Hello again! As in last year, I will continue in my annual must-have apps for Mac summary. As you may know, I use Macs since 2008. I started with entry-level MacBook White Early 2008 and now I’m running on CTO iMac Retina 5K Late 2015. As my iPad Pro replaced my MacBook Pro Retina, I sold it and now I’m running tablet + desktop combo. All my apps are hand-picked to best fit for my needs. Year of 2017 was so busy and I radically re-imaged my workflow and now, I will share it. So sit down and read 🙂
- Files & Services
- Photo & Video
- Extensions & Widgets
So let’s start:
Files & Services
Alongside the iCloud Drive, I use Dropbox as my primary cloud service. Last year I had some issues with iCloud Drive, but now they are fixed and I started to use native cloud service from Apple. Anyway, Dropbox is still my most favourite cloud service thanks to its versatility and compatibility with many apps for my iPad which I use in co-work with Mac. Dropbox creates dedicated folder on your Mac where you can simple drag-n-drop some files and they are uploaded to cloud and your files will be available for all your Dropbox-enabled devices, fully synchronized (synchronization requires Internet connection). Setup is very easy even for beginner. Files on Dropbox cloud are automatically backed up to my NAS -> WD My Cloud, so my datas are safe. Very handy is screenshot function. When I make screenshot by keyboard shortcut, it is automatically sent to my “Screenshots” folder on my Dropbox account and link to screenshot on cloud is copied to clipboard, so I don’t need 3rd party services for managing screenshot and I can easily remove screenshots, which I no longer want to share.
You can download Dropbox on developer’s website.
I was long time user of Apple’s default Calendar app, but it did not fit my needs by 100%. I tried some 3rd party calendar apps, like Readdles’s Calendar 5, which was great, but it lacks macOS counterpart, so I was finding another client. Finally, I found Fantastical 2, and as its name says, it’s just… Fanstastical! I love Month view with incoming events in agenda on left side of app’s window. It fully works with iCloud and some other services like Exchange, Office 365, Google, Facebook etc. If you don’t use any of these services, don’t worry – it supports all CalDAV accounts. Unlike Apple’s Calendar, it supports native language input for adding events, so just type something like “lunch at 15:00 today”, then (optionally) set reminder alert and confirm event in one click.
Fantastical 2 comes with iOS counterpart. Unfortunately, if you own iPhone and iPad and want to use Fantastical on your both iOS devices, you have to purchase them separately for iPhone and iPad.
First issue with Fantastical 2, which can be solved easily, is sound notification. When you use iOS version to create event with reminder(s) with sound alert, Fantastical 2 on Mac won’t play sound. You need to follow these steps on your Mac:
- open Terminal
- type: defaults write com.flexibits.fantastical2.mac AlwaysPlaySoundForEventAlerts -bool YES
- press Enter on keyboard
Second issue is not a real issue, but not all users are satisfied with macOS’s default sounds. Fantastical 2 for Mac is not equiped with its custom sounds like its iOS counterpart, and you may want to set custom sound. Just follow steps in my guide “Hacking” notification sounds in macOS. For Fantastical 2 work first two causes described in guide. If you want to set the same sound on Mac to match your Fantastical alerts on your iPhone/iPad, you have to request sound file from Fantastical support. I did it and I received sound file from support, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post it here due to copyright. I will let you know later.
You can download Fantastical 2 on the Mac App Store:
I have some types of tasks, which fit better in to-do list rather than regular calendar. In our comp-blog.com team, we are using Todoist, because we need to share our tasks and Todoist is multi-platform app with many useful tools and it still feels light and tidy. Like Fantastical 2, it support native language input. You can create both private and shared lists of tasks, so you can use Todoist, for example, at work/school sharing tasks with your mates without disrupting your privacy in personal life tasks. It’s simple to create list shared with co-workers, another shared list with your family and one personal just for you. I switched from Wunderlist, because it was acquired by Microsoft and it will be soon discontinued. Todoist is great even in free version, advanced users and teams should consider to get premium version, if free version does not match all your needs.
