Just bought a new Mac and wondering what free software you can load onto your machine to start using it? There are tons of apps that you can install on your Mac to start being productive. We have compiled a list of 101 of the best free software that you can use on your Mac.
Tip: learn how to improve your macOS experience with Ventura.
- Office Suite
- Note-Taking Apps
- Web Browsers
- Media Players
- File Compression
- Instant Messaging
- Email Clients
- Torrent Managers
- Anti-Spyware and Antivirus
- FTP Clients
- App Uninstallers
- Download Managers
- Screenshot Tools
- Code Editors
- Image Editors
- eBook Readers
- Clipboard Managers
- Remote Desktop Connection
- System Cleaners
- Task and To-Do Lists
- File Managers
- Command Line Tools
- Audio Recorders and Editors
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Libre Office: has all of the office apps to help you create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can also add extensions to extend the functionality of this office suite.
- Scribus: open-source desktop publishing tool that lets you create various document types on your Mac. It has all the tools to help you build some amazing stuff on your machine.
- Evernote: popular note-taking app that allows you to collect and share ideas with people using notes.
- Microsoft OneNote: Microsoft’s note-taking app that lets you capture your thoughts and jot them down in various notes.
- SimpleNote: as the name implies, it’s the simplest way to create and save notes on your Mac. It has a number of features, and its aim is to provide you with a neat and clean interface for you to create your notes.
- Bear: beautiful note-taking app for Apple devices that supports markdown formatting, checklists, attachments, and exporting to multiple formats. While it charges for pro versions, all of the essential features are available for free.
Good to know: looking for a way to keep your notes on your desktop? Take a look at our top picks for five of the best sticky note apps for Mac.
- Google Chrome: one of the best and most popular web browsers. It has tons of features and more that can be added using extensions. It also supports apps to help you get the most out of it.
- Mozilla Firefox: popular web browser and tough competitor of Chrome. It packs all of the cool features you will ever need from a browser and has an add-on repository to add new features if you want.
- Opera: has been on the market for many years. It features a built-in VPN to help you keep your data transmissions secure over the Internet.
- Brave: privacy-focused Chromium-based browser that prevents your browsing sessions from being tracked by websites. It also rewards you with cryptocurrency if you enable the optional Brave ads.
- Arc: browser that reimagines almost every aspect of the web browser as you know it today. The tab management, command bar, and direct integration with services like GitHub and Google Calendar makes this browser feel truly fresh.
- VLC: just as great as it is for Windows. It plays almost all kinds of media formats and is a really smooth player for you to play your media files on your Mac.
- MPlayerX: besides regular features, it has features like finding out the next episode of a series in a media folder, helping you play the audio in your home theatre system, and gesture support to help you control your media playbacks.
- Cisdem VideoPlayer: helps you play more than 50 media formats on your Mac. It plays 4K, 5K and Full-HD videos without any buffering or crashes. It also supports subtitles that you can download and add to your media files.
- 5KPlayer: media player that has a lot of features other than just playing media files. It plays almost all kinds of media files and has an AirPlay sender and receiver to help you play files from your iPhone.
- MPV: open-source and cross-platform media player that packs the features of MPlayer and offers a few more for your enjoyment.
- The Unarchiver: great replacement for the Archive utility on your Mac. It supports many more formats for extraction than the default utility on your Mac and also fits very well with the design of the Finder app on your Mac.
- iZip: lets you zip and unzip files, rar and unrar files, and also helps you encrypt your archives so that they are safer and can’t be accessed by unauthorized parties.
- Keka: supports a number of formats for extraction and compression, which include 7z, zip, tar, dmg, and the ISO format.
- RAR Extractor Free: as the name says, it’s a RAR file extractor for your Mac. Not only does it support RAR, but it also supports a number of other formats, such as zip, tar, 7-zip, and so on.
- Discord: communication app originally created for gamers, but now there are user run servers for communities of all kinds of interests. It supports voice chat in addition to text-based messages.
- Adium: open-source instant messenger for your Mac that supports multiple protocols and can be used with MSN, Jabber, Yahoo!, and so on.
- Viber: lets you send free texts, allows you to make free voice and video calls, and has customizable features so that you have full control over what you are sharing with the app.
