Whether you are a new Mac user or seasoned veteran looking to do more, here’s a collection of essential Mac apps & utilities that you must download on your computer. These apps, most of them are free and created by third-party developers, will help you get more productive and do things that are otherwise not possible on your Mac.
The Best Mac Apps & Utilities
The Mac collection includes mostly lesser-known apps so the usual suspects likes Evernote, Dropbox, OneNote, or Google Drive are all missing from the list. Also, all the apps listed below are compatible with Yosemite, the current version of Mac OS.
Let’s get started.
- Infinit.io – Easily send files and folders of any size from your Mac to another device be it a Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or a Mac itself.
- Spectacle – This is a useful windows management app for Mac that lets you move and resize windows with configurable keyboard shortcuts. You can also move windows between multiple displays too.
- Duet Display – Use your iPad or iPhone as an extra display for your Mac. Connect the iOS device to the Mac with the USB cable and use the touch-screen to interact with your Mac apps.
- Knock – You can unlock your Mac by simply tapping your iPhone screen or your Apple Watch without having to type any passwords.
- ImageOptim – Always run your images through ImageOptim before upload them on to your website. The Mac app will crush the size of your image files without affecting the visual quality.
- HiddenMe – If your Mac desktop is cluttered with folders and files, you can hide all the icons with a single click or with a keyboard shortcut.
- Site Sucker – Download entire websites includes images, PDF files and mirror them on your local disk for offline browsing. Like wget but with a visual interface.
- App Cleaner – Deleting the .dmg file is not enough. If you are to properly uninstall any Mac app, you need to delete the residual hidden files as well and that’s where App Cleaner can help.
- Download Shuttle – A download manager for your Mac that splits the file into multiple parts and downloads the individual parts simultaneously for faster downloads. Can pause and resume downloads too.
- Toggl – Time tracking software for your Mac that sits in the status bar for quick access. Add #hashtags to tasks and your tracked hours are also synched with the web.
- Fluid – This will turn your favorite website into a real desktop app for Mac that will reside in the Applications folder and you can launch from Spotlight search.
- Transmit – The perfect FTP client for Mac OS X that just works. You can create droplets to instantly upload files to your favorite destinations from anywhere.
- Caffeine – It helps your Mac stay awake. Click the Caffeine icon in the menu bar to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep or from dimming the screen while you are watching videos.
- NoSleep – Your Macbook goes to sleep as soon you close the lid. The NoSleep extension will keep the screen awake even when the lid is closed so you can continue downloading files over the network.
- Air Browser – This will put your favorite websites in the menu bar so you can access them from any screen with a single click. The sites can be configured to auto-refresh on open.
- MacDropAny – You can easily sync any Mac folder with Dropbox or Google Drive without having to move them to a common folder.
- Self Control – Stop procrastinating. This open-source Mac app that will temporarily block access to time-wasting websites, emails and everything else that you find distracting.
- Gas Mask – This is a hosts file editor for Mac that can help you permanently block access to certain websites from your computer.
- Authy – Not exactly a Mac app but a Google Chrome extension that you cannot do without. It lets you log into online accounts that require 2-factor authentication without requiring the phone.
- Pixel Winch – An easy-to-use screen measurement app where you take a screenshot of an area and then use the built-in controls to measure the dimensions of any element inside no matter how tiny it is.
- Buffer – You can easily publish status updates, share links and photos to multiple social websites in one go from the menu bar itself.
- Hocus Focus – It helps keep your Mac desktop screen clutter free by automatically hiding app windows that are inactive or haven’t been used for a while. You can even choose to hide windows as soon as they lose focus.
- AirDroid – It connects your Android phone to the Mac. You can access messages, manage photos, transfer files and more, wirelessly.
- PushBullet – A universal copy-paste solution for all your devices including the Mac. Copy something on your phone and it instantly becomes available on the Mac’s clipboard and vice-versa.
- Unarchiver – A useful compression utility for Mac that can handle all the popular zip formats including RAR, TAR, MSI, EXE, GZIP and even ISO file. It can extract sounds and images from Flash and PDF files too.
- iBrowse – Access the files and folders on your iPhone or iPad inside this Finder-like app and copy images, videos and other files from the iOS device to your Mac easily.
- GIF Brewery – This helps you convert video files and screencasts into animated GIFs and offers tons of options to fine-tune your GIF images.
