Designed for the Mac office 365 for Mac has all the features you need. The interface of this software combines the best of Mac features and MS Office features in one simple interface. This is made up of menu tabs within each one will find relevant functions in the form of a ribbon toolbar and work space.
On this website, I have covered a ton of paid apps, and that’s because in general, paid apps tend to offer more when compared to free apps. However, that does not mean that there are no good free apps out there. In fact, there are a ton of them. That’s why it is going to be a long article as I am bringing a list of 35 best free apps you can get for your Mac right now. Some of the apps on this list are evergreen and you most probably already have them installed on your device. But some of them are entirely new. Well, at least they are new to me and that’s the beauty of it. No matter, how old an app is, it is new for somebody out there. That said, no matter how avid a Mac user you are, I can bet that you will find new Mac apps in this article that you have never heard of before. So, open your Macs and get ready to download these awesome free Mac apps.
Note: Be sure to read our must-have iPhone apps article to get the best apps for your iPhone in 2020.
Best Free Mac Apps You Should Install in 2020
While most of the apps in this list are free, some of them offer a paid option. That being said, when it comes to paid apps, I have only included those options that offer a generous free tier. I am using free versions of all the apps (that offer paid options) and find them suitable for most users. No app with a free trial or heavily restricted free tier has been included.
1. Audiobook Binder
While you can listen to books in MP3 format, I like the M4B format more as it supports chapters. M4B is also the native format that Apple Books support. If you want to keep your music library separate from the book library, this is the format to use. Audiobook Binder is an app that lets you convert MP3 files into M4B files. It also lets you bind multiple MP3 files into a single M4B file and converts those MP3 files into chapters. You can also add custom book cover and edit book’s metadata including name, author, and narrator. I have been using this app for the past year and a half to listen to public domain audiobooks and lectures and it has never failed me.
Password management is something people ignore. Since passwords are hard to remember and most third-party password managers charge a hefty monthly subscription fee, not everyone is aboard the strong and different password train. To those users, I suggest LastPass. LastPass offers a very generous free tier that allows you to use the software on two different machines. And if you want to use it on more, you can always use its web app that works everywhere. I have been using LastPass for the past two years to manage my passwords and I never had any problem.
Its apps are installed on my primary MacBook Pro (learn MacBook Pro tips and tricks) and my iPhone. Since it supports browser plugins and iPhone’s automatic password fill feature, I never have to type my password or remember them. All my passwords are secure, long, and use an alpha-numeric combination. If you are still using the same password everywhere or setting weak passwords, try out LastPass. It’s free for personal use and you have no excuses not to use it. Its one of the best free Mac apps that you can get.
While I love Safari and use it for most of my tasks, it’s not perfect and I have to turn to other browsers from time to time. My biggest problem with Safari is its nescient extension library. Safari is also slow to adopt the latest web technologies. I know Apple does this to keep browsing private and secure, but sometimes it causes hindrance in my work. For a long time, I was using Chrome for this work but I hated two things about it. First, Google Chrome is a resource hog and decreases battery life, causes overheating, and several other problems. Second and more importantly, I don’t like sharing my data with Google more than I already do. It was one of the reasons why I switch from Android to iOS several years back.
The solution is the Brave browser. It’s a browser that is built on the same Chromium engine that Google Chrome uses, so you are getting all the features and extension support. But, since the creators focus on privacy, your data is always secure. It brings an automatic tracking blocker and even blocks most of the annoying ads. Since it blocks the most harmful scripts, you get to enjoy a faster internet. Also, in my testing, it’s far better than Google Chrome at handling resources. While it’s not as good as Safari, that’s a trade-off that I am ready to make. If you are also looking for a good Chrome alternative, you should try using the Brave browser.
CopyClip is a Mac utility that stores everything you copy in a clipboard. Copy-and-paste is so integral to our work that we cannot even imagine a time when this feature was not available. Still, Mac’s clipboard is probably the most neglected feature in the macOS. Even after so decades, you still cannot hold more than one entry in your clipboard. Enter, CopyClip. It’s a clipboard manager that saves entries into the clipboard. You can use a simple keyboard shortcut to easily copy any item and paste them anywhere you want. CopyClip not only saves text input but also preserves images and documents. While I use “Paste” for my clipboard management as it offers more features, for a free app, CopyClip works exceptionally well.
