Bought Your First Mac? Install These 15 Apps Right Away

Akshata Shanbhag 19-04-2016

So you bought your first Mac. Congratulations! After you’re done admiring its sleek, shiny exterior, it’s time to get down to the business of installing applications and customizing OS X. To help you get started, we have come up with a common list software you should be on the lookout for, along with recommendations for each type.


For now, we’re assuming that you’re transitioning to a Mac from a PC Switched: The Convert's Guide to the Mac and OS X Thinking of switching from your Windows-based PC to a Mac? Learn everything you need to know in order to make that transition painless. Read More . Even if the Mac is your first computer ever, you’ll need most of these apps sooner or later. One last thing — you can speed up the app installation process New Mac? Don't Waste Time Installing Free Software; Use GetMacApps Instead Setting up a new Mac? Download and install your favorite apps all at once. makes it easy. Read More for free and trial software with GetMacApps.

The Browser

The web is where all the action is, and to surf the web, you need a browser. We recommend sticking with Safari, which comes bundled with your Mac. It’s lightweight, fast, and if you use an iPhone and iPad you can share bookmarks, Reading List and tabs via iCloud between devices.


If you use ChromeFirefox, or Opera on Windows, you may simply prefer to switch over to its Mac counterpart, but we still recommend trying Safari. If you can, avoid using Chrome on Mac Safari vs. Chrome for Mac: 9 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Chrome Between Safari and Chrome on Mac, Safari is the clear winner. Here's why you should avoid using Google Chrome on Mac. Read More  as your primary browser until Google fixes the Chrome problems that wreak havoc with your Mac’s battery life.

If you decide to go with Apple’s native browser, customize Safari The Ultimate Guide to Customizing Safari on Mac Make Safari an even better browser for your Mac by customizing it. Here's how to tweak it to your liking. Read More to make the best of it. You can also bring many of your favorite Chrome and Firefox features to Safari Power up Safari with Your Favorite Features from Chrome and Firefox It would be convenient if you could port your favorite Chrome/Firefox features to Safari, right? We’ll show you which features you can add to Safari and how to make that happen. Read More .


Cloud Storage

Depending on whichever cloud storage service you use right now, you may feel inclined to just get its desktop client. That’s great! You don’t need a new cloud storage service just because you have switched to a new computer or operating system. You could experiment with third-party desktop clients for that service, but remember that they’re seldom free, while the official client usually is.

If you are interested in jumping ship, iCloud Drive is the most obvious choice on OS X. iCloud is tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem and designed to play nice with the other apps in it, and you’ll get 5GB free when you sign up. Here’s our guide to iCloud Drive setup What Is iCloud Drive and How Does It Work? Confused about what makes iCloud Drive different to Apple's other cloud services? Let us show you what it can do, and how you can make the most of it. Read More .

Still looking? Go with Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. These are the top choices even on a Mac.


Password Manager

If you haven’t used a password manager ever, why not start with Apple’s iCloud Keychain. It’s already there on your Mac, and setting up Keychain is painless. You go to System Preferences > iCloud > Keychain, log in with your Apple ID and password, and follow the onscreen instructions.


Once you set up Keychain, it does a good job of saving every last password you create when you’re using your Mac or iOS devices like iPhones and iPads. Passwords are backed up to your iCloud account, so you can retrieve them anytime in case something goes kaput. Here’s everything you need to know about Keychain iCloud Keychain: Why You Want It & How To Use It iCloud Keychain is a secure password manager for both OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad. Use it to quickly and easily log into websites, Wi-Fi networks, Internet accounts, and more. Read More .

Keychain is not a full-featured password manager, so you might prefer to install a third-party password application anyway. If you already use password manager like LastPass or RoboForm, it’s best to install its Mac client. If it doesn’t have one, it’s time to explore some other options.


