My Must-Have apps for Mac, 2018 edition

My Must-Have apps for Mac, 2018 editionYear 2018 has passed and as every year, I’m bringing to you list of my must-have apps for Mac. I discovered many great apps and some of them were so georgeous, so I picked them as my favourites for year 2018. There are no big changes this year compared to my must-haves from 2016 to 2017, but still there are many new apps. So sit down, take popcorn and let’s read.

This year, I sorted my favourites into 7 categories:

  • Personal
  • Office
  • Internet & Social
  • Multimedia
  • Files
  • Security
  • Utilities

Personal

Cardhop:

Cardhop is AI-powered contact manager. It features natural language input, the same technology we can find in Flexibit’s another app – Fantastical 2. If you want, for example, write e-mail to “Raynor”, just type “email Ra” and Cardhop will suggest contacts and data stored within them. Quick Actions are customizable, so you can write e-mail or send message via Telegram to chosen person easier. Personally, I use Cardhop in menubar, without dock icon, so all my contacts are with me in matter of very few clicks. With Birthday feature, you will never forget to send “Happy Birthday” message without bloating your calendar app with 10s or even 100s “one-per-year” events”.

You can download Cardhop on the Mac App Store:

or

You can download Cardhop on developer’s website.

Spark:

Products from Readdle are just amazing and Spark is not exception. I was long-term user of Apple’s default mail client, but I was interested in testing other mail clients, because Mail by Apple did not meet my requirements. I tested many e-mail clients, like Airmail, and the best one I found was Spark by Readdle. It includes many features which are not included in pretty old IMAP protocol, like snoozing or built-in notifications for e-mails I want to send later. Undo send mail function is pretty handy, you can stop accidentally sent e-mails for up to 5 seconds since clicking on send button. Spark also supports third party extensions – I’m personally interested in Things 3 and Trello integration. UI desing of Spark is highly customizable and notification sound for incoming e-mails is just joy to hear. For teams, there are useful features to work on e-mail together with real-time editor and private discussion. You can also create links to invite your teammates via apps like Slack. Spark can export e-mails into PDF file in both macOS and iOS version, while built-in e-mail solution from Apple is only capable to export PDF on Mac platform. Power users may benefit from ability to create URL links to access your selected e-mails directly by one click. As for me, I can add URL link into my to-do app Things 3, so when I receive notification from Things 3, I can display my chosen e-mail directly without need of manual search. And templates? Yes, they are here, so if you rely on often replies based on templates, with Spark you will save a lot of time.

You can download Spark on the Mac App Store:

Fantastical 2:

I use Fantastical 2 for a long time and I still love it. Nice design with agenda view and dayticker are the ultimate features. For power users there is macOS’s Spotlight search integration with detailed preview and also native language input. Fantastical 2 is compatible with iCloud, Exchange, Office 365, Google, Yahoo!, Fruux and Meetup services. Or any other CalDAV account. Fantastical 2 is available for Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch, so I can enjoy this calendar app on all my devices. I can’t imagine my calendar setup without Fantastical 2.

You can download Fantastical 2 on the Mac App Store:

Things 3:

My favourite to-do app is Things 3. It’s the best looking task manager app for both Mac and iOS devices, there is no surprise it won design award from Apple. In few words – it’s simple, but powerful app. Features like tags, projects, URL schemes, repeating tasks, deadlines, checklists, all are there. Keyboard shortcuts are very rich and unified by platforms. Powerful automatization is great advantage over many to-do list apps and I’m only missing Spotlight integration in style of Fantastical 2. If you are using Calendar Events or Reminders (or both), Things 3 can import and sync them too. Things 3 account is required to sync Things 3 data, but it’s really easy – just register with e-mail and your chosen password and then log in into all your devices. It’s all you need. No web interface, no settings, just your e-mail and password.

You can download Things 3 on the Mac App Store:

Agenda:

Another app that won design award from Apple. Agenda is my favourite note taking app. The concept is very interesting – it’s date-based note app, yet still fully useful for “classic” notes. You can assign date to your note and it even supports calendar integration. If you are power user of calendar and notes, it is really worth to check this app. Also, pricing model is interesting. While in premium subscription, you will receive all new premium-only features and if you after year decide to not prolong your subscription, all your already gained premium-only features will be available forever. Agenda also got iOS counterpart with iCloud sync.

