Home App & Software The Best Mac Apps – PCMag.com

The Best Mac Apps – PCMag.com

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Whether you’re a Mac newcomer or seasoned veteran, these apps will make your macOS experience more fun and productive.
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It’s no secret that Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system in the world—and it’s not even particularly close. Windows has 87 percent of the global OS market while macOS comes in a distant second at just under 10 percent, according to February stats from NetMarketShare.

To its credit, though, Apple keeps its user base happy. A big part of that means ensuring customers have access to a full buffet of powerful apps to customize their macOS experience.

The Mac App Store went live in early 2011 and offers apps in every department, from games to productivity tools. Some are simply macOS versions of popular Windows programs, while others are Apple exclusives.

The standouts below will help you express your creativity, be more productive, browse the web, communicate with others, increase your security, take care of your computer, and much more.

  • Adobe

  • Agenda

    With the Agenda note-taking app, you can edit and share notes, organize entire projects, and sync everything across multiple devices. Agenda is free in the App Store, though in-app purchases unlock premium features.
  • Alfred

    Similar to Mac’s built-in Spotlight Search functionality, Alfred searches your computer while keeping your fingers on the keyboard rather than the mouse. It’s ideal for productivity proponents and those suffering from mouse-related repetitive stress. Use your keyboard to search folders, files, and even the web in one easy search field.
  • Apple Photos

    You don’t have to shell out the big bucks for a capable photo-editing tool on Mac; the free, built-in Apple Photos apps does the job just fine. Access photos photos stored in iCloud and use Apple Photos to edit, add filters, and share. It’s a PCMag Editors’ Choice and one of our picks for best photo-editing software.
  • BBEdit

    Looking for a simple, capable text editor for your Mac? For years, TextWrangler was the go-to app, but Bare Bones has since phased it out for the more powerful BBEdit. The general-purpose text-editing app excels at data-file editing and manipulation of text-oriented data. Bare Bones yanked BBEdit from the Mac App Store a few years ago, so it’s currently available on its website for $49.99, but release notes for BBEdit 12.6 suggest it might soon return to Apple’s store, 9to5Mac reports.
  • Bear

    Bear is a lightweight alternative to note-taking and syncing apps like Evernote. While it lacks certain features of more robust competitors, it does have top-notch editing tools and a seamless interface. Connectivity across multiple devices makes it a worthy option for writers of all kinds. The Bear app is free in the App Store and lets you create notes, add tags and attachments, and export to a variety of format. Upgrade to Bear Pro for $1.49 a month or $14.99 annually to sync between devices, access more than a dozen themes, and use powerful export options.
  • BetterZip

    BetterZip, an archive utility for macOS, is easy to use and packed with advanced features, including a built-in file previewer. Yes, $24.95 is a little pricey for a utility, but you can install it on up to five Macs. And it’s not developer MacItBetter’s fault that Apple’s ZIP management is so weak.
  • CodeRunner

    If you’re looking to code on a Mac, the $14.99 CodeRunner app works for experienced developers and coding newbies alike. Run code instantly in AppleScript, C, C++, C#, Go, Haskell, HTML/CSS, Java, JavaScript, Kotlin, LaTeX, Lua, Markdown, Node.js, Objective-C/C++, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Rust, Shell Script, Swift, TypeScript, and user-added languages.

  • DaisyDisk

    Want to clean up your computer? The $9.99 DaisyDisk app gives you a visual breakdown of available disk space and creates an interactive map that will help you decide which software sparks joy.
  • Dashlane

    Alongside Keeper, Dashlane is one of PCMag’s two Editors’ Choice password managers. On the Mac, it’s available from the Dashlane website or the Mac App Store. Store passwords and personal information, encrypt sensitive documents, auto-fill information, and generate passwords. The $4.99 Dashlane Premium gives you unlimited storage and unlocks more advanced security features. Premium Plus for $9.99 adds credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

  • Data Rescue 5

    Hard drive failure is the bane of the computing experience. If you experience it, check out Data Rescue 5, which recovers files from damaged hard drives, as well as those that have been deleted. Once a file has been recovered, simply save it to an external drive. A free demo will scan your drive and give you a preview of what can be saved; pay $99 for unlimited recoveries and data rescue for up to five drives. A Professional package for $299 is also available for IT and business uses.
  • DiskWarrior

