
    Paprika Recipe manager
    Screen Flow
    MarsEdit for blogging
    CleanMyMac 2

  31. Jean
    December 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Big miss is SuperDuper for daily backups ! Has been working flawlessly for years with outstanding customer support in case of a rare and small glitch. Price is right.

  32. Brian Tkatch
    December 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Nice list. Bookmarked.

    Little Snitch is not free.

    • Tim Brookes
      December 9, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks Brian, we've updated the price for Little Snitch now.

  33. Anonymous
    December 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    You should include Ms OneNote which is a perfect and free service.

  34. Cameron Reilly
    December 1, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Hazel is one of the first apps I install on any Mac. It's an absolute must.

  35. Chad
    December 1, 2014 at 4:00 am

    You can find all of these apps, and many more at, including other similar apps listed for each app.

  36. George
    November 30, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    LibreOffice for free Word & the rest, Thunderbird for email and NetNewsWire for RSS

  37. Jon
    November 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Nice List.
    I live and breathe Evernote for everything I can't remember. And Spotify keeps me sane when working stupid hours all day.

    One app I would recommend in the "Video" section would be DreamSync. It's for video creators that shoot audio and video separately. (
    Only standalone app out there that does this, and saves a TON of time when putting nice testimonial videos together.

    Overall, great list!