My Must-Have apps for Mac, 2019 edition

By | 17/05/2020

My Must-Have apps for Mac, 2019 editionLast year, I found many great apps. Though my Mac workflow did not change much over last year, there are many great, notable apps. As you may know, I choose my apps very strictly, so I hope you will enjoy my 2019 must-have list of apps. Macs are great computers and I can’t image to work on other platform than Apple. Also, I will relesase list of my must-have apps for iPad for complete info, so I hope you will find here many great apps.

As for Mac, I divided my apps into seven categories:

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

Personal:

Spark:

Before few years, I switched to Spark as my default e-mail client and I still use it. I tried many clients, probably my longest used 3rd party client alongside Spark was AirMail. I liked both clients, but later I have finally chosen Spark. AirMail was feeling buggy and recently it went to subscription plan, so I’m glad I switched to Spark. Spark is free e-mail client, but you can buy a team subscription for business (and also personal) teams of people which adds you some advanced features like ability to delegate e-mail to someone else in the team. If you decide not to subscribe, it won’t affect your personal e-mail experience, all needed features are free. I’m glad that Readdle decided to this business model, to get money from payed team features to maintain Spark’s development, while Spark itself remains free.

You can download Spark on the Mac App Store.

DEVONthink 3:

DEVONthink 3 is my database for reference files. I store here scanned documents from doctors, my invoices, articles for this blog, etc. I keep folder hierarchy alongside tags, so I benefit from both worlds. All data – including tags and folder hierarchy – are synced between devices, so I have all my data on all devices. When I select tag, let’s say “Invoice 2019”, it will find all my tagged invoices from 2019. That’s pretty cool. DEVONthink 3 is a powerful database manager with AppleScript support and many features for advanced users. As for me as blogger, I highly recommend DEVONthink 3.

You can download DEVONthink 3 on the developer’s website.

Fantastical 3:

For years, I’m using Fantastical. It’s the best calendar app for Mac I have found. I like its Agenda feature, especially in Month view. It shows you all upcoming events in left column, starting with day currently chosen in main panel. Recently Fantastical got update to 3rd major version for both macOS and iOS/iPadOS. Fantastical 2 was not cheap app and while Fantastical 3 is for free, some features are locked behind subscription. If you already own license for Fantastical 2, all features you already owned are included and unlocked in Fantastical 3, plus some extra bonuses. I like I can finally attach files in mobile version of Fantastical 3 and view them on my Mac.

You can download Fantastical 3 on the Mac App Store.

Things 3:

I separate calendar events and tasks to be done. To help to get my things done, I use app called Things 3. It’s an Apple Design Award winner from 2017. App is robust and still simple, packed in beautiful design and huge support for URL schemes. Things 3 supports all features you may need, except attaching files to tasks. You can set notification date, set deadline, add notes and tags, add checklist or even repeat tasks in set interval. To sync between all your devices, you need Things 3 account. Just register in app and sign in on all your devices, that’s all, no other actions required. With sorting by Projects and Areas and native support for iOS/iPadOS calendars and reminders, Things 3 is really powerful tool to manage your tasks.

You can download Things 3 on the Mac App Store.

Agenda:

Agenda is a calendar-based note taking app, but it’s fully usable even if you don’t need calendar-based features. Personally, I’m not using calendar features very often, but I really appreciate it as a very nice bonus. Agenda can integrate with Apple’s built-in Reminders and Calendar apps, so if you are very busy and heavy note taker at the same time, Agenda is note taking app right for you. iPadOS version also supports Apple Pencil. Agenda is an Apple Design Award winner from 2018, so it will please your eyes. Developers offer premium version, which has interesting policy – when your premium subscription expires, you won’t lose any premium features you got while subscribed.

You can download Agenda on the Mac App Store.

