Macs have long been the gold standard when it comes to computers that are polished, extremely well-designed, and "just work." However, many have criticized it for not having as robust an app ecosystem as that on Windows 10.

Things have changed since. There are now a ton of developers working on Mac apps, and, with the release of macOS Mojave this past September, Apple debuted a revamped Mac App Store that makes searching for and downloading apps much easier, not to mention prettier.

Out of the box, a Mac comes with a number of basic tools, including a calendar, a stock email client, and other handy productivity tools such as an ebook and a photo manager. But there's an entire world of more powerful apps out there just waiting to be downloaded. The best part? Most of them cost just a few bucks or are totally free.

So if you're new to Macs and are simply perusing the web for the best apps to install, look no further than the list below.


Think of Alfred as Spotlight on steroids. It's an incredibly multi-functional tool that lets you use quick keyboard commands to get things done. Launching apps, finding files, and even making quick web searches are just a shortcut away. There are a ton of existing extensions made by the Alfred community you can borrow, but you can also make your own. Because there's so much you can do with it, Alfred can get a bit too complicated at times. Once you get the hang of it, though, you'll definitely never go back.

Price: Free


A lot of Mac users who write on a daily basis swear by Bear, a clean and powerful note-taking app that's excellently designed and packed with features that cater to any kind of scribe out there. Pinning notes? Check. Organizing via hashtags? Check. Markdown syntax? You bet. It's available on iOS as well, which is perfect for people who often takes notes on-the-go. The Pro version will run you $20 a year, though.

Price: Free


HandBrake is the kind of application that's so useful it's unbelievable that you can get it for free, no strings attached. It's a video conversion tool that's incredibly simple to use and super straightforward. Just drop a video, pick a preset that works for you, and voilà — you're done. There are a number of more fine-grained settings advanced users can toy with as well, so you configure things such as codec, framerate, and more.

Price: Free


macOS is a powerful operating system, but like any other system, it has some pretty frustrating shortcomings, one of which being the lack of a proper and consistent window management system. Luckily, there's Moom. This app improves macOS' nonexistent window management by letting you hover your cursor over the green maximize button, at which point you can then orient the window in a number of ways. Moom supports keyboard hotkeys as well so you can adjust and arrange windows in just a few clicks.

Price: $10


If you don't have the budget for Adobe Lightroom, RawTherapee is an excellent alternative — and it's free. The app boasts and excellent toolset for your RAW photos, and it's fairly easy to use. Like any complex program, there's still a bit of a learning curve. But once you figure out the basics, you'll be color-correcting and adjusting all your shots in no time.

Price: Free


Spark is one of the best email clients you can download on your Mac, and certainly much, much better than the default one you get out of the box. It's a highly personalized email client, which means you can set it up whichever way you see fit. It cleans up your inbox so you only see the most relevant stuff, and it boasts a number of tools centered on composing, arranging, and managing emails. Simply put, it gives you total control of your messages.

Price: Free

The Unarchiver

If you have files your Mac can't open, The Unarchiver will open it for you. It opens a lot of things, be it ZIP archives, RAR archives, LhA archives, and a ton more. It's free, it's fast, it's easy to use, and it works directly out of Finder, no need to open up a separate app just to crack open your archived files.

Price: Free


When you delete something on a Mac, especially software, it doesn't really get deleted through and through. There will be some residual files and other kinds of remnants. That's annoying if you're the type of person who wants to keep their system free of junk. That's where TrashMe comes in. It's an uninstaller app that deletes app, plug-ins, or preference panes without a hassle, and it literally gets rid of everything, including any other files that may be associated with the app you're trying to delete.

If you're not in the mood to spend five bucks for TrashMe, check out AppCleaner, a similar but free alternative.

Price: $4.99


Chances are you're going to have some movies on your backlog that won't work well, or simply don't work at all with Quicktime, the default media player on your Mac. That's why you need to download VLC, which pretty much works with any kind of video file under the sun. Let's not beat around the bush: it's the best video player you can download on your Mac, no questions asked.

Price: Free

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