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Home / Tips and Tricks / Just bought a Mac? 14 Essential apps that you must install

Just bought a Mac? 14 Essential apps that you must install

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

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

Magnet: Keep Your Windows Organized

  Magnet for Mac.

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

Click and drag a window until the desired overview appears, and then release to scale the window correctly. You can also use keyboard shortcuts to move windows to their position. Windows remembers their place until you move them again, even if you log out of your Mac.

Alfred: getting more done in less time

  Alfred for Mac menu.

Alfred is a productivity powerhouse for your Mac. It helps you do more things in less time with shortcuts, keywords and promotions. You can build custom workflows or download pre-built workflows that the online community has shared.

It does a little bit of everything. You can use it as a more intelligent version of Apple & # 39; s Spotlight search or to manage your clipboard history. You can also merge and execute actions with a single command to automate tasks. The basic version of Alfred is free to download and try. To unlock the full set of functions, you can purchase the Powerpack (£ 23).

MPV or VLC: Play Any Media File

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

QuickTime offers basic media playback on macOS, but there are many formats that QuickTime cannot open. For this you need a more capable media player, such as MPV. This app is a free, open-source fork of the much-celebrated mplayer2 and MPlayer projects. It plays both video and audio.

MPV uses FFmpeg hardware acceleration for GPU video decoding. It plays the vast majority of formats and files and is – because it is in active development – regularly updated.

We recommend MPV over VLC, because there are files that VLC cannot play properly in MPV. However, both are very capable 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 Macs thanks to its excellent power consumption, integration with Apple technologies (such as Apple Pay and iCloud keychain), and its high playback speed. Apple does a lot of work to optimize the browser for reliability, performance and energy efficiency. You get more battery life on a MacBook if you use Safari to browse.

However, not every website plays well with Safari – some force you to use one of the "larger" browsers. That is why we recommend that you install a second browser, in case. Chrome or Firefox are great choices because they are the most popular and therefore offer excellent support on the internet. They are both free, and they also synchronize with other copies on Windows, Linux or mobile devices.

Vanilla: clean up your tidy menu bar

  The vanilla menu on a Mac.

If your Mac is completely new, you probably don't have too many icons hanging in the menu bar at the top right of the screen. That changes over time as you install more software. You may find fairly quickly that not all additions to the menu bar are useful or welcome.

That is where Vanilla enters. This allows you to hide apps that you do not want to see and click on an arrow to reveal them. The basic functionality of the app is available for free, but if you want to completely remove an icon, you need to cough up $ 4.99 for the Pro version.

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

Amphetamine: Keep Your Mac Awake


You can adjust the power of your Mac settings under System Preferences> Power Saver, but you may not always want to follow these rules. If you are sharing files over a network or running background processes that you do not want to interrupt, you must change these settings to keep your Mac awake.

Or you can install Amphetamine. This free app lives in the menu bar and allows you to suppress your Mac's energy settings in just two clicks. You can choose to keep your Mac awake indefinitely, for a set period of time, or while an app is running or a file is being downloaded. Amphetamine is the perfect replacement for the now-out-dated caffeine, which stopped its development in 2013.

Google Drive or Dropbox: Universal Cloud Storage

Many of us have a non-Apple device, or occasionally have to share things with people who are not in the ecosystem of Apple. In these cases, you need a cloud storage provider that works well on all devices (a complaint many have with iCloud, due to insufficient support for Windows and Android).

Google Drive is an attractive choice because it offers 15 GB of storage space and the best web apps such as Google Docs and Sheets for free. Dropbox (also free) is a good choice if you do not need the attached web services and prefer a simpler, slimmer (2 GB) cloud storage service.

BetterTouchTool: create productivity-enhancing shortcuts

  BetterTouchTool for Mac

If you want to customize your Mac experience, the BetterTouchTool (BTT) is a must-have. With BTT you can create custom shortcuts for a large number of actions with your trackpad, mouse, MacBook Touch Bar, etc.

First select a trigger, such as a gesture, tap or click. You then assign an action to that trigger, such as an app or operating system function. You can add multiple actions to each trigger. You then save your shortcut and you can open it whenever you want with the trigger you set. BTT is available as a free 45-day trial version, but costs $ 45 to purchase.

This app is ideal for people who want to set their Mac exactly to their liking. If you want to automate common menu tasks, or if you have ideas about how Apple should have designed its OS, BTT is for you.

Hazel: Automate File Organization

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

Do you want your files to organize themselves? That is exactly what Hazel does. You instruct the app to view specific folders and it moves files based on a set of rules that you choose. It can also tag, open, archive and delete files.

Hazel works with the most important macOS functions, such as Spotlight, AppleScript, Automator and Notifications. You can use it to keep your download folder tidy, to empty the files in the Recycle Bin, or to place your invoices and tax receipts in the correct folders. Hazel costs $ 32, but offers a free trial period of 14 days.

Dropzone: speed up file-based actions

  Dropzone menu on a Mac.

Integration with drag and drop in macOS is robust, but there is always room for improvement. Dropzone brings drag and drop to the next level and allows you to move, copy, upload and more from a single interface.

First, grab your file and drag it to the top of the screen. The Dropzone window opens with a list of available actions. Drop to perform one-touch actions, such as open files in a specific app, upload directly to services such as Google Drive and Amazon S3, or create a .ZIP archive.

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

The Unarchiver: Extract Any Type of Archive

  The Unarchiver that extracts a ZIP file on a Mac.

Let's start: the main reason why you want to install The Unarchiver on your Mac is going to open RAR archives. Finder processes the most common archive types, such as ZIP and TAR.GZ, but macOS lacks basic support for RAR archives. The Unarchiver adds this support for free.

And the support does not stop there. You can use The Unarchiver to extract archives with extensions such as 7Z, CAB, ISO and BIN. You can even use it to disassemble some Windows executable files in EXE and MSI formats, get into old Amiga formats (such as ADF and DMS) or extract media from SWF flash files.

TripMode: Save Your Mobile Data

  The TripMode settings options on a Mac.

If you do not connect your Mac to a mobile hotspot, TripMode ($ 7 with a free trial version included) is not for you. However, if you are sometimes dependent on a mobile connection, you can save a lot of money on data costs.

TripMode automatically detects when you use a mobile hotspot and restricts internet access per app. It blocks macOS services and apps such as Steam and prevents heavy downloads from happening when you are connected. This not only saves you data, but it also speeds up your browsing session because it limits bandwidth to only the apps you need.

AppCleaner: removing apps and restoring space

  A list of applications in AppCleaner on a Mac.

When you delete an app, you usually have to do more than just drag the icon to the trash. All kinds of files are often left on your disk, in locations other than the Applications folder. Surely you can't expect all these things?

Thanks to AppCleaner (free) you don't have to. To remove an app, simply drag the icon to the AppCleaner window. Or you can have it make a list of all removable apps, so that you can view your entire software library.

Note that many of these remaining files do not take up much space on your disk, and they won & # 39; Don't slow down your Mac. But AppCleaner offers an easy way to massively remove applications from your system.

Shipping: File Sharing via BitTorrent

  Shipping for Mac

Contrary to popular belief, there are many legitimate applications for BitTorrent. The technology offers an efficient and inexpensive way to distribute large files without having to deal with server or bandwidth costs.

If you use BitTorrent, Transmission is one of the most polished clients there is. It is free and designed for (and only available on) Macs. This lightweight app also contains useful functions such as a web interface and planner.

What is your must-have Mac app?

These apps should make the time you spend on your Mac more pleasant and productive. And some can become so indispensable that you will wonder how you could have survived without them.

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

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