27 Best Free Mac Apps You Should Install in 2019
On this website, I have covered a ton of paid apps, and that’s because in general, paid apps tend to offer more when compared to free apps. However, that does not mean that there are no good free apps out there. In fact, there are a ton of them. That’s why it is going to be a long article as I am bringing a list of 20 best free apps you can get for your Mac right now. Some of the apps on this list are evergreen and you most probably already have them installed on your device. But some of them are entirely new. Well, at least they are new to me and that’s the beauty of it. No matter, how old an app is, it is new for somebody out there. That said, no matter how avid a Mac user you are, I can bet that you will find at least 5 new Mac apps out of the article which you have never heard about before. So, open your Macs and get ready to download these awesome free Mac apps.
Best Free MacBook Apps You Should Install
macOS Mojave introduced dark mode to our favorite desktop operating system. The dark mode on macOS Mojave is no half-cooked dark mode that you find on windows. Rather, it's the most complete dark mode I have seen on any device. When you turn on the dark mode on your Mac, not only it turns the system UI but also the stock apps. Not only that, apps that support automatic dark mode also adhere to the same guideline. Once you turn on the dark mode, they automatically default to dark mode.
While that's great in most situation, I wish Apple included a way to create a whitelist for apps that are not functional in dark mode. The default Mail app and the Evernote app are a few examples of an app that still work best in light mode. That's where NightOwl comes in. It's a menu bar app that allows you to create a whitelist of apps that you don't want to use in dark mode. Not only that, but it also allows you to quickly switch between dark and light mode with a simple click at its icon. You can read more about the app in our article here. The app is completely free to download and use with a voluntary donation.
2. Unsplash Wallpapers
I want to start this article with an app which I have discovered just a couple of months back and have fallen in love. As its name suggests, Unsplash Wallpapers is a wallpaper app for Mac which gives you access to unlimited ultra-high resolution wallpapers for your Macs. One of the things that I love most about MacBooks is its display. Apple packs phenomenal displays on the Macs. Stop me if it’s just me, but I enjoy changing the wallpapers on a regular basis just because they look so damn beautiful on my Mac’s display.
Before I discovered Unsplash Wallpapers, it used to be a chore to change wallpapers. First, I had to find good wallpapers, then I had to download them, and only then I could use them. With Unsplash Wallpapers app, you can change the wallpaper just with one click. If you like a wallpaper, you can even download it. If you love wallpapers, you are going to love this app.
Install: Unsplash Wallpapers
3. The Unarchiver
This is one of the first apps that I download whenever I move on to a new Mac. The app is basically the best unarchiving app you can get for your Mac, free or otherwise. The Unarchiver cannot only unarchive common formats such as Zip, RAR (including v5), 7-zip, Tar, Gzip, and Bzip2, but it can also open formats such as StuffIt, DiskDoubler, LZH, ARJ, ARC, ISO and BIN disc images, Windows.EXE installers and more. Basically, it’s a one-stop solution for all your unarchiving needs.
Install: The Unarchiver
We all know that Macs bring a long battery life and while some of it has to do with Apple’s excellent hardware, most of it is because of how macOS efficiently manages battery. One of the things that macOS does to preserve the battery life on your computer is to put it to sleep whenever you don’t interact with your Mac for a set period of time. While this is really good, sometimes you need to keep your Mac running even if you are not interacting with it. One of the examples that come to mind is when you are downloading a large file. If your Mac falls asleep during the download, it will stop it, and depending on the software that you are using to download the file, you might have to restart the download from the beginning.
Amphetamine solves this problem by allowing users to keep their Macs awake even when they are not doing anything. The app is powerful and allows users to keep their Macs awake for how much ever long they want. Not only that, users can also set triggers to keep their Macs awake. For example, you can tell Amphetamine to not put your Mac to sleep whenever a certain app is running. Lastly, it allows you to easily access all these features as it lives right there in your Mac’s menu bar. It’s one of the most useful apps for Macs and I love it.
5. GIPHY Capture
Gifs are all the rage today. More and more users are creating and sharing their own gifs. And if you want to be one of them then this is the tool you need. GIPHY Capture is an app that lets you capture and create gifs. Once you launch the app it will create a translucent green window with a capture button at the bottom. All you need to do is to drop the window on top of the video you want to capture and click on the capture button. Once you are done with the recording, click on the record button again to stop the recording. It is probably the easiest way to create gifs on your Mac.
Install: GIPHY Capture
Spectacle is one of the apps that I install instantly on a new Mac. Macs are good at many things but one thing that still eludes it is a good window management feature. Apple has not solved the window management problem in the latest macOS Catalina so I guess, we have to wait for one more year. In fact, the window management problem has become even worse in macOS Catalina in my opinion. If you are also fed up of Apple's native approach towards window management, you should Install Spectacle. This is a simple menu bar app that allows you to easily resize and place windows with keyboard commands. I can easily set a window to either half of the display both vertically and horizontally, make it go full screen, snap it to the center, and more. Once you install this app, your window management workflow will become ten times faster.
