One thing that makes a Mac better than the competition is the third-party app developers that create professional apps for the platform, allowing us to get things done. The best part is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on paid Mac apps if you don’t want. There are outstanding free Mac apps that rival even the best paid apps. In this guide, we have mentioned the 35 best free Mac apps you can get for your Mac in 2023.
Some of the apps on this list are evergreen, and you 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. So, open your Macs and get ready to download these awesome free Mac apps.
- Purchased the new MacBook Pro? Check out the best MacBook Pro accessories you can use to enhance your workflow.
Best Free Mac Apps You Should Install in 2023
While most of the apps in this list are free, some of them offer a paid option. That being said, when it comes to paid apps, I have only included those options that offer a generous free tier. I am using free versions of all the apps (that offer paid options) and find them suitable for most users. No app with a free trial or heavily restricted free tier has been included.
Most of the free apps mentioned on this list don’t exist on the Mac App Store. Since Apple charges developers $99/year to create a developer account, app developers prefer not to distribute their free apps using the App Store. While that’s not an issue when installing apps, it becomes a hassle when you need to update them.
That’s where an app like Latest can help you out. The app keeps track of all the installed apps on your device and lets you update them all at once. You can also choose to install the updates one by one if you want. The best thing about this app is that it gives you a changelog for pending updates, so you know what you are getting.
It’s a must-have application for anyone who installs tons of apps from outside the Mac App Store.
2. Arc browser
It’s a rare occurrence when a browser becomes the most exciting app you have tried in quite some time, and that’s why we consider the Arc browser to be one of the best apps launched last year. We fell in love with the browser as soon as we started using it and have not looked back. Like Google Chrome, Arc browser is a Chromium browser, so all your Chrome features and extensions will work here.
But that’s where the similarity ends. Arc browser has its own personality and feature set that makes it far better than the Chrome browser, in our opinion. It lets you customize the look of the browser and offer features like a command bar, split-screen mode, profiles and spaces, a built-in screenshot tool, and more. There are also several quality-of-life improvements features, like a playback control for any playing video and audio, a quick tab search tool, and more.
Arc browser has made some choices that might not be for everyone, but if it clicks for you, you will not go back to your current browser. At press time, the app is still in private beta. You can use the link below to apply for beta (or install the app if it becomes available).
If you want to get into personal knowledge management or take better and connected notes, Logseq is the best note-taking app for you. We won’t get into much detail here as we have already published an in-depth review of Logseq, which you can read by clicking on the link. Here’s a short overview of the app.
Logseq is an open-source note-taking app with a privacy-first mindset. All your notes live on your computer in simple text file format, and no data is shared on the server (unless you want to sync your notes). You can use Logseq to create text notes, add images, organize notes using tags and links, and more.
What differentiates it from regular note-taking apps like Evernote is its ability to connect notes. Logseq offers a feature called bi-directional linking. It allows you to link notes and create a Wiki-like structure for your own personal knowledge. Logseq also has built-in tools that let you take notes on YouTube videos and PDF files and keep your notes connected to the source.
Again, the app offers a myriad of features, and you can read all about them in our review. The bottom line is that Logseq is one of the best note-taking appson the market, and you can use it for free.
Password management is something people ignore. Since passwords are hard to remember and most third-party password managers charge a hefty monthly subscription fee, not everyone is aboard the train. If you also want to fortify your online security by using strong passwords, but cannot afford the monthly subscription pricing, you should check out Bitwarden. Since LastPass was hacked, I searched for a free LastPass replacement, and that’s when I found Bitwarden.
Bitwarden is an open-source password manager available on all the major platforms, including iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. You can access the app on multiple platforms and sync your passwords across unlimited devices for free. The app uses zero-knowledge encryption, meaning your passwords are safe, and even the company cannot access that information.
There’s a premium tier that lets you access advanced features like 2FA authentication, Bitwarden authenticator, and more. It costs only $10/year, which is way more affordable than another password manager app. And that’s when you decide to support the development and want to pay for these extra features. You don’t need these features to sync your passwords, use the auto-fill function, or use its browser extensions. You don’t have any excuse to not use a password manager and improve your online security now, so click on the link and download it right away. If there’s one app that I recommend every one who reads this article to download, it’s Bitwarden.
I have recommended Alfred 4 to anyone who wants to improve their productivity. That said, some of its advanced features are hidden behind a paywall, and if you are not ready to upgrade yet (which I highly recommend doing), you should check out Raycast. Like Alfred, Raycast is far better than Spotlight and will make you more productive.
