Top 19 Best Mac Apps to Install for Productivity, Entertainment, & More [2022]

If you’ve recently bought a Mac or have just updated yours, you may be thinking about what sort of apps you should be installing on your system. Of course, you would want the most useful ones and want to skip the not-so-helpful ones. But how do you know which ones are worth installing?

There are so many of them out there that it is nearly impossible to list all of the best Mac apps. However, we’ve managed to put together this list of the best ones available in 2022.

The Best Mac Apps By Category

The Best Mac Apps [2022]

Apps for Your Interface

Alfred

Alfred 4 for Mac

Pricing:

  • FREE Forever plan allows users access to the app’s core features
  • Power pack for additional features costs:
    • Single License: £34 or about $41.9 as of writing for a single user and 1-2 machines
    • Mega Supporter: ​​£59 or about $72.7 as of writing for a single user and 1-2 machines with lifetime updates

What we liked:

  • Has a free forever plan that gives users access to many of Alfred’s great features
  • Acts like a combination of Spotlight and Siri

As an app, Alfred is almost like a combination of Spotlight and Siri. It’s an application launcher, but it can also do so much more. With Alfred, users can perform calculations quickly, do web searches, search for word definitions, and more. This app is consistently on the list of best MacBook apps, and for good reason.

For even more features, you can buy the Power Pack. The upgrade gives you even more powerful searching, clipboard history, and added clipboard functionality, workflows, custom themes, file management, and more.

Amphetamine

Amphetamine

Pricing:

  • FREE forever

What we liked:

  • Has been and always will be free to use

If you’ve ever left your Mac on overnight to download a big file or render a massive project only to find out that your Mac went on standby and made no progress as you slept, Amphetamine is for you.

Amphetamine is an app that allows Mac users to keep their computers awake for a set time for whatever reason. Once it’s installed, Amphetamine has an icon on the menu bar that you can right-click (or control-click) to start or stop a stay-awake session. That’s all there is to it — it’s incredibly simple, absolutely free, and has even more customization tools if you want to delve deeper.

Magnet

Magnet app for Mac

Pricing: One-time purchase of $7.99

What we liked:

  • Easy and intuitive to use by dragging your window to the edges or corners of your screen or by using the icon in the menu bar
  • Organizes your workspace efficiently and helps you lessen distractions
  • Also works for vertical screens

If you’re still manually arranging and resizing your windows on your Mac, you might just like Magnet. Magnet does it all for you, and all you have to do is drag a window to the edges of your screen or use the icon in your menu bar. And, if you prefer using your keyboard to control things, you might enjoy the ability to use keyboard commands and shortcuts.

Magnet makes it much easier to size and snap windows around so you can work while your reference is on the screen. You no longer have to click around through your tabs or windows to compare figures or read your research, and so on.

Bartender

Bartender mac app

Pricing:

  • Free trial for four weeks, then after that it is a one-time purchase of $16
  • If you have a license for any former version of Bartender, you can get a 50% discount

What we liked:

  • One license works for all the Mac computers you own, as long as you are the primary user
  • Helps clean up your menu bar easily

Bartender (now on version 4) is a macOS app that gives you superpowers over your Mac’s menu bar. It gives you plenty of control over the items on your menu bar, what gets displayed, when it gets displayed, and more. This app also helps you improve your daily workflow with search, custom hotkey features, triggers, quick reveal, and more.

Unclutter

Unclutter

Pricing:

  • Seven-day free trial, then a $19.99 one-time purchase

What we liked:

  • Cleans up your desktop and acts as a convenient way to manage clips, files, and notes
  • Helps smoothen your workflow

Unclutter is consistently named one of the best apps for MacBook users, considering its many convenient features. It extends the use of your machine’s clipboard, giving it additional features like a history of your recent copies. It also allows you to keep favorites and see a preview of your clipped content (and even edit it if it’s text). That’s good enough on its own, but Unclutter also has many other features:

  • File management via Unclutter Files, which allows you to keep a “go-to” place where you can store files casually. You can also keep frequently-used files here or use it as a drop-zone if you’re dragging files around between apps.
  • Notes with a search function that you can set up to work with Dropbox, etc.

Apps for Productivity

Dark Noise

Dark Noise

Pricing: One-time purchase of $5.99, no trial

What we liked:

  • Plenty of customization options
  • Make your own mixes!

If you’ve always liked having white noise when you’re trying to work or fall asleep, you might enjoy Dark Noise. It originally began as an iPhone and iPad app, but now it has come to your Mac.