Money Pro:

As I decided to better manage my spendings, I needed solid finance app. I was using Debit & Credit, but I was missing calendar view of expenses and incomes. I was finding alternative, and I discovered Money Pro. I like its calendar view with dots on dates I made a log. You can create pre-defined expense/income categories, agents (payees), classes of the transaction (personal, business…), etc. Also, Money Pro allows you to create a budget or repeating bills with notifications, so you will never forget to pay bills. You can view all bills in current or upcoming months to better understand where are leaking your money. As for me, I’m very satisfied with this app. It offers also subscription to add transactions data from many supported banks, but I’m not using this feature, so I don’t know how it works.

You can download Money Pro on the Mac App Store.

Internet & Social:

Telegram:

In the deep past, I was using Messenger, because everyone is on Facebook and a lot of my friends simply didn’t use other instant messenger and e-mail was something like a dirty word. But I value my privacy and because I don’t like people behind Facebook and after many scandals with leaks and selling of users’ data, I said stop. Facebook spies upon you, when you see a Facebook’s “like widget” on some website, you are already spied, even if you don’t have a Facebook account (!). That was reason, why I moved to Telegram, a safe and friendly platform built upon users’ privacy. Someone may laught – you may heard it, you are sooooo important person and FBI is watching your Messenger chat history – but if you are interested in Internet security and privacy, you surely know my reasons about moving to Telegram. Here in Slovakia, mainstream media often make big titles like “Terrorists are communicating via Telegram” or “ISIS terrorists are using Telegram” with intent to damage all Telegram users (you may know it – “are you hiding something?”) and to compare Telegram users to terrorists. The true reason is, that Telegram’s encryption was not breached and governments can’t spy upon Telegram users. In some countries, Telegram is banned. Telegram can be downloaded from Mac App Store or directly from Telegram’s website. If you want to use Telegram’s integration in macOS’s Share Menu (Share Extensions), you should download Telegram from Mac App Store.

You can download Telegram on the Mac App Store.

OR

You can download Telegram on the developer’s website.

Tweetbot:

In the past, I realized that most of developers which apps I use have a Twitter account. So I created Twitter account (you can follow me at @CBC_Raynor) and followed them all. Also, that account became my official account for my computer blog (CBC means “Comp-Blog.Com”). I don’t like to use Twitter via website and official Twitter client is just a garbage, so I was finding 3rd party client and for years, I’m using Tweetbot on all of my devices. Twitter limited API access for 3rd party clients in 2018 and some features now only work on official client. I don’t know real reason (not what said spokeperson) why Twitter did it – especially when we all know that Twitter is in declining business and this limitations won’t help to get new users. Tweetbot is the best Twitter client for both macOS and iOS/iPadOS. Also, it supports syncing via iCloud, so your timeline is synced on all your devices, so when you read some tweets on Mac before night sleep, at the morning you can continue on your iPad/iPhone where you left. Unfortunately, I’m not sure about future of Twitter’s 3rd party clients, but Tweetbot will remains in my heart if Twitter company decide to kill APIs for 3rd party clients.

You can download Tweetbot on the Mac App Store.

Pocket:

When I browse Internet, I often find something interesting linking to something interesting linking to another interesting link. Or something I want to blog about. Or if I have no time yet. All of these articles I store in Pocket. It covers and syncs on all platforms I use. Pocket is an example of very simple, but still extremely useful app. Because it’s owned by Mozilla, creator of Firefox, I have no privacy issues.

You can download Pocket on the Mac App Store.

Multimedia:

Luminar 4 & Aurora HDR:

I’m not a professional photographer, but I enjoy using Luminar 4 for photos and Aurora HDR for HDR photos. What’s HDR photo? In few words, it uses bracketing – it takes 3 or more photos with different exposures and then these photos are merged into one to get more details from photos. It shines on EDR/HDR/XDR displays with 10-bit color depth displays, though I don’t have Mac with such display, but my iPad Pro got one. Both Luminar 4 & Aurora HDR are powerful, but still friendly photo editors. They are easy to use even for beginners like me. If you are not sure, you can start editing your photos with Looks (filters). On developer’s website, there are many Looks available and some of them are free. Then just use sliders and make your photos look awesome. Aurora HDR was co-created with Trey Ratcliff, a prominent HDR photographer. Both Luminar 4 & Aurora can be used as standalone apps, or as plugins in macOS Photos app, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Luminar 4 can be also used as plugin in Adobe Photoshop Elements. As bonus, Luminar 4 got powerful, AI-powered features to make your photos even more awesome.

