HomeTechnologyNews15 Mac Apps You Should Use Every Day

15 Mac Apps You Should Use Every Day

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Marcus Mears III / Geek Instructors

Some Mac apps are so useful that you may use them every day. Here are some of our favorites, most of which are free or at least come with a free trial so you can evaluate them.

Rectangle app for macOS

Add window wrapping features to macOS that Apple should have included along with Rectangle. This free application allows you to quickly manipulate your desktop windows using keyboard shortcuts or the menu bar icon. Customize these shortcuts to your liking so you never have to take your fingers off the keyboard to rearrange your windows again.

If you’re looking for an alternative, the premium Magnet app ($7.99) offers similar functionality. Rectangle Pro is also available for $9.99, which adds rules and much more.

Maccy Clipboard Manager for Mac

Maccy is an open source clipboard manager for your Mac that operates on a name-your-price model (starting at $0). The app keeps a list of recent clipboard items, including text, images, and other files. Invoke Maccy with the keyboard shortcut (Command+Shift+C by default) and then use the arrow keys or onscreen keyboard shortcuts to bring back previous items.

There are plenty of customization options available, including the ability to set a file size limit, delete clips on app exit, modify where and how the app appears, pin items, ignore apps, and more.

Vanilla application to clean up the menu bar of your Mac

Tidy up your cluttered menu bar with Vanilla, a free app to reduce the number of icons in the top right corner of your screen. Drag icons behind a divider and have them auto-hide. Click the arrow icon to expand the menu bar to show all apps.

The app is essentially a free alternative to the hugely popular Bartender ($15), which is another solid option that includes advanced features like a dropdown bar, custom spacing, quick search, triggers, and more.

Shottr Image Tool for Mac

macOS has decent screenshot tools built in (press Command + Shift + 3 for a full screenshot, or Command + Shift + 4 for a draggable selection). The free Shottr app expands on this for those who need a more powerful screenshot tool.

Capture scrolling windows like web pages, quickly annotate and pixelate objects, add markup notes, overlay images, pin your screenshots, use the built-in ruler, copy text using OCR, and more.

shortcuts

Add shortcuts in the Shortcuts app on Mac

Shortcuts is Apple’s cross-platform workflow app with which you can speed up various tasks by creating custom shortcuts. You can pin these shortcuts to your menu bar, launch them with Spotlight, or even use them from your Quick Actions menu. You’ll find the Shortcuts app in your Applications > Utilities folder, launch it and browse the Gallery to get started.

Shortcuts can be used to speed up office productivity and perform a wide range of common tasks, like emptying your Downloads folder, keeping track of the time, or quickly accessing iCloud Keychain passwords.

RELATED: 10 hidden Mac features you should be using

Your choice of VPN

Express VPN for macOS Ventura

A VPN is essential kit on the modern Internet. By encrypting your web traffic, a VPN can hide your browsing data from your ISP or other interested parties. Using a VPN prevents revealing your true IP address as you browse the web, which means you leave less of a digital paper trail wherever you go.

You can also use a VPN to access the web as if you were in another country entirely. Use it to watch geo-restricted content like on-demand TV and streaming services, bypass censorship, book cheaper flights, and more. Check out our roundup of the best VPN services.

Hyperkey for macOS

Take advantage of Caps Lock or another unused key on your keyboard by remapping it with Hyperkey. A “hyper key” in this case is the four modifier keys activated at once: Shift+Command+Option+Control. Holding this key combination with one hand is not intuitive, and that’s where Hyperkey comes in.

With your “hyper key” enabled, you can use it to activate keyboard shortcuts in other applications (such as Rectangle or Maccy). It effectively adds another modifier key to your keyboard that you can pull down when you need to. If you want to do even more advanced key remapping, take a look at Karabiner-Elements as well.

Windows 11 on ARM running on Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop is a powerful virtualization application that allows you to emulate hardware to install operating systems within macOS. Not only can you use it to install Windows (including Windows 11 on ARM if you have an Apple Silicon Mac), but also Linux distributions and even stand-alone macOS installations.

There’s no easier way to run Windows on a modern Mac, with everything from downloading to installing taking care of yourself. You can then use features like Coherence mode to run Windows apps on your Mac as if they were native Mac apps.

The app isn’t free, with a standard license for home and student use costing $99.99, but there is a 14-day trial you can use to evaluate the software before buying. If you’d rather try free alternatives that take a bit more work to get up and running, take a look at VMware Fusion Player and VirtualBox.

automator

Automate for Mac

Automator is a powerful workflow tool that Apple includes with macOS. It’s different from Shortcuts in that it’s been around a lot longer and is unique to the Mac. It’s also faster and more powerful if you know how to use it.

Adding items to the right-click “Quick Actions” menu is a specialty of Automator. You can use it to quickly resize images within the Finder, convert file types, create custom applications, and save time all over the Mac desktop. You’ll find Automator in the Applications > Utilities folder.

IINA Media Player for Mac

Written for macOS in Apple’s Swift programming language, IINA is an open source media player based on the mpv project. The developers proudly proclaim that IINA can play anything while making use of macOS mainstays like Dark Mode, Picture-in-Picture, and Force Touch.

Hyperduck Link Utility for macOS and iOS

Hyperduck is an app that lets you send links from an iPhone or iPad to your Mac. Apple already lets you do this with AirDrop, but AirDrop doesn’t always work as advertised. It’s also subject to limitations, such as whether your Mac is in range and turned on. That is not the case with Hyperduck.

When you send a link from your iPhone to your Mac, Hyperduck automatically opens it in your default browser. If your Mac is offline, the request will be fulfilled the next time you go online. You could use something like Safari’s Reading List or a similar “read it later” service for this, but Hyperduck is a bit more forceful as it opens the links for you.

Raycast for macOS

If you like to do everything with the keyboard but Spotlight is not enough, try the powerful and extensible launcher that is Raycast. The app is free for personal use, with a premium plan required for sharing between a team of people. While Raycast is primarily aimed at developers, the Raycast Store makes it easy for anyone to add functionality.

For example, you can quickly set a Pomodoro timer with the Pomodoro extension, invoke ChatGPT with the OpenAI GPT3 extension, search for Spotify with the Spotify extension, start a connection speed test with the Speedtest extension, and much more.

Alfred is another powerful caster that you might be interested in if Raycast piques your interest.

CodeEdit for Mac

CodeEdit is a free, open source, native text editor and code editing environment for macOS. The app includes features such as syntax highlighting, code completion, find and replace, code snippets, debugging, git integration, extensions, and more.

As of this writing, the app is still in development and in alpha, but that hasn’t stopped it from garnering a lot of attention from the Mac community. That’s because it’s probably one of the few native Mac code editors. (other notable examples include Nova and TextMate).

Mac Amphetamine Reactivation Utility.

While some turn to mouse jigglers to keep their computers awake, Amphetamine is arguably a better option. This free app allows you to keep your Mac active for a certain period, until a particular process is complete, or indefinitely. You can control the app entirely from the menu bar, and there are all kinds of triggers and rules to play with.

For even more features, you can install the Amphetamine Enhancer app from the base app, which lets you do things like avoid keeping your MacBook awake even when the lid is closed (among other things).

Unarchiver may be the most boring app on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not essential. This free application can open a large number of archive formats, including ZIP, RAR, 7Z, TAR, GZIP, and many more. Open old formats (like PAK and SWF) and even Linux packages (like DEB and RPM) right on your Mac.

Even more useful Mac apps

Some of these apps are already on our list of essential apps to install when you buy a new Mac. Have you tried some of these but aren’t impressed? Learn how to completely uninstall apps from your Mac.

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