- Telegram: more like WhatsApp but supports bots, which WhatsApp doesn’t. It lets you send free texts and allows you to interact with some really cool bots (see an example here).
- Signal: privacy-focused text messaging app operated by a nonprofit organization. End-to-end encryption ensures that your messages can’t be read by anyone but your recipient.
- Franz: supports Slack for messaging, which means you can interact with your work buddies who use Slack.
- eM Client: great option with comprehensive features and customization options. Free accounts can have up to two email accounts.
- Canary Mail: email client for Mac and iOS that claims to be a fast, secure, and simple client to help you manage all your emails.
- Vivaldi Mail: email client built into the Vivaldi Browser. As a successor to Opera Mail, it comes with many of the same features, supports almost every email provider, and stores emails offline for availability whenever you need them.
- Thunderbird: excellent open source email client provided by Mozilla. In addition to its many features, it also offers tons of add-ons for further customization.
- µTorrent: efficient torrent manager that lets you download torrents to your Mac. It’s lightweight, powerful, and faster so that your torrents get downloaded quickly.
- BitTorrent: helps you download large torrents easily to your Mac. It provides fast speeds, a neat and clean interface, and a number of other features.
- Transmission: popular torrent manager for Mac that uses less resources and allows for faster speeds for torrent downloads. It has support for magnet links, DHT, PEX, and so on.
- qBittorrent: open source ad-free alternative to uTorrent that was built by developers in their spare time and has all the standard features that you expect from a torrent client.
- BitLord: offers an extremely easy way to download torrents and stream them on your computer. It has a playlist feature for you to keep your torrents in order and lets you read and write comments for the torrents.
Anti-Spyware and Antivirus
- AVG AntiVirus: helps you remove Mac-specific viruses from your machine and keeps it protected from threats. It runs in the background and keeps an eye on your content so that you are always virus-free.
- Comodo Antivirus: keeps your Mac protected from infections like viruses, worms, and trojan horses. It’s a complete security app for your Mac.
- Avast: makes sure your Mac is safe from any threats. Many think that Macs are the most secure computers, but they also need protection, and Avast takes care of that for you.
- Bitdefender: offers efficient, on-demand virus scanning. Choose to scan your full computer or a custom location to quarantine both Mac and Windows threats.
- Avira: simple app that helps you quickly scan your Mac for any viruses or spyware. It uses some of the award-winning technologies to find and remove viruses from your machine.
- FileZilla: popular FTP client that lets you connect to your FTP server to download and upload files. It’s open source and comes packed with tons of features.
- Cyberduck: helps you connect to FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, S3, Backblaze B2, Azure, and OpenStack for your file downloading and uploading tasks. Its features make it more than just a regular FTP client.
- Classic FTP: helps you quickly upload and download files, uses SSL on FTP for secure file transmissions, and is compatible with all popular FTP servers.
- CrossFTP: powerful FTP and Amazon S3 client that provides you with a tabbed interface for multiple FTP connections, password encryption, archive extraction, quick searches, and so on.
- Commander One: excellent dual-pane FTP client tailored for macOS. It runs natively on Apple silicone (the M series of chips from 2020 and later).
- App Cleaner: helps you uninstall an app completely from your Mac. It makes sure nothing is left over when you remove an app from your Mac.
- AppCleaner: makes it really easy to uninstall and remove all of the files from an app on your Mac. It lists all of the installed apps on your Mac, you pick which one you want to uninstall, then it clears it off your Mac.
- FOLX 5: free download manager that blends very well with the style of Macs. It has features like smart tagging to tag your downloaded files, download splitting to boost download speeds, and browser extensions to work seamlessly with the browser on your Mac.
- iGetter: full-featured downloader and download accerelator that helps you download files faster on your Mac. It helps you manage your downloads, accelerates them, and allows you to schedule downloads.
- Free Download Manager: allows you to download normal files, has support for bittorrent protocol, helps you convert media files after downloading, and helps you resume broken downloads so that you don’t need to start downloading from the beginning.
- Progressive Downloader: has multi-thread support and makes your downloading faster than ever. It easily integrates with your browsers, has support for FTP and SFTP, helps you search for the fastest download sources, and so on.