ImageOptim is one of the most used Mac apps on my MacBook Pro. In my line of work, I have to attach a ton of screenshots (like in this article). And before I upload any picture on my website, I pass it through ImageOptim. The app deletes all the unnecessary metadata such as GPS position and camera's serial number and compresses the image. This allows me to upload the image on the web without any privacy hazards and ensures that the file sizes are low.
The app is pretty easy to use. You just drag and drop images into its window and then click on the button at the bottom-right corner. If you share a ton of images on the web (whether on your blog or social media websites like Twitter and Facebook), it will be good for you to pass it through ImageOptim first. I have used paid image compression apps but nothing has been as good and as easy to use as ImageOptim.
8. White Noise Lite
White Noise Lite is an app that helps you sleep better. If you are a light sleeper who wakes up multiple times in the night without any apparent reason then this app can help you sleep better. It brings fifty different HD quality ambient environment noises to help you sleep. The app brings a beautiful cover flow design which lets you easily swipe between cards to select different tasks. Although the app markets itself as a sleep enhancer, I mostly use to provide background music when I am working as it helps me concentrate. You should download this app right now and see if it helps you sleep better or work better. Whatever the result, you will be better off with this one in your arsenal.
Install: White Noise Lite
Shazam is an app that needs no introduction. The app helps you discover songs by identifying whatever song is playing in the background. I personally use Shazam more as a tool to keep the list of songs that I have discovered. Suppose I am listening to a song and YouTube and want to save it. I just click on the menu bar icon of Shazam and it identifies the song and saves it on the list. I don't have to write it down anywhere. Later I can see the list and add to my Apple Music Playlist at my convenience. Shazam is a great app for discovering and keeping track of music that you like.
You know how when you accidentally yank headphones out of your iPhone, the music suddenly stops, well, Muzzy brings that functionality to your Mac. The app also does a lot of other things like allowing users to play, pause, and change the music from its menu bar app, integrates with Last.fm, shows songs lyrics, and more. However, I don’t care for any other features and I just use this app to stop music whenever I accidentally yank my headphones out. Sadly, the app only works if you are playing music through iTunes.
11. Alfred 3
Alfred is an all-purpose tool for your Mac which can boost your productivity ten folds if you learn how to use it. Of course, there’s a learning curve to this app, but if you invest in it, it will pay you back. Alfred allows you to quickly launch apps, use text expansion snippets, search on the Mac and web, use hotkeys and keywords, and much more. Alfred used to be a paid app, but the developers were kind enough to release the app for free. There are add-on power packs that you can buy, but you really won’t be using them until you became really pro at it. For most of the normal users, the free app itself is enough to boost their productivity.
Install: Alfred 3
Pocket is a popular read it later service which allows you to save articles offline so that you can read them later. I mostly browse for articles on my Mac and whenever I find something that I would want to read, I just save it in Pocket. Since Pocket syncs across devices, all my saved articles are automatically synced to my iPhone where I can read them at my will. Recently, I have also started using Pocket as a research tool. Since Pocket allows me to organize saved articles using tags, I just tag the items I am using for research so that I can find them easily later.
Spark is my most favorite free app on Mac. For those who don’t know, Spark is an email client for Mac. I love spark because it intelligently categorizes all the emails that I receive into different categories, giving me access to the most important emails first. It also has a very robust set of features. I can easily snooze, archive, delete, and tag emails. I also love the fact that it allows me easily search for emails using natural language search. I can also search for emails based on attachments, and more. Lastly, Spark also has apps for both iOS and watchOS so no matter which device I am on, I can user Sparks to get through all my emails.
GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program is an open source photo editor which packs so many features that you won’t be able to discover all of them in your lifetime. It is basically Photoshop but free. You can use GIMP to perform any kind of image manipulation that you can think of. That said, since it packs so many features, GIMP also has a pretty steep learning curve. Also, being a free an open-source project, its user interface is not very intuitive and feels archaic. That’s why I recommend GIMP only to those users who need a robust photo editing software but cannot afford to buy one.
As per the description of the app on its website, "DarkTable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. A virtual light-table and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable light-table, and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them". Basically, it is super powerful photo editing app for Mac that allows you to use pro-level photo editing features for free. You are required to learn the app as it has a steep learning curve but once you get used to it, you won't go back to even the best-paid photo editing apps on the market. This one is definitely one of the free Mac apps that you can download in 2019.
Simplenote is one of the best designed free apps you can find. As its name suggests, Simplenote is an easy note taking app which allows you to easily jot down notes. What I love about this app is that even though it is completely free, your notes are synced across devices. Apart from its online sync features, I am also a fan of its clean user interface. Simplenote is also a really good app for someone who is looking for a clean app to write long-form content. You can use tags to organize notes easily and search for them using either their title, content, or tags. I have been using this app for quite a few years and I still don’t understand how it’s free. If you love writing, you will love Simplenote.
Itsycal is an open source small menu bar calendar application for Mac. If you like Fantastical 2 for Mac, but hate that it’s priced so high, Itsycal is for you. Although Itsycal is nowhere as powerful as Fantastical 2, it brings all the basic features that you would want from a menu bar based calendar app. It shows you month view of your calendar, your upcoming events, and also allows you to create or delete events. I also love the fact that I can configure Itsycal to show not only the date but also the month and the day in the menu bar icon itself. It’s a good menu bar application and a must have for anyone who schedules everything on their calendar.