You can download Agenda on the Mac App Store:

Debit & Credit:

I decided to better manage my money spending, so I was finding good money management app. I tried some of them and finally I decided for Debit & Credit. It has all I need packed in really good-looking app. It support multiple accounts, scheduled payments with option to auto-pay when due, budget feature and many sorting parameters, like categories, payees, tags, dates, etc. Simple, but really powerful app from indie developer.

You can download Debit & Credit on the Mac App Store:

1Password:

I resisted for a long time, but I fall in love with 1Password. I was using iCloud Keychain, but recently I felt I don’t have enough control over my passwords. 1Password is not just about passwords, you can also add software licenses, e-mail accounts’ setting data, bank accounts, payment card, etc. All data can be tagged and noted. With Watchtower feature, 1Password can warn you about compromised logins, vulnerable passwords, reused passwords, weak passwords and expiring passwords. Logins used on unsecured websites are listed too and 1Password can also inform you about inactive 2FA logins on supported websites. 1Password covers almost all platforms.

You can download 1Password on developer’s website.

Office

Microsoft Office:

Word. Excel. PowerPoint. OneDrive. These four apps are my must-have. I need to be compatible with rest of the world and MS Office is much better than iWork suite from Apple. To be honest, Office for Mac 2011 was hell, but current version of office suite from Microsoft is really good and if I count 1 TB of space in OneDrive (and for someone may be useful that 60 minutes of Skype calls bonus), all for few bucks per month, it’s perfect pricing. Many people hate subscriptions, but you can install MS Office products on all your devices and you will get all updates. I mostly use Excel and new dark theme support for macOS Mojave looks really good.

You can download Word on the Mac App Store:

You can download Excel on the Mac App Store:

You can download PowerPoint on the Mac App Store:

You can download OneDrive on the Mac App Store:

OR

MS Office is available on Microsoft’s official website. Price varies by chosen service or edition.

PDF Expert:

PDF Expert from Readdle is the best PDF editor I have found for Mac. I use it for few years and this flagship software from Readdle is just amazing. It’s not only about annotating as most PDF apps do, but it can even edit PDF files, like editing text or included pictures or to fill a form. Rearraging pages in document or merging more PDF files into one is included and highly intuitive. Sometimes you may catch PDF Expert for bargain price, so if you think that 79,99 USD is too much, maybe you will have a luck, like me. PDF editors are generally expensive, but PDF Expert in compare to products from Adobe is very cheap and without subscription. Readdle also offers version for iOS.

You can download PDF Expert on the Mac App Store:

OR

You can download PDF Expert on developer’s website.

DEVONthink Pro:

DEVONthink Pro is my database for blogging and storing many reference files. All what is about my blogs is stored here. DEVONthink Pro is very complex system with support for scripts, but I use it mainly because of clear organization. I can add tags, comments, assign URL address linking to article on comp-blog.com for my TXT files, sort files by many categories, use smart folders, I can keep and organize all pictures and screenshots for my blogs. I can look for my recent changes, mark articles that need to update or to translate. Very handy is support for URL schemes. That’s cool, it is really easy to get shortcut link to any file stored in my database and paste it into my task manager (in my case Things 3). When time comes and Things 3 send me a notification I should go back to work, I can simply click on URL shortcut and it opens my requested file from DEVONthink database by one click. URL schemes are consistent between platforms, so it does not matter if I create link on Mac or iPad, it works alongside both platforms – I can create link on Mac and later when I get notification on iPad, I can continue writing on iPad. Links are same. Developers offer many editions of DEVONthink on their webpage and mobile version is available too.

You can download DEVONthink Pro on developer’s website.

Internet & Social

Telegram:

If you want secure chat without spying eyes, you want Telegram. Founded by two brothers from Saint Petersburg, Telegram is monthly used by 200 million of active users. Telegram covers almost all platforms and it got also web version. It’s not only about chat, you can send files, voice messages and even make calls. If you are looking for an alternative to Facebook’s Messenger, I would strongly recommend Telegram. Because of great privacy policy and encryption, Telegram is banned in some countries.