You can download Luminar 4 on the developer’s website.

You can download Aurora HDR on the developer’s website.

MetaImage:

Did you know, that photos taken on your iPad or iPhone (or almost any smartphone/tablet) contain sensitive data? Like GPS data, your device model, camera settings (aperture, ISO, if flash was triggered, etc.), exact day and time of taken photo and other personal data? Before you share your photos, it’s good idea to remove these metadata. These metadata are like gold for companies like Facebook. If you share a photo on Facebook and someone other downloads your photo, he won’t see these metadata, because they were deleted from photo by Facebook. This is OK, but please note that Facebook itself keeps these data for its benefit (and by the way, Facebook injects spying string to pictures’ IPTC metadata to spy where your image is moving on the Internet, just try to dowload photo from Facebook and look on it at your own). For these purposes, I use MetaImage. It can delete any metadata or add metadata to your photos, like your copyright mark. MetaImage supports batch processing and it got extension for macOS Photos app.

You can download MetaImage on the Mac App Store.

Final Cut Pro:

I don’t shot Hollywood movies, but iMovie is too simple for my needs. Final Cut Pro from Apple is a professional movie editor used by many professionals in many studios. This piece of software is often reason why studios are buying Macs. It’s well optimized and works really fast in compare to Adobe Premiere. It uses all latest technologies like Metal 2 and it also supports Afterburner accelerator card found in 2019 Mac Pro. Always ready for Apple’s latest technologies, Final Cut Pro is cutting edge in market of video processors.

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

MediaHuman Audio Converter:

I got many sounds I needed to convert into other format because of compatibility issues. I was finding and I found app called MediaHuman Audio Converter. It supports batch processing with many supported formats. This app is free, but you can donate to developers. Though it does not support Dark Mode and UI is simple and it does not 100% fit into macOS’s UI, it works for what it was created and it’s fast and reliable. Definitely worth to have this great app on my Mac.

You can download MediaHuman Audio Converter on the developer’s website.

Office & Files:

Office 365:

Word. Excel. PowerPoint. OneDrive. I use these apps often and because I need to be compatible with rest of the world, I purchased Office 365 subscription. Thanks to subscription, I can use these Microsoft’s apps on all of my devices. Someone may say, that Office 365 is just overpriced subscription service and there are already better alternatives like iWork suite itself from Apple for free. Yes, that may be truth for some users, but not for me. I think that, as for features, MS Office is much superior in compare to iWork or even (free) LibreOffice and I can also justify subscription fee for 1 TB of space I got on OneDrive with subscription. I use OneDrive as one of my cloud backups and because I value my data, Office 365 subscription could be interesting even without MS Office apps when I look at prices of similar services like Dropbox. Just imagine great cloud service and Office apps as bonus. It’s amazing.

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.

Dropbox:

As I just said, my primary cloud service is OneDrive, but I still use Dropbox too. I use it mostly for syncing my DEVONthink databases across all of my devices and for sharing screenshots. I use Dropbox for years and it’s reliable. Though free accounts became more limited before some time and the cheapest subscription plan starts at 2 TB of space, which is overkill for me, but you can still get some extra space for free. For example, you can refer your friends or family members and both you and your friend/family member will get free 500 MB of space with limit of 16 GB.

You can download Dropbox on the developer’s website.

Backblaze:

Backblaze is a backup service with unlimited storage for monthly fee. It automatically backups your computer to cloud and I mean all your data including many system ones. I use it as another layer of protection against ransomware. It supports versioning, so your data are always safe. Data are saved in background, so you can start to backing up and to work as normally. It’s something like cloud-based Time Machine. If you don’t want to save some folders, just add them to the list of exceptions. Great service, hopefully I never needed to restore any file, but as I said, I use it as another layer of protection of my valuable computer data.

You can download Backblaze on the developer’s website.