Audacity is one of those free apps which is even better than most of the paid apps out there. For those who don’t know, Audacity is an audio editor app for your Mac or even Windows PC. If you are someone who deals with a ton of audio, you must have already heard about this software. If you have not, you probably don’t need it. Still, it’s such a good app that I couldn’t keep it away from the list. Just remember that if you ever need to edit an audio file to make it better, Audacity is the tool to do it.
Since we have already talked about an audio editing software, why don’t we also include a video editing software to complete the loop. Lightworks is a full-fledged video editing app which gives you access to all the tools that you will need to get your video editing on. To be fair, Lightworks also sell a Pro version of the app, however, the free version is powerful enough to handle most of the tasks. Whether you are a budding YouTuber or someone who just want to give an edge to their homemade videos, Lightworks is the right tool for you. What I love most about this app is that the website gives you ample tutorial videos to get you started. If by any chance you were looking for a free video editing software, look no further and download Lightworks.
HiddenMe is a small menu bar app which comes in very handy at times when you want to show a clean desktop without having to organize your stuff. The app lives in your menu bar and allows you to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s hiding everything on your desktop. With a click of the button, everything that’s on your desktop is hidden, giving you access to a clean desktop. I constantly use this app whenever I am giving a presentation or taking screenshots of my desktop for an article. This small application has saved me from embarrassing myself a number of times and it can do that for you too.
Do you know that whenever you delete an app on your Mac, it leaves behind a ton of residual files which does nothing but eating up storage on your Mac? Well, it’s true and if you install and uninstall a ton of apps, you might have lost gigabytes of storage already. While there’s another app on this list which (Onyx) which can help you recover that storage, AppCleaner is an app which makes sure that the apps you delete don’t leave any residual files. Just launch the app and drag and drop the apps that you want to uninstall and it will take care of the rest. It is a must-have utility tool for any Mac user out there.
LiteIcon is the app from the same developers who made the AppCleaner. It is a simple app which allows you to change your system icons quickly and easily. Simply drag an icon onto the one you want to change, and click the Apply Changes button. That's all you need to do. If you want your older icon back, just drag out the new icon. If you like to customize how your icons look on Mac, try out LiteIcon.
I have written about GrandPerspective a couple of times on this website and you might be familiar with it by now. For those who are new to our website, it’s an app which allows you to visualize storage on your Mac. Using GrandPerspective you can easily find out which files are using how much storage and find and delete the files which are not necessary. GrandPerspective is a very nice app for anyone who doesn’t have any idea as to where all his/her Mac’s storage went.
Manuscript is a writing app for students which makes writing school assignments including dissertation easier. Manuscript is a powerful writing app which allows students to complete their assignments right from the planning stage to completing it. It lets students easily insert citations, figures, tables, mathematical equations, and more. The app also allows for importation of citations from various tools including Mendeley, Zotero, Papers 3, Bookends, and EndNote. If you are a student who is looking for a good writing app, you don’t have to look any farther than Manuscript.
IINA is an open-source video player for your Mac which offers one of the best amalgamations of features and user interface. The app looks extremely beautiful and supports all the modern features including force touch, picture-in-picture, and even offers Touch-bar controls for the latest MacBook Pros. IINA also supports almost all the video formats that you can think of, including the ability to play even GIFs. The app also comes with theming capabilities allowing you to use either light or dark themes. I have discovered this app just a few weeks back and I am already in love with it. If you consume a ton of media on your MacBook Pro, this is the right app for you.
OnyX is your one-stop solution for all your Mac’s maintenance needs. In fact, I cannot describe the app better and more succinctly than what’s written on its website. OnyX is a multifunction utility that you can use to verify the structure of the system files, to run miscellaneous maintenance and cleaning tasks, to configure parameters in the Finder, Dock, Safari, and some of Apple's applications, to delete caches, to remove certain problematic folders and files, to rebuild various databases and indexes, and more. However, do remember that it is an advanced tool and hence before you do anything, make sure that you get familiar with the app as you don’t want to delete files which can corrupt your entire system.
The last app on our list the SpotMenu app which is a nifty little menu bar application. The app basically allows you to control your iTunes and Spotify music player from the menu bar giving you access to controls such as play, pause, forward, and rewind. It’s a pretty basic application, however, it does come in handy. One thing that I like about the app is that it shows the name of the song that is currently playing right on your Mac’s menu bar. When you click on the icon, the drop-down window which harbors all the features also showcase the album art of the song that you are playing.
Best Free macOS Apps: Final Thoughts
I hope that you found some apps which are useful to you. I personally am a fan of ImageOptim, NightOwl, Spark mail, Amphetamine, INA, Simlenote, Alfred 3, and Unsplash Wallpapers. Comment below your favorite favorite apps from the list. Also, if you know free apps that deserve to be on the list but aren’t, drop their names in the comments section.
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