Whether you’ve just ordered yourself a new MacBook running the latest macOS 10.12 Sierra update or are looking to give your old Mac a new lease of life, there’s plenty of useful software for Apple’s platform out there.
The App Store offers a convenient route to download a huge number of apps, and there’s even more out there on the web. If you instead plan to grab some apps from the web, don’t forget to head over to your Settings > Security & Privacy > General panel first to set ‘Allow apps to download from: Anywhere’. Before changing it back afterwards, obviously.
From note-taking apps to image editors, windows managers and music production suites, check out our list of the best macOS apps that you can download today.
- This article is part of TechRadar’s Mac Week. This year marks not only the 10th anniversary of Apple’s unibody MacBook, but the triumphant return of macOS. So, TechRadar looks to celebrate with a week’s worth of original features delving back into the Mac’s past, predicting the Mac’s future and exploring the Mac as it is today.
Sometimes you might want to save space on your desk by putting your MacBook to sleep and slipping it into a vertical holder. The problem there is that macOS automatically enters sleep mode when the lid is closed — and there’s no way to prevent this from happening without a third-party app. Caffeine used to be the best solution doing the rounds, but it has been usurped by Amphetamine.
Not only does Amphetamine look better in your Mac’s Menu Bar (in Dark Mode, anyway) and features support for Retina displays, you can set hotkeys to turn it on and off, activate it using keyboard shortcuts, receive alerts when it deactivates (via the Notification Center) and, best of all, it’s 100% ad free. It’s better than that first coffee in the morning, in other words.
- Get it from: App Store
- Price: £7.99 (around $10 or AUS$14)
Windows received the ability to snap windows and programs to the edges of the screen way back in Windows 7, so we’re quite surprised Apple took so long to replicated it with Split view in OS X El Capitan. But it still isn’t quite as full featured as Microsoft’s solution. The good news is that third-party apps to fill in the gaps, with the best being HyperDock, which covers window management and Dock functionality.
For windows, you can drag an app to the left or right edges of the screen (or the corners) and it’ll automatically fill that space. This makes it much easier to be productive on the desktop without wasting time dragging windows from the corners. For the Dock, hovering over apps activates something similar to Windows 7’s thumbnail previews, providing overviews of windows that can be accessed by a click or closed directly from the preview. Handy.
3. Parallels Desktop 12
- Get it from: Website
- Price: $79.99/year (Home & Student) Around £60 or AUS$100)
If you’ve bought a Mac and miss some of your old Windows programs, don’t worry – Parallels Desktop 12 can make it happen. Instead of having to dual-boot your Mac into a Windows partition, Parallels Desktop 12 allows Windows and macOS Sierra to co-exist side-by-side, and you can even run Microsoft-only programs such as Visual Studio 2015, or the Windows versions of the company’s Office 365 apps, alongside your native macOS ones.
All you need is a Windows 10 license – so prepare to buy one if you haven’t already. Or, alternatively, you can use Parallels to try a handful of free operating systems including Chromium (a free distribution of Chrome OS) or Linux Debian. This year’s version of Parallels is the most useful yet thanks to a new addition called the Parallels Toolbox, which allows you to easily carry out common tasks — from taking a screenshot to downloading YouTube and Facebook videos, and password-protecting all of your files.
- Get it from: App Store
- Price: £14.99 (around $20 or AUS$25)
If you’re anything like us, you’ll hate working with one monitor or screen. Portable monitors are still fairly expensive (and not to mention bulky), and luckily you can use an iPad instead using a nifty app called Duet. Developed by ex-Apple engineers, it works by tethering your iPad to your Mac using one of Apple’s Lightning cables and firing up the app on both devices.
You can then drag windows and apps onto your iPad’s display just like you can a second monitor, and if you have a more recent iPad with a Retina display then you’ll get the full benefit of all those pixels. Just know that the bandwidth isn’t quite what you would get with a proper monitor, so it can be a bit laggy when you notch the quality up. But it’s still more than usable for reading websites, typing up documents and watching videos.
Atom is a text editor that’s primarily designed for coders, but its flexibility and customization options make it a viable option for many different types of users. That’s because of two reasons: first, you can download a number of different Packages – effectively plug-ins – to make it bend to your will. It can be transformed into a Markdown editor for writing blog posts, for example, or you can hook it up to Evernote for storing notes in the cloud.
There’s at least 10 different word counters out there, and you can even add typewriter sound effects as you hammer out your delicious prose. Atom is also infinitely customizable on the visual side thanks to an editable back-end, allowing you to do anything from changing the font size, line height and colors to giving the caret Word 2016-like elasticity.
6. Logic Pro X
- Get it from: App Store
- Price: £149.99 (around $195 or AUS$255)
Whether you’re an aspiring rockstar or superstar DJ, Logic Pro X is one of the best music creation apps on the Mac. Developed by Apple itself, its accessible interface hides a ton of advanced functionality. The latest version comes with a slick new design, 64-bit architecture and new session drummer that will save you having to shell out for a drum machine.
It also works in natural harmony with iPads, providing a touch-based alternative method of creating song structures to dragging and dropping blocks in the main visual editor. Whether you’re a seasoned producer already (Sia used the app to record her hit song ‘Chandelier’) or are looking to upgrade from Garageband, Logic Pro X likely has what you need.
A simple app but an important one, to-do app Wunderlist’s strength lies in its cross-device functionality. It’s available on Mac, PC and Android and iOS, allowing you to pick up where you left off wherever you are using macOS’s Handoff feature.
Once you’ve created a list you can schedule reminders, add notes and embed it into the macOS Notification Centre using a widget. Team-based features are unlocked by signing up to Wunderlist’s Pro option for a yearly fee, and you can add files of any size without running into limits.
Evernote has morphed into a mighty note-taking app over the years. While some people will say that it’s too bloated, the sheer number of things that you can do with it still makes it best-in-class. You can type up notes, obviously, organizing them using a combination of folders and tags. You can even embed Google Drive documents, which are accessible in a click.
There’s also the ability to set reminders, share notes with friends, find information related to notes using Evernote’s ‘Context’ feature, create lists, and favorite notes that you frequently return to. Better yet, all of your notes are synchronized using the company’s servers, making them accessible on nearly any PC (through a browser or the native Evernote app) or mobile device in the world. The paid version lets you use Evernote with more than two devices while upping the amount of data you can sync each month.
GIMP (standing for GNU Image Manipulation) is one of the best free image editing apps out there. It’s a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop and comes with a massive array of professional-quality functions that let you tweak existing images saved in a range of formats or create fresh ones from scratch. Features include layers, highly customizable brushes, automatic image-enhancing tools and filters. You can do even more with it using plug-ins, which are available to download from the GIMP Plugin Registry.
- Get it from: App Store
- Price: £34.99 (around $45/AUS$60)
Ulysses is one of the best “distraction-free” markdown editors out there today, balancing features with simplicity and beautiful design. Unlike Word 2016, or even Apple’s own Pages, Ulysses hardly features an interface at all. This allows you to get on with writing without being distracted by superfluous buttons and menus. The app uses its own brand of Markdown — a type of text formatting engine — that lets you highlight your writing in a way that makes organizing it simpler, and a vast number of export styles formats it in an attractive way once you’re finished.
There’s a handy attachments bar on the right-hand side that features an attractive word counter and lets you write notes to assist you in your writing. Notes can be accessed anywhere thanks to iCloud support, so you can pick up your iPad and carry on where you left off using macOS’s Handoff feature.