Using Raycast, you can do all the usual things that Spotlight is capable of, including launching apps, searching for files, doing currency conversions, etc. It’s even faster than Spotlight when performing these regular tasks. But Raycast truly shines when you start using its powerful extensions. Extensions are like Alfred Workflows. You can use them to store text snippets, manage windows, add reminders, create calendar events, and so much more.
Raycast also connects directly with popular native and third-party apps like Things 3, Apple Notes, Spotify, Apple Music, Notion, and dozens of others, and allows you to supercharge your workflow. For example, you can connect the Notion account and create new pages and search for existing pages using Raycast. Similarly, you can search and manage your to-dos inside the Reminders app or Things 3. The possibilities are just limitless.
The only negative of Raycast is that it’s a little harder to learn than using Alfred 4. But if you are willing to put in a little extra time, you will reap the dividends many times over.
Velja is one of those apps you didn’t know you needed, but once you use them, you can’t live without them. On its surface, Velja does a simple thing; it lets you open any link where you want. But once you start using it, you will realize how easy your life becomes. You can not only set rules to open links in specific browsers but also apps. For example, you can set Velja to always open zoom meeting links directly in the zoom desktop app or open Figma links in the Figma desktop app. You can do the same for links for apps like Discord, Notion, Spotify, Telegram, Trello, and more. It’s a very convenient utility and will save you a lot of time when dealing with links.
While the built-in screenshot tool on Mac is pretty powerful, it lacks some power user features. We have tried several screenshot apps in the past, and none of the free ones even come closer to Shottr. In fact, Shottr is better than most of the paid screenshot apps you can buy. Apart from the regular screenshot capture and annotation tools, Shottr packs several features you don’t generally see in a free app.
You can use Shottr to capture scrolling screenshots, delayed screenshots, recognize text and QR codes, and more. One of my favorite features of Shottr is the built-in erase tool that lets you erase text and objects. I use it regularly to hide personal information when sharing screenshots. We love Shottr and recommend that you try it out.
Rectangle is one of the apps that I install instantly on a new Mac. Macs are good at many things, but window management is not one of them. Apple has not solved the window management problem in the latest macOS Monterey, so we have to wait one more year to see if the company is willing to do something about this issue or not. If you are also fed up with Apple's native approach towards window management, you should Install Rectangle.
It's a simple menu bar app that allows you to 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.
9. Audiobook Binder
While you can listen to books in MP3 format, I like the M4B format more as it supports chapters. M4B is also the native format that Apple Books support. If you want to keep your music library separate from the book library, this is the format to use. Audiobook Binder is an app that lets you convert MP3 files into M4B files. It also lets you bind multiple MP3 files into a single M4B file and converts those MP3 files into chapters. You can also add custom book cover and edit book’s metadata including name, author, and narrator. I have been using this app for the past year and a half to listen to public domain audiobooks and lectures and it has never failed me.
For someone who still maintains an offline library of his favorite TV shows and movies, HandBrake is an essential tool. For the uninitiated, Handbrake is an open-source video encoder that allows you to convert videos from nearly any format to modern supported codecs. You can also use HandBrake to downgrade the quality of videos so they take lesser space on your device.
One of my favorite features of HandBrake is that it lets you encode videos according to device type. Say you have a Blu-ray collection, you can use HandBrake to convert it to a digital format suitable for your Apple TV and watch your content without paying for any service. It’s definitely a utility that’s not meant for everyone, but if you deal with videos, this is a must-have app.
CopyClip is a Mac utility that stores everything you copy in a clipboard. Copy-and-paste is so integral to our work that we cannot even imagine a time when this feature was not available. Still, Mac’s clipboard is probably the most neglected feature in the macOS. Even after so decades, you still cannot hold more than one entry in your clipboard. Enter, CopyClip. It’s a clipboard manager that saves entries into the clipboard. You can use a simple keyboard shortcut to easily copy any item and paste them anywhere you want. CopyClip not only saves text input but also preserves images and documents. While I use “Paste” for my clipboard management as it offers more features, for a free app, CopyClip works exceptionally well.
While Pocket and InstaPaper still exist, the new crop of read-it-later apps have outpaced them in terms of innovation and reading experience, and Matter is probably the best free app of all of them. Matter has one of the best text-parser we have seen in any such app. It sports a modern UI, and its iOS app is one of the best-designed apps you can find on the App Store. All these things mean that you get an interrupted and beautiful reading experience, which is unmatched by any other free read-it-later service.
