17 Best Mac Apps You Should Download Right Now: Free & Paid

as far as Operating systems, macOS for Apple computers run stable and efficient, but sometimes they seem annoyingly incomplete. Apple doesn’t listen to its customers very often, stubbornly refusing to add simple features that would make the platform easier to use. Apple stock apps often lack a lot of the functionality we’d expect in other software. From what Apple showed us in a file monterey review, the next major macOS update, some deletions aren’t going away anytime soon.

Fortunately, there are downloadable software that can solve these problems. I’ve put together a handful of the best Mac apps that help me almost every day. Some are for specialized uses, but others fix gaps in vanilla macOS. Many of these apps are not free, but most of them have free trials that you can check out while deciding whether to purchase or not. It is also common for them to sync with the companion apps on your iPhone. Check out the list below and give it a try. macOS apps may make your life a little easier.

Also, be sure to check out our many Other guides, including The best MacBooksAnd The best iPadsAnd Best iPhones, And How to backup your iPhone.

Updated October 2021: We’ve revised pricing and added two new programs we love.

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For a better user experience


Photo: Alfred

Yes, you can use split opinion On macOS to view two apps side by side, it’s not nearly as intuitive as on Microsoft Windows, where you simply drag a window into a corner and have it snap into place. This app is worth $3 if you don’t want to mess with constantly resizing window borders. magnet It is another good option that costs the same.

If you have to keep sliding your finger on the trackpad during a movie or YouTube video to keep the screen from sleeping over and over (or perhaps during an especially long download), you’ll appreciate the app that lets you keep the screen on to perform certain tasks. It even works with external displays. Sure, you can keep going to your System Preferences to change your screen saver settings and shutdown your hard drive, but that can get tiring quickly.

The default search tool on macOS isn’t bad, but there’s room to deepen it. Alfred is a supercharged alternative that lets you create custom shortcuts to programs and file folders, activate system commands by typing, create automated custom workflows that start with the press of a button or typed phrase, and much more. It’s free, but you can pay £29 (about $40) for a single user license to access the full feature set of version 4.0 or £49 (about $67) for free, lifetime upgrades to later versions of Alfred.

AdGuard’s standalone macOS app lets you choose from a wide range of filters and customize them to block social media extensions, pop-up ads, URL redirects, and more. It works not only on your browser but also on other apps you have installed. There is a two-week free trial, but you will need to pay for a license to use it after the trial period ends. For $2.49 per month, you can access the service on three devices simultaneously.

For a better typing experience


Photo: Ulysses

Tired of paying for Microsoft Office, unaffected by Apple’s default office suite, and unable or unwilling to switch entirely to Google’s G Suite on the cloud for everything? Download LibreOffice, a full-featured suite that includes the usual applications, such as a word processor and spreadsheet editor. It is fully compatible with all the usual Microsoft file types, including older formats like .doc. It is open source and costs nothing to use, even commercially. For goodwill, donate a few dollars if you end up Like it and use it a lot.

I love Ulysses’ simple script and clean interface for writing long stories, but it’s also perfect for short stories, novels, poetry, and scripts. It removes all unnecessary icons, buttons, and settings and lets you focus on your work. You can get a free trial before committing to the subscription fee. (You can opt for the $6 per month instead of the annual payment plan.) If you do, the iOS app will be integrated with the macOS version.

heights 2

Image: Unquoted Quote Apps

Highland is a plain text editor primarily designed for scenarios and plays, but there are templates for other things, like writing novels as well. What’s nice is that it will automatically configure the exported scripts in industry standard formats, and there’s a new gender analysis tool that will break down the number of lines your characters speak, categorized by gender. The basic version is free, but a one-time purchase of $50 allows you to upgrade and more features.

