Best apps for new Mac owners: Download right now!

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Just bought a new Mac? These are the apps you should download right out of the box!

There's very little in life that's more exciting than unboxing a brand new Mac. Once you've unpacked everything and set it up just so, it's time to open start loading it up with apps. From cool conveniences to useful utilities to getting more done to simply having a ton of fun, we've got the apps you need to help you make your OS X Mavericks experience the very best!

Chrome

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

As good as the built in OS X browser — Safari — is, no one browser is best for everything. If you use a lot of Google services like Gmail and YouTube, using them in Google's Chrome browser makes a lot of sense. They were both based on the WebKit rendering engine originally, but Google now has their own Blink variant now, and they've always had their own JavaScript engine, V8.

If a page isn't working well, or isn't stable enough in Safari, give Chrome a try.

See also:

Skype

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

FaceTime is built right into your Mac but not everyone has a FaceTime compatible device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac). For those times, there's Skype. Not only can you take voice calls from computer to computer with Skype, you can chat and hold video conferences with multiple people. It's also one of the few communications apps that offers real cross-platform support. (Google Hangouts, for example, doesn't work on Windows Phone or BlackBerry.) Also, if you need to call internationally often, you can buy Skype credits that are only a fraction of the cost of actual minutes with your cell phone carrier, and they work across mobile and desktop.

Whether you call internationally regularly or want an alternative voice and video conferencing solution, Skype's one of the best.

See also:

Dropbox

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

If you use Dropbox, Dropbox for Mac is a must. The OS X app integrates everything in your Dropbox so any file or folder is merely a click away. It sits on your menu bar if you ask it to and can even sync all your files in the background on its own whenever you have an internet connection so you never have to. That means shared files from friends, family and coworkers are right at your fingertips.

If you use Dropbox, the Mac client is a no brainer.

See also:

Fantastical

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Fantastical is a calendar app for Mac that's more convenient than the default Calendar app. It supports natural language input and sits right in your menu bar until you need it. Just click on it and get a quick view of your month and a list view of each day that integrates not only your calendar events, but your reminders as well. Set up a keyboard shortcut for quick event entry and your hands never even have to leave the keyboard again to add something to your calendar.

If you don't like Apple's Calendar app in OS X, look no further than Fantastical for Mac to fill the gap.

See also:

Evernote

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Evernote is a simple note taking app that syncs with every platform you could possibly think of. No matter what smartphone or tablet you use, Evernote most likely has an app for it. The Mac app can sync all your notes with any of their other apps and completely for free. With support for image upload, tags, multiple notebooks, and more, Evernote is a simple but powerful option for taking notes on Mac.

If you want a good note taking app that's easy to use and available on several platforms, you want Evernote.

See also:

Tweetbot

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

The selection of really good Twitter apps for Mac is quite limited but if you're looking for the best, it's Tweetbot. From list support to push notification to everything in between, it's the most feature rich and complete Twitter experience available for Mac. The official Twitter app for Mac has gotten better recently but still lacks the feature set and control that only Tweetbot can offer.

If you want the best Twitter experience available for Mac, Tweetbot is a must.

See also:

Pixelmator

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Not everyone needs Photoshop to edit images but if you want something a little more powerful than what iPhoto gives you out of the box, Pixelmator is a great option. It offers fine tuned control over common adjustments such as exposure, noise, white balance, and more. You can even edit objects out of photos and use many of the featured you'd find in Photoshop but for a fraction of the price.

If you're just getting started with image editing on your Mac and don't want to drop the cash for Photoshop, Pixelmator is a great starting point at a fraction of the price.

iStat Menus

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Macs are known for pretty good memory and power management but there's always a few apps that fall through the cracks and cause problems. iStat Menus helps you prevent issues like that before they even start. Choose the types of functions you want to monitor and they'll sit in your menu bar and allow one click access to a complete picture of everything using memory, CPU, and battery.

If you want complete control over your Mac's resources and power management, you want iStat Menus by Bjango.

Airmail

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

If the stock Mail app in OS X isn't doing it for you, there's always Airmail. From power users to hardcore Gmail fans, Airmail is completely customizable and most likely has the options you want including send and archive, shortcuts for composing new messages system wide, and more. You can even choose what folders you want Airmail to sync. It's fast and completely customizable.

For complete control of your email inboxes on your Mac, look no further than Airmail.

1Password

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Passwords are a necessarily evil for everyone but that doesn't have to mean managing them has to be. 1Password for Mac can autofill passwords, forms, and everything in between so you don't have to remember a password ever again. It can also generate strong random passwords too so you aren't using the same passwords for any two login, because that's bad! It then syncs with other Dropbox apps and integrates with the 1Password plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari so you're never without your sensitive information.