You can download Todoist on the Mac App Store:
Few months ago, I found great note-taking app: Notability. I was subscribed to Office 365, but Microsoft’s apps for iOS were lacking new features from iOS 11 and most of them won’t be added, so I returned back to free iWork from Apple. I was using MS OneNote for notes and I know, that it’s now free even without Office 365 subscription, but in future, it may be subject of change and I was not really satisfied with design of OneNote. I was also thinking about what could happen to my notes if Microsoft changes something or discontinues OneNote. And just one more simple question: will I be able to read my notes after next 10 years? I was finding note-taking app with support to import and export notes in PDF format, because PDF is universal, worldwide-adapted format. And I found Notability. All my notes are automatically synced via iCloud to my iMac and iPad. As for my requested feature to import/export to PDF, Notability works at 100%. All my notes are automatically exported in PDF format into my Dropbox account, even if I move/rename notes in Notability app, it will reflect my changes in Dropbox folder.
Just one note: you can’t directly sync both Mac and iOS version of Notability to Dropbox at the same time. Just choose your “primary” platform and link it to Dropbox. Secondary platform will be synchronized by iCloud, so if you choose Notability for Mac as primary platform, only Mac version will save notes to Dropbox, but if you create a note on your iPad, it will be synchronized via iCloud to Mac and from Mac it will be copied to Dropbox. It’s little confusing, but it works. And if Notability will be discontinued, I can easily find another note-taking platform with support of importing and exporting into PDF.
Notability can store notes by categories containing “Subjects” and “Dividers”. Every subject can be tagged by custom color. Adding of notes, annotations and voice records is addictive and even better, if you have iPad Pro with Apple Pencil in your workflow alongside the Mac. It’s very simple and useful app with nice GUI.
You can download Notability on the Mac App Store:
When I find something interesting on Internet and I want to keep it, I use Pocket (formerly Read It Later). My entries are synced via Pocket account to my Mac and iPad, so I have my articles everywhere. Action extension is very handy and I don’t have to open Pocket from Dock, I only have to click on Share button and select “Pocket”. Very easy. Pocket offers premium version, but for my needs, free version is enough.
You can download Pocket on the Mac App Store:
Bear is my blogging app. I was using Ulysses, but it turned into subscription model and that was not all – in that times, I discovered Bear, so I decided, after few days, to leave Ulysses and I switched to Bear. Bear is at subscription model too, but much cheaper than Ulysses. Moving datas from Ulysses to Bear was not pain, because I was using similar philosophy as in cause of Microsoft OneNote vs. Notability, so I’m not under vendor-lock. Bear uses tags to sort your posts and every post can have multiple tags. As for exporting notes, Bear supports formats like PDF, Markdown and TXT, or Bear’s native format. Bear also supports exporting notes without tags. Synchronization is very fast, it supports backing up your notes into cloud and GUI is well done. Just try and you will fall in love, non-premium version is free.
You can download Bear on the Mac App Store:
If you need to work with PDF files and Acrobat Reader from Adobe is expensive for you, one of the best solutions is PDF Expert for Mac. You can read, annotate and even edit your PDF files. Things like updating logo, signature or any text in document is a matter of a few seconds or minutes. It’s really fast. You can remove some pages from PDF documents, highlight your texts to study, make marks, add web links to text, merge documents to one, change properties like author and even protect your PDF files by password. Great software with great functions.
As for Handoff service, PDF Expert uses its own Readdle Transfer (which is better that Apple’s Handoff), so you don’t have to get version from Mac App Store to enjoy Handoff. Readdle said it will upgrade regularly both versions, but I still recommend Mac App Store version because of Family Sharing.