You can download Telegram on developer’s website.

Tweetbot:

I noticed, that most of developers of apps I use got Twitter account, so I created account (look for “@CBC_Raynor” if you want to follow me). There is no first party macOS app and Twitter’s app for iPad is just oversized iPhone version. As someone, who wants the same experience on both macOS and iOS platform, I was finding alternative. Before few years I discovered Tweetbot and I’m still using it. It uses iCloud sync (Tweet Marker service is available too), so I can start reading tweets on my Mac, then go away and continue on iPad in exactly position I stopped reading tweets on Mac. Also I like Pocket integration. Tweetbot is regularly updated and new features of Twitter, like 280 characters as tweet limit (was 140), are applied very fast.

You can download Tweetbot on the Mac App Store:

Pocket:

When I’m browsing web, tweets on Twitter or reading e-book, I sometimes find some interesting links. If I want to read them later, I use Pocket to save these links. It support tagging and viewing saved links in both Web View and Article. Because it supports extension feature included in macOS, saving articles can be done in two clicks – first on Share icon, second one on Pocket service from list. Pocket is well integrated in many other services and apps and it’s also available on most other platforms, so if you are still saving “read-later” links in your browser’s bookmarks or even in a TXT file, give a try to Pocket.

You can download Pocket on the Mac App Store:

OnlinePro:

This is very simple utility. To be connected to wi-fi network and to be connected to Internet are two different things. It means, for example, you can wirelessly connect to other computers in your wi-fi network, but no Internet connection may be available. If you want simple menubar icon alongside your wi-fi icon in menubar, which informs you if Internet connection is available or not, get OnlinePro. It shows status in three colors: green (Internet and wi-fi connection available), yellow (only wi-fi connection is available) and red (no connection available). Whenever connection drops, OnlinePro will send you a notification. It also provides system log, so you can watch if your Internet connection dropped, for example, while you were sleeping.

You can download OnlinePro on the Mac App Store:

Multimedia

Luminar:

Industry standard for professional photographers is Lightroom from Adobe, but not everyone likes it, possibly because of subscription model. If you want one-time purchase, you want Luminar. This is a great alternative to Lightroom, especially for Mac users. Luminar pricing model is based on philosophy “every year new paid version”, but last year update was completely free (!). Also, when after the year is new major paid update available, you can enjoy an about 50% discount, if you owned previous version of Luminar. If you use Apple’s Photos library, no worries, Luminar got plugin, so you can enjoy all benefits from Luminar directly in Apple’s Photos app.

You can download Luminar on developer’s website.

Aurora HDR:

Aurora HDR is a photo software for HDR photos creators from the same developer as Luminar. I’m currently trying to better understand HDR photography and Aurora HDR is just great software for it. HDR photography is based on bracketing – one scene captured with various expositions. It will create few photos (usually 3 or 5), which can be merged in HDR software on your computer (or capable tablet). Thanks to bracketing, you can get much more details from your photos and to create amazing photos in software like Aurora HDR. Pricing model is the same as with Luminar and if you are using Apple’s Photos app, Aurora HDR, like Luminar, provides a plugin, so you can edit HDR merged photos directly in Apple’s Photos app.

You can download Aurora HDR on developer’s website.

MetaGear:

Photos taken by digital cameras got many “secret” data called metadata. Camera can write many details into metadata, like GPS data, aperture, exposition, shutter speed, date & time, etc. In some cases, you may want to edit or even delete these metadata. MetaGear is great software for such purposes. You can edit and save any value in metadata, or even to add your owns, like author & copyright notice or even to fake location. If you are often editing the same values, you can create a preset. Also, batch editing or ability to complete delete all metadata in photos is available too.