Everyone with logins should have a good password manager, which means they should have 1Password.

See also:

MacUpdate Desktop 5

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

MacUpdate Desktop 5 lets you automatically update thousands of Mac apps not available in the App Store with no effort on your part. It scans over 40,000 apps continuously for updates and takes care of the ones you have installed. It also alerts you to Mac App Store updates as soon as they're available too. One of the biggest pain points for apps purchased outside of Apple's ecosystem is updates and MacUpdate Desktop 5 fills the gap.

If you download a good amount of apps outside of Apple's Mac App Store, MacUpdate Desktop 5 is a small price to pay for the large convenience it provides.

gfxCardStatus

Best apps new Mac owners should download right now!

Battery shaming is something OS X Mavericks Energy Saver does but it doesn't give you the option to force your Mac to use either discrete or integrated graphics in order to save battery. The Retina display can suck a lot of power and gfxCardStatus can help you pinpoint problem apps like battery shaming but with more detail and control. When you aren't using it, gfxCardStatus just sits in your menu bar and shows a single letter, D or I, so you know which GPU you're using at all times.

If you own a Mac equipped with a Retina display and need to monitor GPU performance, check out gfxCardStatus.

Even more great Mac apps

These are the apps we typically load up right out of the box but that doesn't mean it ends there. We know everyone uses their Macs differently whether for school or for entertainment. So be sure to check out our best Mac apps series for even more app recommendations for your new Mac!

Your picks?

These are the apps us here at iMore load up first before anything else when we purchase new Macs. We want to know what ones are your favorites too so make sure you let us know in the comments below! Does your list match up with any of ours — and if so — which ones?

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Best apps for new Mac owners: Download right now!

49 Comments

Skype? Really?! With it's constant crashes/freezes, poor quality, and bad UI? Biggest and most accessible, but by no means 'one of the best' in my opinion. What about the likes of Viber? That's my go-to app these days for app-to-app calling (and messaging) - and their desktop client is pretty decent, too.

Skype ticks all the boxes with functionality, but unfortunately doesn't really do any of them all that well.

I agree that Skype can be problematic, but it's also a very widely used application. And if you're trying to communicate via audio or video with business colleagues, friends and relatives who aren't tied into to Apple's ecosystem, Skype is arguably the most universally used. So we held our nose and included Skype in this roundup.

Agreed. I'm switching *to* Apple stuff to get a good ecosystem that is not Google. I don't want anything Google on my systems if I can get away with it.

Antipathy to Google notwithstanding, Chrome is a fast browser that's well supported with third-party extensions to increase its functionality. It also has another benefit - if you absolutely need to use a site that relies on Flash, it provides a good way to do it without introducing problems for Safari.

Ditto the above sentiments, no google products on any of my Mac's.
If you have Mavericks, iOS7 and iCloud syncing enabled, going the google route still is a detrimented experience in my opinion. Bookmark syncing, being able to view pages open across Mac's & iDevices, etc etc, baked into the bundled products works perfectly for me without having to use 3rd party apps like Chrome, Skype, Gmail etc.

I kinda have to agree with previous posts... Google Chrome?? I understand that some sites (such as Mega.co) don't really like Safari, but other than that reason I don't see a need for Chrome. To each their own, but I really like Safari and think it serves its purpose quite well. Besides site support, what else would I use Chrome for? Other than that, great article! New Mac user here (as of August 2013) so this definitely gave me few things to check into. Love Tweetbot for iOS but not sure if the extra $20 is necessary for my MacBook. I mainly mobile tweet.

Sn: did iMore ever announce the winners of the MailPilot app? Just wondering :-)

Ahh didn't even think about the extensions part. And is Chrome really that much faster than Safari?? Seems a little counterproductive since it's Google on Apple.

Meh. I get that some people prefer a lot of extensions but I guess I'm just getting old. I've been systematically kicking crap to the curb and running lean. I've told all the extensions except LastPass to get off my lawn.

And people wonder why their batteries die so fast...kids nowadays. ;)

I've been desperate to try and sack off Chrome, but even the few extensions that I have make it more valuable/usable for me. In an ideal world, I'd love to just use Safari on all my devices and keep things within a simple, Apple eco-system, but just simple things such as the page auto-translate feature and extension (I live in a foreign country where I don't speak the language) keep me clinging on to Chrome.

I've debated importing all my content and settings (well, as much as I can) over to Safari and then just relying on Chrome for foreign-text and translations, but the thought of having to re-set up lots of things and tweak the browser to make it right for me, just fills me dread (aka laziness). .............. Maybe one day.........

