by Jim Lynch

The best apps for your new Mac

Feb 16, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsMacOSMobile Apps

New to the Mac? Here's a great selection of apps to get you started, including apps for media, backups, news, utilities, productivity and more

For folks that are new to the Mac and OS X, it can be difficult to get started finding the best applications. There are so many available that sifting the wheat from the chaff can be quite daunting indeed! But don’t worry, in this post I’ve included a great list of apps for the Mac that should meet the needs of most users.

I cannot take credit for this list, however. I found it in a great thread in the Apple subreddit. Redditor themacorchard compiled the list with his own selections, and then broadened it with the suggestions of other redditors in the thread.

This list of apps should cover the needs of pretty much any Mac user. Some of my own favorites are in the list including VLC, Transmission, Day One, TextWrangler and others.

There’s quite a bit of fantastic software to get you started using your Mac. Enjoy!

Backups, Security, and Privacy

  • Backblaze: Unlimited cloud backup. [There’s some discussion in the comments about its features compared to Crashplan, so I recommend checking that out if you’re considering an online backup service or have any concerns.]


  • Beamer: Stream videos from your Mac to your Apple TV or Chromecast.
  • Handbrake: Convert videos.
  • PhotoSweeper: Powerful duplicate photo cleaner that works with Photos, iPhoto, Lightroom, and Aperture. Also check out PowerPhotos which has similar functionality, but includes support for things like managing and merging multiple libraries (though it’s only for
  • Pixelmator: Basic graphic design.
  • Spotify: Music streaming. Use Spotifree to mute ads on the free tier.
  • Transmission: Lightweight BitTorrent client.
  • VLC and MPlayerX: Video playback

News and Weather

  • Instapaper: Read stuff later (more of a web service than a Mac app).
  • Living Earth: Beautiful weather app. Temps is another option. Forecast Bar has also been mentioned, but there’s some disagreement in the comments section over its use of in-app purchases.
  • Pocket: Another read it later service, but unlike Instapaper has a native Mac app.
  • Reeder: Beautiful RSS reeder. Leaf is another option. Check out Feedly as a good RSS syncing service.


  • Adium: Popular instant message client.


  • AirMail: Alternative to Apple’s with a beautiful interface and additional features.
  • Dropbox: Cross-platform file syncing/cloud storage. If you’re concerned about privacy, check out SpiderOak.
  • Evernote: Popular note-taking app for organizing thoughts, bookmarks, pictures, etc. If you don’t like the Mac version’s interface, try Alternote.
  • iA Writer: Distraction-free writing.
  • Mindnode: Mindmapping.
  • Noizio: Ambient noise to help you concentrate.
  • Omnifocus: Full-featured task management built around GTD principles.
  • OneNote: A popular alternative to Evernote from Microsoft.
  • PCalc: Feature-rich calculator.
  • PDF Expert: Elegant PDF reader with more features than Preview.
  • TextWrangler: Text editor popular among programmers.
  • Ulysses: Terrific writing app.
  • Scrivener: Writing app targeted at writers.
  • WriteRoom: Another distraction-free writing app.
  • Wunderlist: Simple task manager.
  • 2Do: More advanced task manager. Also check out Todoist


  • Alfred: App launcher, web searcher, and general digital swiss army knife. Also check out Launchbar.
  • Amphetamine: Keep your screen awake.
  • AppCleaner: Thoroughly remove apps from your Mac.
  • Bartender: Organize your menu bar icons.
  • Better Touch Tool: Assign trackpad gestures to common actions.
  • Boom: Enhance your Mac’s audio.
  • Cheatsheet: Let’s you quickly view the keyboard shortcuts for the active app.
  • CleanMyMac: Used for cleaning out files from your computer.
  • Deliveries: Beautiful delivery tracker.
  • Dropzone: Lets you quickly move files, launch applications, shorten urls and more.
  • Flux: Very popular around this subreddit. Sucks all the blue light out of your screen during the evening to help prevent sleep disruption.
  • GrandPerspective: Free app for figuring out what’s taking up space on your hard drive. Also check out DaisyDisk for a beautiful, paid alternative.
  • Gemini: Duplicate file finder.
  • Hazel: Automated file organization.
  • HazeOver: Dims the screen behind the active app to help you focus on the window.
  • img.urls: Image uploader.
  • Keyboard Maestro: Assign keyboard macros to common actions or bits of text.
  • Paste: Clipboard history manager. A couple people have mentioned the beta of the newest version, which is available here. Copied is similar but has iOS versions (Paste iOS is reportedly on its way). An open source alternative is Flycut.
  • PopClip: Adds a list of quick actions next to highlighted text.
  • SelfControl: Block distracting websites.
  • Snappy: “Snappy is perfect for clipping stuff from your screen, visual note taking, [and referencing] information between windows.”
  • Spectacle: Open source window manager.
  • TextExpander: Assign shortcuts to bits of text. aText is another option in this department.

Got a suggestion for a great Mac app? Post it in the comments below

Whew! That’s quite a list of software to install in OS X on your Mac. There’s plenty there to get you started, and it should cover the needs of most Mac users.

But if you know of a great Mac app that’s not in the list, please feel free to post it in the comments below. Your suggest might be a big help to another reader. Thanks in advance for all suggestions.