For a long time, it was hard to recommend a good free text editor on Mac. All the good ones were paid, and the free ones were just not up to the mark. Well, after a long hiatus, BBEdit, one of the most exemplary text editors, is back on the Mac App Store. For the past 20 years, BBEdit has been the text editor to beat and now that it’s back on the App Store with a freemium model, you can use it for free. Only the advanced features of BBEdit are hidden behind a paywall and 90% of regular users will not need those features.
Whether you want to write a long blog post, edit snippets of code, design website or web apps, BBEdit is the text editor to use. The best thing about BBEdit is how fast it works. It opens text files with hundreds of thousands of words in seconds and never falters. In my years of using this app, I have not lost even a single line of text. It has a powerful search that lets you locate and find keywords across files. There’s no free text editor out there that can match its prowess.
The death of Google Reader placed a dark cloud over the future of RSS readers. But, if anything, RSS is showing a sign of resurgence in the past year or so. From the launch of acclaimed RSS reader app Reeder 4 to the rebirth of NetNewsWire, RSS readers are becoming popular again. And if you are looking to create a personal news feed, there’s no better app to do it with than NetNewsWire. Built on-top of free and open source reader named Evergreen, NetNewsWire is an excellent feed reader for Mac.
The app makes it easy to subscribe to RSS feeds and brings excellent search capabilities. It also brings a beautiful design and I adore its dark mode. It also supports online feed syncing services such as Feedbin. I still prefer Reeder 4 as it brings more features, but seeing how NetNewsWire is still young and free to use, I cannot fault it. If you are looking for a free RSS reader, you should try NetNewsWire.
7. DaVinci Resolve
While Macs come with a basic video editor for free (iMovie), anyone who is serious about video editing will have to go for the pro video editing apps. The problem with apps like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro is that they cost a lot. If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, and still want to use a full-fledged video editor, DaVinci Resolve is the best option for you. Even when I am writing this, I cannot believe that such a capable video editor is free to use.
The latest version of the software, DaVinci Resolve 16 combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects, and audio post-production all in one software tool. Color correction tools of DaVinci Resolve are better than most paid video editors including FCP and Premiere Pro. From custom timeline settings to facial recognition to keyframe editing, it brings all features that you require from a professional video editor. It is one of the best free Mac software that you can install. Free Mac apps don’t get better than this.
Folx is a powerful native download manager for Mac that not only works great but also looks cool. It features a true Mac-style interface and supports both direct and torrent downloads. The app also offers extensions for Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. The extensions help Folx in catching downloads and thus ensure that you are not using the crappy download manager of your browser. Folx can split downloads into multiple threads resulting in faster downloads and also support download pause and restart. The free version of the app is enough for most users. I was using it for years without any complaints. I only bought the paid version to support the developers. The extra features are nice to have but they have not drastically affected by usage.
macOS Mojave introduced dark mode to our favorite desktop operating system. The dark mode on macOS Mojave is not half-cooked as it is on windows. When you turn on the dark mode on your Mac, not only it turns the system UI but also the stock apps. Not only that, apps that support automatic dark mode also adhere to the same guideline. Once you turn it on, they automatically default to dark mode.
While that's great in most situation, I wish Apple included a way to create a whitelist for apps that are not functional in dark mode. The default Mail app and the Evernote app are a few examples of an app that still work best in light mode. That's where NightOwl comes in. It's a menu bar app that allows you to create a whitelist of apps that you don't want to use in dark mode. Not only that, but it also allows you to quickly switch between dark and light mode with a simple click at its icon. You can read more about the app in our article here. The app is completely free to download and use with a voluntary donation.
10. Unsplash Wallpapers
I want to start this article with an app which I have discovered just a couple of months back and have fallen in love. As its name suggests, Unsplash Wallpapers is a wallpaper app for Mac which gives you access to unlimited ultra-high resolution wallpapers for your Macs. One of the things that I love most about MacBooks is its display. Apple packs phenomenal displays on the Macs. Stop me if it’s just me, but I enjoy changing the wallpapers on a regular basis just because they look so damn beautiful on my Mac’s display.
Before I discovered Unsplash Wallpapers, it used to be a chore to change wallpapers. First, I had to find good wallpapers, then I had to download them, and only then I could use them. With Unsplash Wallpapers app, you can change the wallpaper just with one click. If you like a wallpaper, you can even download it. If you love wallpapers, you are going to love this free Mac app.