MEGAsync:

I use MEGAsync to automatically upload content of some folders to cloud. It also support versioning. I don’t know how it works if you use it on multiple computers, because I only use it on my one Mac. As Backblaze, I use it as another layer of protection against ransomware. It backups and versions my files. Free account provides 50 GB of storage, so if you are only backing up relatively small files, definitely try it.

You can download MEGAsync on the developer’s website.

iMazing 2:

iTunes (macOS Mojave and earlier and Windows) or Finder (macOS Catalina) are not the best file management solutions. When I want to get files from my Mac to iPad Pro via cable because of size, I use iMazing 2. It has many other features, it can backup your iOS/iPadOS device, install apps to your iPhone and iPad directly from computer – this feature was removed from iTunes ages ago – and display many infos about your device. On iPhone, you can check health of your battery, but on iPad not. iMazing 2 allowed me to do so and I discovered that my iPad Pro 3rd generation purchased in October 2018 has 85% battery health. Great :-). iMazing 2 can do many other things and it’s available for both macOS and Windows with free trial.

You can download iMazing 2 on the developer’s website.

ForkLift 3:

I use ForkLift 3 as FTP client. It’s basically Total Commander for Mac. I was using Transmit 5 from Panic company, but it was buggy and unreliable, so I switched to ForkLift 3 and I’m satisfied. Though I don’t use advanced file management features very often, built-in FTP client is just great. I use it when I work with this blog and it’s definitely worth that money.

You can download ForkLift 3 on the developer’s website.

Security:

1Password:

A lot of people still use easy to break passwords. Strong password is a key to protect your online accounts and privacy. I use long complicated passwords and I was finding decent passwords manager. I was using iCloud Keychain, but I did not want to be limited to Apple platform and also I wanted more control over my passwords. Based on reviews, I have chosen 1Password. And it’s great. It’s not just about passwords for online accounts, you can store here data for bank accounts, credit cards, software licenses, etc. All your data are synced across all supported platforms (macOS, iOS/iPadOS, Windows, Android, Linux and Chrome OS). Interesting feature is Watch Tower. In today world, there are many hacker attacks and sometimes passwords and other data are leaked, and Watch Tower can inform you if something like this happens to servers which you have added to your 1Password database. Also, it warns you about weak passwords or reused passwords.

You can download 1Password on the developer’s website.

Malwarebytes

Yes, Macs get infected. But which antivirus and antimalware software to get? Avast is a spy and ESET is no longer as good as it used to be. After very long investigation and based on reviews on the Internet, I have chosen Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is the only antivirus software I allow on my Mac. Antivirus software by its nature needs high system rights, so it’s very important to choose right one. This is reason, why I only trust to Malwarebytes. Developers offer free version, so if you think that your Mac get infected, you can scan it for free.

You can download Malwarebytes on the developer’s website.

Little Snitch 4:

Firewall may monitor what’s accessing your computer, but what’s going out of your system? For such purpose, I use Little Snitch 4. I can monitor, if something is leaking or communicating with my Mac. It’s useful against keyloggers – apps which monitor your keystrokes and can break your secret passwords – which sends logged data to attackers’ servers. Some apps call home, and it’s not always welcome, so you can block it. Very useful.

You can download Little Snitch 4 on the developer’s website.

Objective-See:

KnockKnock. ReiKey. Netiquette. RansomWhere?. What’s Your Sign. I use these four utilities from security expert Patrick Wardle. My most valuable utilities are ReiKey to monitor if something is not making keylogging and RansomWhere? to protect me against ransomware. When some process starts to encrypt files, it warns me and allows me to stop it. Developer offers many other utilities and all are documented on his website. Also, there is a collection of Mac malware, so there is a proof that Macs really need software like Malwarebytes, Little Snitch and Patrick’s utilities.

You can download all Objective-See utilities on the developer’s website.