If you want an OS X password solution for use with Android (iOS works too) that’s truly free and secure, try the open source KeePassX KeePassX & MiniKeePass: A Free, Secure iOS & Mac OS X Password Solution Your options for a truly free and secure password solution that syncs with iOS and OS X are limited, but thankfully a combination of KeyPassX and MiniKeePass makes it possible. Read More . Among the paid options, 1Password ($64.99) is the most popular choice and it looks like 1Password is worth its hefty price Let 1Password for Mac Manage Your Passwords & Secure Data Despite the new iCloud Keychain feature in OS X Mavericks, I still prefer the power of managing my passwords in AgileBits's classic and popular 1Password, now in its 4th version. Read More .


Dashlane is another good password solution. It comes with a free plan, but you’ll have to cough up $39.99 per year if you want features like web access to your passwords, cloud backup, and all-important device sync.


I use Sticky Password ($29.99/year) on my Mac and I’d definitely recommend it for its simplicity and ease of use. I started out with Sticky Password’s free plan and after a couple of months using it, I paid for a one-year license. The Lifetime license now costs $149.99, and I’m hoping to bag it when I can get a nice discount.

Media Player

Jump right into installing VLC, the free and open source media player that plays everything.

If you also want a dedicated music player, try VOX Music Player. It’s lightweight, powerful, and free. Be sure to install the VOX Player add-on to control VOX using the media keys on your Mac’s keyboard.


Don’t dismiss OS X’s default multimedia player, QuickTime Player, just yet — it’s underrated. Apart from playing media, QuickTime Player actually performs several handy tasks 7 Handy Tasks QuickTime Player Performs for Free You've probably changed the file association so QuickTime never gets used, so you've probably overlooked its bounty of useful features. Read More like movie recording, screencasting, and audio recording (for free!). You can even record video straight from your iOS device — just in case you ever need to do that.

Digital Note-Taking

If you already use Evernote or OneNote, you could just get the corresponding desktop client and leave it at that, or you could give Apple Notes a shot Should You Be Using Apple's Notes for iOS and OS X? For the first time since its release, Apple Notes for both OS X and iOS may be worth considering. Read More .

In case you use Evernote, but are not a fan of its desktop version, you could opt for one of its third-party clients, of which Alternote seems to be the most popular. Unfortunately it’s not free like the official client, and will set you back $6.99. Be sure to research it well before you take out that digital wallet.


Email Client

OS X’s mail client, Mail, is good (and getting better), but it’s a long way from perfect. A third-party client can give you several added benefits Choose a Third-Party Mac Mail App for All These Benefits Looking for a new Mac email client? Tired of Apple Mail? Many third-party clients are worth considering, each packed with features either missing or lacking in Read More . Having said that, Apple Mail’s integration with other Apple services and apps makes a pretty good case for using it as your primary desktop email client. If you decide to give Mail a shot, you’ll want to install these five Mac mail plugins Mac Mail - 5 Plugins That Will Rocket Your Productivity I have previously covered timesaving features in the latest version of Apple's Mail client, but despite its improved user interface, search features, favorites bar and VIP folders, there are still missing features Mac power users... Read More .

If you use Gmail and prefer its web interface over anything that a desktop application can provide, you’ll love Kiwi (free). It’s the Gmail you know Kiwi is Basically Gmail for Mac Gmail offers native apps on Android and iOS, both of which blend with their operating systems. Why shouldn't the far more powerful desktop operating systems get the same treatment? Read More , with the benefits of a desktop program.


If you have moved over to Inbox by Gmail and want to use it on OS X, you’ll have to go with the unofficial client Boxy ($6.99) for now; it comes with a 14-day trial. If you’re a Thunderbird regular, try the Mac version, or you could experiment with the highly-customizable Nylas (free).

There are a few really good paid mail client options. Leading the way with those is CloudMagic, which is already a user favorite on mobile devices. It now has a Mac client, priced at $19.99. Airmail ($9.99) is another wonderful alternative among the paid email apps.


Instant Messaging & Voice Calling

Messages is the default OS X instant messaging client, and it’s great for chatting with OS X and iOS users. It also allows you to chat using other IM services OS X Messages: Use Facebook, Stop Automatic Emoji & More Tips The Messages app is often overlooked in favor of more robust IM clients, but it can be a fantastic way of keeping in touch with people if you know how to set it up properly. Read More like Google Talk, AIM, and Jabber. I have noticed that if you’re using these other services, iMessages doesn’t get updated with the messages that were sent to you when you were offline or when the app was closed.