11. The Unarchiver
This is one of the first free Mac apps that I download whenever I move on to a new Mac. The app is basically the best unarchiving app you can get for your Mac, free or otherwise. The Unarchiver cannot only unarchive common formats such as Zip, RAR (including v5), 7-zip, Tar, Gzip, and Bzip2, but it can also open formats such as StuffIt, DiskDoubler, LZH, ARJ, ARC, ISO and BIN disc images, Windows.EXE installers and more. Basically, it’s a one-stop solution for all your unarchiving needs.
We all know that Macs bring a long battery life and while some of it has to do with Apple’s excellent hardware, most of it is because of how macOS efficiently manages battery. One of the things that macOS does to preserve the battery life on your computer is to put it to sleep whenever you don’t interact with your Mac for a set period of time. While this is really good, sometimes you need to keep your Mac running even if you are not interacting with it. One of the examples that come to mind is when you are downloading a large file. If your Mac falls asleep during the download, it will stop it, and depending on the software that you are using to download the file, you might have to restart the download from the beginning.
Amphetamine solves this problem by allowing users to keep their Macs awake even when they are not doing anything. The app is powerful and allows users to keep their Macs awake for how much ever long they want. Not only that, users can also set triggers to keep their Macs awake. For example, you can tell Amphetamine to not put your Mac to sleep whenever a certain app is running. Lastly, it allows you to easily access all these features as it lives right there in your Mac’s menu bar. It’s one of the most useful apps for Macs and I love it.
No need to worry about the language barrier to stop you from editing video.Main features of OpenShot:. If you just want to do some basic editing without having to spend too much time, OpenShot can be one of your best choices.Apart from doing basic video editing, you can also render 3D animation. This free editor for Mac also supports more than 70 languages. It is a good video editor for beginners to learn and train video editing skills. Video download software for mac.
13. GIPHY Capture
Gifs are all the rage today. More and more users are creating and sharing their own gifs. And if you want to be one of them then this is the tool you need. GIPHY Capture is an app that lets you capture and create gifs. Once you launch the app it will create a translucent green window with a capture button at the bottom. All you need to do is to drop the window on top of the video you want to capture and click on the capture button. Once you are done with the recording, click on the record button again to stop the recording. It is probably the easiest way to create gifs on your Mac.
Spectacle is one of the apps that I install instantly on a new Mac. Macs are good at many things but one thing that still eludes it is a good window management feature. Apple has not solved the window management problem in the latest macOS Catalina so I guess, we have to wait for one more year. In fact, the window management problem has become even worse in macOS Catalina in my opinion. If you are also fed up of Apple's native approach towards window management, you should Install Spectacle.
This is a simple menu bar app that allows you to easily resize and place windows with keyboard commands. I can easily set a window to either half of the display both vertically and horizontally, make it go full screen, snap it to the center, and more. Once you install this app, your window management workflow will become ten times faster.
ImageOptim is one of the most used free Mac apps on my MacBook Pro. In my line of work, I have to attach a ton of screenshots (like in this article). And before I upload any picture on my website, I pass it through ImageOptim. The app deletes all the unnecessary metadata such as GPS position and camera's serial number and compresses the image. This allows me to upload the image on the web without any privacy hazards and ensures that the file sizes are low.
The app is pretty easy to use. You just drag and drop images into its window and then click on the button at the bottom-right corner. If you share a ton of images on the web (whether on your blog or social media websites like Twitter and Facebook), it will be good for you to pass it through ImageOptim first. I have used paid image compression apps but nothing has been as good and as easy to use as ImageOptim.
16. Alfred 4
Alfred is an all-purpose tool for your Mac which can boost your productivity ten folds if you learn how to use it. Of course, there’s a learning curve to this app, but if you invest in it, it will pay you back. Alfred allows you to quickly launch apps, use text expansion snippets, search on the Mac and web, use hotkeys and keywords, and much more. Alfred used to be a paid app, but the developers were kind enough to release the app for free. There are add-on power packs that you can buy, to use cool features like Alfred workflows. But, for most normal users, the free app itself is enough to boost their productivity.