Journaling is a meditative experience, but if you’re like me and your handwriting looks like an SOS letter carved into a rock, you tend to avoid writing on paper. Day One is a great digital daily experience that lets you insert photos, save audio recordings, and export your records in different formats, such as PDFs. Your journal entries are end-to-end encrypted, backed up automatically, and secured with a passcode or biometrics as well. There is a free version, but it is very limited, so it is better to pay $35 per year for the full set of features.

Working in a noisy place – or in a quiet place – can be very distracting. Dark Noise allows you to custom mix 50 built-in sounds to create the perfect acoustic illusions, whether it’s “perfect” for you raindrops falling on a tent or a box fan blasting away on a windowsill. Even if you’re not under an audio attack, a smooth layer of background noise can increase your focus.

For a better viewing experience

VLC media player


If you need a heavy-duty image viewer that allows you to edit and view metadata, catalogs batch processing of RAW image files, and set up automated image sorting and classification for you, then go with ApolloOne. This is a program for serious photographers – or at least people who take a lot of photos and want to organize them. The free version has limits on what you can do, but it’s a good way to see if you want to pay $20 for the full trial. The other alternative is XnView MP (Free).

A lightweight image viewer, this app doesn’t come with all the options and clutter of the most advanced software, but it’s best to use it if you don’t need all of these features. Xee³ is clean, like the default macOS viewer, but allows you to browse image folders and move images more easily. For $4, it’s yours for life. It reminds me of Windows Photo Viewer – in a good way.

Old from 2001, this is a great video player that is constantly being supported. It works with a lot of file formats and codecs, even allows you to convert from one file type to another, and gives you a range of audio and video compression methods to create smaller files from raw or large files. If you download a lot of videos, you need not think. It’s also an open source product, so be kind and donate a few bucks to the creator if you end up using it often.

From the people who brought us EvernoteSkitch one-ups built-in screenshot app for macOS. Once you’ve taken a screenshot of a program window, part of the screen, or the entire screen, you can edit and annotate it with arrows, shapes, text callouts, and more. You can also split (blur) parts of the image to hide sensitive information, or to draw focus.

For better organization

Paprika Recipe Manager

Photo: Paprika . app

Arranging folders is tedious, and arranging all your files never ends up in place because you have to keep doing it over and over while still using your computer. This is where Hazel steps in. You tell it which folders to watch — for example, the Downloads folder — and it will automatically move files to the new destination folders, sorting them by name, date, type, location they came from, and more. Newly created or downloaded files are transferred automatically. It is a one time purchase.

Instead of having to sign in to all your email, workflow, and social media accounts through individual browser tabs, you can hook them all up with Shift. This means opening only one application window for all your work tasks. You can connect Gmail, Slack, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Spotify, Google Docs, and more (plus Chrome extensions!). The advanced level unlocks everything you want for $119 per year. Try the basic (and free) level first.

You are drowning in bundles. Keeping everything in order is a nightmare, and it’s alarming to know that if you miss an email or if the delivery date changes, the balcony package thief might walk away from your goods. This app gives you a clean, color-coded space (purple for FedEx, brown for UPS, etc.) to track delivery statuses and due dates for all of your packages. It all updates automatically too! Deliveries have recently switched to a subscription-based pricing model. Now you have to pay $5 a year or 99 cents a month.

Save your recipe web pages and Paprika will automatically format them into a unified layout. All your recipes are organized into folders, and you can use the app’s interactive features to check ingredients as you cook and scale or reduce ingredients for different serving sizes. There is an iOS app, but you have to buy it separately for $5. It’s also available on Windows and Android at the same prices, respectively, so you can sync recipes across multiple platforms.

Other good tools

In addition to adding functionality, you should also strengthen your security. It has nothing to do with using a Mac and everything to do with using computers and mobile devices in general. To protect against data snooping and identity thieves, I highly recommend paying for a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Also, the same password you entered into each of your hundreds of websites accounts? It’s easy for hackers to guess. download a Password manager, which will generate complex, secure, and unique passwords for each website (and remember them all for you).

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