    If you rely on your Mac for work, DiskWarrior can repair and rebuild your Mac directory in case of emergency. Get your hands on the software for $119.95 before disk disaster strikes.
  • Dropbox

    Having a cloud-based file backup is just common sense these days, and on Mac you can link your Dropbox account right in the Finder window, allowing you to quickly move files into the cloud. Together with the mobile apps, your files are available wherever you are.
  • DxO PhotoLab

    Though it’s still not a complete photo workflow solution, DxO PhotoLab can deliver image results beyond what’s possible in other photo software and is a PCMag Editors’ Choice for high-end photo editing. Get it for $129.99; a $199.99 Elite Edition adds extra features and customization options.
  • Evernote

    Evernote has long been one of the best productivity apps on the market. It gives users an open and comfortable space for note-taking, and it easily syncs across all devices. While Evernote Basic is free and offers basic features, Evernote Premium is $7.99 a month and Evernote Business is $14.99 a month. Download it from the Mac App Store.
  • FaceTime

    Introduced in 2010 as a video chat feature for the iPhone, Apple’s FaceTime is also available on the Mac. If you have macOS Mojave 10.14.3 (and the macOS Mojave 10.14.3 Supplemental Update), you can use group FaceTime calls for chats with up to 32 people.
  • Final Cut Pro X

    Apple’s professional-level video editing software, Final Cut Pro, brings a wealth of power in an interface simple for pros and consumers alike. Recent highlights include rich support for 360-degree content and improved stability. It’s available on the Mac App Store for $299.99.
  • Find Any File

    Finding files on your computer can be a pain, especially since Spotlight doesn’t locate anything hidden from view. Find Any File uses a catalog file that’s constantly updated by macOS so you can find anything you need, faster than any in-house Mac utility. Grab Find Any File in the Mac App Store for $7.99.
  • The 18 Best Firefox Quantum Extensions

    Firefox Quantum

    We understand that most people are using Google Chrome to browse the web at this point, but Mozilla’s Firefox Quantum is also worth a look. This browser is fast, secure, and fully customizable via themes and extensions.
  • Franz

    We all use messaging apps, but what happens when you have too many? Instead of getting overwhelmed, use an app called Franz to put them all in one place. It’s free for individual users and supports Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Google Hangouts, Skype, and more.
  • GarageBand

    GarageBand offers easy music recording for novices and pros alike, and it comes free with every Mac. The app is still the best way to learn piano or guitar on a computer and easily earns our Editors’ Choice nod.
  • Chrome Browser Warning

    Google Chrome

    Your Mac comes with Apple’s own Safari web browser, but chances are you’re going to want Google Chrome instead. Chrome is fast, has excellent tab implementation, offers great security features, and does so much more.
  • GraphicConverter

    If you’re a non-professional who needs high-quality image manipulation and conversion on a Mac, check out GraphicConverter. Version 10 is available now for $39.99 from the App Store.
  • Handbrake

    Handbrake is a free, open-source video transcoding utility. It’s licensed by the GPL, available for multiple platforms (macOS, Windows, and Linux), and takes full advantage of multithreading when available. It supports most common multimedia file formats, as well as DVD and Blu-ray video sources that are not copy protected.
  • iMovie

    While iMovie is free, it continues to prove itself an excellent entry-level desktop video-editing application. Turn your footage and photos into impressive productions with Hollywood-style trailer features and 4K compatibility.
  • Logic Pro X 10.4

    Logic Pro X

    Apple’s Logic Pro X is a fantastic alternative to the far more expensive Avid Pro Tools, if you’re a Mac user. It has a great interface with the power to back it up, and the lack of copyright protection makes this an even more desirable program than it already is. Get it in the App Store for just $199.99, and you’ll have no trouble mastering this Editors’ Choice audio-editing software.
  • Magnet

    Magnet is a relatively simple app that, when installed, allows better control over all the windows open on your Mac. Trying to do some multitasking? Buy Magnet from the App Store for $1 and start snapping windows into place to create a more organized workspace. Split the screen in halves, quarters, or any configuration you need.
  • Microsoft Office 365 Word Read Aloud

