My Essential Mac Applications

A list of the essential Mac applications I have installed on my computer. Hope you find something new or useful.

Listed by categories in alphabetical order.

Productivity

1Password ($2.99/mo for individual or $4.99/mo for family)

1password.png

1Password is the premier password manager available for the mac (and for any other devices you own). There are many password managers out there, some open source, and some free. None of them compare to the ease of use and experience you get with 1Password. Also, it’s very affordable if you share with your family and friends.

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Pro tip: Use the cmd + \ shortcut to quickly fill in saved passwords in any application you are running.

Alfred (Free)

alfred.jpg

Alfred is basically an advanced spotlight search application. It is able to search for apps and files on your computer with much better accuracy than spotlight. Additionally, it supports advanced workflows such as searching the web, calculations, and integrations with common applications to enable quick usage. It can be initially overwhelming with all of its customizable components but you don’t have to use them all to start off. I mostly use it for its search and calculator functionality. That alone has saved me a ton of time and small frustrations of manually opening finder and calculator.

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Pro tip: I've replaced my spotlight search binding (cmd + space) so it opens Alfred instead.

CleanShot X ($29)

cleanshot

A simple and elegant screenshot and screen recording app. CleanShot X boasts tons of features and it’s like you’re getting 6 apps in one. My favorite features include its annotation tools, scrolling capture, and ability to hide icons when taking screenshots. Best of all, interactions with the app feel responsive and rewarding.

If CleanShot X has too steep of a price tag, some alternatives to consider are Monosnap and Screentray, both free.

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Pro tip: You can trial CleanShot X for 7 days through Setapp.
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Pro tip: You can get a 30% discount if you have a .edu email.

Discord (Free)

discord

Discord is a communication platform for groups. Whether you’re part of a school club, a nightly gaming group, a worldwide art community, or just a handful of friends that want to hang out. My favorite thing about Discord is that you can find and join communities in the app itself.

Dropbox (Free)

dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service which allows you to store any files you have in the cloud. Those files are safely saved and accessible on any other device you own. You can also share links to documents in your Dropbox with anyone.

Firefox (Free)

An internet browser. I switched over to Firefox from Chrome and I’ve felt a noticeable speed up in browsing and development. The only thing it doesn’t support yet is chromecast but I’ll either cast from my phone or use Chrome when I need to.

Flycut (Free)

A simple clipboard manager. Every time you copy something, Flycut keeps it in its history so you can reference it again quickly. It’s saved me a lot of time when I’m copy-pasting and my clipboard history gets overwritten. I can use Flycut to quickly reference something I copied many items ago.

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Pro tip: Update Flycut preferences to remember the last 30 items. You will have a longer history to reference while fitting it comfortably on your screen.

Glance (Free)

glance

Glance is a all-in-one quick look plugin. It provides beautiful previews for files that macOS doesn’t support out of the box. Glance has been a huge boost to my productivity when I want to quickly look at code (supports many languages) or markdown in a file through finder.

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Pro tip: Press space on a file in finder to quickly preview the file.

Google Photos Backup and Sync (Free)

Automatically backs up photos on your Mac, connected cameras, and SD cards to Google Photos. This is even better if you’re a Pixel user since you get unlimited free storage of Photos.

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Pro tip: Add the Photos app folder to Backup and Sync. This will automatically sync any pictures you add from your camera to the Photos app.

iStats ($11.99 for single license or $14.99 for five licenses)

istats

A menu bar app to monitor your Mac. It displays useful metrics about your Mac so you can keep an eye on what’s going on with your machine. Important metrics such as network traffic, CPU usage, memory usage, component temperatures, and much more. Also, the UI is easy navigate and looks great.

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Pro tip: Use the "combined" setting so it groups metrics together and saves space on your menu bar.

Notion (Free)

notion

Self dubbed as a “All-in-one” workspace, it’s hard to summarize everything you can do with Notion. For me, Notion has replaced Evernote and Trello. It additionally serves as a database to capture any information I have and any content I produce. My hands down favorite thing about Notion is its design. It looks beautiful, is extremely responsive, and supports many features. It can be overwhelming to initially set up but if you stick with it and customize it to your needs, it will reward you many times over.

