10 essential Mac utilities

Whenever Kirk McElhearn sets up a new Mac, these are the apps he installs first.

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Whenever I set up a new Mac, I install a number of utilities that make me more productive, that save me time, or that protect my data. I bought a new MacBook recently, and, as with every Mac, I installed some essential utilities. I’ve been using some of these apps for many years; others are recent additions to my roster of essential software. Here’s a look at my 10 essential Mac utilities.


The first two apps I install on a new Mac are the ones that help me get everything else set up on my computer. LaunchBar is one of the rare apps that has consistently garnered 5-mouse reviews here on Macworld. I use it to launch apps without needing to rifle through my Applications folder, to move and rename files from the keyboard, to search the web, and to search contacts, calendars, and much more. And I do all this from the keyboard, with just a few keystrokes.

LaunchBar does so many things that it’s hard to summarize this app’s features. Calling it a “launcher” only scratches the surface. If I use a Mac without LaunchBar, I feel like I have two left hands.

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