And that’s from a former Windows user. This bias is partly due to the fact that Apple was first on the market with an integrated smartphone design, pointing the way for Mac developers to create seamless synchronization solutions. But the real story is that the innovation the Macintosh GUI ushered in will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. Here are our picks for the coolest Mac software:
Adobe Creative Studio 6
Adobe’s Creative Suite includes four useful applications: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat X Pro. If you’re a designer, you can’t get by without these famous tools. Now that Adobe has gone Creative Cloud, CS6 is your last opportunity to own Adobe tools outright.
Publisher: Adobe Systems
1Password can create strong passwords, organize them, and insert them in web pages with a handy browser button. Mavericks made me switch to 4.0, which is still in beta. Usability has been improved and the interface is slicker. But, for $18, the iPhone version also needs to be upgraded.
Publisher: Agile Bits
This latest version of Aperture now shares your iPhoto library for greater simplicity of use. However, this program’s tabbed sidebar interface is daunting.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
AppDelete is a great uninstaller utility that removes applications and any other associated files that reside anywhere on your Mac.
Publisher: Reggie Ashworth
Balsamiq Mockups is a cross-platform rapid software prototyping tool that lets a UX designer quickly create a mockup of software screens. One minor quibble: No ready-made icons for folders or documents.
Category: Developer Tools
Batch Image Resizer
Batch Image Resizer resizes multiple pictures by percent or a fixed size while offering the ability to add watermarks or borders. You can also do some limited renaming, although the program is not as flexible in that regard as our favorite utility, Renamer 4.
Bontanicula is a beautiful game that places you in a wonderland of a garden to venture through and explore. Particularly beautiful on Retina MacBook Pros.
Publisher: Amanita Design
Breeze is a window management application that is designed for people who want to quickly split-screen a window, or people like us who need to quickly replicate a standard windows size for screenshots.
Publisher: Autumn Apps LLC
BusyCal is far better than the Mountain Lion or Mavericks calendar because it works just like the Leopard calendar. It also can can be shared easily via iCloud or Google. And it shows weather icons for an instant update.
Publisher: BusyCal LLC
Here’s a great solution for backing up and synchronizing files with an external hard disk or other storage device. Econ Technologies should also be lauded for offering perpetually free upgrades.
Publisher: Econ Technologies
Gives Mac users a nice Windows 7 feature: Drag a window until the mouse cursor touches either left or right edges of the screen, and the window “cinches”s able to send a clippingsto your iPhone. You can specifiy how many clippings are kept, either 10, 20 or 50. A Pro version ($XX) sends unlimited clippings to your phone.
Publisher: Irradiated Software
Need a central place to organize your videos? Cinematica is the iTunes for music or iPhoto for photos, only it can search your collection by technical properties like resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate or video codec.
Publisher: Xeric Design Ltd.
Emails, Windows, and, yes, even some sloppy publishers produce files that are filled with funny characters. Use Clean Text to remove unwanted paragraph breaks, tabs, the quote marks in e-mails, etc.
Clipr does two things really well. It remembers your clipboard history and it’s able to send a clippings to your iPhone. You can specify how many clippings are kept, either 10, 20 or 50. A Pro version ($0.99) sends unlimited clippings to your phone.
Publisher: Eric Mann
Cobook resides in your Mac menu bar and can be called up any time to search, add or edit entries in your Mac Contacts. Indispensable.
Right now, Apple’s menubar battery status reports that there’s a 95% charge left. But coconutBattery tells the truth reporting that 90% is left. This handy utility monitors battery health, by showing how often the battery was charged and contrasting its current maximum capacity with its original capacity.
Edit HTML code simply and quickly with this nice web development tool. Besides HTML, Coda also handles CSS, Java, PHP and many other development file types. For a limited time, Coda is offering a $75 upgrade price for everyone.
Category: Developer Tools
Daylite used to be my favorite Mac CRM program, but it has been replaced by Base. The problem: Daylite is so feature-rich, everything becomes harder to use. We’re leaving Daylite on this list for now for people who need a Mac-based CRM recommendation, because it’s definitely nicely designed.
Publisher: Marketcircle Inc.
Decipher TextMessage saves your iPhone text messages, including image attachments, to your computer, so you have a permanent backup.