You can download MetaGear on the Mac App Store:

Final Cut Pro:

I’m not a professional video editor, so why Final Cut Pro, when there is available a free iMovie from Apple? Reason is, that iMovie lacks many advanced features I need. Also, I use some advanced features, so iMovie does not meet my requirements. I have chosen Final Cut Pro over other products, because it is very well optimized for macOS to utilize all the power of my iMac Retina 5K. I bought Final Cut Pro before years, and all updates were free. And without subscription.

You can download Final Cut Pro on the Mac App Store:

VideoProc:

Sometimes I need to convert video. VideoProc is one of the fastest solutions, with many pre-installed profiles for many devices, like GoPro cameras, iPhones, iPads, Samsung devices, Xbox, PS4, etc., so even low-skilled computer user can convert videos like a pro. Settings are pretty rich and conversion time is short thanks to 3-level acceleration. It also support recording of screen and it can download videos from many sites including YouTube and over 1000 of other services.

You can download VideoProc on developer’s website.

SoundSource:

Some apps, like iTunes, got its own volume bar. Some apps got equaliser. And all of them are affected by system volume. Little messy? And if we add multiple audio inputs and multiple audio outputs? If you are finding powerful tools to manage this mess, SoundSource is here. Manage all sound aspects right from your menubar, including system-wide equaliser or feature called Magic Boost – an per-app ability to boost quiet audio while louder audio is left untouched. Included volume meter measures both incoming and outcoming sound level for all apps, so if you are a professional podcaster or streamer, SoundSource is your must-have.

You can download SoundSource on developer’s website.

Lyrical:

Lyrical is a simple widget for your Notification Centre. It shows album cover art, name of singer & album, volume control, ability to star your song, time elapsed/remaining bar and ability to pause/resume currently playing song or option to skip to next/previous songs(s) in album/playlist. Interesting is, that last mentioned function does not affect your music queue, so if you want, for example, to listen again previous song from your long playlist, it won’t affect queue, all songs’ positions will remain the same. And as a bonus, if lyrics are present in playing song, you can display lyrics directly in widget.

You can download Lyrical on the Mac App Store:

Files

Dropbox:

Dropbox is my cloud for specific functions. For backups I use MEGAsync and OneDrive, so why Dropbox? Answer is easy. I have some apps which are syncing via Dropbox. Also, some apps with auto-upload features (like scans from Readdle’s Scanner Pro) upload their files to Dropbox to specific folder(s). Or if I want to share some file(s), I use Dropbox. Simply said, I don’t want to make mess with synced apps data, auto-uploads and backups. Another reason are different ways how clouds work. 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 all my data are safe.

You can download Dropbox on developer’s website.

MEGAsync:

I use this cloud service to backup my important data. Setting it is so easy – just choose some folder, then create folder on MEGA cloud and select this folder to backup your local files from chosen folder. Syncing is fully background process and service also supports file versioning as protection against accidentally losing data by unwanted edits or even ransomware. MEGA offers 50 GB as a free storage and you can pay for additional storage up to 8 TB.

You can download MEGAsync on developer’s website.

iMazing:

I use this app to manage my content on iPad/iPhone from my Mac. It expands a lot of features beyond iTunes capability level with many bonus features like app management, creating ringtones in easy way, extracting messages and contacts, etc. Also you can create another backup of your iOS device alongside iTunes backup, so you can have another layer of your backup system. iMazing is also available for Windows and developers’ reactions to changes in iOS operating system is really fast, including fast adding support for new iOS devices, like in case of 2018 iPads Pro or iPhone XS Max.

You can download iMazing on developer’s website.

Keka:

Currently I’m former The Unarchiver user. This app was not getting updates for a long time, so I was finding alternative. I have chosen Keka. Simple, but useful app with Notification Centre support and support for many types of archives. 7z files from this app support AES-256 encryption specification and you can even split big archives. Keka looks beautiful in macOS Mojave’s Dark Theme and with regular updates from indie developer, I strongly recommend this amazing app.

You can download Keka on the Mac App Store:

OR

You can download Keka on developer’s website

Security

Little Snitch:

Firewalls serve to filter incoming connections, but what about outgoing connections? Do my apps send data to remote server? Or are you afraid of keyloggers sending logs? If your answer are yes, then Little Snitch is here. Any outgoing connection is logged and Little Snitch will notify you if any outgoing communication happens. If your privacy matters, Little Snitch is here.