You can download PDF Expert on the Mac App Store:
Pages. Numbers. Keynote. I switched from MS Office back to iWork from Apple, because native solution from Apple works better on my Mac + iPad combo. I can fully enjoy iCloud Drive and Handoff features and I don’t need another account filled up with bloatware to work with my important documents – all is handled by iCloud, even editing files in web browser. MS Office for iOS won’t support many of the great features included in iOS 11, so I definitely decided to return back to iWork. And as bonus, iWork is completely free, without subscriptions.
You can download Pages on the Mac App Store:
You can download Numbers on the Mac App Store:
You can download Keynote on the Mac App Store:
You can download Coda 2 on developer’s website.
I needed FTP client and for few last years, I’m using Transmit, a client from creators of Coda 2. Transmit is very fast and if you like software with superior design, Transmit is definitely for you. It’s not all about (S)FTP(ES) servers, Transmit can log in into Amazon S3, WebDAV, WebDAV HTTPS, Amazon Drive, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, MS OneDrive and few others. Some apps on my iPad offer FTP connection to wirelessly transfer files and thanks to Transmit, I can manage files freely like on macOS’s Finder and not to be annoyed by transfering files via web browser, which, in most cases, is copying files one-by-one, like in 90s.
You can download Transmit on developer’s website.
Everyone is using Facebook and its Messenger, why you should use Telegram?
Telegram is free communication system for most platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android and many others. It uses end-to-end encryption and nobody can read your messages. Unlike Facebook’s Messenger, you are not spied over and your personal datas and activity aren’t sold to 3rd party companies, mostly for marketing. It was said that Facebook will add ads into Messenger and a lot of junk is already here. If you are thinking about alternative, consider to get Telegram. It’s free, without ads, without junk and your privacy is kept. Plus, design is much better and cleaner and you can make free calls over Internet to another users of Telegram. Telegram originates in Russia and now it’s worldwide.
You can download Telegram on the Mac App Store:
You can download Telegram on developer’s website.
Tweetbot is a client for Twitter. Most developers of apps I’m using are registered on Twitter, so I created Twitter account to follow them all. Tweetbot can manage multiple accounts and create separated windows or columns from sections, like Timeline, Mentions, Likes etc, it’s something like “modular design”. If you purchase Tweetbot for iOS too, it will synchronize your timeline via iCloud, so if you read some tweets on Mac and then you sit at your iPhone/iPad, you can continue where you left of. If you are using other platforms like Windows or Android, Tweetbot supports, on both macOS and iOS platforms, feature called “Tweet Marker”, so if you have compatible Twitter app for platforms like mentioned Windows and Android, you can still benefit from timeline sync. Design is robust, but still tidy and clean. Twitter recently updated character limit from 140 to 280 and if your Twitter client was not updated to support it, try Tweetbot. It’s regularly updated with long history of updates.
You can download Tweetbot on the Mac App Store:
Photo & Video
Final Cut Pro X:
Many people are saying that iMovie is enough for home users and only pros should buy this expensive video app. But that’s not true. Many trivial options are not available in iMovie, so I was forced to get something more robust to fit my needs. Final Cut Pro is professional video editing software from Apple. It’s optimized for Macs and work is done very fast. If you are missing some features from iMovie and you want to try Final Cut Pro, because it is from Apple and you prefer native Apple’s solutions, Apple offers free trial version, which can be downloaded HERE.
You can download Final Cut Pro X on the Mac App Store:
I work a lot with metadata included in photos and pictures. MetaGear can delete them all – or just only few metadata tags you choose. It support batch removing/editing of metadata and also your custom presets. It is really easy to delete all (or chosen categories/tags, like GPS data) metadata from large amount of photos and then apply your custom presset with, for example, copyright notice, to all your photos.