Publisher: Decipher Media LLC
Direct Mail is a freemium program that lets you create email messages and send them to lists using either your email account or Direct Mail’s pre-paid e3 delivery service, which starts at $15 per month for up to 500 email recipients.
Publisher: e3 Software
DiskWave is a utility that scans your hard disk to determine what files and folders consume most of your disk space. A necessity for SSD users who want to free up disk space.
Publisher: Aymeric Barthe
Drive Genius reportedly is used by Apple to check storage devices, and can perform a number of functions, including defragging, permission repair and other optimization tasks.
Publisher: Prosoft Engineering Inc
Dropbox lets you save documents and pictures to the cloud, so you can instantly access them on other computers, your iPhone or your iPad. A must have. A free tier saves from 2GB to 16GB. A Pro plan stores 100GB for $9.99 per month.
eMail Extractor extracts email addresses from text files, which is a great way to build a customer contact list using mailbox data.
eMail Verifier actually connects to your mail server and checks whether an email address exists or not, and disconnects without sending.
Evernote saves notes, images, PDFs or web clippings and lets you access them from any platform. Indispensable for people who do a lot of research, like us here at Social Revolution.
Export Address Book
Apple’s Address Book does not let you export contacts by group. Export Address Book does that and a lot more. Totally worth $4, don’t you agree?
Publisher: Stefan Keller
Need software to transcribe your Sony or Olympus digital voice recordings? Download the freemium ExpressScribe software and you have a good solution.
Publisher: NCH Software
Fantastical has become our go-to calendar program. Sure, we use BusyCal too, but Fantastical can be called up from the menu bar when one needs it, and its scheduling intelligence is great. It looks beautiful and there is an iPhone app.
FileMaker Pro 12
FileMaker Pro is a fully programmable database design tool that can be used to create custom relational databases and deployed on all platforms; Mac, iPhone and iPad. This product listing is maintained in FileMaker.
Want to write a screenplay or Broadway book? FinalDraft lets you approach it the right way, seamlessly formatting your script as you type.
Publisher: Final Draft Inc.
Need to organize and repair your fonts? FontDoctor does this very well.
Publisher: FontGear Inc.
ForkLift is now our favorite FTP program, superseding Fetch, which still has not been optimized for Retina displays. ForkLift is fast and features two main windows that can either display your server files or your local disk files, so you can simply drag and drop between the two. You can, of course, also drag and drop between desktop and any window. The program does have a few interface idiosyncrasies, like finding your Favorites, but it’s the best FTP file transfer program today.
Publisher: Binary Nights
Category: Developer Tools
Free Ruler is a floating horizontal and vertical ruler that measures on-screen items in pixels, inches, picas,or centimeters. A must-have for web designers.
As Apple puts it, GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac — complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely redesigned sound library, and virtual session drummers. Now nothing is holding you back from becoming the next Daft Punk.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
Price: Free With New Macs
Here’s a tool for today’s economy. GarageSale is basically an eBay management tool. Use pre-designed templates to make your stuff look good; GarageSale manages uploading of the content and seller communication. Slick.
Publisher: iwascoding GmbH
If you use GitHub, and what technocrat doesn’t, you already know about this app.
Version: Drum ‘n’ Rebase (150)
Category: Developer Tools
Google Chrome has become the most popular browser because it’s frequently updated in the background, lightning fast and easily extensible.
Put the world at your fingertips. Fly to any place around the globe and see maps with 3D buildings and street-view terrains. Mindbendingly fun.
If you produce or attend webinars or online presentations, GoToMeeting is definitely one of the gold standards of the online meeting world. Work with anyone, anywhere, as long as you can afford the monthly $49 entrance fee. A cheaper monthly service is Join.me, which starts at $13/mo.
Publisher: Citrix Online LLC
Category: Online Meeting
Create invoices and estimates using a customized design. Automatically attaches a PDF invoice to email for quick sending. Great for consultants.
Publisher: Stefan Fürst
iBooks Author lets you create sophisticated e-books with video, photo gallery widgets and more. Download your free copy now.
Do you need to design a favicon for your website? Then you must use Icon Slate, which is an easy-to-use tool that generates favicons, including Retina versions.