Pocket is a popular read it later service which allows you to save articles offline so that you can read them later. I mostly browse for articles on my Mac and whenever I find something that I would want to read, I just save it in Pocket. Pocket has an excellent Safari extension that allows me to save articles and read them later. Since Pocket syncs across devices, all my saved articles are automatically synced to my iPhone where I can read them at my will. Recently, I have also started using Pocket as a research tool. Since Pocket allows me to organize saved articles using tags, I just tag the items I am using for research so that I can find them easily later.
Spark is my most favorite free app on Mac. For those who don’t know, Spark is an email client for Mac. I love spark because it intelligently categorizes all the emails that I receive into different categories, giving me access to the most important emails first. It also has a very robust set of features. I can easily snooze, archive, delete, and tag emails. I also love the fact that it allows me easily search for emails using natural language search. I can also search for emails based on attachments, and more. Lastly, Spark also has apps for both iOS and watchOS so no matter which device I am on, I can user Sparks to get through all my emails.
GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program is an open source photo editor for Mac which packs so many features that you won’t be able to discover all of them in your lifetime. It is basically Photoshop but free. You can use GIMP to perform any kind of image manipulation that you can think of. That said, since it packs so many features, GIMP also has a pretty steep learning curve. Also, being a free an open-source project, its user interface is not very intuitive and feels archaic. That’s why I recommend GIMP only to those users who need a robust photo editing software but cannot afford to buy one.
New Mac Pro 2018
As per the description of the app on its website, 'DarkTable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. A virtual light-table and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable light-table, and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them'.
Basically, it is super powerful photo editing app for Mac that allows you to use pro-level photo editing features for free. You are required to learn the app as it has a steep learning curve but once you get used to it, you won't go back to even the best-paid photo editing apps on the market. This one is definitely one of the free Mac apps that you can download in 2019.
Simplenote is one of the best designed free Mac apps you can find. As its name suggests, Simplenote is an easy note taking app which allows you to easily jot down notes. What I love about this app is that even though it is completely free, your notes are synced across devices. Apart from its online sync features, I am also a fan of its clean user interface. Simplenote is also a really good app for someone who is looking for a clean app to write long-form content. You can use tags to organize notes easily and search for them using either their title, content, or tags. I have been using this app for quite a few years and I still don’t understand how it’s free. If you love writing, you will love Simplenote.
Itsycal is an open source small menu bar calendar application for Mac. If you like Fantastical 2 for Mac, but hate that it’s priced so high, Itsycal is for you. Although Itsycal is nowhere as powerful as Fantastical 2, it brings all the basic features that you would want from a menu bar based calendar app. It shows you month view of your calendar, your upcoming events, and also allows you to create or delete events. I also love the fact that I can configure Itsycal to show not only the date but also the month and the day in the menu bar icon itself. It’s a good menu bar application and a must have for anyone who schedules everything on their calendar.
Audacity is one of those free Mac apps that is even better than most of the paid apps out there. For those who don’t know, Audacity is an audio editor app for your Mac (available for Windows PC too). If you are someone who deals with a ton of audio, you must have already heard about this software. If you have not, you probably don’t need it. Still, it’s such a good app that I couldn’t keep it away from the list. Just remember that if you ever need to edit an audio file to make it better, Audacity is the tool to do it.
Lightworks is a full-fledged video editing app which gives you access to all the tools that you will need to get your video editing on. To be fair, Lightworks also sell a Pro version of the app, however, the free version is powerful enough to handle most of the tasks. Whether you are a budding YouTuber or someone who just want to give an edge to their homemade videos, Lightworks is the right tool for you. What I love most about this app is that the website gives you ample tutorial videos to get you started. If by any chance you were looking for a free video editing software, look no further and download Lightworks.
HiddenMe is a small menu bar app which comes in very handy at times when you want to show a clean desktop without having to organize your stuff. The app lives in your menu bar and allows you to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s hiding everything on your desktop. With a click of the button, everything that’s on your desktop is hidden, giving you access to a clean desktop. I constantly use this app whenever I am giving a presentation or taking screenshots of my desktop for an article. This small application has saved me from embarrassing myself a number of times and it can do that for you too.
Do you know that whenever you delete an app on your Mac, it leaves behind a ton of residual files which does nothing but eating up storage on your Mac? Well, it’s true and if you install and uninstall a ton of apps, you might have lost gigabytes of storage already. While there’s another app on this list which (Onyx) which can help you recover that storage, AppCleaner is an app which makes sure that the apps you delete don’t leave any residual files. Just launch the app and drag and drop the apps that you want to uninstall and it will take care of the rest. It is a must-have utility tool for any Mac user who wants to keep their Mac clean.