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Pro tip: Use the templates they provide to get started and watch youtube videos on how others have set up Notion.

Rectangle (Free)

A menu bar app to move and resize windows. It allows you to use the real estate on your monitor efficiently. You can use hot keys or your mouse to snap windows to a section of your monitor.

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Pro tip: Set your own hot keys to make moving and resizing windows fit your style.

Entertainment

Spotify (Free w/ Ads and Paid Versions)

spotify

A digital music and podcast service. Spotify gives you access to millions of songs, artists, and podcasts on any device you own. Everything is stored in the cloud so you never lose any of your music.

My favorite thing about Spotify is the experience it tries to give you by helping you discover new music. They have multiple weekly playlists to help you find more music like discovery weekly and release radar. You also have the option to browse and follow hundreds of curated playlists based on your mood, genre, or interests.

Steam (Free)

steam

A digital video game distribution platform. Steam gives you access to thousands of games (free and paid) which you can download through their app. There are a surprising number of games available for mac that are fun to play.

For Developers

Docker Desktop (Free)

A development environment for building, running, and testing dockerized apps. The industry is moving towards containerizing applications. Downloading and running containerized apps is a necessity in today’ world and Docker Desktop makes it easy to do just that.

Homebrew (Free)

A package manager for macOS (or Linux). With Homebrew, you can install software you need that didn’t come with your mac. It’s easy to use and supports a vast number of packages. A must have for developers.

Intellij ($149 / year)

intellij

An integrated development environment (IDE) to maximize developer productivity. IntelliJ is feature rich IDE that provides you with a ton of resources to help you be an efficient developer. It is a “heavy” editor and it takes relatively long to boot up but once it’s running, it provides great value.

My favorite thing about IntelliJ is that it indexes your code base and can provide deep insight into connections between your code (superclasses, subclasses, interfaces, types). It supports many languages and even has separate dedicated IDEs for Python (PyCharm), Ruby (RubyMine), Go (GoLand), and many more. IntelliJ can support all these languges in the form of plugins and they work in the same way.

iTerm2 (Free)

A replacement for the default terminal you get on macOS. iTerm2 is a highly configurable and feature rich terminal for “features you never knew you wanted”. Once you use iTerm2, you won’t be able to live without it. There are a ton of tiny features that it provides but they add up and make your life much easier. Some of my favorite features include Split Panes, color and theme support, editor scrolling, and cursor movement speed.

Postman (Free)

postman

A collaboration platform for API development. Postman helps you build, test, and replay API requests so you can understand the lifecycle of requests. I mainly use it for development on small projects to replay and customize my API requests. However, Postman can easily be scaled to support enterprise applications. It is feature rich with support for testing, mock, monitoring and much more but I haven’t had the need to use it that deeply yet.

Powerlevel10k (Free)

A theme for zsh (zsh comes installed by default as of version 10.15, Catalina). In its own words, “emphasizes speed, flexibility, and out-of-the-box experience”. It also provides you with a easy to follow configuration wizard to get your terminal experience to act and look exactly how you want it to. Powerlevel10k can be made to look like any zsh theme out there (supports popular themes by default) so you won’t lose any of your previous setup.

The most important thing Powerlevel10k gives you is speed. It moves any slow loading configurations or plugins to the background so you can start using and typing on your terminal as soon as you open it.

Sublime Text (Free)

sublime

A lightweight text editor for code, the perfect balance to IntelliJ. Sublime text supports many of the features that IntelliJ supports (except for deep indexing) through the form of plugins. Initially, it comes pretty bare and you will have to install the plugins you deem neccessary. My setup is fairly light and it serves as my editor for one off files or small projects.

Trailer.app (Free)

trailer

A menu bar app to notify you about activity on GitHub. Trailer tracks any repositories you own or watch and notifies you when there’s activity related to pull requests or issues. It notifies you when important events happen such as approvals, comments, suggestions, and closures. Trailer is customizable so you can tune what repositories, pull requests, and issues you see and what information it displays in the dropdown.

These are all my must have applications. I’ll update this list if I add any other applications in the future. Let me know if you have any of your recommendations.

Thanks for reading!