There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with OS X in Apple’s App Store – not to mention the thousands more that are scattered across the Web. In this list, we’ve compiled some of the best Mac apps available. Since there are so many apps available, we pared it down to only include programs that are most likely to be useful to the average Mac user.
There are loads of great window management tools out there, and each one seems to take a different approach to the same task. Afloat is a wonderfully simple utility that allows you to ‘float’ certain windows and keep them on top. You can also pin windows to the front of the screen, and adjust the transparency of any window you choose. This transparency function is especially useful for users working with limited screen space, which makes Afloat a must-have for 13- or 15-inch MacBook owners.
Other notable windows management tools include: Divvy, Better Snap Tool, and Cinch.
Give your Mac a volume boost with Boom. The tiny program allows you to turn up the volume past Apple’s pre-determined boundaries. This might not be the most useful app on this list if you already have volume-boosting PC speakers, but if you’re working with your Mac’s built-in speakers, then this utility is especially useful. While it’s generally not a good idea to push your speakers past their limit, Boom comes in handy when you’re watching or listening to things that aren’t very loud to begin with and need an extra boost to be audible.
Breakaway is a simple utility that pauses iTunes when it detects that your headphone jack is unplugged. You can also set it to pause your music and movies when you hit mute to make your life that much easier. Never again will you have to suffer through an embarrassing moment when your headphones pop out for a second and cause your computer to blast Ricky Martin’s greatest hits at full volume for a few seconds as you fumble to plug your phones back in.
Sometimes your Mac gets hot. When it does, and you feel like it could use some extra cooling down, use the Fan Control app to designate how many RPMs your fan spins at.
Always a favorite, this one keeps your computer from going into sleep mode or performing the auto-dim function. Great for reading long documents or any other activity in which you don’t touch the keyboard or mouse for extended periods of time.
Perian is essentially a codec pack that augments QuickTime and makes it capable of reading pretty much any file format. It’s extremely lightweight and it saves you from having to download another program just to play your media.
Of all the RSS aggregators out there, Reeder easily ranks in the top three. Its position on the podium is up for debate, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the best. It started life as an iOS app and was later redesigned to work on OS X, which shows in the smooth and intuitive interface. It syncs easily with Google Reader and also has an auto-load function so that you can quickly switch over and read the article on the actual website if you prefer.
While we’re generally not fans of skeuomorphism in computer applications, Pulp is definitely an exception. It forgoes the traditional RSS aggregator format in favor of a more familiar newspaper-like layout – and pulls it off quite nicely. The app displays your news in a fully-customizable and easy-to-digest format that makes it easier to locate the news you’re actually interested in reading. Pulp also has a ‘Magic Reader’ function that will retrieve the entire article when only a portion of the story is displayed by the feed – an incredibly helpful feature that’s missing in other aggregators.
If you’re a voracious consumer of music and you find yourself constantly switching between your local library and dozens of online streaming sources, then Tomahawk is just what you need. The program essentially unifies all of your music into one source – no matter if your tunes are located on YouTube, Spotify, your iTunes library, or even a friend’s library. Tomahawk works with tons of different online music services. If your favorite one isn’t supported, you can create a “resolver” to make it work. It takes a second to get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll never use another music program again.
Audacity is a free and open-source audio editor and recorder. It’s got a bit of a learning curve, but that curve isn’t nearly as steep as you’ll find with other audio editors. Despite the fact that it’s completely free, Audacity is packed with advanced features that make it a serious contender against paid programs.
Plex is a free media manager application/UPnP media server client that we’re in love with for it’s slick interface, powerful features, and nonexistent pricetag. We highly recommend this one.
Ever wanted to control your computer with Minority Report style gestures? With Flutter, you can finally live that dream. Once installed, the app allows you to control iTunes (and a few other programs/Web apps) just by making hand signals at your iSight camera. It’s surprisingly quick and even works well at a distance. This is definitely a fun one to impress your friends with.
Screen capture apps are a dime a dozen, but none are as full-featured and simple to use as this one created by shinywhitebox. It allows you to capture any section of the screen, no matter how big or small it may be, while also giving you the option of recording audio coming from inside or outside your Mac – or both.
Need to send a large file like a movie or a lossless audio file to your friend? We recommend using FTP, the File Transfer Protocol, and to use it, you’ll need a good FTP client. Cyberduck is your best option in our opinion. Don’t dig the interface? Alternatives include FireFTP, Transmit, and FileZilla
Mac users have an incredibly vast selection of excellent photo editing programs, but even against thousands of competitors, Pixelmator stands out as one of the best. It’s got a massive list of powerful features, and is probably the fastest program of its type that we’ve ever used.
It used to be that making professional-grade HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos meant using three or four different effects programs, but thanks to brilliant software developers, those days are no more. HDRtist is an all-in-one HDR production studio, which is dead simple to use.
Bored with the simplistic fade-in/fade-out playthrough style of your iTunes playlists but don’t want to buy a set of turntables just to mix your music? Check out Mixxx. It’s definitely not as full-featured as programs like Virtual DJ Pro, but the learning curve also isn’t nearly as steep.
Think of Alfred as Spotlight on crystal meth. It’s an application launcher, but it can do a lot more than just that. With Alfred, you can quickly perform calculations, execute Web searches, and quickly find word definitions, among many other functions.