LiteIcon is the app from the same developers who made the AppCleaner. It is a simple app which allows you to change your system icons quickly and easily. Simply drag an icon onto the one you want to change, and click the Apply Changes button. That's all you need to do. If you want your older icon back, just drag out the new icon. If you like to customize how your icons look on Mac, try out LiteIcon.
I have written about GrandPerspective a couple of times on this website and you might be familiar with it by now. For those who are new to our website, it’s an app which allows you to visualize storage on your Mac. Using GrandPerspective you can easily find out which files are using how much storage and find and delete the files which are not necessary. GrandPerspective is a very nice app for anyone who doesn’t have any idea as to where all his/her Mac’s storage went.
Manuscript is a free Mac writing app for students which makes writing school assignments including dissertation easier. Manuscript is a powerful writing app which allows students to complete their assignments right from the planning stage to completing it. It lets students easily insert citations, figures, tables, mathematical equations, and more. The app also allows for importation of citations from various tools including Mendeley, Zotero, Papers 3, Bookends, and EndNote. If you are a student who is looking for a good writing app, you don’t have to look any farther than Manuscript.
IINA is an open-source video player for your Mac which offers one of the best amalgamations of features and user interface. The app looks extremely beautiful and supports all the modern features including force touch, picture-in-picture, and even offers Touch-bar controls for the latest MacBook Pros. IINA also supports almost all the video formats that you can think of, including the ability to play even GIFs. The app also comes with theming capabilities allowing you to use either light or dark themes. I have discovered this app just a few weeks back and I am already in love with it. If you consume a ton of media on your MacBook Pro, this is the right app for you.
OnyX is your one-stop solution for all your Mac’s maintenance needs. In fact, I cannot describe the app better and more succinctly than what’s written on its website. OnyX is a multifunction utility that you can use to verify the structure of the system files, to run miscellaneous maintenance and cleaning tasks, to configure parameters in the Finder, Dock, Safari, and some of Apple's applications, to delete caches, to remove certain problematic folders and files, to rebuild various databases and indexes, and more. However, do remember that it is an advanced tool and hence before you do anything, make sure that you get familiar with the app as you don’t want to delete files which can corrupt your entire system.
The last app on our list the SpotMenu app which is a nifty little menu bar application. The app basically allows you to control your iTunes and Spotify music player from the menu bar giving you access to controls such as play, pause, forward, and rewind. It’s a pretty basic application, however, it does come in handy. One thing that I like about the app is that it shows the name of the song that is currently playing right on your Mac’s menu bar. When you click on the icon, the drop-down window which harbors all the features also showcase the album art of the song that you are playing.
33. White Noise Lite
White Noise Lite is an app that helps you sleep better. If you are a light sleeper who wakes up multiple times in the night without any apparent reason then this app can help you sleep better. It brings fifty different HD quality ambient environment noises to help you sleep. The app brings a beautiful cover flow design which lets you easily swipe between cards to select different tasks. Although the app markets itself as a sleep enhancer, I mostly use to provide background music when I am working as it helps me concentrate. You should download this app right now and see if it helps you sleep better or work better. Whatever the result, you will be better off with this one in your arsenal.
Install:White Noise Lite
Shazam is an app that needs no introduction. The app helps you discover songs by identifying whatever song is playing in the background. I personally use Shazam more as a tool to keep the list of songs that I have discovered. Suppose I am listening to a song and YouTube and want to save it. I just click on the menu bar icon of Shazam and it identifies the song and saves it on the list. I don't have to write it down anywhere. Later I can see the list and add to my Apple Music Playlist at my convenience. Shazam is a great app for discovering and keeping track of music that you like.
You know how when you accidentally yank headphones out of your iPhone, the music suddenly stops, well, Muzzy brings that functionality to your Mac. The app also does a lot of other things like allowing users to play, pause, and change the music from its menu bar app, integrates with Last.fm, shows songs lyrics, and more. However, I don’t care for any other features and I just use this app to stop music whenever I accidentally yank my headphones out. Sadly, the app only works if you are playing music through iTunes.
