The Best Linux Alternatives for macOS Apps

Lately, lots of people are switching from to Linux (from both Windows and Mac). As a result, users find themselves trying to find good replacements for popular Mac applications.

That’s why we’ve made this article – to go over common alternatives to popular Mac programs that many may not be aware of. So, what are they?

1. Email


macOS comes with a very good email client. Consistently, Mac users say this. Sadly, Apple doesn’t port their email software to other operating systems. Luckily on Linux, there are many email clients to choose from.

The best email client for Linux, hands down, has to be Mozilla Thunderbird. It’s open source, supports a plethora of add-ons, and is likely the email client that many people (including Mac users) are already familiar with.

Not a fan of Thunderbird? Try Evolution or Geary. Both email clients have the ability to handle large inboxes, multiple accounts, and different messaging types. For a Mac user, any of these three clients are more than sufficient replacements.

2. Calendar


For the most part, Apple does a really good job of making software, and the Mac Calendar app is no exception. Often times when Mac users switch to another operating system, they have a really hard time finding a good replacement. Luckily, there are several Calendar applications for Linux that you can use.

The general consensus for the best one to use on Linux is KOrganizer, the official calendar app for the KDE Desktop environment. An elegant and well-put-together calendar tool that allows users to manage multiple calendars, it has full support for CalDAV technology and even support for Google Calendar. Additionally, KOrganizer has an agenda function which allows users to plan out their day.

Those not using the KDE desktop can use Evolution or even Lightning with Thunderbird.

3. Music


iTunes is the default music application for Mac, and it is being used as a syncing tool for your iPhone/iPad as well. On Linux, for the purposes of listening to music, there are plenty of music players to choose from, and most of them are much better than iTunes.

For those looking for something similar to iTunes on the Mac, a great player to check out is Clementine. Like iTunes, this player has support for online music sources, podcast management, easy managing of local music files, id3-tag editing, an album cover fetcher, video-playback support, and mobile device support (in some cases, even iPhones are supported).

Additionally, Clementine has support for many, many online music sources: SoundCloud, Spotify, Grooveshark, and more. Those looking for a solid alternative to iTunes should check out this player. It might not be the perfect iTunes replacement, but compared to all the alternatives that exist on Linux, this is the most complete.

Not interested in Clementine? Consider checking out Rhythmbox or Amarok. Both are great alternatives that allow users to manage their music library in an elegant way, complete with device support and more.

4. Instant Messaging


When it comes to messaging on Mac, users are accustomed to using iMessage. It works well and allows the ability to interact with fellow Mac users on both macOS and iOS. There is no true replacement for this, as the technology that Apple uses is really hard to compete with. Still, for those looking for a good messenger alternative on the Linux platform, there is Pidgin, Empathy and Kopete.

Empathy is the standard message client for the Gnome desktop environment and can be easily installed through the Ubuntu software center (or however you install software on your Linux distribution).

Empathy allows users to add multiple different accounts and use them all in one place. Facebook, Google, Telegram, etc. are all compatible. Don’t like Empathy? Pidgin and Kopete are essentially the same tools that effectively do the same thing but with different settings and features.

Pidgin supports a wide variety of user-created plugins and themes and has been a favorite for over a decade. Kopete is the standard messaging tool of the KDE Plasma desktop environment.

Regardless of which app you go with, they’re all very good and get the job done.

5. Voice/Video Calling


Apple’s OS has its own video calling app called FaceTime. On Linux there is no such feature. Instead, users find themselves using various different tools. The most prominent alternative is Microsoft’s Skype. You may have heard of it.

Currently, Microsoft is working hard at revamping the Linux Skype client. While it is still in beta, it is fully functional and can do both video and audio. Download it here.

6. Photo Management


There are many alternatives to Apple’s Photos app on Linux. Some are better than others. The best one to recommend is Darktable. It is a high-quality media-management tool that allows users to manage their photos on a “light table.”

With it, users can develop raw images and take full control of their photo library under Linux.

7. Video Editing


Many people edit videos on a Mac, be it using Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere or iMovie. On Linux we have different choices: Kdenlive, OpenShot and Lightworks.

For those looking to edit basic clips who are accustomed to iMovie, consider OpenShot. It allows users to add basic transitions, make cuts, add titles and render to different profiles like “YouTube” and others.


Those looking to edit professional-quality video have two choices: Kdenlive and Lightworks. The first application is open source with the ability to cut clips, transcode, add titles, effects, different visual effects, overlays, and even keyframes – basically everything you’ve come to expect, but totally free.

The second program (Lightworks) is a professional-grade paid video-editing suite that is available for Linux. It does almost everything that a professional nonlinear video editor should do but in a fullscreen environment. Purchase it here.

8. PDF Viewing


The way users interact and view images as well as PDF files on a Mac is with a program called “Preview.” It’s a standard image and document viewer that makes it very easy to manipulate these types of files. On Linux the app of choice that most people go with really depends on the desktop environment. For example, most Gnome users might find themselves using Evince, and those on KDE use Okular.

Both of these applications (like Preview on the Mac) have support for all of the major image and document formats and can be used to view these. For example: used to reading PDF files in Preview on the Mac? Evince and Okular can do this too. For the average user, both of the programs mentioned are satisfactory. Still, if you’ve tried these apps out and dislike them, try out Qpdfview. It’s a lightweight PDF-viewing tool. There’s no image support, but it gets the job done.

Need to edit PDF files? Try out Master PDF Editor for Linux.


Though many don’t realize it, there are many great alternatives to common applications for the Mac. I hope that people who are leaving the Mac for Linux find this list of alternatives helpful and that it makes the transition to the Linux platform much easier.

Did we miss out any alternative software? Let us know in the comments below.

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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