Publisher: Jeremy Marchand
Category: Developer Tools
We’ve been happy campers since we began using iDraw a few months ago. iDraw is the first truly viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This vector design and illustration program reads both Illustrator and Photoshop files and can export in a host of formats. If you frequently need to create buttons or logos for websites, iDraw should be your first choice. And, best of all, it’s Retina compatible.
Publisher: Indeeo Inc.
iMovie lets you edit camcorder and iPhone movies and organizes them for easy browsing and watching. Totally Apple, totally ubercool.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
iPhoto grabs photos from your digicam, organizes them by event or import date, lets you retouch photos and sends them to your friend’s inbox or mailbox.
If you code, you know how often you have to compare two pieces of code to see the differences. Kaleidoscope makes this easy and sports a beautiful interface too. Unfortunately, Black Pixel decided to nearly double its price to $70. Not totally ubercool but worth it if you compare files a lot.
Publisher: Black Pixel
Category: Developer Tools
Keynote was the program that made us switch back to the Mac. It’s that good. Outstanding ease of use and power makes PowerPoint fans green with envy.
Kindle for Mac
Want to read Kindle books on your MacBook? No problem with the free Kindle for Mac app makes, which can now be downloaded from the App Store.
Do you dislike having to plow through your application folder or endlessly scrolling the toolbar with 72 app icons that, after a while, all start looking alike? LaunchBar lets you hit Command-Spacebar and enter one or two letters to quickly summon an application.The only thing not to like about Launchbar is that it’s bit expensive for what it does.
Publisher: Objective Development Software GmbH
Need to take screenshots of entire web pages, i.e. more than is shown on your screen? LittleSnapper not only takes these screenshots but organizes them too.
Publisher: Realmac Software
What can I add about Apple’s built-in email program that you don’t already know? It’s flexible and fast and, with a few exceptions, it does just about everything well. We live in it.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
MailSteward archives huge volumes of email by storing them in a database that offers sophisticated searches plus the ability to extract mail addresses.
This Macintosh application is a companion program to the Mint website. It brings the same beautiful graphics to the desktop but adds another nicety: a menu icon that tells you when a bank transaction has occurred. Great tool for organizing your financial life.
Publisher: Intuit Inc.
Mountain Tweaks (and Lion Tweaks) lets you customize and correct certain features in Mac OS X 10.7, many of which are undoubtedly annoying. After you download this free app, donate to developer Fredrik Wiker, so he can get a college education. Mountain Tweaks will probably lose its relevance once you upgrade Mavericks, but we’ll see if Wiker releases a Mavericks Tweaks.
Publisher: Fredrik Wiker
Need to rename a large set of files, like for instance add a file’s pixel dimensions and/or file size to the file name? Name Mangler will do this chore. It can also remove characters from file names starting at a certain position, or add suffixes and prefixes to file names. It will “dumb down” file names for Windows, trim white space, convert AM to am, and add a time-stamp to file names.
Publisher: Many Tricks
Numbers is the Excel of the Mac. It offers much of its power, but some might think that’s not enough. Now that Apple has finally upgraded the suite, a new Numbers has appeared that has fewer features than its predecessor. Still we like its new skin a lot and will transition over.
Price: $19.99 (Free with new Macs)
OmniOutliner is our favorite tool for creating to-do lists, data lists, or any task that requires outlining. The good news is that The Omni Group is betatesting version 4, which has a much cleaner interface.
Publisher: The Omni Group
How about a versatile utility with a nice interface that handles system maintenance tasks and is shareware? That is OnyX, and it’s only available on the Mac. We don’t know if it’s compatible with Mavericks…will let you know.
Publisher: Titanium Software
Need a free tool that can open Microsoft Office documents? Look no further, OpenOffice is your master key for access to word processing documents spreadsheets, and presentations.
Publisher: Apache Software Foundation
Pacifist is a shareware application with a suggested donation that opens Mac OS X .pkg package files, .dmg disk images, and .zip, .tar, .tar.gz and .xar archives and allows you to extract individual files and folders. This is useful if an application installed by the operating system becomes damaged and needs to be reinstalled without the hassle of reinstalling all of Mac OS X.