1Blocker:

Can you imagine Internet without ad blockers? Ads are not just annoying, they are a security risk too, and I’m not only talking about tracking. Internet is full of cryptocurrency miners, malicious ads, tracking scripts and “fingerprint creators”. Your Internet browser sends many data about your computer and if you are not using privacy-based browsers, like, from mainstream browsers, Firefox or Safari, or at least security add-ons like NoScript, companies like Facebook and Google can very effectively spy upon your Internet activity and track you even if you regularly delete cookies. To help my Safari browser to keep my privacy on Internet, I use content blocker called 1Blocker. It blocks ads, cryptocurrency miners, trackers and social networks’ widgets. Unlike Adblock Plus, 1Blocker is not accepting money from companies to add them to the whitelist. 1Blocker is sponsored purely by users’ purchases from (Mac) App Store. All rules you created are synced via iCloud, so, for example, your whitelist is always same on all of your Apple devices. 1Blocker doesn’t (and cannot) track your Internet activity or even what was blocked by 1Blocker.

You can download 1Blocker on the Mac App Store.

StopTheMadness:

This is an unusual utility. Some webpages block from some actions like copying text or dragging images. Or even downloading images by replacing browsers’ default menus with their own menus. Some links have tracking code to track you when you click on them. And more. Stop this madness. StopTheMadness blocks all of these dirty practises on the Internet and helps you to protect your privacy. Every Safari user should buy this utility. I did it and I’m satisfied. As I tested, it offers extension for Firefox too.

You can download StopTheMadness on the Mac App Store.

Utilities:

CleanMyMac:

CleanMyMac can save you a lot of space by removing unnecessary files like language files, caches and other unneeded files. It can clean up your RAM, to manually run maintenance scripts and to flush DNS cache. If you don’t have antivirus, it can scan your computer. If you have other antivirus software, like mentioned Malwarebytes, I strongly recommend to turn off this feature. It’s not recommended to run multiple antivirus software on one computer. Run CleanMyMac every few days and your Mac will thank you. Before running performance-intensive apps, just free up some RAM with this utility. CleanMyMac was chosen by me after long investigation and it’s the only app of this kind I allow on my Mac.

You can download CleanMyMac on the developer’s website.

SoundSource:

Some apps, like Music app/iTunes, got their 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 the 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 the developer’s website.

iBetterCharge:

As simple menubar utility for monitoring battery on your iOS/iPadOS 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/iPadOS 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 Finder (macOS Catalina)/iTunes (macOS Mojave and earlier) with your chosen iOS/iPadOS device. On developer’s website, scroll down to find this utility, it’s promoted in footer.

You can download iBetterCharge on the 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.

Remote for Mac:

A helper companion for its iOS/iPadOS counterpart. This app allows you to control your Mac computer from iOS/iPadOS device. Just download iOS/iPadOS version from App Store to your iPhone or iPad and pair your devices with Mac. This is, as was said, just companion app, see my Must-Have apps for iPad, 2019 edition article for more info.

You can download Remote for Mac on the developer’s website.

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 the developer’s website.

Bartender 3:

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 3. 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 3, 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 3.

You can download Bartender 3 on the developer’s website.

Night Owl:

Simple utility to switch between Dark and Light mode sitting in your menubar. Nothing more to say. Very useful for me for many testing purposes.

You can download Night Owl on the developer’s website.

Widgets & Customization:

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.

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 Music app/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 only see your desktop 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.

Countdowns:

Countdowns is a simple countdown app. Just set a date and time, optionally choose custom notification sound (not available yet) or list of events and that’s all. Unlike iPadOS version, there is no widget. Countdowns was brought to Mac thanks to Catalyst and it syncs between Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch.

You can download Countdowns 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.

Monity:

Monity is a simple widget in notifications’ centre which shows some data like RAM pressure for all UNIX types of RAM (including compressed RAM which is present since OS X Mavericks), battery status of supported Bluetooth devices, disk storage status, transfered data, etc. When you download Monity Helper from developer’s site, you can monitor temperature of some Mac’s components, but for such purposes, I already use TG Pro.

You can download Monity on the Mac App Store.

So this is my workflow of must-have apps for my iMac Retina 5K for year 2019. I hope I helped you choosing the best software for your Mac. See ya in year!

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