- Ninja Download Manager: spectacular app that has both a beautiful interface and tons of useful features. You can schedule downloads for later, stream video or audio before it completes, and much more.
- Lightshot: helps you quickly capture a screenshot of a selected or full area of your screen. It’s easy to use and has a powerful editor to edit the captured screenshots.
- Gyazo: cloud screenshot sharing service with the Gyazo Replay feature, which is geared toward gamers. It’s perfect for you if you often need to securely share images and video.
- Skitch: by Evernote, this is also a powerful app that lets you capture and annotate screenshots on your Mac. You can add shapes and text on your screenshots with its feature-rich screenshot editor.
- Paparazzi!: helps you take screenshots of webpages on your Mac. Just input the URL of the webpage you want to capture a screenshot of, and it will take care of the rest for you.
- Monosnap: lets you capture screenshots, annotate them. It has an eight-pixel magnifier, so your screenshots are perfectly cropped.
Tip: taking lots of screenshots lately? Learn how to free up space on your display by discovering how to disable screenshot thumbnail previews on Mac.
- Visual Studio Code: Made by Microsoft, this is the most popular, and arguably the best, code editor available now. With frequent updates, and a thriving extension ecosystem, you can do almost anything with this editor.
- MacVim: MacVim is a text editor for Mac that lets you write code and text with Vim keyboard shortcuts.
- Brackets: modern and open-source code editor that helps you quickly write web design code. The app claims it understands web designing and has features tailored toward creating beautiful code that does amazing things.
- Emacs: a favorite amongst hardcore programmers, this has a steep learning curve but is extremely customizable and can be tailored to handle basically all of your computing tasks.
- Sublime Text: sleek and resource-efficient code editor that handles large files with ease and comes with GPU support for incredible performance – even at very high screen resolutions.
Tip: Check out this article if you want to code on iOS or iPadOS too.
- Fotor Photo Editor: complete photo editor for Mac that has features like batch processing of photos so that the effects can be applied to multiple photos at once, powerful editing tools, and a collage maker to help you create collages.
- GIMP: used to retouch your photos, resize your photos, image composition, and image construction. It can also be used as a paint program on your Mac.
- Paintbrush: more of a painting program that lets you create new paintings and draw shapes on your existing images. It supports multiple image formats and is a small app that you must have on your Mac if you love photo editing.
- Autodesk Pixlr: has over 100 effects, 340 overlays, and 200 borders to be added to the photos you edit on your Mac. It’s a feature-rich photo editor that has almost everything you would ever need to edit and retouch your photos.
- PhotoScape X: helps you create your own styles with various colors and filters, has film effect and light leak, and brushes and stickers to make your photos look funky.
- Calibre: lets you read ebooks of many formats on your Mac and also helps you convert them from one format to another.
- Kindle: lets you read more than 450,000 ebooks on your Mac without requiring you to have an actual Kindle. You can annotate and set bookmarks in your ebooks.
- Yomu: beautiful eBook, PDF, and comic reader for the Apple ecosystem that’s free with few limitations.
- PocketBook Reader: free reader that supports 26 different book and audiobook formats that isn’t completely covered in ads.
- CopyClip: clipboard history manager that saves what you have copied to your clipboard and helps you get it when you want. The app runs right from the menu bar of your Mac.
- Flycut: open source clipboard manager that helps you paste things even if you have something different on your clipboard.
- Clipy: excellent open source clipboard manager that is highly popular on GitHub and created by a Japanese developer.
- Jumpcut: minimalist clipboard manager for your Mac that claims to make your clipboard dance. It uses clipboard buffering to help you have multiple items on your clipboard rather than only the last item that you copied.
- 1Clipboard: universal clipboard manager that helps you copy content on one device and paste it to another.
Remote Desktop Connection
- TeamViewer: lets you control any computer on the Internet from your Mac as long as you have its access details. It’s a boon for those who wish to get or give technical help remotely.
- Microsoft Remote Desktop: lets you use your macOS computer to securely connect to and control your Windows computers or Microsoft-based services in general.
- Zoom: besides being the defacto video conferencing tool, Zoom also lets meeting participants give remote control to other meeting guests.