Publisher: Charles Soft
Pages is the Microsoft Word of the Mac. Like Numbers, Pages has outstanding layout capabilities, as exemplified by its built-in templates. Well worth $20 or getting it free with every new Mac you help sell. Was updated to a 2013 version. See our review of Numbers.
Price: $19.99 (free with new Macs)
Need to manipulate data? Like join two fields or clean up a database marred by sloppy data entry? Panorama Sheets parses your data fast by doing all its work in RAM. If you don’t need to manipulate more than a few hundred records, you can keep using the demo version, since Panorama Sheets works for free on small databases.
Publisher: ProVUE Development
Paparazzi captures screenshots of websites but goes beyond the call of duty by grabbing the entire page, as far as the eye cannot see.
Publisher: Nate Weaver
Manage all your recipes on the Mac and then sync the recipe and shopping list to your iPhone. Paprika is one of the best recipe managers out there today.
Publisher: Hindsight Labs LLC
Run Windows apps on your Mac in a separate window. Drag and drop text between Mac and Windows applications, all feats made possible by Parallels. The progress in the field of virtualization is remarkable. Parallels 8.0 is so much easier to use than previous versions. We are planning to update to 9.0 soon.
Publisher: Parallels IP Holdings GmbH
Need Photoshop but don’t want to pay Adobe any more money? Pixelmator does what you absolutely need: resizing, retouching, layering and more. We have totally fallen in love with the latest version Pixelmator 3.2. Its ease of use, clean interface and very attractive price make Pixelmator a viable alternative to Photoshop.
Publisher: Pixelmator Team Ltd.
Presentation Prompter turns your Mac into a teleprompter, offering full control over display preferences, including scrolling speed and character size.
Publisher: NextForce Software
We created the weekly publication, MacWEEK, using Quark. It would not have been possible to publish a 50,000-circulation weekly in 1987 on the Mac without it. Enough said.
Here’s one case where a Windows program still outshines the Mac. But if you want to balance your checkbook the Mac way, Quicken Essentials is good enough.
Silvio Rizzi has written the most gorgeous RSS reader bar none. Reeder syncs with Google Reader feeds but showcases articles beautifully and simply. UPDATE: We’re still waiting for an update from Rizzi for this great app. He has updated the iPhone and iPad Reeder and promises to update this one too, someday.
Publisher: Silvio Rizzi
Renamer lets you batch rename many files and folders at once. Renamer can even combine multiple operations in one single task. You can batch change file extensions, like changing JPEG to .jpg or change names of pictures from IMG_0051.jpg to something that is easier to recognize.
Publisher: Incredible Bee
For those who need to create screenshots of websites on a regular basis, Safari is the only way to go. Chrome has no setting to get rid of its toolbar, which explains why all advertising screenshots are taken in Safari.
Scrivener is perhaps the most amazing writing organizer and thought outliner. Designed for book authors, Scrivener lets you organize your writing and thoughts by folder or sub-folder. It can even attach a document to a document. We have started moving all of our writing — whether for book, site, collateral or anything else — into Scrivener. Highly recommended for anyone who does any writing, from business plans or brochures to novels.
Publisher: Literature & Latte
Search & Replace
Search & Replace is a powerful batch-processing utility that replaces content in text files, renames or trims file names, adds prefixes or suffixes, or changes text to upper and lower case with just one click. It will also provide you with a count of changes, if you like to keep track of things.
Publisher: Dorian Chapeau
Since its launch in August 2003, Skype has reshaped the chat and internet calling market. The Mac version, while radically different from its Windows counterpart, is pretty nifty.
I have yet to find a simple text editor that does what Smultron does, which is quick-and-dirty CSS or text editing. I really like its search and replace facility. It also has a great uppercase to lowercase to title case, etc. feature. Glad to see that Smultron is now compatible with Mavericks.
Publisher: Peter Borg Apps AB
Category: Developer Tools
Snapz Pro X
Mac designers create a lot of user manuals, so taking great screenshots is key. Snapz Pro X works the same way as Apple’s Grab but offers more options, like saving directly to a PNG or PSD file.
Publisher: Ambrosia Software Inc.
Sol Basics Solitaire
If you’re addicted to Solitaire, specifically Spider Solitaire, you will like Sol Basics. For 10 bucks, you get Sol Basics Solitaire, Spider, Free Cell and Klondike.