You can download Little Snitch on developer’s website

Malwarebytes:

macOS is more secure than Windows, but yes, Macs can get infected too. Also, I communicate with Windows user and while PC malware won’t hurt my Mac, it can hurt Windows PCs I communicate with. Generally, if you aren’t downloading warez or visiting adult sites, your Mac should not get infected, but who can claim that 100% of Mac malware is located on adult and warez sites? Nobody. So that’s reason why I use Malwarebytes. Anti-malware software needs high system rights to work correctly, and Malwarebytes is the only antivirus software I allow on my Mac.

You can download Malwarebytes on developer’s website

Objective-see:

KnockKnock. ReiKey. RansomWhere. OverSight. What’s Your Sign. Five security utilities from Patrick Wardle, a security expert. “KnockKnock” reveals persistently installed apps to detect potential malware, “ReiKey” protects against most keyloggers, “RansomWhere” detects processes which create encrypted files, “OverSight” controls webcamera and microphone and “What’s Your Sign” is simple Finder.app plugin to display code-signing information about any file on your Mac. Some Patrick Wardle’s security tools integrate VirusTotal database. All tools are free, but if you want, you can make a donation.

You can download Patrick Wardle’s security tools on developer’s website

1Blocker:

I can’t imagine Internet without content blocker, mostly for ads and track blocking. Ads are not only annoying, but may serve you a malware. If you are on data-limited network, it may also drain resources from your data plan. Marketing employees also may track your Internet behaviour by technique called “fingerprinting”, in better case, to serve you relevant ads on web pages. 1Blocker, alongside ads and trackers blockers, also blocks cryptocurrency miners, EU cookies policy banners, etc. Unlike popular Adblock Plus, 1Blocker does not let pass ads from advertisers that pay for it. It is fully supported by customers and there is no big company behind 1Blocker.

You can download 1Blocker on the Mac App Store:

Utilities

PCalc:

I’m using PCalc from James Thomson for years and I’m fully satisfied. I’m not a scientist or an engineer, but I like its highly customizable settings and themes with different layouts. It does not matter if you are a student, a rocket engineer or a casual home user, PCalc will satisfy everybody. Although many advanced functions are present, PCalc is still clear and easy to use and to learn app. If you love powerful software with regular updates and fast integration of the latest macOS technologies, including Handoff and Notification Centre widget, then PCalc is for you.

You can download PCalc on the Mac App Store:

BlueHarvest:

Operating systems generate “invisible files”, which are present in every folder. These files store some metadata, but they may be annoying when sharing folder, for example, in ZIP archive. When I send ZIP archive from Mac to Windows user, he will see many “.DS_Store” files. To get rid of them, I use BlueHarvest. It also cleans “Thumbs.db” and many other metadata files. Just remember – Finder tags are stored in these “invisible files” too, so just look at BlueHarvest settings and check them, if you want to preserve Finder tags.

You can download BlueHarvest on developer’s website

Clean My Mac:

Clean My Mac 3 is the ultimate cleaning and optimizing tool. Cache files, outdated iOS backups, Photo & iTunes junk, unused language files and other junk files can take GBs of disk space. And that’s not all. Clean My Mac can speed up your Mac by manually running macOS’s maintenance scripts or freeing up your RAM. Health monitoring tools are present and you can also verify startup disk, reindex Spotlight, flush DNS cache, repair disk permissions, etc. Some extra features are packed within this app, like file shredder and option to completely uninstall Mac apps.

You can download Clean My Mac on developer’s website

NightOwl:

macOS Mojave introduced Dark Mode. NightOwl is simple utility to switch between day and night mode by right-clicking on icon in menubar. Also, you can set to automatically switch between modes based on sunrise/sunset in your location.

You can download NightOwl on developer’s website

Amphetamine:

Sometimes, I want to prevent my Mac from going to sleep automatically. For this purpose, I use Amphetamine. It’s powerful app with many features, but still simple and clean. I won’t tell more – just click link below. Amphetamine is free.