Dark Noise, as an app, is incredibly simple. But that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in any features. Dark Noise allows you to play ambient noise to fill the silence, helping you relax, focus, or fall asleep. There are fifty built-in sounds that you can add to (by making custom mixes). You can shrink your window so it’s a small player that’s out of the way but allows you access to controls. There are also themes if you would like to customize the way your app looks.

Bear

Bear mac app

Pricing:

  • Free forever plan
  • $1.49 per month (comes with a free one-week trial)
  • $14.99 per year (comes with a free one-month trial)

What we liked:

  • Generous free forever plan allows you to use the core features across your devices
  • Pro plan allows encryption and password/touch/face ID protection

If you enjoy taking notes but find your Mac’s built-in Notes app lacking, Bear is the app for you. It can help you do everything from making quick notes to writing in-depth stories or essays. There’s a focus mode that can help you concentrate on your work, and there are also advanced markup options to help you stylize your text. Adding images is also possible, along with rich previews, quick to-do adds, hashtags, and more.

Bear has a free forever plan that you can use on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You can make notes and add attachments and tags as well as export to various formats. However, if you want more features like encryption and touch/face ID locking, you’ll have to pay for pro.

Todoist

Todoist app

Pricing:

  • Free forever plan
  • Pro: $3/month billed annually, $4/month billed monthly
  • Business: $5 per user/month billed annually, $6 per user/month billed monthly

What we liked:

  • The natural language used in the Quick Add feature makes scheduling a breeze
  • Affordable pro plan
  • Free forever plan available

Todoist is one of the ultimate productivity apps for MacBook. It’s a to-do list app on steroids that’s available on so many platforms. You can find it on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Outlook, Gmail, and on their own website. With Todoist, you can spend more time actually working on your tasks instead of worrying about scheduling them, thanks to a natural “Quick Add” feature and a Smart Schedule feature boosted by AI.

Todoist helps keep you motivated with goals and visualizing your progress and productivity (Todoist Karma). It integrates with 60+ other apps, and is available in twenty languages. There’s no need to worry about remembering something — reminders will take care of it for you. You can also collaborate with up to twenty-five people per project. If you want to keep your projects organized, display them as a kanban board or list, and create sections within them.

Todoist Plans

Free Forever Pro Business
FREE $3/month billed annually

$4/month billed monthly

$5 per user/month billed annually

$6 per user/month billed monthly

  • 5 (active) projects, up to five collaborators each
  • 5MB uploads
  • Up to 3 filters
  • Activity history of one week
  • 300 (active) projects, with up to 25 collaborators each
  • 100MB uploads
  • Up to 150 filters
  • Reminders
  • Activity history is unlimited
  • Themes
  • Auto backups
  • Everything in pro
  • 500 (active) projects per member, up to 50 collaborators per projects
  • Team inbox and billing
  • Admin/member roles
  • Priority Todoist support


Evernote

Evernote

Pricing:

  • Free forever
  • Personal: $7.99/month
  • Professional: $9.99/month

What we liked:

  • Free forever plan is enough for casual users
  • Evernote makes keeping notes easy as can be

As long as Evernote keeps its quality and value up, it will consistently be one of the best apps for Mac. Evernote allows users to work anywhere and keep important information handy, thanks to the automatic cross-device syncing. It also allows notes to become more useful by adding images, text, scans, audio, PDFs, and document attachments. With this app, users can go paperless and even create to-do lists centered around their notes, with assignable tasks that can sync with Google Calendar. Search functions help users keep track of what they’ve written in the past.

Evernote Plans

Free Forever Personal Professional
FREE $7.99/month $9.99/month
  • Up to two devices per user
  • Create notes
  • Up to 60 mb in monthly uploads
  • 25 mb max note size
  • Attach files
  • Clip web pages
Everything in free, +

  • Unlimited devices per user
  • 10 gb in monthly uploads
  • 200 mb max note size
  • Add due dates to your tasks
  • Search text INSIDE images/files
  • Mark up images and PDFs
  • Custom templates
  • Offline access
Everything in personal, +

  • 20 gb in monthly uploads
  • Location/geo search
  • Third-party integrations
  • Use boolean terms when searching

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 for Mac

Pricing:

  • Use a limited version of Microsoft Office via Office Online
  • Personal subscription: $69.99/year or $6.99/month, 1 tb OneDrive storage
  • Family subscription up to 2-6 users: $99.99/year or $9.99/month, 1 tb OneDrive storage per person
  • Perpetual license (one-time purchase) for Office Home and Student 2021 at $149.99
  • Business
  • Enterprise