You can download MetaGear on the Mac App Store:
Built-in calculator app in macOS is not enough? Or you don’t like that ugly design? Do you need advanced features? Then PCalc is for you. It contains many designs and layouts with a high level of customization and it supports many of the latest technologies like syncing to iCloud, widget or Handoff with its iOS counterpart, so you can start to calculate on iPad and then continue on your Mac – it works really good. PCalc contains many constants (Astronomical, Mathematical, Atomic etc.), Functions (Complex numbers, Trigonometric etc.) and Conversions, including Currency. You can even add your own entries. But what happens, if I need to reinstal my Mac, to my customizations and custom entries? It’s simple: all of these settings (including layouts and keyboard shortcuts) can be exported to a file and after installing PCalc, you can simply import your exported file.
You can download PCalc on the Mac App Store:
If you prefer dedicated weather app over website, Forecast Bar is great choice. Watch current conditions or forecast for next 24 hours or even more days ahead. App provides all weather data you may need, like temperature, “feels like” temperature, relative humidity, dew point, cloud conditions, UV factor, visibility, high and lowest temperatures in your home or any supported location, wind speed, pressure, sunrise/sunset, Moon phase etc. Control Center widget and icon in menubar with current temperature are included. As for notifications, you can set time for daily summary of weather. Severe weather alerts are available in the USA only.
You can download Forecast Bar on the Mac App Store:
Every operating system is creating some invisible files like “.DS_Store” on macOS, which contain some metadata. If you upload your folders to server or when you compress folder and you want to send it, for example, via e-mail, these invisible files are present. They are annoying. Solution is called BlueHarvest. It can scan folders and subfolders to remove these invisible files. You can also set some folders to be cleaned of metadata automatically. I use desktop on my Mac to store files and folders I have to work with, so I set a Desktop as folder with automatically removing of metadata. If you are usign tags from Finder, don’t forget to set “Always keep tags” and other settings of your will for folders which are cleaned automatically.
You can download BlueHarvest on the Mac App Store:
You can download BlueHarvest on developer’s website.
Unlox (formerly MacID) is an app, which allows you to use Touch ID on your iPhone/iPad to unlock your Mac. It needs to be installed on your both devices (Mac + iPhone/iPad) and to be on the same wi-fi network with Bluetooth enabled. Automatic lock of your Mac while you are too away with your iPhone/iPad or automatic wake when you are near is included too – it’s based on dBm unit, which can be configured/calibrated to fit your needs and network parameters. Its iOS counterpart can also show notifications on your iOS device when your Mac requests unlock requests, elevated privilege requests and auto-lock notifications. Just one issue – iOS version needs to be running in multitasking, but this is not a bug, it’s about Apple’s restrictions for apps published to Apple’s App Store.
You can download Unlox on developer’s website.
Copied is simple app for clipboard history, which runs in background. In built-in clipboard in macOS, like in most other operating systems, you can paste only last copied entry. With Copied app, you can set history of clipboard from 10 up to 1000 entries. Another great feature in Copied app is ability to save text strings, so if you are typing some texts often (like pieces of HTML code), you can save it and use anytime. Copied got iOS counterpart with iCloud sync, so your clipboard and templates are up to date on all your devices.
You can download Copied on the Mac App Store:
Paranoia or security? Little Snitch 4 is the ultimate tool for monitoring your network activity. Every connection has to be manually confirmed, unless some sort of auto-approving is enabled in Little Snitch itself. You can give or remove access for any apps and services you want to, including “allow once” and “allow always”. This can be used as great protection against keyloggers and other malware and spyware. Little Snitch 4 is often abused by software pirates, because it can stop pirated software to “call home” – a security feature when app on your computer can send data to developer to control if your copy of downloaded app is genuine. All rules can be viewed directly in the Little Snitch 4, protected by your system password. If you are worring about your privacy and security, Little Snitch 4 is great solution.