Publisher: Smallware LLC
We have two password keepers in this list. That’s because SplashID does a better job of organizing, while 1Password is better at inserting. Both could be far easier to use. UPDATE: Splash has taken a lot of heat for its latest update, which forces people to hand over their password to enable its new cloud synch feature. We do not recommend upgrading either the desktop app or the iPhone app until we can find an alternative. Unfortunately, Mavericks’ built-in solution is not great either.
Suitcase Fusion 5.0
The bane of dealing with a lot of fonts is that the one you need is not always available. Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to manage a huge font library by turning fonts on and off when needed. Not cheap but definitely worth it.
Here is another program that we wished we had acquired earlier. Text Expander saves so much time typing repetitive things like URLs and return addresses, simply amazing. It even handles embedded terms that require further input when you type. Highly recommended.
Publisher: SmileOnMyMac LLC
Things is a well-executed to-do list manager and was one of the first apps that allowed users to synch between Mac and its iPhone app ($10), perfect for list checkers. What we really like about Things is that it has a Helper app that lets you add tasks from any program (as long as Things is running).
Publisher: Cultured Code GmbH
Category: Task Management
While Time Machine is a great backup solution, it has one annoying habit; it backs up all the time, slowing down your Mac. TimeMachineEditor solves that.
Publisher: Time Software
Would you like to surf the new Silk Road 2? The TorBrowser is a secure web browser that allows you to access web sites completely incognito. Take that NSA!
Publisher: Tor Project
TuneUp will parse your iTunes music library and find song duplicates, cover art and correct information, including artist, track name, album name, etc. While it is not Retina-optimized — particularly galling given its $50 price — it does work well.
Publisher: TuneUp Media Inc.
TurboTax Home Business
Intuit makes great tax preparation software. While you can choose between filing taxes online or the software version, the software offers more features.
Heard the bad news? After taking Facebook out of Tweetdeck, Twitter has announced the end of the road for TweetDeck, a very popular preferred Twitter client. So get it while you still can. Perhaps we will make the older version available here, so you can still download what was once the best social media client.
Category: Social Media
Some online repositories like compressing files in a weird format called rar. UnRarX lets you expand these rare rar archives.
Publisher: Alexander Roshal
VLC Media Player
VLC lets you watch videos encoded in formats QuickTime player cannot handle, including MKV, WMC and AVI. As CNET puts it: If you want a player that can be totally customized and configured to suit — and is not only updated frequently but also regularly offers new features and options created by a huge community of programmers and users — the answer is VLC Media Player.
One area where the Mac suffers in comparison to the PC is bookmark management. Webbla organizes bookmarks the way iTunes does, either visually or as lists.
Publisher: Celmaro Ltd.
White List will parse your Apple Mail folders and provide stats on email addresses you have communicated with and ranks them in order of number of emails sent. An invaluable tool for making sure your email lists contain the people you correspond with frequently.
Publisher: Patrick Stein
There are many utilities that claim to be able to download videos from YouTube, but most don’t work very well. Even iLivid, which we recommended last, stopped working. Wondershare AllMyTube downloads the highest resolution videos available from YouTube, and even Vimeo. A welcome tool for presenters.
Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate
Despite the fact that Macs are hugely popular among video pros, you rarely find good info on the best video converter utility. Search no more, we think Wondershare is it.
If you need to write without distractions, WriteRoom is a full-screen writing environment that eliminates clutter. WriteRoom even lets you mimic those word processors of yore. Fun!
Publisher: Hogbay Software
Xee is an image browser that lets you turn any folder into a slide show. It will open any format Preview can open, plus a few esoteric ones, like PCX.
Publisher: Dag Agren
XMind is a brainstorming and mind-mapping software program that lets you diagram website structures or org charts. It’s priced using the freemium model, so no arguments here.
Publisher: XMind Ltd.
Note Regarding Pricing
- Price – All prices are list but promotions are frequently available, as are Amazon.com discounts.
- Free – Means the product is free.
- Freemium – There is a more capable version available or you can avail yourself of paid premium services.
- Shareware – The author would like you to donate money so he/she can survive. Make sure you do if you find the app useful.