If you want a dedicated third-party IM client, Adium (free) is the way to go Adium - The Ultimate Instant Messaging App [Mac] Start using the best instant messaging client out there for Mac. It's called Adium, it connects to everything and there's no reason for not using it. Okay, there's one reason - Adium does not support... Read More on OS X.


For voice calling, OS X’s in-built app (FaceTime) is good, but it allows you to communicate only with other OS X and iOS users. So you will need a third-party application for voice and video calls to people on other platforms.

If you’re used to Skype, stick with Skype’s Mac client. If you prefer Hangouts, Google’s Chrome version of Hangouts is the closest thing you’ll get to a decent free client. Willing to pay up for a better Hangouts application? Check out Hangouts Plus ($9.99). [No Longer Available]

There are a couple of new messaging apps on the scene: Franz and Parrot. Both of them look promising. Franz supports several popular services including Google Hangouts, Slack, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Parrot supports only Hangouts for now.


Office Suite

Whether it’s Mac, Windows, or Linux, you have to factor in quite a few things to pick the office suite that’s best for you Which Office Suite Is Best for You? You'll be pressed to find an occupation that doesn't require word or number processing of some sort. And you may wonder, is Microsoft Office really the best solution? Here are your options. Read More .

Your Mac already comes with an office suite — iWork. It has Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets, and Keynote for Powerpoint presentations. iWork will serve you well, but it might take some getting used to. You can always use Google’s Docs, Sheets, and Slides as a backup.


If you’re a regular Microsoft Office user, you might not be willing to switch to a different office suite. In that case, you’ll need Microsoft Office for Mac. Of course, it’s not really a must-have for everyone when there are good open-source alternatives like LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice.

RSS Feed Reader

In this category, Reeder ($9.99), ReadKit ($9.99), and NetNewsWire ($19.99) are the three apps that you’ll hear about the most.


Before you go about buying one of the above apps or any others, consider these three options:

  • Safari, if you have a limited set of feeds: Safari allows you to add RSS subscriptions under the Shared Links section in its sidebar.
  • Vienna, if you want something free and open source: Vienna is robust, if a little dated. It’s reminiscent of Thunderbird, which, by the way, has feed reading capabilities of its own.


  • Feedly for Mac, if you like Feedly’s web interface: Feedly’s Mac client is nothing more than a wrapper for its website. If you can make do without a desktop client, we’d actually recommend sticking to Feedly on the web.

Archive Extraction Utility

You need The Unarchiver, period. Think of it as VLC for archives. It handles any kind of archive you throw at it. Read our overview of The Unarchiver Unzip Any Archive Using The Unarchiver [Mac] Quickly extract practically any compressed file on the planet. If you're a Mac user, and Apple's default unzip tool is struggling to open an archived file, it's time to install the ultimate tool for the... Read More to learn more about it.

App and Widget Uninstaller

You’ll probably need a piece of cleanup software to help you get rid of residual files and folders when you uninstall an app. We recommend going with AppCleaner. It’s a lightweight utility that does one thing — uninstallation — and does it well. Read more about why AppCleaner is the best free uninstaller AppCleaner: The Best Free Uninstaller App For Mac Leave no crap behind. AppCleaner is a free uninstaller for Mac that searches for and lets you delete all the settings, caches and other junk files programs you delete that would otherwise remain. Read More app for Mac.

Calendar App

If your calendar needs are basic or minimal, you won’t mind using OS X’s default Calendar app. If your daily life revolves around your calendar, you might want to invest in something that’s feature rich and versatile, like Fantastical 2. Users vouch that Fantastical 2 is worth the steep price $50 for a Calendar? 5 Reasons Fantastical 2 is Worth It The original Fantastical wasn't cheap at $15, and now developer Flexibits will be charging $50 for the updated version — so is it worth it? Read More of $49.99.