- dupeGuru: helps you find and delete duplicate files from your Mac so that you can reclaim the precious memory space that has been occupied by these useless duplicate files.
- Monolingual: helps you remove unnecessary language files from your Mac to free up memory space. If you only use one language with your Mac, you can have the others removed with this app to reclaim memory space.
Task and To-Do Lists
- Org mode: helps you create to-do task lists in plain text on a simple interface. You can enter a headline for a task that can easily be converted into a task using this intelligent app.
- Todo.txt: helps you work with the tasks that you have been adding to a txt file. It simplifies the entire process of creating tasks by letting you add tasks from a graphical user interface and command line.
- Taskwarrior: helps you create tasks from the command line on your Mac. Just enter your task and the time when it should happen, and the app will take care of the rest.
- Todour: Tell the app where your todo.txt file is, and it will create an organized list of tasks for you so that you can manage your tasks in a better way other than from a plain text file.
- Freeplane: mind-mapping tool forked from FreeMind that lets you put your thoughts onto your screen to share with others. It has tons of other features, such as project workplace, creation of subtasks, time recording, and so on.
Tip: task managers are efficient tools but do not work for everyone. For those who like to sketch out and plan tasks, we recommend learning how to use the Apple Freeform app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
- Quicksilver: this is actually a launcher for your Mac that learns your habits and helps you work more productively on your machine. It has more features than Spotlight and can let you be more productive, as it knows what’s important to you and only shows that content on your screen.
- Alfred: productivity app for Mac that provides tons of features. It has search and browse, and the results will be prioritized according to your habits. There’s also a useful clipboard that knows what you are typing.
- Double Commander: open source file explorer and good replacement for the Finder app on your Mac. It helps you manage files on your Mac and supports two panels side by side for quick file transfers.
- muCommander: lightweight and cross-platform file manager with support for dual panes. It has support for archive extraction, tabbed navigation, modification of ZIP without recompressing, and is available in over 27 languages.
- trolCommander: feature-rich file explorer that supports dual pane, tabbed navigation, supports multiple virtual systems, and can work with many archive formats.
Command Line Tools
- iTerm2: replacement for your Mac’s Terminal app. It brings with it modern features to help you accomplish what you want with the command line. It has split panes, a hotkey window, search feature, autocomplete, and so on.
- Cool Retro Term: gives you the look of those old cathode tube screens while you work with the commands in the app. It makes you feel more scientific with its look.
- MacTerm: replacement for the Terminal app on your Mac with 24-bit color support, search feature, notifications, macros, and a floating command window.
- HyperTerm: beautiful and extensible command-line interface for your Mac to help you write commands.
- Warp: this “terminal for the 21st century” has features that make writing commands in a terminal feel like writing code in a code editor. Meanwhile, it’s written in Rust, so it still has blazing fast performance.
Audio Recorders and Editors
- Audacity: free audio recorder that helps you record audio on your Mac and has a built-in editor to help you edit your recorded audio files.
- Ardour: free audio recorder that helps you record audio, edit audio, and even mix audio files.
- Radium: has a bunch of features to help you play around with your audio files, like velocity automation, effect automation, and pitch automation, to name a few.
- ocenaudio: powerful audio editor that boasts features like real time preview of audio effects and multi selection.
- WavePad: multi-track audio editing tool that helps you work with multiple files and tracks on your Mac at the same time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you decide which apps to include or remove?
We ensure each app is installable at the time of publication. Apps that have not been updated in years will likely be removed and replaced with newer apps. Additionally, we try to ensure every app has a version that is free forever, even if there are extras that cost money.
Can I trust all of these apps?
Nothing you download from the Internet is 100% safe. That said, we vetted all of these apps and confirmed that they are trusted by many users and are not blatant malware. Also, macOS is pretty locked down security wise, with every app you install needing to request permissions to do anything serious on your computer.
What’s the difference between downloading an app from the Mac App Store versus from the Internet?
There are a few differences. You can be tricked into downloading fake, malicious software if you visit the wrong website on the Internet, while on the App Store you can easily spot a bad app based on its poor reviews. The App Store also offers a central place to update all of your apps, so it isn’t a hassle to manage software updates.
Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots taken by Brandon Li.
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