Apart from saving articles, Matter also lets you import your newsletters and RSS subscriptions, giving you a one-stop solution for all your reading needs. It also has an excellent text-to-voice assistant which will read the article out loud in case you are not in the mood for reading.
While Matter offers a premium subscription, most of the basic features are free. Also, we are stretching it a little bit by calling Matter a Mac app as it's essentially an iPhone first app that offers a web client on Mac. However, the reading experience is so far above Pocket and Instapaper, it would be a crime not to include the app on this list.
For a long time, it was hard to recommend a good free text editor on Mac. All the good ones were paid, and the free ones were just not up to the mark. Well, after a long hiatus, BBEdit, one of the most exemplary text editors, is back on the Mac App Store. For the past 20 years, BBEdit has been the text editor to beat and now that it’s back on the App Store with a freemium model, you can use it for free. Only the advanced features of BBEdit are hidden behind a paywall and 90% of regular users will not need those features.
Whether you want to write a long blog post, edit snippets of code, design website or web apps, BBEdit is the text editor to use. The best thing about BBEdit is how fast it works. It opens text files with hundreds of thousands of words in seconds and never falters. In my years of using this app, I have not lost even a single line of text. It has a powerful search that lets you locate and find keywords across files. There’s no free text editor out there that can match its prowess.
Install: Free, $49.99
The death of Google Reader placed a dark cloud over the future of RSS readers. But, if anything, RSS is showing a sign of resurgence in the past year or so. From the launch of acclaimed RSS reader app Reeder 4 to the rebirth of NetNewsWire, RSS readers are becoming popular again. And if you are looking to create a personal news feed, there’s no better app to do it with than NetNewsWire. Built on-top of free and open source reader named Evergreen, NetNewsWire is an excellent feed reader for Mac.
The app makes it easy to subscribe to RSS feeds and brings excellent search capabilities. It also brings a beautiful design and I adore its dark mode. It also supports online feed syncing services such as Feedbin. I still prefer Reeder 4 as it brings more features, but seeing how NetNewsWire is still young and free to use, I cannot fault it. If you are looking for a free RSS reader, you should try NetNewsWire.
15. DaVinci Resolve
While Macs come with a basic video editor for free (iMovie), anyone who is serious about video editing will have to go for the pro video editing apps. The problem with apps like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro is that they cost a lot. If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, and still want to use a full-fledged video editor, DaVinci Resolve is the best option for you. Even when I am writing this, I cannot believe that such a capable video editor is free to use.
The latest version of the software, DaVinci Resolve 16 combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects, and audio post-production all in one software tool. Color correction tools of DaVinci Resolve are better than most paid video editors including FCP and Premiere Pro. From custom timeline settings to facial recognition to keyframe editing, it brings all features that you require from a professional video editor. It is one of the best free Mac software that you can install. Free Mac apps don’t get better than this.
If you want a clean and open-source torrent downloading program that is not prompting you every minute to pay money, you should download Transmission. It’s a super-fast and clean app that doesn’t bundle any bloatware. You won’t see any pop-up ads, flash ads, or anything else that most other torrent clients seem to promote. There’s not much to say about this app other than that it’s clean, super-fast, and just works.
macOS Mojave introduced dark mode to our favorite desktop operating system. The dark mode on macOS Mojave is not half-cooked as it is on windows. 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 it on, 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.
18. 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 free Mac app.
Install: Unsplash Wallpapers
19. The Unarchiver / Keka
This is one of the first free Mac 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. As one of our readers, suggested Keka is another excellent archiving application and may even beat The Unarchiver in certain tasks.
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.
ImageOptim is one of the most used free 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.
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 for Mac 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 Mac 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 Mac apps that 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 (available for Windows PC too). 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.
Lightworks is a another free 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.
30. HiddenBar or Vanilla
You might have noticed that many of the apps mentioned on this list are Menu Bar apps. Menu Bar apps are great for hosting utilities and quick-action apps, and we love them. However, if you use a lot of them, your Menu Bar can get cluttered super fast. That’s where an app like HiddenBar or Vanilla comes into play. These apps let you hide the menu bar items you don’t want to see all the time.
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 who wants to keep their Mac clean.
Manuscript is a free Mac 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.
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.
Best Free macOS Apps: Final Thoughts
I hope that you found some apps which are useful to you. Do let me know which of these were your favorite and which ones you discovered. Also, if you know free apps that deserve to be on the list but aren’t, drop their names in the comments section. That’s all I have for this article. If you liked this article, share this on your social media profiles because we need your help to get the word out. As always, drop your opinions and suggestions in the comments section down below. We love to hear from our readers and your comments are always welcome.