Pomodoro Timer

This one’s important if your computer doubles up as your workspace. You need a proven time management strategy to work on tasks, and the Pomodoro technique How a Simple Pomodoro Timer Made My Life Better The Pomodoro Technique is one of the simpler time management life hacks. Break through distractions with the help of 25-minute chunks and a timer. It could be a life-changing routine change if it suits you. Read More is as good as it gets.

For working with Pomodoro on your Mac, you’ll need a nice Pomodoro timer. You have several choices, but we’d suggest sticking with something non-intrusive like Pomodoro Time [No Longer Available]. It stays in OS X’s menu bar until you need it. You can create a list of tasks and work on each of them in short Pomodoro bursts, all through a pop-up panel via the menu bar.


Pomodoro One is another timer option. It’s simple and lovely. You can get rid of the in-app adds for $1.99. Unfortunately, you can’t put Pomodoro One in the menu bar and hide its dock icon.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) Client

If you aren’t clear on why you need a VPN, read this list of five uses for a VPN 5 Refreshing Uses For A VPN Read More .

Hotspot Shield has a free version that’s impressive Hotspot Shield: A Solid VPN That's Available Free Of Charge Read More . It’s a reliable place to start exploring VPNs. ExpressVPN and TunnelBear also have decent free versions. If you’re ready to move on to paid alternatives, NordVPN is a good choice. The super simple Cloak VPN is also garnering great reviews. Its plans start at $2.99/month and come with a 30-day free trial, so we’d recommend giving Cloak a shot.


Before you make a decision on which VPN to get, take a look at our list of the best VPN services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More .

BitTorrent Client

BitTorrent has several legit uses 8 Legal Uses for BitTorrent: You'd Be Surprised Like HTTP, which your browser uses to communicate with websites, BitTorrent is just a protocol. You could use your browser to download pirated content, just as you could use a BitTorrent client to download pirated... Read More including downloading game updates and distributing videos. We recommend installing Transmission to get started with BitTorrent. It’s the standout BitTorrent client on OS X.

Transmission got infected with malware recently Mac Ransomware Hits Users, Google Wins Best Company Award... [Tech News Digest] Mac users get a taste of ransomware, Google named best place to work, Ray Tomlinson passes away @ 74, the new Myst gets its first trailer, and what if Bob Ross had made a Mario... Read More , so be sure to install the fixed version, 2.92, to stay safe. qBittorrent is another BitTorrent client worth trying.

No Antivirus Software?

If you bought a new Windows PC, an antivirus software would probably be one of the first few apps you’d install. Do you need to do the same on OS X? It depends on whom you listen to, because opinion stands divided on whether Mac needs an antivirus program at all.

Justin’s take on the only Mac security software you need Here's The Only Mac Security Software You Need For most people, OS X is fairly secure out of the box — and there are a number of programs out there that potentially do more harm than good. Read More might help you decide for yourself. If you’d feel safer having an antivirus software handy, here are nine antivirus options for your Mac 9 Apple Mac Antivirus Options You Should Consider Today By now, you should know that Macs need antivirus software, but which one should you choose? These nine security suites will help you stay free of viruses, trojans, and all other sorts of malware. Read More .

Ready to Start Using Your Mac?

Most of the apps that OS X includes by default are great The Best Default Mac Apps That You Shouldn't Need to Replace Here are some of the best default, pre-installed, native Mac apps worth using. Don't ditch them before you try them! Read More . For example, there’s iBooks for reading ePubs, Spotlight for searching your Mac, and Reminders for scheduling appointments and managing to-do lists. You’ll do just fine even if you don’t swap these default apps for third-party ones, but we understand why you might want to.

Now that you have some of the most useful apps up and and running on your first ever Mac, it’s time to explore what you can do on OS X.

Seasoned Mac user? Share your app recommendations for first-time Mac users.

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Related topics: Install Software, Mac App Store, OS X El Capitan.

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  1. David A
    May 18, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Awesome article. Agree and recommend 100% what you advised

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      May 18, 2016 at 4:44 am

      Thank you, David!