I just wish they'd get around to fixing the memory bleed problem; I've never had to reboot a browser so much in my life...

Like the artical said for those that are heavy into the google ecosystem, chrome. I am a Mac user at home and use a PC at work. Chrome with gmail, drive, keep,music,docs ect seems to be the best mixed platform approach for me. Unfortunately for me windows is not going to go away for some time, there are very limited software choices for mechanical or electrical engineering on the Mac.

Not in the roundup but good to know Firefox works well with Mac as it's my favorite on my old PC. Maybe Firefox and Safari will be my go-to's when I get my Mac.
Thanks for the reply. :)

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I agree with caffeine, very useful to prevent your screen from dimming and turning off. I would also recommend "Bartender" to hide/organize all those icons in the menu bar, it was one of the first I got (thanks to a recommendation ;))

Clear Day weather app, and Radar Scope. Radar Scope a little pricy. If your into serious music, Logic Pro X. If your into guitar, buy an Eleven Rack. It will come with Pro Tools, but Avid has released a stand alone editor. Pro Tools 11 still has some issues with Mavericks, but they keep updating. There is a learning curve, and you have to use iLok license manager with pro tools. This brings up another issue. When buying a Mac product for music, get the highest processor, and ram offered. You will pay more, but will not have to worry about system requirements when looking at a new recording program, or DAW.

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I don't agree with Chrome. I have the latest rMBP and after installing Chrome I had no audio for YouTube or any other streaming service. Known problem but none of the so called fixes worked of I ditched Chrome and went back to Safari. I am also trying to reduce my reliance on Google. I am moving my email to outlook.com and have started to use Bing more and more. One service I can't get away from tough is Voice. Big user and have been since it was Grand Central and I was a beta user there.

And if Apple stopped making iPhones tomorrow I would go back to a flip phone before using Android.

Unless you're an amateur, I wouldn't recommend using anything but Photoshop for 2D work. It's the standard in multiple industries and anything else won't get you a job.

For other arty things, Zbrush is a must, as is Maya. (as 3DS Max isn't available on the Mac). Later year the Mac may also get a port or XNormal, which will be a must upon its release. (as it has been on Windows for many years)

Really solid list, Allyson. I already use many if the apps you've suggested.
Especially apps like Pixelmator. I can't say enough good things about this one - I can do pretty much everything I used to use Photoshop for, but at a huge fraction if the cost (including the cost if a PS upgrade).
Tweetbot is my hands down fave social networking app.
iStats Menus has been an integral part of my Mac workflow for dang near a decade now! Great stuff!
There are a few apps I don't use but I'm inclined to give them another look now.
Thanks Ally!

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An excellent list, Ally.

As for other possible suggestions, I highly recommend Alfred (get the power packs!), and PopClip is also pretty useful for people who edit. Evernote users may also want to pick up Skitch and the Evernote web clipper extension for whatever browser they are going to use. As for those who are not persnickety about where the Internet takes them (especially dark corners) or have clients that use Windows, I highly recommend ClamXav and setting up a quarantine folder. People who like to tinker safely with their OS may want to download Onyx. Finally, the now free iWork business and iLife suites from Apple go without saying.

I keep hearing such good things about third party mail and calendar apps that I think I need to pull the trigger. A major problem for me on the stock apps has been constant drains on my limited data. I am forced to use 4g hotspots because I am a government contractor and cannot use the government wifi networks or have my own broadband installed. Keeping multiple web browsers and tabs open for my various gmail calendars and email accounts is archaic and so Windows lol.

I am loving my macbook pro and I want to upgrade to macbook pro retina display. So far my current macbook pro runs like champ for over 2 years. My favorite app is google drive,memory clean and battery health stat.

My defult browser is Firefox on my MBP. The only time I use Chrome is when I use the Chromecast I received for Christmas. Neat little device, but it would be nice if other browsers could cast to it.

I just got my new Macbook Pro Retina last month and I pretty much have what's on your list. I did go to check out gfxCardStatus but the requirements are 15 & 17 inch MBP Retinas. :( Is there anything similar for the 13inch?

Great selection! I think Evernote is a bit tiresome, and I have to agree with the previous comment that imindq is definitely a neat app for organizing and planning. The rest of the apps are a all a definite must. :)

I was using Dropbox until I came across Onedrive by MS. It's far better than Dropbox. They offer 15GB free space + 3GB free once you enable "Camera Roll" update and besides this, their paid storage is far cheaper than Dropbox(and if you go for Office + 1TB space , it's icing on the cake). I had to drop the Dropbox(pun intended)!