What we liked:

  • One subscription gives you access 365 on multiple devices and comes with 1 tb of OneDrive storage
  • The Office suite continues to be the industry standard

Not much needs to be said about Microsoft Office — it remains one of the industry standards when it comes to productivity apps. The suite also contains some of the best macOS apps. You can choose to make a one-time purchase of a perpetual license

PDF Expert

PDF Expert

Pricing:

  • Seven-day free trial, then
  • $6.67/month billed yearly or
  • $139.99 one-time lifetime purchase
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

What we liked:

  • Makes reading and working with PDFs hassle-free

PDF Expert lets you read PDFs easily, with additional features such as text search and text-to-speech. You can highlight, annotate, sync via the cloud, make bookmarks, fill in forms, and more. You can also directly add or edit links and images and sign documents — no more frantically trying to figure out how to get those contracts signed. You can also convert PDFs if you need to.

For the privacy-minded, PDF Expert allows you to redact data and add password protection.

Apps for Utility

AppCleaner

AppCleaner

Pricing: FREE

What we liked:

  • Easy and simple to use, for free!

When talking about essential Mac apps, AppCleaner is almost always one of them. AppCleaner is a pretty small and unobtrusive app that allows you to completely uninstall any unwanted apps. AppCleaner finds even the hidden files and distributed files in your system so you can free up hard drive space. The best part is, it’s completely free!

CleanMyMac X

CleanMyMac X

Pricing:

  • Free limited trial mode allows for unlimited smart scans and removal of up to 500mb of junk, unlimited malware and privacy scans (but only removal once), and more
  • Subscriptions (always keep an eye out for deals and discounts)
    • 1 Mac $39.95
    • 2 Macs $79.90
    • 5 Macs $199.75
  • One-time purchase of perpetual license (also frequently discounted)
    • 1 Mac $89.95
    • 2 Macs $179.90
    • 5 Macs $449.75

What we liked:

  • Keeps your Mac clean and running like brand new

CleanMyMac X is a one-stop cleaning utility that keeps your machine clean and running optimally. It has plenty of features that help you unburden your hard drive and get rid of files without a trace. It can also scan for and remove malware and perform privacy scans. For the features it offers, it remains one of the best Mac Apps 2022 has to offer.

Apps for Editing

Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher

Affinity app

Pricing:

  • PC/Mac: $54.99 per app
  • iPad: Affinity Design/Photo only – $21.99

What we liked:

  • Performs many of the same functions as Adobe’s suite
  • No subscriptions

Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher are alternatives for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign respectively. Affinity’s suite is available as a one-time purchase, with no subscription necessary. The interfaces and functions of the apps differ slightly, so there is a slight learning curve. If you’re a designer tired of Adobe subscriptions, Affinity’s suite are some must-have Mac apps.

CleanShot X

CleanShot X

Pricing:

What we liked:

Apps for Entertainment

Steam

Steam

Pricing: FREE

What we liked:

  • Makes it easy to figure out which apps work for Mac
  • Pretty much the biggest repository of games

Valve’s steam is one of the largest gaming storefronts that’s available on multiple platforms. It makes it easy to figure out which games run on Mac, and always runs frequent sales.

Epic Games Launcher

Epic Games

Pricing: FREE

What we liked:

  • Free games practically every week
  • Trying to be competitive with other storefronts

Epic Games Launcher is one of the newer kids on the block when it comes to game storefronts. It’s a digital video game and software distribution platform that also runs sales every now and then. One of the biggest selling points of this app is that they currently give out free games weekly.

Spotify

Spotify for Mac

Pricing:

  • Free – ads + access to a ll playlists and play any album, artist, or playlist (only in shuffle mode)
  • Premium
    • $4.99/mo student
    • $9.99/mo single user
    • $12.99/mo duo
    • $15.99/mo family – 6 users

What we liked:

  • Premium allows unlimited skips, ad-free listening, and music downloads

Spotify is another app that needs no introduction and is consistently on the list of Best Apps for MacBook Pro or Best Apps for MacBook Air. Regardless of your machine, Spotify can keep you entertained for hours on end.

Apps for Security

1Password

1Password for Mac

Pricing:

  • 14-day free trial
  • $2.99/mo billed annually for single users
  • $4.99/mo billed annually for family accounts (up to five users)

What we liked:

  • Can be used on unlimited devices and any platform (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS)
  • 24/7 support

Trying to remember your passwords can be a pain, which is why many apps and services like LastPass and 1Password have come to be. 1Password is a password manager and so much more, offering a 365-day history so you can restore any deleted passwords you find you still need. 1Password also has 2FA to add another layer of security. With 1Password, sharing your information (no matter how sensitive) securely is the priority.

