One of the best things about macOS is the sheer number of high-quality apps. From remapping keys to easily controlling external monitors, there are great apps for almost everything you can think of. While many of us know about the big players on the market, there are plenty of lesser-known apps that deserve your attention, too. These are 11 of our favourites.
Lesser known apps you should install on your Mac
If you want to map custom functions to different keys on your Mac’s keyboard, Karabiner is the app you need. One of its most beneficial uses is to map broken keys to a different button — for example, if your Caps Lock key is broken, you can map it to a function key instead. You can map some keys to buttons on your mouse, and even disable the Mac’s default keyboard when you connect an external keyboard. Karabiner has plenty of tools for advanced users, too, so tinker away.
If Spotlight isn’t cutting it for you, Raycast is the tool you should replace it with. The app is fast, customisable, and free. It’s great at searching for content on your Mac and has a library of extensions that let you control third-party apps like Spotify directly from Raycast. You can use Raycast extensions to search on Google, find and play music on Spotify and YouTube, and much more.
If you just want a Spotlight replacement that can find files and launch apps for free, Alfred’s free version is excellent. However, Alfred’s true power as an automation hub is unleashed with its Powerpack (which isn’t free).
Window management is a bit tedious on macOS, but Rectangle makes it easy to handle. The app allows you to use keyboard shortcuts to quickly rearrange open windows. While there is a paid version, the free option is good enough for almost everyone. If you want additional features like custom shortcuts for every size and position of windows, you can get Rectangle Pro for $US8.
Alternatively, you can also check out Magnet ($US8) or Swish ($US16). Magnet is available via the Mac App Store, which reduces the hassle of storing a licence key and reinstalling the app if you buy a new Mac in the future.
Swish offers a fresh take on window management by using trackpad gestures, along with keyboard shortcuts. Swish adjusts its pricing based on the region you’re in, which means that it may cost as little as $US3 in some regions.
You’ve probably been annoyed before by app alerts during a movie or focused work. You can either use macOS’ Do Not Disturb (DND) feature to mute all alerts, or try SoundSource ($US47) to set a custom volume level for each app.
SoundSource also lets you send audio from certain apps, like Apple Music, directly to your headphones — that way, you can have the alert sounds use the Mac’s speaker while streaming songs from Apple Music on your headphones. SoundSource is worth its asking price, but if you’re looking for a free alternative, try Background Music.
Amphetamine stops your Mac from going to sleep, which is a simple feature that has many practical uses — like closing your MacBook’s lid to use it in clamshell mode when it’s paired to an external monitor. You can also set up custom triggers, like preventing your Mac from going to sleep when certain apps are open or when certain accessories are connected.
If you need a clipboard manager for your Mac, you should try Maccy. The app stores items you’ve copied to the clipboard and allows you to quickly retrieve them whenever you need. It also removes items from the clipboard in certain cases, such as a password manager removing sensitive data from the clipboard. If you download the app directly from the developer’s site, you can get it for free. It costs $US10 ($14) via the Mac App Store.
Dato is a solid calendar app for the menu bar on your Mac. Other than the calendar itself, it can show you a world clock or meeting reminders directly in the menu bar, which lets you configure a distraction-free calendar setup for your Mac. Although the app costs $US8, you can get a full-featured free trial from the developer’s website. You won’t get updates for the trial version and it’ll remind you to buy the app twice a day.
While Preview is a pretty functional image viewer and basic editor, lots of people need a better image editing app. Acorn ($US40 ($56)) is the one we’d recommend for most people. It’s easy to learn and has powerful features for advanced editing, too. It even has some basic Photoshop compatibility, which means that it can open PSD files and import brushes designed for Adobe’s app.
Your Mac’s built-in screenshot tool is great, but if you want to take your screenshot game to the next level, look no further than CleanShot X ($US29 ($40) for one year of updates). This app can take scrolling screenshots to capture entire webpages, create screen recordings and gifs, and has excellent annotation and screenshot editing tools. It can also copy text from images and add neat backgrounds to help you create screenshots that look great on social media.
Advanced Mac users with multi-monitor setups should use Lunar. It allows you to turn off certain displays, and lets you use hardware keys on your Mac’s keyboard to control external displays. It’s the best Mac app to control multiple external displays, and at $US23, its pro features are worth it.
When you want to send links from your iPhone to your Mac, Hyperduck is the best app for the job. It’s fast, free, and works even when your Mac is shut down. The links will automatically open on the Mac when you boot it and open the app.
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