Whether new to the macOS platform or a long-termer, owning a Mac has many advantages. One of those is downloading and enjoying countless apps for work or play. Whether you just purchased a MacBook Air (2022) or have an older Mac, the following apps are the ones we recommend the most. Check them out and watch this list grow over time.
Your Mac already comes with a built-in password manager. With iCloud Keychain, you can store passwords, credit cards, and digital sticky notes. And yet, the third-party 1Password does so much more. For example, it offers dedicated options for storing your passport information, Social Security number, reward schemes, and more. Better still, you can use 1Password across multiple platforms. In addition to macOS, 1Password is available for iPhone, iPad, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome OS, and Command-Line.
1Password is available at various price points for individuals, families, work teams, and more, starting at $2.99 per month.
24 Hour Wallpaper
Dynamic wallpapers have been available through macOS for many years now directly from Apple. But, unfortunately, there aren’t that many of them to enjoy. This is where 24-Hour Wallpaper comes in, especially on the best Macs. The impressive app includes 105 (and counting) beautiful scenes that change to match the time of time. Offering scenes of places like Paris, London, and many more, the app makes days at the computer even brighter (or darker) no matter what time the clock says.
You can purchase 24-Hour Wallpaper from the App Store or get it as part of your Setapp bundle. A freebie version also available includes three wallpapers available to download from the Jetson Creative website.
Adobe Photoshop is the must-have app for anyone serious about making your photos look extra special. Available separately or as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, an Adobe Photoshop license also unlocks Adobe Fresco, Photoshop Express, and Adobe Express, when available, across multiple platforms, including iPad and Windows.
Better still, there’s an entire list of new Adobe Photoshop features set to debut, including one-click Delete and Fill, and more.
If you don’t like paying a monthly subscription for creative software, it’s time to consider the Affinity suite. Now in Version 2, the suite offers Affinity Photo 2, Affinity Designer 2, and Affinity Publisher 2. In addition, for the first time, you can buy a universal license to use the titles across multiple platforms, including macOS, iPadOS, and Windows.
Affinity Photo 2, a best Mac app, is known for its speed, power, and precision. It offers intuitive ways to edit and retouch images and create multi-layered compositions and raster paintings. In addition, affinity Designer 2 provides a unique way to create concept art, mock-ups, print projects, logos, icons, UI designs, and more.
Affinity Publisher 2, available on iPad for the first time, offers layout software for books, magazines, marketing materials, social media templates, website mock-ups, and others.
The macOS menu bar is so much better with Bartender. It gives you more control over the menu bar items, what’s displayed, when, and much more. These goodies are sure to improve your daily workflow.
Among the many Bartender tools is the new triggers feature. You can create triggers so specific alerts show on the menu bar when things happen. For example, you’ll get a signal when your MacBook Pro’s battery reaches a certain level. Triggers can include any change, icon matching, a script, and more.
Bartender 4 is available through the official website, or you can find it through a monthly Setapp subscription (opens in new tab).
One of my favorite Mac apps, CleanMyMac X, is one of those all-in-one apps that keeps improving with each new release. Created by Ukraine-based MacPaw, the app is designed to free up space on your computer and oh-so-much more.
CleanMyMac X features a malware protection and privacy tool, uninstall feature, optimization and maintenance wizards to keep your Mac speedy, and a cleanup tool that’s second to none. That last one is enough to take CleanMyMac X out for a spin. You can free up GBs of space with one click by removing system junk, mail attachments, trash bins, and more.
You can download a free trial version of this best Mac app, CleanMyMac, from the MacPaw website or purchase it through the Mac App Store.
If there was a Mac app hall of fame, Evernote would perhaps top the list. One of the best note-taking apps on the planet, Evernote makes it possible to jot down important information via text, images, audio, scans, PDFs, and documents. Better still, you can access your Evernotes across multiple devices, including Mac, iPhone, iPad, and through the web. You can also find it on Windows, Linux, and Android.
Over the years, Evernote has ruffled some features because of its ever-evolving subscription programs, which tend to be on the pricey side. Despite this, you can still find a free Evernote version with limited features.
There are a lot of VPN offerings for Mac. Although it lacks some of the features of its competitors, ExpressVPN is a top-tier option worth considering, and it’s the one I’m currently using.
With 24-hour live chat support, ExpressVPN offers many features that make it one of the best. These include VPN server locations in 94 countries and counting, AES-256 best-in-class encryption, lighting-fast speeds, and more. One ExpressVPN subscription allows you to install the software on five devices simultaneously. Besides Mac, this includes iPhone, iPad, PC, Android, Router, and Linux. There’s also web extensions available for some of the most popular browsers, including Safari, Chrome, and Edge — but not Safari.
Every year, Apple releases a new version of macOS. Unfortunately, at least up until this point, these newbies never contain an update to the native Calendar app. Fantastical could be the reason for this. This app, which is also available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, makes it simple to add events, tasks, and meetings to your calendar. Fantastical’s beautiful and friendly user interface provides multiple views, including detailed full-screen views for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
In its third version, the five-star Fantastical is available through a monthly or yearly subscription. These subscriptions carry over to your other devices.
Apps like Microsoft Word (see below) offer a smorgasbord of terrific word processing features. Sometimes, however, all you might be looking for is a blank slate. That’s where iA Writer comes in. It offers a clean, white or black, play box where all you need to do is write. There’s also markdown compatibility, a note-linking tool, style checks, and more.
Like so many other apps on this list, iA is also available on other platforms. In this case, iPhone/iPad. Android and Windows versions are also available. Each version requires a separate one-time purchase. For Apple users, for example, you’d need to purchase one license for Mac and another for iPhone/iPad to use it across all three platforms. Syncing across devices is included.
In 2022, Microsoft decided to discontinue the “Microsoft Office” name. In its place is Microsoft 365, a suite of apps for multiple platforms, including Mac. Available at various subscription levels, Microsoft 365 for Mac includes Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Outlook. Each subscription gives you access to tools on five devices simultaneously, including Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets.
If you need to run other operating systems on Mac, there’s nothing better than the Parallels Desktop. This year’s version, No. 18, supports macOS 13 Ventura and lets you run virtualized versions of macOS, Windows, and Linux. New this year is Windows 11 ARM and game controller support.
Without taking a poll, it’s likely that most Mac users who subscribe to a music streaming service use Apple Music. And yet, there’s no doubt many others use Spotify, the No.1 music streaming service on the planet.
The official Spotify app for Mac (free with a subscription) brings your entire subscription alive by offering playlist creation, downloads, and more. You can use the app to download and enjoy music and podcasts. Purchase links for audiobooks open a browser window. Once purchased, these audiobooks are available to listen to and download via the Mac app.
Spotify is available through various subscriptions, including Personal, Duo, Student, and Families.
VLC Media Player
If you want to control your multimedia files better, there’s nothing like VLC, a free and open-source cross-platform multimedia player. It works with most multimedia files, including DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
VLC supports most codecs with no codec packs needed. These include MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, MKV, WebM, WMV, MP3, and many more. Besides Mac, you can find VLC on iOS, Windows, Linux, Unix, iOS, and Android.
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Your Mac already comes with lots of great apps. When you want something extra, consider the ones mentioned above. The best Mac apps include calendar and note-taking titles, those for photo-editing and other creative tasks, and one offering VPN.
Which are the best Mac apps to try first? That depends on your needs, of course. However, you won’t be disappointed to check out Fantastical or ClearMyMac X first. No doubt, Microsoft 365 will be an essential download for many.
Keep watching this space for new apps to get added over time. Until then, happy downloading.