You can download Little Snitch on developer’s website.
macOS is not as secure as it was in past. Macs are getting more and more popular, which attracts crackers and developers of malevolent software. I do not recommend any antivirus software for macOS, except Malwarebytes. It is relatively tiny anti-malware utility with backgroud protection without any impact on system performance. System scan are done in seconds. I have read many recommendations for Malwarebytes, so we purchased licence for every Mac in our household. It was a great deal: 39.99 euro for first license and another 10 euro for every next license in pack (up to 10 licenses available). Using of antivirus software is double-edged: security softwares usually get high system privileges and if backdoor or other bug is discovered in antivirus system, crackers may try to infect your computer with this security software installed. This is reason, why I generally do not trust into software against malware.
You can download Malwarebytes on developer’s website.
RansomWhere? and OverSight:
These two utilities should get every Mac user. First one is monitoring your operating system for processes which are creating encrypted files and if something is found, RansomWhere? will warn you and offer to stop that process. Creating of encrypted files at high rate is typical for malware called “ransomware” – it will encrypt all your files on your computer and then it will ask you for money to unlock your files, usually in Bitcoin. Mostly, you only have 24 or 48 hours to pay for it. If you got ransomware and you have no backups, you are in serious problem. Great protection against ransomware is to create read-only snapshots, but if you are not tech-savvy, or you just want another level of protection, I highly recommend RansomWhere?.
OverSight monitors your webcam and microphone. When one of these devices become active, it will show warning and offers to allow communication or to block it. On one famous photo, founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has taped over his webcam and microphone on his MacBook Air.
You can download RansomWhere? on developer’s website.
You can download OverSight on developer’s website.
One of the best content blockers for Mac is 1Blocker. It blocks annoying ads in web browser to save data on limited mobile Internet plans and speeding-up loading time. No one love ads, not just because they are annoying, but it may affect security of your computer, because online ads may serve you a malware. And many corporations track your behavior on Internet. Apple released Intelligent Tracking Prevention to protect your privacy against tracking and with great ad-blocking services like 1Blocker is browsing the web more secure. 1Blocker can stop cryptocurrency mining scripts, which are present on thousands of websites. 1Blocker is made by independent developers and it won’t adapt model like popular AdBlock -> pay us money and we will pass your ads. Also, an iOS counterpart of 1Blocker is available with iCloud sync for all your settings and custom-created lists (including whitelists).
You can download 1Blocker on the Mac App Store:
Roadblock is another great content blocker for both macOS and iOS with iCloud sync for settings, profiles and lists (including whitelist). No ad-blocker is perfect and no ad-blocker will blocks all ads and tracking scripts, so I use 1Blocker and Roadblock combo. You won’t need another content blockers. Interesting fact: all of these content-blocking apps (unlike regular extensions for Internet browsers like AdBlock) can’t track your behavior on Internet due to Apple’s restrictions, so that is another level of privacy for you.
You can download Roadblock on the Mac App Store:
Extensions & Widgets
Missing features from Windows are here! Live previews and windows snapping, if you missed them, are finally on Mac. Appearance of window previews are customizable with 3 themes and resizeable in HyperDock’s settings to fill your needs. Also, you can set distance from dock for window previews and numbers of previews per row.
You can download HyperDock on the Mac App Store:
You can download HyperDock on developer’s website.
Silicio is very simple widget – it shows you name of song and album you are listening in Control Centre. Silicio supports iTunes (including Apple Music, iTunes Radio and Beats 1), Vox (including SoundCloud), Deezer and Spotify (including Spotify Connect). Also, notifications are supported too, so you will never miss name of currently playing song.
You can download Silicio on the Mac App Store:
Monity is another widget, which shows you infos about CPU and RAM usage, temperature, fans and battery level info etc. To show temperature of your Mac components, you will need a Monity Helper app. This Helper is not required, until you want to measure temperature. I have discovered Monity before few years and I’m still using it. It’s beatiful.
You can download Monity on the Mac App Store:
This is my workflow of must-have apps for my iMac for year 2017. I hope I helped you choosing the best software for your Mac. See ya in year!