The 8 Best Apps to Install First When Buying a New Mac

Two years ago, I made the leap to the Dark Side by using Mac OSX for the first time. After years of using Windows, I suddenly became “infected by the fruit virus.”. Here are the eight software apps you NEED to install when buying a brand new Mac computer.

1. Skype


When it comes to communication, it’s hard to beat Skype (although it does have competitors nipping at their heels, such as Google Hangouts). If you work online for a living, then you will probably be using Skype all the time to communicate with colleagues and / or customers. The Mac version of Skype does have a slightly different design than the Windows one, and it is pretty clunky in my opinion. However, you can’t argue with the underlying technology.

2. Zipeg


One of the things which I immediately noticed about OSX, was the immediate opening of all ZIP files when they were downloaded. I download a lot of WordPress themes and plugins, and they don’t need to be unzipped. Despite that, the system would dutifully unzip the ZIP package and present me with a folder of files I didn’t need or want.

That was when a friend suggested Zipeg. It can be associated with all compressed file formats (zip, .rar, .7z, .tar, .gz, .tgz, .bzip2, .iso, .cbr, .cbz, to name just a few), and when a file is downloaded, Zipeg merely opens and gives you a sneak preview inside the file. No unzipping, no tedious deletion of unnecessary files. Just close the Zipeg program and be on your way.

3. Dropbox

dropbox logo

When it comes to cloud storage and synchronizing files between devices, Dropbox rules supreme. However, the only area where it isn’t King is in the pricing area. It is consistently being outpriced by the likes of Google Drive and OneDrive.

But if all you intend to do is stay within the limits of the free storage that Dropbox offers (which is around 9GB), then this is an ideal program for keeping your files straight. A feature called “Camera Uploads” will get all of the photos off your iPhone and iPad in a jiffy and into a designated Dropbox folder.

4. Alfred

alfred hat

We turn now to an app which you will have to spend some money on to get the best part of the software. Alfred is an app launcher which catalogues your entire computer, and then anything is available on the screen by activating Alfred. So instead of using your mouse to click-click-click to your destination, just use a hotkey to bring up Alfred. Start typing what you need and Alfred will give it to you.

All that’s for free but the paid part is the Powerpack for 17 British pounds ($30). I highly recommend you make the investment because it makes Alfred so much better. Go here to see the extra features.

5. Tor Browser

tor logo

As well as having a “normal” browser like Safari or Chrome, you should also install the Tor Browser. Why? Because, let’s face it, there will be times when you will want to visit a site and not be tracked, or not have the cookie stored in your temporary files.

I’m not just talking about porn either. Marketing your personal details is big business these days, and Google has it down to a fine art. Make it harder for them to profile you by using Tor.

6. Tunnelbear


There will be times when it will become necessary to “mask” your IP address and fool a website into thinking that you are in another country. This could be because you want to use Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer. Or it could be because you want to view the country-specific version of a particular website. If that is the case, then you need a Virtual Private Network called Tunnelbear. Just switch it on, choose which country you want to “be in” and let it connect.

The free plan gives you up to 1GB of data (if you tweet about them). However, if you are watching online video, that 1GB will vanish quite quickly. So I recommend paying the bargain basement price of $5 per month to get the unlimited plan.

7. Bartender


When you start installing apps, that top bar is going to become a little crowded with icons, and things are going to look crushed. This is where Bartender comes to the rescue. Bartender scoops up all of those icons and hides them for you. So all that’s left on your top bar is an icon of … you guessed it … a bartender. Whenever you want to see your icons, just click on Mr. Bartender and your icons will instantly be displayed. Click the Bartender again and the icons disappear.

There is a four-week trial period, and if you want to use it after that, the lifetime license is $15. Again, a smart investment to make.

8. Fl.ux


If you’re like me and have your eyes glued to the computer screen 24/7, then you need to download Fl.ux. It’s been proven that the glare of a computer screen (after a certain amount of time) screws up your eyes, which in turn does a number on your “circadian rhythm” (when your body calculates it’s ready for bed). Therefore, when you do finally make it to bed, your body clock is all messed up and you can’t sleep.

To lessen the strain on your poor eyes, Fl.ux will, based on your location, figure out when sunset is due to occur outside. As sunset approaches, your screen’s glare will gradually go down to be replaced by a brown-ish tint. It really has to be seen to be believed. And it DOES work. I’ve never slept better – and I use my laptop in bed every night before switching the lights off.

So those are eight of the apps which I have come to love on my Mac. Which ones would be immediately installed on YOUR Mac without any hesitation?

Mark O'Neill
Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is a freelance journalist, editor, and bibliophile, who has been writing for 25+ years. From 2007-2013, he was the Managing Editor of Originally from Scotland, he now lives in Germany with his wife and his crazy dog.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox