The operating system on Apple’s computers and laptops, macOS, is stable, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing (the upcoming Big Sur update is especially pretty and clean). But Apple doesn’t often listen to its customers, stubbornly refusing to add simple features that would make the platform even easier to use. Plus, stock Apple apps often lack a lot of the functionality we’ve come to expect in other programs.
Thankfully, there are downloadable programs that can rectify this problem. I’ve collected a handful of the best Mac apps that help me almost every day. Some are for niche uses, but others fix gaps in vanilla macOS. Most of these apps aren’t free, but all have free trials you can check out. It’s also common for them to sync with companion apps on your iPhone. Give these a try. Since we’re all on our computers more often than ever, these macOS apps might just make your life a little easier.
Be sure to check out our many other guides, including the Best MacBooks and How to Back Up Your iPhone.
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BetterSnapTool ($3): Yes, you can use Split View on macOS to view two applications side by side, but it’s nowhere near as intuitive as it is on Microsoft’s Windows, where you can simply drag a window to a corner and have it snap into place. This app is worth the $3 if you don’t want to mess with resizing window borders constantly. Magnet is another good option that costs the same.
Amphetamine (Free): If you’ve ever had to keep wiggling a finger on the trackpad during a movie or YouTube video to stop the screen from going to sleep over and over (or maybe during a particularly long download), you’ll appreciate an app that lets you keep the screen on for certain tasks. It even works with external displays. Sure, you can keep going into your system preferences to change the screensaver and hard disk shutdown settings, but that can get tiresome quickly.
Alfred (Free): The default search tool on macOS isn’t bad, but there’s room for it to go deeper. Alfred is a supercharged alternative that lets you create custom shortcuts to programs and file folders, activate system commands by typing, create automated custom workflows that begin with the push of a button or a typed phrase, and, well, a lot more. It’s free, but you can pay 25 British pounds (around $32) for a single user license to access the full feature set or 45 British pounds (around $57) for a lifetime of free upgrades to subsequent versions of Alfred.
AdGuard ($30 per year): AdGuard’s stand-alone macOS app lets you choose from and custom-toggle a huge array of filters to block social media extensions, pop-up ads, URL redirects, and a whole lot more. It works not only on your browser but also on other apps you have installed. There’s a free two-week trial, but you’ll need to pay for a license to use it after the trial expires. For $2.49 per month, you get access to the service on three devices simultaneously.
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