Best Free macOS Apps: Final Thoughts
I hope that you found some apps which are useful to you. Do let me know which of these were your favorite and which ones you discovered. Also, if you know free apps that deserve to be on the list but aren’t, drop their names in the comments section. That’s all I have for this article. If you liked this article, share this on your social media profiles because we need your help to get the word out. As always, drop your opinions and suggestions in the comments section down below. We love to hear from our readers and your comments are always welcome.
In a previous article where I talked about the 5 best cheap Mac apps under $10, it seems that many of you wanted to know if these apps had any free alternatives. The straight answer is yes, but it is a little bit more complicated than that. As a rule of thumb, you should know that for every paid Mac app, there is a corresponding free app out there. You just have to search for it.
That said, the free apps do have their own limitations. Mostly the limitations have to do with the user interface of the app. The paid apps generally have a more modern and easy to navigate user interface than their free counterparts. The paid apps also bring more features which make the apps more productive. I guess what I am trying to say is that in most cases, you essentially get what you paid for. That’s not to say that there are no good free apps out there. On the contrary, there are a ton of awesome free apps, and if you want to see a lit of them, do let me know in the comments section below.
However, this article is not about the best free Mac apps, it’s about the best-paid macOS apps and their free alternatives. Before we get into the article, one thing I would like to mention is that I have taken a little bit of liberty with the concept of free apps, which you will understand as we get into the article. So, if you don’t think that the paid apps deserve the price that they are asking for, here are the 7 best paid Mac apps and their free alternatives:
7 Best Paid macOS Apps and Their Free Alternatives
Since there are going to be a lot of apps on this list, I am not going to go in-depth for each one of them. Rest assured all the apps that I mention in this list has been thoroughly tested by me. Also, if you like to see an in-depth review of any of the apps mentioned in this list, do let me know by writing in the comments section below. I will make sure to fulfill as many of your requests as I can.
1. Best Password Manager App for Mac: 1Password
It’s 2018 and if you are not using a password manager today, I am sorry to tell you the truth, but you are a fool (unless you have a Sheldon like memory which allows you to create and remember strong and random passwords). If you take your account safety seriously, you should be using a password manager. A password manager not only allows you to create random and secure passwords but it also makes them easily accessible. All you need to do is remember one master password. As long as you remember that you can use your password anywhere, be it on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
1Password according to me is one of the best password managers you can get for yourself. All your data is encrypted using end-to-end AES-256 encryption and PBKDF2 key derivation, which is a technical way to say, that there is no way in hell anyone can get into your account if they don’t know your master password. The service syncs all your password across devices and supports all the major platforms including macOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows. So, no matter which device you are using, you are covered.
Install:1Password - Free trial ($3.99/month - paid annually - individual plan / $4.99/month - paid annually - family plan up to 5 members)
1Password Free Alternative - LastPass
One of the biggest restrictions that come with using the free version of any password manager software is that the free version doesn’t allow you to sync your password across devices. This is where LastPass wins as the free version of the software allows you to sync your passwords across devices. Remember that I told you that I am going to take a little liberty when it comes to what free app means, that declaration applies here. Although LastPass does have a premium subscription model, it’s free version is enough to fulfill all your individual needs. In fact, I myself use the free version of LastPass and has never felt a need to upgrade to the paid version.
That’s not to say that the paid version doesn’t come with extra features. The paid version brings features like desktop application logins, desktop fingerprint identification, two-factor authentication, and 1GB of encrypted file storage. That said, none of those features are necessary. All the necessary features like password creation, auto-fill and auto-login in browsers, password sync across devices, form filling, secure notes, and more are present in the free version. That’s why I consider, LastPass to be the best free password manager you can use today.
Install: LastPass - Free ($2/month - paid annually - individual plan / $4/month - paid annually - family plan up to 5 members)
2. Best Menu Bar Manager for Mac: Bartender 3
One of my favorite features of Mac is its Menu Bar and the apps that it can hold. The Menu Bar not only provides us with a quick way to access important information and give us app specific contextual menus, it also allows us to use Menu Bar apps which are quite nifty applications. However, if you are as obsessed with apps as I am, you will soon find that your Menu Bar has become too crowded and unorganized.
That’s where Bartender comes in as it allows you to organize your menu bar apps, by hiding them, rearranging them, or moving them to the Bartender Items. But that’s not all, Bartender also allows you to quickly search for Menu Bar apps and use keyboard shortcuts to access them. Bartender is a must-have application for anyone who is looking to manage their Menu Bar items.