Better Touch Tool
BTT boosts the functionality of your trackpad or Magic Mouse by adding more gesture control options to the mix. Once installed, you can tap in corners, tap and swipe with up to 11 (11!!!) fingers, and in the case of the Magic Mouse, have pinch-to-zoom functionality.
Pathfinder is an alternative to Finder that gives you more advanced features and control than Apple’s default file manager. Replacing your computer’s file management system isn’t something that even crosses most people’s minds, but you’d be surprised how useful the added functionality is. PathFinder keeps the same familiar interface that Finder has, adding things like tabbed folder browsing and bookmarking to make it even better. Check out the link for full details. We don’t have enough space to list all of the awesome stuff it can do.
If you find yourself writing certain phrases over and over again, Text Expander is for you. There are tons of text expansion apps out there, but this one is dead simple and very straightforward. Never heard of a text expander? What they do is allow you to build pre-written snippets that will pop up when you enter a specific key combination. For example, you could type TYSM, and have it expand into “thank you so much,” or potentially even an entire thank you e-mail.
Evernote is the undisputed king of note taking apps, and for good reason. It’s simple, organized in a highly intuitive way, and syncs with just about any Web service you can imagine. Since it’s one of the most popular apps in existence, there’s a veritable boatload of browser extensions and add-ons available for it as well. Also be sure to check out Evernote’s screenshot annotation tool called Skitch.
With so many free text editors out there for Mac users, you have absolutely no reason to pay for Microsoft Word. Some lean toward minimalism and strip away advanced features, but Text Wrangler isn’t one of those. This program is the Cadillac of free text editors. It has every bell, whistle, and advanced formatting option you’ll ever need.
To-do lists are another category that’s overflowing with choices. TDL apps are a dime a dozen, but Anxiety is our favorite. It’s ultra lightweight, hides in a small spot in your menubar, and doesn’t offer anything more than bare-bones task management.
Flashcards are hands down one of the best ways to cram vocabulary words into your brain before that big Bio-Chem exam you’ve got coming up, but making them all by hand is incredibly time consuming. Smartr not only makes it easier to create flashcards, it also acts as a study buddy and makes quizzing yourself super simple.
Fluid is an app for making your favorite websites into desktop apps. Tell it what site you’d like to transform, and it’ll make what’s called a site-specific browser for that site. Fluid then puts an app in your dock for easy access. Site-specific browsers are just what they sound like: browsers dedicated to accessing pages from a single source. It’s nice to be able to access your favorite websites just like you access desktop apps, and, if used properly, Fluid can really help you stay focused.
Hate trying to remember every single password for every account you have? 1Password is a fantastic password manager that secures all your passwords in a fully-encrypted vault, which you then access by using your master password.
Similar apps include Wallet and LastPass.
If your Mac ever gets stolen, you’ll be glad you installed Undercover. The stolen device recovery app lets you track your computer’s location as soon as the perpetrator connects to the Internet. When they do, Undercover allows you to remotely log on to your Mac, log all of the activity, and even take screenshots of the person who robbed you.
Free alternative: Prey
iOS notifies you when your apps should be updated, so why can’t OS X do the same? AppFresh adds this kind of functionality to your Mac and makes sure that all of your applications, widgets, preference panes, and app plugins are up to date.
GeekTool is a free desktop customization tool for your Mac. It allows you to use shell scripts to add things like date/time indicators, weather info, or even RSS feeds to your desktop. Even if you’re not a code guru, the GeekTool website has a long list of user scripts (called Geeklets) that you can snag and install with ease.
If you live or work with Windows users, you’ve probably encountered a few frustrating situations in which you need to modify files from an NTFS formatted hard drive but couldn’t because your Mac can’t write to NTFS. Paragon changes that and makes it easy for you to create, delete, or modify files on NTFS hard drives from the comfort of OS X.
App Zapper touts itself as “the uninstaller Apple forgot,” and that’s a pretty apt description. Oftentimes, when you drag a file or program to the trash and delete it, there are other files associated with it that remain on your Mac. App Zapper fixes this problem and finds all files associated with whatever you’re deleting, giving you the option of throwing them out as well.
Free alternative: AppCleaner
There are plenty of disk analytics apps out there, but none of them can match the style and simplicity of Daisy Disk. With an awesome visual layout, it helps you quickly determine what’s taking up space on our drive and provides tools to help you clean it up.
Little Snitch is a permissions blocker that lets you control all of your incoming and outgoing connections. If you’ve got a program that you don’t want connecting to the Internet, Little Snitch can block it for you. You can set it to block things just once, until you quit, or forever. It’s really nice for control freaks like us who prefer to know everything our Mac is doing.
Alternative: Hands Off is extremely similar and it’s also $5 cheaper.
Not so fond of Apple’s native Mail application? Give Thunderbird a try. Developed by Mozilla (the same group who brought us Firefox), Thunderbird is packed with powerful and intuitive features, but isn’t very complicated to use.
Other notable mail clients: Postbox and Sparrow.
Adium is a multi-protocol instant messaging client that can bundle all of your accounts into one simple application. Just tell it which services you use (AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Facebook, etc.) and it’ll pull all of your contacts and organize them into a unified space with a clean UI.
Alternatives: Pidgin and Trillian.
You’ve reached the end of the list! We know for a fact that we’ve left out tons of good ones, so we invite you to share your favorites with us in the comments below!
On a budget? Check out our list of the best free software applications.
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-mac-apps/#ixzz2RkAc5aui