    Microsoft Office 365

    Microsoft Office 365 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, plus OneDrive and Skype, and they work across multiple operating systems, the web, and mobile. The new iterations of these classic apps also promise real-time collaboration, as well as a full terabyte of storage space. Grab the Office 365 Personal at $69.99 a year if you’re shopping for yourself. The Office 365 Home package allows for up to six users for $99.99 a year.
  • NordVPN

    NordVPN

    NordVPN provides Mac users excellent network security, impressive features, specialized servers, and the largest network of VPN servers on the market, making it one of the best VPNs for Mac and a PCMag Editors’ Choice. A monthly account gets you six simultaneous connections and access to NordVPN’s network of over 5,000 servers around the world.
  • Parallels Desktop

    Parallels Desktop is the go-to app for running another operating system on your Apple computer. Run Windows 10, Linux, Chrome, and even Android right on your Mac. The program creates separate windows to allow multiple operating systems to run simultaneously, meaning it has never been easier to switch back and forth.

    Buy a brand new Parallels Desktop 14 license for $79.99, or upgrade from an older version for $49.99. The Pro Edition for testers and developers, and the Business Edition for use in work settings, are both $99.99 a year. You can download the Parallels Client from the App Store to connect to a remote application server, but you’ll need an existing subscription to sign in.

  • Pocket

    Between laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other web-enabled devices, people often read and view a lot of online material. Pocket gives users a way to save and manage their favorite clips to read later. If you’re a Mac user who loves clipping and sharing stuff from all over the internet, consider Pocket an essential app. There’s a lot you can do with this app.
  • Pixelmator Pro

    Pixelmator brings varied and flexible photo-editing features to the Mac at a very wallet-friendly price. While the app isn’t as deep as Adobe Photoshop, it’s still a very capable image editor that’s cheaper than the competition. Get Pixelmator Pro for $39.99 from the App Store.
  • Slack

    Does Slack replace email? No. Does it help cut back on needless internal email? Often, yes. Slack remains one of the best team messaging apps because it offers more than any other app in this category, although Slack costs more than any other, too. We use Slack at PCMag, and it’s our Editors’ Choice for team messaging.
  • Spark Email

    If you don’t want to deal with Apple’s Mail application, Spark Email is very configurable free app, which allows you to sort messages into logical categories like Personal, Newsletters, and Notifications (though you can switch to a more standard full inbox view too). Spark will also manage multiple email accounts, let you pin important stuff, and snooze emails to deal with later.
  • Spotify Premium

    Spotify

    Spotify is the best music streaming service around, providing excellent audio quality, easy playlist formation, and millions of tracks. Listen to ad-supported music for free or go Premium for $9.99 a month to download music and eliminate ads. Listen on the go or download the Mac app.
  • TeamViewer

    If you’re looking for feature-packed remote control, desktop sharing, and presentation software, TeamViewer is a simple and powerful option. Businesses will have to shell out a bunch up front, but individuals can use it free. Either way, this versatile app is an extremely good deal.
  • Trello

    Get organized with the free Trello app, an online kanban tool that helps teams collaborate and manage work. Keep your to-do list in order with this solid, flexible project management system.
  • TunnelBear VPN

    TunnelBear

    TunnelBear has always offered a great experience and excellent protection with its VPN software, and it shines on macOS. With a robust network of servers, a killer interface, strong speed test scores, and unique features for macOS, it’s an Editor’s Choice. The free version of the app limits you to 500MB of data a month, but you can upgrade at any time. Pay $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year to receive unlimited data, five connected devices, and priority customer service.
  • Unclutter

    Keep your Mac’s desktop organized with the Unclutter app. Store files, manage your clipboard, and take notes in draggable cards at the top of your screen. Quick gestures control how you interact with the app, giving you seamless control over everything you need. Buy the app for $19.99 from the App Store.
  • VLC Media Player

    VLC Media Player is a free media player that supports more image and video file formats than any other competitor out there. If you download something from the internet and can’t play it anywhere else, chances are this program will be able to read it.
  • WhatsApp Desktop

    We all like chatting on our phones, but when we’re in front of the computer, it’s easiest to keep everything on one screen. That’s where the WhatsApp Desktop app comes in. If you’re a dedicated WhatsApp user, bring the app to Mac and continue the conversation.
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