Install: Bartender 3 - Free trial for 4 weeks - $15
Bartender3 Free Alternative: Vanilla
I will be the first one to come out and say that Vanilla is nowhere as powerful as the Bartender app. That said, The app is free and allows you to hide your Menu Bar apps elegantly. When you install the app, you will see a small arrow icon which you can click on to either expand or hide the Menu Bar icons.
Although the app is free forever, it does have a Pro option which adds extra features like keyboard shortcuts and automatic icons hiding. However, if you are not ready to pay, the free version will just serve you right as the app never ever nags you for upgrading.
Install:Vanilla - Free/$3.99
3. Best Storage Manager for Your Mac: DaisyDisk
DaisyDisk is one of my most favorite macOS apps and considering how much it helps me, I am more than happy to pay for the service. I have already talked about the app in great detail in the best Mac apps under $10 article, which you can read if you want to. The short version is that the app helps you scan your Mac’s internal storage as well as any other storage devices that are either physically connected to your device or are on your server and helps you find and delete unwanted items to free up storage on your device. DaisyDisk is a prime example of an app which is really useful but that’s not why you are buying it. You are buying it for its extremely beautiful user interface which makes using this app a delight.
Install:DaisyDisk - $9.99
DaisyDisk Free Alternative: GrandPerspective
GrandPerspective is the best app for anyone who is looking for an alternative to DaisyDisk. The basic premise of the app is the same as DaisyDisk, that is, it scans your Mac to give you a graphical representation of the disk usage. You can choose to either scan your entire Mac or individual folders. Once you run the scan, the app will show all your files and folders represented by solid colored squares.
The bigger the file size, the bigger is the square. Thus you can easily find out which files and folders take up the most space. The app is free to download from its official website but cost $1.99 on the Mac App Store. But whichever app you download, you are essentially getting the same thing. The paid version is just your way of supporting the developers.
Install: GrandPerspective - (Free from Sourforge / $1.99 from Mac App Store)
4. Best Writing App For Mac: Ulysses
Ulysses has garnered a lot of hate after the service decided to go the subscription route, but the thing is, whether you love it or hate it, there is no denying the fact that it’s the best writing app for Mac. In fact, all the article that you see on this website have been researched, drafted, and written on Ulysses. The best part about Ulysses is that it is an extremely powerful and productive writing tool which packs enough features that can handle any writing project irrespective of its size or complexity, and yet it still manages to maintain a simple and distraction-free UI so you can get the work done. I have already published an article detailing all the features of the app which you can go through if you want to make yourself familiar with the app.
Install:Ulysses ($4.99/month or $39.99/year - special student pricing available)
Ulysses Free Alternative: Typora / Elephant / Focus Writer
Probably the hardest thing when drafting this article was finding a worthy free alternative for Ulysses, and sadly even after scouring the whole internet, I could not find an app which can replace Ulysses alone. Don’t get me wrong, Typora is a fairly worthy app, however, it’s only free till it’s in beta.
Focus Writer is free but it neither bring the handy markdown editing feature nor the exceptional organizational feature of Ulysses.
Elephant is an open-source alternative to Evernote which also has a built-in markdown editor.
In the end, I still think that iA Writer ($9.99) is the best Ulysses alternative but you can surely check these apps to see if they can help you in replacing Ulysses or not. If you are already using a Ulysses alternative which you think is better than anything mentioned on this list, do help us out by dropping its name in the comments section below.
Install:Typora / Elephant / FocusWriter
5. Best Photo Editing App For Mac: Affinity Photo
I have used a ton of photo editing apps on Mac, however, I have always come back to Affinity Photo. The biggest reason why I prefer Affinity Photo is not just because it packs more features that you will ever need and is regularly updated, it’s because Affinity provides a plethora of resources to help you master the software. I also love the fact that unlike most of the good photo editors out there which uses subscription-based pricing, Affinity photo charges a onetime fee.
One more reason to go for Affinity Photo is its iPad app. Affinity Photo’s iPad app is the most robust photo editing app that you can use on your iPad, period. If you are ready to pay the price, Affinity Photo will provide you with one of the most versatile and extensive suite of tools you will find in any photo editing software.
