Just got a Mac? Welcome to the Apple fandom. Now’s the time to really make that system work for you, and I’ve got just the apps to help you do that.
Currently, I’m daily driving an M3 Pro MacBook Pro, and on startup, the macOS Sonoma experience is good. But with just nine additional pieces of software, you can truly make it great.
A lot of these are available through Setapp — a great subscription service that I’ve been trying for a few months now. For $9.99, rather than needing to buy apps separately, you can get access to over 240 apps that do a whole host of things from optimizing your system by clearing our junk to creating a timed session of work focus.
I’ll highlight the apps you can download from this service, and the rest you can pick up for absolutely free!
Rectangle - Free (subscription available)
If there’s one thing I’ve been jealous of since Windows 10, it’s being able to snap windows into various layouts. Every time I opened my various MacBooks since being exposed to this feature, I found myself dragging windows off to the sides, and feeling sad that nothing would happen.
However, you can transform your split-screen multitasking with Rectangle, and activate this missing feature from macOS. The setup process is a cinch — just open it up, accept the permissions for it to open, customize the shortcuts to your liking, and you’re off to the races when it comes to speeding up your productivity.
Brightintosh - Free
The Mini LED display on every Macbook Pro is a Godsend. The HDR brightness capabilities are shown off especially so when you open a YouTube video encoded with this standard. The video player shines so brightly off the screen compared to the rest of the on-screen elements.
So what if you wanted to take advantage of this 1,000+ nits of brightness across both HDR and SDR content? YouTubers all over the place are queueing up to recommend Vivid — a paid option. However, you can get the same experience by downloading Brightintosh for free.
iStat Menus - Free trial, then $11.99
Apple doesn’t make it the easiest to see all your key information from the task bar up top — neither is it simple to customize. This is where iStat Menus comes in handy. Of course, you get to see how much of your CPU’s power and system memory is being used, alongside the internet up/down speeds at the current moment.
But the real beauty lies in being able to refine the menu bar items, customize the drop downs with more settings, and even add the weather forecast into the bar, too. It’s your chance to add a little more of your personality to the desktop. You can download iStat Menus for a free 15-day trial and then buy it for $11.99, or get it as part of a Setapp subscription for $9.99 per month.
Paste - free trial
The act of copying and pasting is something you never think about getting an app for. You just assume it happens, and while it does, there are ways this could be improved massively. Namely, what if you had an unlimited clipboard history, shared between devices with copied elements you can search through intelligently?
That’s what Paste offers in its rather comprehensive app package. It’s seriously upgraded the way I operate across multiple documents and devices in a way that makes the typical copy and paste functionality you get out the box feel almost Stone Age. You can try Paste for free and subscribe for $29.99 per year, or download it as part of Setapp.
Typing Mind - from $39 and Available in Setapp
Think ChatGPT but with a cleaner interface and much more functionality, and you get Typing Mind. With a user-friendly interface, support for multiple Large Language Models (LLMs) and continuous update support, it has a deep feature set to really help you add AI into the way you work.
But the two parts I fell in love with most are the built-in prompt library that saves a ton of time when it comes to telling AI what to do, and the various personalities that help give it a more human face to interact with. It truly has the versatility for beginners to learn the ropes and pro users to fully utilize the possibilities of LLMs.
You can get the standard version of Typing Mind for $39 or check it out as part of a Setapp subscription.
1Blocker - Free with in-app purchases
The name is a bit of a giveaway. If you’re a Safari user across your Mac, iPhone and iPad, this is the best ad blocker to get. However, it does so much more than that… Allow me to explain.
With speed and security built-in (this ad blocker won’t track the sites you visit), you can also block tracking pixels, social media widgets, comment sections, and (if this is going on the family computer) adult sites too.
You can get 1Blocker for free, and there's in-app purchases. And you can also get it as part of a Setapp subscription.
Day One - Free (subscription available)
The journal app on iOS 17.2 is a nice addition, and it works real well in our own testing. But in my opinion, nothing comes close to the feature set and benefits that Day One offers. Of course, you’ve got the standard array of things — the option to securely lock your journal, search through tags and connect social accounts to upload posts directly to it for additional context.
But its most powerful feature is cross device support. Journalling from your Mac is my favorite option as someone who loves to write, but I can do so easily from my iPhone and Apple Watch too. This full suite makes jotting down my gratitudes and thoughts of the day all the more easy.
In Your Face - Free with in-app purchases
If there is one thing I’m most certainly guilty of, it’s missing meetings due to being wired in with my other work (sorry about that, boss). But this small app has been so significant in helping make sure I never miss a calendar appointment again.
When meetings come up, a notification for it will take over your screen. You literally have no excuse for missing them anymore, and it’s been such a helpful utility for my forgetful brain.
You can get In Your Face through the Mac App Store or via a Setapp subscription.
Honey - Free
Tapping into my serial online shopper side, coupon codes are such a hassle to find. On top of that, the majority of them on aggregate websites don’t seem to work at all. It becomes a massive pain, but Honey has been a massive timesaver for doing this.
From your browser, a prompt will appear whenever you’re on a payment page for a product you buy, and Honey will start to try a ton of different coupon codes from its constantly updated database. So far, I’ve saved north of $190 in 2023 with it.
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Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.