The best Mac apps help you get more out of your Mac by expanding on its capabilities and shoring up weaknesses. They make it easier and more enjoyable to use your Mac, boosting your productivity and helping you get more out of your device.
With that in mind, we've pulled together this list of our favorite apps to install on a new Mac. Whether you just bought a slick new MacBook Air M2 or are looking for some new tools to augment your trustworthy MacBook Air 2020 (which is still one of the best MacBooks you can buy), these apps will help you make the most out of your Mac.
Many of these apps are freely available on the Mac App Store, which you can access by clicking the App Store icon on your Mac's dock (if you can't find it, you can also open the Apple menu in the top-left corner and launch the App Store from there). The App Store is packed with thousands of apps of varying quality, which is why we've relied on our own hands-on experience and user reviews to build this list of the best Mac apps you can get.
Best Mac apps you can download right now
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Best Mac productivity apps
Tom's Guide's own Henry T. Casey raves that Rectangle is the one Mac app he can't go without, while global editor in chief Mark Spoonauer describes it as the best Mac app you’ve never heard of. And it's actually free, too. Which, honestly, it should be: Rectangle helps you manage and organize all of your many windows, with a laundry list of keyboard shortcuts and the ability to snap windows to corners and sides of the screen. This is all the kind of stuff that Windows users get by default and have loved for years. While there's a $10 Pro edition of Rectangle, the free version is definitely the one most should start with.
Bear is a free note-taking app that's versatile, encrypted and easy to use. While Apple continues to make meaningful improvements to its own free Notes app, Bear does a lot of what Notes does better, and with a bigger priority on your privacy. The free version of Bear lets you write notes and to-dos in portable Markdown, organize notes with nested tags, pull assets (like images or text) from web pages into your notes, and even draw or dictate notes using a stylus (for drawing) or Apple Watch (for dictation). If you subscribe to the upgraded Bear Pro version ($14.99/year) you get even more useful features, like the ability to sync notes between devices, encrypt individual notes with a password, or lock the Bear app with Face/Touch ID.
Sure, your Mac already has a built-in calendar, but Fantastical does it better. This award-winning app has long been a favorite of ours, and at least one Tom's Guide editor swears by it as a productivity tool. The free version of Fantastical offers a slick, easy-to-use calendar that makes it easy to organize your tasks and see what's coming up with a glance. If you're willing to pay a monthly fee, you can subscribe to the upgraded version that offers more useful features, including cross-platform Fantastical access and syncing across Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
You can do better than the default Mail app on macOS, and Spark is one of the best alternatives. This free email client offers a number of handy features the competition doesn't, including a suite of tools that make it easy for multiple people to manage an inbox by doing things like assigning emails to each other or composing emails collaboratively in real time. It also offers excellent tools for organizing your inbox, scheduling emails, and finding exactly the message you're looking for using a natural language search engine. You can also find stellar Spark clients on iOS and Android, making it a great tool for managing email across multiple devices.
Best Mac utility apps
Alfred 4 is the latest and greatest version of Alfred, a better way to search for files on your Mac and the web at large. But Alfred is more than a search tool: you can use it to launch apps, look up spelling and definitions, do quick calculations, and generally make the most of your new Mac. The best part? It's free, though you can pay a one-time fee to buy a license and upgrade to a version with more powerful features, including the ability to play music from iTunes, create workflows and hotkeys, customize Alfred's look, and more.
Download Alfred 4
DaisyDisk is one of the best disk space managers for Mac because it's powerful, versatile and beautiful to look at. This $10 app will quickly scan your storage drive(s) to show you a gorgeous interactive map of how your Mac's storage space is being used, and its drag-and-drop tools make it easy to quickly move files around and clear up some space. Plus, the latest version now supports scanning drives on cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and more.
Meeter is a handy little app that sits in your Mac's menu bar and organizes all your video calls in one place, whether they be on BlueJeans, FaceTime, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom or about thirty other video-conferencing platforms. In normal times Meeter is ideal for remote workers, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it's a useful app for anyone who regularly hops on video calls with family and friends. The free version connects to your calendar and automatically pulls in details for your upcoming calls, making it easy to quickly see what you have coming up and join with a single click — no more rooting through your email to find the right meeting link.
