Just Bought a Mac? 14 Essential Apps You Should Install

A MacBook and an Apple Mouse with a cup of coffee on a wooden table.Krisda / Shutterstock

Apple bundles many utilities with macOS, but you need to download other useful tools to get the most out of your Mac. Here are some choices many Mac fans swear by.

Magnet: keep your Windows organized

Magnet for Mac.

Apple still has not included a Windows-like "hangover" feature in macOS, which allows you to quickly organize your workspace while you work. Fortunately, the developer community has solved this problem many times and Magnet ($ 2) is one of the best solutions.

Just click on a window and drag it until the desired outline appears, then release it to resize it properly. You can also use keyboard shortcuts to move windows to position. Windows remembers its place until you move them again, even if you log out of your Mac.

Alfred: do more in less time

Alfred for the Mac menu.alfredapp.com

Alfred is a concentrate of productivity for your Mac. It helps you do more things in less time with keyboard shortcuts, keywords and actions. You can create custom workflows or download those already built that the online community has shared.

It's a bit of everything. You can use it as a smarter version of Apple's Spotlight search or to manage the history of your clipboard. You can also chain actions and execute them with a single command to automate tasks. The basic version of Alfred is free to download and try. To unlock all features, you can buy the Power supply (£ 23).

MPV or VLC: read any multimedia file

A scene from a movie in the MPV application for Mac.

QuickTime offers basic multimedia playback on macOS, but there are many formats that QuickTime can not open. For that, you need a more powerful multimedia player, like MPV. This application is a free and open-source fork of the very famous mplayer2 and MPlayer projects. He plays both video and audio.

MPV uses FFmpeg hardware acceleration for video decoding of the GPU. It reads the vast majority of formats and files and, because of its active development, is updated regularly.

We recommend MPV on VLCbecause there are files, VLC can not read files that work properly under MPV. However, both are high-performance media players, and both are free.

Chrome or Firefox: a second browser

The How-To Geek website in Firefox.

Safari is the best browser for Mac thanks to its excellent power consumption, its integration with Apple technologies (like Apple Pay and iCloud Keychain) and its fast rendering speed. Apple devotes a lot of effort to optimizing the browser in terms of reliability, performance, and energy efficiency. The battery life of a MacBook is longer if you use Safari to navigate.

However, not all websites work well with Safari – some require you to use one of the largest browsers. For this reason, we recommend that you install a second browser, just in case. Chromium or Firefox are the best choices because they are the most popular and therefore enjoy excellent support on the Web. They are both free and also synchronize with other instances on Windows, Linux or mobile devices.

Vanilla: clean your crowded menu bar

The Vanilla menu on a Mac.

If your Mac is brand new, there are probably not too many icons in the menu bar located in the upper right corner of the screen. This changes over time as you install more software. You may find quite quickly that not all additions to the menu bar are helpful or welcome.

That's where Vanilla enter. It allows you to hide applications you do not want to see and click on an arrow to reveal them. The basic features of the app are available for free, but if you want to completely remove an icon, you have to shell out $ 4.99 for the Pro version.

Bartender is an alternative. It is available in the form of a free four-week trial, but the Pro version ultimately costs more ($ 15) for the same functionality.

Amphetamine: Keep your Mac awake

You can customize your Mac's power settings under System Preferences> Energy Saver, but you do not always want to follow these rules. If you share files on a network or run background processes that you do not want to interrupt, you need to change these settings to keep your Mac idle.

Or, you can install Amphetamine. This free application appears in the menu bar and allows you to change the energy settings of your Mac in just two clicks. You can choose to keep your Mac awake indefinitely, for a set period of time or while running an application or downloading a file. Amphetamine is the perfect replacement for the now obsolete Caffeine, whose development ceased in 2013.

Google Drive or Dropbox: Universal Cloud Storage

Many of us have a non-Apple device or sometimes need to share information with people who are not part of the Apple ecosystem. In these cases, you need a cloud storage provider that works well on all devices (a complaint that many have with iCloud, thanks to its inferior support to Windows and Android).

Google Drive is a compelling choice as it offers 15 GB of storage space and top-notch web applications, such as Google Docs and Sheets, for free. Dropbox (also free) is a good choice if you do not need attached web services and prefer a simpler and lighter cloud storage service (2 GB).