- Karabiner – A key mapping application for the Mac that lets you remap existing keys to perform a different command. For instance, the CAPS lock key can be configured to work as an Escape key.
- Better Touch Tool – It lets you easily configure the behaviour of existing gestures of your Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad or define new multi-touch gestures.
- Hazel – A folder monitoring app that lets you specify rules and the files added to these watched folders are automatically arranged based on your rules. You can run complex rules too, like run Apple Script, when a file is added.
- Helium – An Always on Top like app but for your Mac. The browser window will float on top of other windows and you can also change the translucency level.
- Dropzone – It make it easy to copy or move files to your favorite folders and you can also upload files to web destinations right from the menu bar.
- RSS Bot – Access your favorite RSS feeds from the Mac’s menu bar. Get notifications when new items are available and apply filters to only show articles that match certain keywords.
- XMenu – It provides Finder like access to your favorite folders and Mac apps from the menu bar. You can launch apps, access documents and files inside folder right from the menu bar.
- Flux – It automatically dims the brightness of your screen based on the time of the day – warm at night, bright during the day – so your eyes feel less strain. Also see the 20 20 20 rule.
- EVE – The app helps you learn Mac keyboard shortcuts. Every time you use the mouse to perform an action, the app displaying the equivalent shortcut as a notification. Also see CheatSheet, it display all the available shortcuts for the currently active app.
- BootChamp – If you have installed Windows on Mac through Apple Bootcamp, BootChamp will save you a few clicks. It adds an icon in the menu bar that will you restart your computer into Windows mode directly without having to press any keys during start-up.
- aText – A text expander program that accelerates your touch typing by replacing pre-defined abbreviations with corresponding phrases. For instance, say ;sig to add your rich signature in the Gmail window.
- Flashlight – It adds more power to Spotlight search on your Mac. You can search different, quickly add events to your calendar, create reminders, run terminal commands and more all from within Spotlight.
- Alfred 2 – Apple has vastly improved Spotlight with Yosemite but Alfred is still a better app at finding files both on your local disk and online.
- Disk Inventory – If your 256 GB SSD on the Macbook is running low on space, use the Disk Inventory app to quickly discover large files and folders that are hogging up the space.
- Sync – From the makers of BitTorrent, Sync helps you keep files and folders on all your computers and mobile devices in sync with each other but without using the cloud. There are no size limitations either.
- Bartender – If you have too many app icons cluttering the menu bar of your mac, Bartender can bring some order. It lets you hide the menu item you don’t need or you can push them to the secondary bar that will not show by default.
- CloudUp – From the company that develops WordPress, CloudUp lets you quickly upload and share local files and screenshots from the menu bar.
- Filepane – The invisible app improves your drag and drop workflow. Select one or more files and the app will offers a list of actions that you can perform from resizing the files to sharing via AirDrop to moving it to another destination and more.
- Unclutter – A clipboard history manager for your Mac that preserves snippets copied to the clipboard and also gives you quick access to your frequently used files and folders. Use ClipMenu or CopyClip if you only need a basic clipboard manager.
- TextBar – You can specify terminal commands and the app will add the text output of those commands to the menu bar that can also be configured to auto-updated at set intervals. For instance, ‘ipconfig getifaddr en0’ will print your current IP address in the menu bar. You can also have these as desktop widgets with Übersicht.
- Handbrake – Whether you are looking to convert videos from one format to another or need to extract videos from a DVD, HandBrake is probably the only utility you need. FFmpeg is powerful too but works only from the command line.
- Soundflower – If you are to record the Mac audio, like the sound coming out of the speakers, you would need SoundFlower to route that sound to the recording app instead of the speakers.
- QuickCast – Record quick screencasts of any area of your desktop screen and save the video files locally or publish them online. It can record mouse clicks and sound too. The other alternative is QuickTime.
- MuteMyMic – Like the speaker volume, you can now reduce the volume or completely turn off the mic from the menu bar or through keyboard shortcuts. Should come handy for online meetings and voice chats.
- Onyx – It provides access to hidden settings, you can perform system maintenance tasks and also configure system apps like Finder, Spotlight and Dock. TinkerTool is also a good alternative.
Also see: Print Files on Mac with Dropbox
Also see: Clean your Mac Open-with Menu
Also see: The Most Useful Web Apps
Wherever possible, I have included the Apps Store links because the store not only make it easy for you to install apps on your Mac but, in the case of paid apps, you also have an option for requesting refunds.