Install:Affinity Photo - $49.99
Affinity Photo Free Alternative: Fotor / Gimp
Mac Pro 2018
Fotor is probably the best free alternative to Affinity Photo which makes this one the best free photo editing app for Mac. The biggest benefit of using Fotor is the way it handles its interface. All the important tools are available right within your reach and you don’t have to dig through various sub-menus to find them. That said, Fotor is not truly free as it offers in-app purchases.
If you are looking for a truly free alternative to Affinity Photo, Gimp is what you should be looking at. Gimp is an open source photo editing tool for Mac. Being an open-source app, it brings all the advantages and disadvantages that come with the domain. What I mean by that Gimp has all the photo editing tools and features that you will find in any pro photo editing tool, however, it also comes with a steep learning curve and you will have to invest a considerable amount of time in learning it.
Install:Fotor / Gimp
6. Best Productivity App for Mac: Alfred
If you have ever searched for productivity apps for Mac, I can bet that Alfred was at the top of most of the results. Alfred is such a powerful tool that I will need to dedicate a series of articles if I want to really explain its power. The app not only helps you to quickly find files, apps, and more on your Mac, it also allows you to search the web, execute system level commands, create and execute workflows, assign hotkeys, control your music, automate your workflow, and much more. The possibilities are endless here. With its latest update, Alfred has taken the route of the freemium model where all its basic functions are free but pro functions are hidden behind a paywall, which you will need to buy if you are serious about using Alfred.
Install:Free / ￡19
Alfred Free Alternative: Quicksilver / Flashlight
QuickSilver is an open-source alternative for Alfred. Almost everything that you can do with Alfred, you can do with Quicksilver for free. However, as it is with any open-source application, Quicksilver also comes with a steep learning curve and doesn't have a great UI. That said, if you are ready to invest your time, you will be thoroughly rewarded.
Quicksilver will turn you into a Mac ninja, making you a far more productive than your average Mac user. However, if for some reason you are yet not ready to give up on Spotlight and still want all of Alfred’s power, you might want to check out Flashlight. Flashlight is not an app in itself but a collection of plugins which enhances the features of Spotlight bringing it closer to the likes of Alfred and Quicksilver.
Install:Quicksilver / Flashlight
7. Best Task Management App for Mac: OmniFocus
I understand that everybody has their own system for managing tasks, and there can be no one task management app which is best for everyone. However upon trying multiple apps, I have found that OmniFocus is one of the best if not the best task management app for Mac. OmniFocus uses the “Getting Things Done” principle to help you, well, get things done. I love how OmniFocus not only allows me to create individual tasks, it also allows me to create projects, folders, attach contextual menus, defer tasks, and more. OmniFocus also comes with apps for iPhone,iPad, and Apple Watch, so no matter which Apple device you are using, OmniFocus is always there for you.
Install:OmniFocus - $39.99
OmniFocus Free Alternative: Wunderlist / Todoist / Reminders
While I searched high and low for a free task management for Mac, every app that I found which was worth getting on the list followed a freemium model. Of all those apps, I found Todoist and Wunderlist to be the best of the bunch. I personally prefer Wunderlist more than Todoist, however, Todoist has certain advantages over Wunderlist and most of those advantages have to do with various automation tools which greatly cuts down the time you spent on the app itself and more on the tasks in hand.
However, if you don’t want a freemium app and need something truly free, I think the built-in Reminders apps that come with macOS and iOS is your best hope. The Reminders is not only for creating one-time reminders rather you can also create lists which can act as your projects. The app also allows you to set due dates and share reminders with someone which is a much-needed feature if you work in a collaborative environment. However, the biggest thing that goes in favor of reminders app is the fact that it is deeply integrated with Siri so you can use Apple’s voice assistant to easily create tasks without having to open the app itself.
Install:Todoist / Wunderlist
Paid Mac Apps and Free Alternatives: Final Thoughts
Since I took this topic on, I realized that while some of the paid Mac apps have worthy alternatives, most of the best paid apps offer features and user interface which cannot be replicated by any free app. Maybe that’s why it’s better to pay for the apps that you are going to use on a daily basis rather looking for their free alternative.
That said, not all of us are lucky enough to afford all the paid Mac apps. Hence, what I feel the best thing to do is to buy the apps which are essential for your workflow (you can look at cheaper alternatives which are much easier to find than free ones) while use the free ones for those which are not that important and will not hamper your productivity in a big way.