You can download Amphetamine on the Mac App Store:

Alarm Clock Pro:

My 120 W JBL repros are ideal as alarm clock. I was finding alarm app, which can run even when my Mac is in sleep mode. After testing some of them, I have chosen Alarm Clock Pro from Koingo Software. Alongside built-in tones, it can connect to iTunes library or just add custom sound files or even streaming URL. You can choose from various notification modes. When alarms are due, you can set to take photo from web camera, to take screenshot, to announce text, to send e-mail, etc. Also, timers and stopwatch are present. Thanks to audio fader, you can fade in or fade out playing alert, so you won’t get heart attack by instantly loud alarm.

You can download Alarm Clock Pro on developer’s website

Remote for Mac:

A helper companion for its iOS counterpart. This app allows you to control your Mac computer from iOS device. Just download iOS version from App Store to your iPhone or iPad and pair your devices with Mac. This is, as was said, just companion app, so look at my “Must-Have apps for iPad, 2018 edition” article for more details about iOS version.

You can download Remote for Mac on developer’s website

TG Pro:

TG Pro is a handy utility to monitor your Mac’s temperature with optional notifications, when some component’s temperature is higher than selected value. Also, Macs are designed to be silent, so even when temperature is higher, like under medium load, fans are still relatively slow rotating until you reach high resource demand, like 4K video editing or playing high demanding games. In long term, this could have negative impact on high stressed hardware, so in TG Pro, you can manually set a fan boost when your Mac reaches selected temperature. TG Pro also offers to completely override system heat controls, which is useful for some iMacs after replacing HDD when one of the fans always runs at full speed, but be careful with this settings and do not turn it on until you are 100% sure what are you doing!

You can download TG Pro on developer’s website

iBetterCharge:

As simple menubar utility for monitoring battery on your iOS devices. It shows you actual battery percentage with notification, when your battery drops under 50%, 20% or 10% with warning notifications. Also, iBetterCharge can notify you, when your iOS device is fully charged. I tried some software of this kind, and iBetterCharge was the only one which worked on 100%. Just make sure that syncing over wi-fi is enabled in iTunes with your chosen iOS device.

You can download iBetterCharge on developer’s website

Bartender:

Maybe you have too many menubar icons in your menubar. Or you want to hide some of them, but keep them accessible. Or you want to completely remove chosen icon(s). For this purpose, I use Bartender. Some apps are running permanently in background and they are showing the menubar icon with only one purpose – to show you that app is running, without settings or any other added value, so I remove these icons. But some icons may be sometimes useful, but they are taking rare place in menubar, so thanks to Bartender, I can hide them under one single button. When I click on that button, all hidden icons are shown. Also, this is useful on Apple’s laptops, where every icon in menubar counts due to small screen. If you keep your menubar tidy like me, definitely give a try to Bartender.

You can download Bartender on developer’s website

Backgrounds:

Do you want to enhance your Mac desktop? Then Backgrounds is here. It can add some effects to your desktop, like parallax or album art of currently played song in iTunes, or to display system widget with usage of disk, network, RAM and CPU, but I use it for one feature – to ability to play video as desktop background. Just add your high-resolution video(s) to playlist and activate it. Sounds from video(s) can be muted, so it won’t disturb you. Personally, I have videos like sunset or shoots from nature and it’s pretty relaxing and also good looking. If you see your desktop only after Mac’s restart, Backgrounds app is not for you, but if you are aesthet or visually based person like me, give it a try, it’s worth.

You can download Backgrounds on the Mac App Store:

GAget:

If you have a web page using Google Analytics, GAget can display a widget in Notification Centre informing you about number of visits. It also offers another widget with real-time data showing you current number of online users, countries they came from, and kind of device – desktop, smartphone or tablet. GAget can also display alerts about some aspects of your webpages, like when numbers of sessions or number of visitors reaches selected value. I personally use ability to alert me when number of visitors is greater than 0, so I can track time of first visit of my pages every day.

You can download GAget on the Mac App Store:

This is my workflow of must-have apps for my iMac for year 2018. I hope I helped you choosing the best software for your Mac. See ya in year!

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