Frequently Asked Questions

What apps should my Mac have?

The apps your machine should have are the ones you’ll most likely need most often. Macs themselves already come with plenty of built-in apps that are relatively useful (such as Apple’s productivity apps). However, you can always download and add more — perhaps a to-do list manager, a calendar, or a better email app? You can also download and install entertainment apps, or some additional apps to beef up your Mac’s security.

What should I install on my new Mac?

From the apps on this list, there are quite a few that are immediately impactful and could make using your Mac an even more pleasant experience from the start. You can consider installing:

  • A VPN app (or alternatively, a trustworthy VPN browser extension)
  • Utility apps like AppCleaner or CleanMyMac X
  • A way for you to keep your passwords safer, like 1Password
  • A way to make your interfaces more convenient, like Magnet or Unclutter

Do I need to download antivirus for Mac?

A while back, there used to be a myth that Macs never get viruses. But that’s just what it is — a myth. This misconception may have been born from the fact that in its history as a system, Macs appear to be pretty secure and safe compared to other systems. It is still true to this day, but only if you are careful as to where you download and install apps from.

Users are generally recommended to download their apps from the Mac app store or via the developer’s official website, as these are the safest ways to go. However, Apple puts other measures in place at the OS level that can help protect you from the worst threats out there, such as Gatekeeper (blocks you from installing non-Apple-approved apps) and XProtect (the built-in antivirus on macOS). Despite these protections, some viruses (adware, cryptocurrency miners, spyware, ransomware, trojan horses, etc) may still get through.

So do you need an antivirus? Although it may sound scary, Apple works very hard to make it difficult for your security to get compromised. Unless you bypass all the safeties Macs have or download from unsafe, untrustworthy sources, you should be fine!

However, if you want to set and forget an extra layer of protection just to be sure, you can. Many antiviruses are light on the system and on the budget, as well.

Is Microsoft Word free on Mac?

Microsoft now has Office Online, which is somewhat of a direct competitor to Google’s productivity suite. Through Office Online, you can access Microsoft Word for free, but there is a caveat — you can only use it through your browser.

If you would like to use Microsoft Word as a desktop app, you will have to pay for it. You can do this in two ways — you can purchase a perpetual license (keep forever) of the Microsoft Office suite. The latest iteration was released in 2021. Alternatively, you can sign up for a subscription to Microsoft 365 (previously known as Office 365) for more regular updates and additional features.

How do I get more apps on my MacBook?

The best and easiest way for you to get more apps on your MacBook is by downloading and installing them from the Mac app store. Apps uploaded there are generally Apple-approved, which means they are most likely safe for use since getting an app on the store requires it to go through some checks. You can simply click the “Get” or “Buy” button for an app on the app store, and that will install it onto your Mac.

Alternatively, you can also find other apps via their official websites. However, we do not recommend that you download apps this way unless you trust the source.

Can I download iPad apps on my MacBook?

If you wanted to use an iOS or iPadOS app back in the day, you would have to break out your iDevices since that was the only way you could. Nowadays, you can use your Mac to run those apps — provided you meet a few requirements. If you want to use iOS or iPadOS apps on your Mac, your machine has to be operating on Apple silicon, such as the M1 series. It also has to be running on macOS Big Sur or later.

Apple’s arm-based M1 chip is capable of running iOS and iPadOS apps because there is common architecture among the three operating systems. These days, some developers have started updating their apps to make them more compatible with your Mac’s OS. You can even download them straight from the Mac app store, provided they are available there.

You can find plenty of information and guides online that will teach you how to download iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac. Remember that because there are no touchscreen Macs, you will need to use your mouse or trackpad and keyboard to control and navigate these apps!

Wrapping Up: Which are the Best Mac Apps This Year?

The answer will largely depend on your preferences and what you intend to use your Mac for most. However, it’s hard to go wrong with utility-related apps like AppCleaner, and you’ll certainly always find security-oriented apps like 1Password useful.

The best way to know what the best Mac apps are is to try them out yourself. Many of them have free trials available (or have a free forever plan) so that you can experience them before you buy. Some of them are even entirely free. And if you don’t like them, you can just end your trial and uninstall them. Remember to avoid downloading from untrustworthy sources! If you can, stick to getting your apps from the Mac app store or from developers’ official websites.

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Chriselle Sy
Chriselle Sy
+ posts

Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, but she's a geek at heart. When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.