Did you hop aboard the Apple M1 hype train with a new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Mac mini? Or maybe you just picked up the latest 27-inch iMac. Whether you just got a new desktop Mac or MacBook, or are just looking for something new to try on your existing hardware, there are a ton of apps out there to discover. But there are 10 apps that will always stand the test of time, and are necessities on any Mac, no matter who you are. Here are 10 must have Mac apps that will make any Mac, M1 or not, work better.
Dropbox is a cloud storage service that lets you easily backup vital documents, files, photos, videos, and other things, making it one of the most important must-have Mac apps. While your stuff is stored in Dropbox, you can access it across any other device, as long as you're logged in to the same account. Any changes to your files get saved automatically, though you can also check older versions on the web interface if needed. Everything you upload into Dropbox is encrypted, and there are also collaborative features that make it easy to share files with others. One thing I absolutely love about Dropbox is how it integrates with pretty much any other app I need, so my stuff is accessible from anywhere and in anything.
A free account gives you 2GB for free (and the chance to get more space with referrals), but they have plans that start at around $11.99 for 2TB.
I'm on Twitter pretty much all day, every day. My app of choice is Tweetbot from Tapbots. The reason I use Tweetbot over every other Twitter app is because I love the interface, as it's easy to use, and it provides plenty of powerful features. You can quickly search for topics that interest you, filter and mute hashtags and people that are annoying you temporarily (or permanently, it's up to you), create lists, and there is support for a multi-column view. I've been using Tweetbot on my iOS and Mac devices for years — there's no other app that I would rather use. Plus, you don't see promoted ad tweets or annoying Fleets. It's one of my absolute must-have Mac apps.
While I use Safari as my default browser on my Mac, it's always good to have an alternative, especially since some things don't always work properly in Safari. For my alternative, I use Google Chrome. It syncs with your Google account, has numerous plugins and extensions to enhance the browser experience, and it works better with certain Google apps than Safari, like Meet. Just be careful with your RAM, because Chrome likes to use a lot of it eventually.
I have a lot going on daily, so my schedule gets really hectic at times. That's why I need a calendar, and I continue to use Fantastical on my Mac. Fantastical has a beautiful interface that is easy to use, and you have several different views on how to look at your calendar. It integrates with your iCloud, Google, Exchange, or local calendar, so any changes are saved and sync automatically. The agenda list view is a great way to see what's coming up in your schedule, and it's easy to create events with the natural language input support. Fantastical also integrates with Reminders, so you have your calendar and tasks in one place. While it has transitioned to a subscription model, it is free to download and try out, and as one of our must-have Mac apps, there's no reason to not give it a go.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself online is to have secure passwords. For this, you're going to want a good password manager, which can track your passwords and other sensitive data, while also helping you generate randomized passwords to use. With 1Password, you can create different vaults for personal and work accounts (or whatever else you need), sync your data across multiple devices (it's available on everything), and even store things like bank info, credit card numbers, and other things that need extra security. 1Password encrypts everything so that it's safe, and you can't even get in without a master password. I've been using 1Password for years, and it's one app that I cannot live without. If you need a great password manager, then 1Password is a must-have Mac app.
Need to do a bit of hard drive cleanup? DaisyDisk is another must-have Mac app. This app lets you easily see what is cluttering up your hard drive thanks to bright and colorful blocks, so you can see what's taking up the most space. You can delete stuff directly from DaisyDisk to free up space, and it's all done in an intuitive interface that's a joy to use. Decluttering has never been prettier.
Once you start installing a lot of apps, you may find your Menubar cluttered with a bunch of icons. Bartender is an app that helps you tidy up that Menubar by tucking away unwanted icons into a kind of sub-Menubar. With Bartender, you can choose to rearrange your icons into an order that makes more sense to you, as well as choosing what is shown in the main Menubar, and what to hide in a secondary Menubar. Or, you can hide some items completely, because they're unnecessary — it's up to you. This is a must-have Mac app that would be one of the first things I put on a brand new Mac.
The Spotlight Search in macOS is alright, but you can do so much more with Alfred. Alfred is essentially Spotlight on steroids. You can do your basic search functionality, but you can also create workflows to make your life easier, access your clipboard history at any time, view contact info, have app integrations, text expansion, search the web, and more. You can download and use most of the basic features for free, so there's no reason why you would miss out on this must-have Mac app.
Whether you're an amateur or professional, you may end up having to do some photo editing at some point. Pixelmator Pro is one of our favorite apps to get the job done. It's a powerful photo editor that will have all of the tools you need, but it's intuitive and easy to use, unlike Photoshop, which some may find intimidating. With Pixelmator Pro, you have many professional and non-destructive editing tools, allowing you to bring the best out of your photographs. And the image editing is enhanced by Pixelmator's machine learning, so you get the absolute best looking photos with ease. Plus, the price is reasonable and affordable, especially compared to the competition.
If you're looking for a professional text, code, and markup editor, then you should download BBEdit. It's used often by web application developers, writers, and software developers who need powerful tools for editing, searching, and manipulation of text, code, and HTML/XML markup. Some features of BBEdit include grep pattern matching, search and replace across multiple files, project definition tools, function navigation and syntax coloring for a wide variety of source code languages, code folding, and more.
Unsure if BBEdit is what you're looking for? The app has a 30-day trial for you to put the app through its paces, and then you can decide whether or not to purchase the full package, which has even more advanced features. But you can continue to use the free version of BBEdit too.
What are your must-have Mac apps?
These are just a few of our favorite must-have Mac apps for any macOS users. Do you have any recommendations of your own? Let us know in the comments!
Updated December 2020: These are still our top app recommendations for Mac owners.
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