BetterTouchTool: Create shortcuts that improve productivity

BetterTouchTool for Mac

If you want to personalize your Mac experience, the software BetterTouchTool (BTT) is a must-have. With BTT, you can create custom shortcuts for a wide range of activities using your touchpad, your mouse, the MacBook touch bar, and more.

First, you select a trigger, such as a gesture, tap, or click. Then, you assign an action to this trigger, such as an application or function of the operating system. You can add multiple actions to each trigger. You then save your shortcut and can access it at any time with the trigger that you have configured. BTT is available as a free trial for 45 days but costs $ 45 to purchase.

This application is ideal for people who want to configure their Mac as they please. If you want to automate common elementary tasks or if you have ideas on how Apple should have designed its operating system, BTT is for you.

Hazel: Automate the organization of files

The Hazel Rules menu for a Downloads folder on a Mac.

Do you want your files to organize? That's exactly what Hazelnut Is. You ask the application to look at specific folders, and it moves the files according to a set of rules that you choose. It can also tag, open, archive and delete files.

Hazel works with key macOS features, such as Spotlight, AppleScript, Automator, and Notifications. You can use it to keep your download folder in order, to empty files into the trash or to place your bills and tax receipts in the right folders. Hazel costs $ 32, but offers a 14-day free trial.

Dropzone: Accelerate file-based actions

Dropzone menu on a Mac.

Drag and drop integration on macOS is robust, but improvements are still possible. Drop zone glide and drop to the next level, and allow you to move, copy, download and more from a single interface.

First, you enter your file and drag it to the top of the screen. The Dropzone window opens with a list of available actions. Drop it for direct actions, such as opening files in a specific application, uploading directly to services such as Google Drive and Amazon S3, or creating a .ZIP archive.

Dropzone costs $ 10 but offers a free 15 day trial period.

The Unarchiver: Extract any type of archive

Unarchiver extract a ZIP file on a Mac.

Let's get right to the point: the main reason you want to install The Unarchiver on your Mac is to open RAR archives. The Finder handles the most common types of archives, such as ZIP and TAR.GZ, but macOS does not support the basics of RAR archives. Unarchiver adds this support for free.

And his support does not stop there. You can use The Unarchiver to decompress archives with extensions such as 7Z, CAB, ISO, and BIN. You can even use it to separate Windows executables in EXE and MSI formats, access old Amiga formats (such as ADF and DMS), or extract media files from Flash SWF files.

TripMode: Save your mobile data

TripMode settings options on a Mac.

If you do not connect your Mac to a mobile hotspot, TripMode ($ 7 with a free trial included) is not for you. However, if you sometimes use a cellular connection, you could save a lot of money in data transmission costs.

TripMode automatically detects the use of a mobile point of access and limits Internet access for each application. It blocks macOS services and applications such as Steam and prevents large downloads when you are connected. Not only does this save you data, it also speeds up your browsing session as it limits the bandwidth to only the applications you need.

AppCleaner: Remove apps and recover from space

List of applications in AppCleaner on a Mac.

When you delete an app, you usually need to do more than simply drag its icon into the trash. All kinds of files are often left on your disk at locations other than the Applications folder. Surely you can not expect to find all this too?

Thanks to AppCleaner (free), you do not have to do it. To remove an application, simply drag its icon in the AppCleaner window. Or, you can let it fill a list of all removable applications so you can view your entire software library.

Note that many of these remaining files do not occupy a lot of space on your disk and do not slow down your Mac. But AppCleaner offers a simple way to mass-delete applications from your system.

Transmission: File Sharing via BitTorrent

Transmission for Mac

Contrary to popular belief, there are many legitimate uses of BitTorrent. Technology provides an efficient and cost-effective way to distribute large files without having to deal with server or bandwidth costs.

If you use BitTorrent, Transmission is one of the most refined customers of the market. It's free and designed for (and only available on) Macs. This lightweight app also includes handy features, such as a web interface and a planner.

What is your essential Mac application?

These applications should make the time you spend on your Mac more enjoyable and productive. And some of them may become so indispensable that you will wonder how you managed to do without them.

But no software list is complete, so we invite you to share your favorite Mac apps in the comments.

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