Best Mac photo/video editing apps
CleanShot X is a turbocharged screen-capturing tool for Macs, and if you spend a lot of time capturing pics or video of your desktop it's a real life-changer. The basic version costs $29 and gives you a more powerful suite of screen-capturing tools that make it easy to quickly snap a pic, edit or annotate it, combine it with other screenshots, and share it with whoever you need to via drag-and-drop. You can also record video of your screen (even while scrolling) with the option to capture your clicks, your keystrokes, or your webcam, then quickly upload that recording to the cloud or turn it into a GIF. Upgrade to the $8/month Pro version for unlimited cloud storage (the basic version gives you just 1GB), custom domain and branding options, and more.
Download CleanShot X
With a $40 asking price, Pixelmator Pro isn't the cheapest photo editing app on the App Store, but it's certainly one of the best. As of this writing it offers more than 50 image editing tools (including a full set of vector tools), including some pretty neat options like photo editing tools that tap into the power of machine learning. It's a strong competitor to Adobe Photoshop, with the added bonus that you only have to pay for Pixelmator Pro once, whereas Adobe wants to charge you a monthly subscription fee to use its best photo editing tools.
Download Pixelmator Pro
Apple's own iMovie isn't the most robust or professional video editor on the market (those honors go to expensive software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro), but it's one of the easiest to use. More importantly, it's free, whereas most full-featured video editors will cost you $100 or more. Since iMovie is Apple software it may well already be installed on your Mac, but if not, you can easily grab it from the App Store to do some quick video editing at up to 4K resolution.
Best Mac social media apps
Sure, you can log into Instagram via your web browser of choice, but it's not exactly the most ideal way to browse the image-sharing service. Enter Grids, a free app that makes browsing Instagram on your Mac a much more enjoyable experience. It has a nice clean interface that loads quickly, and you can use it to view Instagram photos and videos in a variety of layouts. There's also a handy enlarged view mode for when you want to zoom in. The only downside is that some of the standard features of Instagram (like being able to direct message other users or watch their Stories) are only available in Grids if you subscribe to the Pro version, which is $2.50/month on a month-to-month basis or $1/month if you buy a yearly subscription.
If you use Twitter frequently, Tweetbot is a must-have app for Mac. This $10 app makes the experience of using Twitter much more enjoyable by giving you access to a powerful suite of filters that can help you block out spoilers, sponsored tweets, and more. It has a slick user interface with that makes it easy to track hashtags, switch between accounts, and jot down notes on user profiles that only you can see.
Best Mac entertainment apps
If you're not already using Apple Music to kick out the jams, chances are good you're a Spotify user. Even if you aren't yet, Spotify makes it easy to set up a free account and start listening to your favorite artists, and the macOS desktop app gives you more control over your playlists than the web app in a slick, easy-to-navigate design.
If you want to play games on your Mac, it's a good idea to download Steam. Launched by Valve nearly two decades ago, Steam has grown to become one of the biggest PC game platforms in the world. Not every game on Steam is compatible with macOS, but Steam makes it easy to filter through its 50,000+ games to see which ones run on Macs. There are lots of amazing options too, including everything from Sid Meier's Civilization VI and Stardew Valley to Cuphead, Hades, Disco Elysium and more. Plus, you can connect a compatible Bluetooth controller for some old-fashioned gamepad gaming on your new Mac.
When you absolutely, positively must play a video file and you're not sure Apple's QuickTime player will support it, VLC is the first media player you should download. It's one of the best media players on the market because it supports so many different types of multimedia, including DVDs, audio/video CDs, and file formats like Xvid, DivX, Real Video, and more — including Ogg Vorbis, a personal favorite. The best part? It's free, open-source, and available across multiple platforms, including iOS.
I also use an SideNotes app, which is not mentioned here, where I store all the handy stuff like links, files or snippets. I can't imagine my Mac without it. (No subscription, one-time payment of $20.)
Photo editing: You should give a try to Affinity Photo which is a great Photoshop challenger. There are also Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher.
Video player: Movist is fully macOS designed and more powerful than VLC or IINA.