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100 Mac Applications We Can’t Live Without

Nov 22, 2014 | Reviews

Added:
Affinity Designer
ImageOptim
Mailbox
Screenshot Plus
Slack
Skitch
SpamSieve
Soulver
Window Tidy
Xmarks for Safari

Deleted:
Aperture (discontinued)
Breeze (replaced by Window Tidy)
Daylite (replaced by Base CRM)
Diskwave (no Yosemite upgrade)
OpenOffice (use Numbers, Pages or Google Docs)
Paparazzi (no Yosemite upgrade)
Suitcase Fusion (too many upgrades)
Webbla (no Yosemite upgrade)
White List (no Yosemite upgrade)

Walter Mossberg’s exposé on the rise of the Mac computer for Re/code sums up all the reasons why Macs have become so ubiquitous. But Mossberg believes that the shift to cloud computing has become the great software equalizer. As a long-time Apple watcher, Mossberg should know better.

Mossberg fails to note that that Apple’s groundbreaking platform has attracted some of the best desktop software on the market today, which is indicative of how frequently Mac software is being overlooked.

In fact, we think that, with few exceptions, the Mac offers the best possible software for the task at hand.

And that’s a perspective shared by many. The chief reason why Mac software now occupies such a premium position is due to the iPhone, which helped propel a new generation of Mac software able to synchronize seamlessly with its mobile counterpart.

Neither Windows, which misses a strong mobile platform, nor Google, which lacks a viable desktop component, are able to offer the tight synchronicity between desktop and mobile that Apple now offers. And that’s the real driving force behind the rise of the Macintosh.

And nowhere is that synchronicity more evident than in Apple’s latest OS, Yosemite, which brings an unprecedented amount of seamlessness to the Mac, in the form of Continuity.

So now that we’ve set the record straight, what’s our favorite applications that we simply can’t live without? Here are our 100 picks for the most ubercool Mac software. While this list may seem overwhelming, bookmark now and use it as a ready reference for when you need that one software app that does so-and-so:

1Password

1Password can create strong passwords, organize them, and enter them in web pages with a handy browser button. With the launch of Yosemite, Agile Bits has introduced 1Password 5 featuring better performance and usability. Better yet, Agile Bits has made its iOS version free, although it does offer a $10 in-app purchase if you need to store items such as software keys, serial numbers and IDs in your iPhone or iPad.

Publisher: Agile Bits
Website: https://agilebits.com/onepassword/mac/
Version: 5.0.2
Category: Utility
Price: $49.99

Adobe Creative Studio 6

We lament the day Adobe went Creative Cloud, and so do legions of other design professionals who also decry the lack of choice. Adobe’s now orphaned CS6, the last version of their heralded suite that you can own outright, includes four popular applications: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat X Pro. This suite is still available on Amazon.com and eBay, but some sellers are asking premium prices due the growing scarcity of this suite. We can report that all suite modules work in Yosemite, however Illustrator requires Java. Read this thread page for more information. Adobe, you stink.

Publisher: Adobe Systems
Website: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/designstandard.html
Version: CS6 Design Standard
Category: Design
Price: $1,299.00

Affinity Designer

Serif boasts that Affinity Designer is “the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available.” It really is another viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Whether you’re working on graphics for marketing materials, sites, icons, UI design or just like creating cool art, Affinity Designer will help you work without Adobe’s piggy software.

Publisher: Serif (Europe) Ltd.
Website: http://www.reggieashworth.com/
Version: 4.1.4
Category: Utility
Price: $7.99

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamic Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups is a cross-platform software prototyping tool that lets an interface designer quickly mock up software screens. We love its ease of use and the hand-drawn look of its interface prototypes.

Publisher: Balsamiq
Website: http://www.balsamiq.com/
Version: 2.2.19
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $79.00

Botanicula

Bontanicula is a beautiful game that places you in a wonderland of a garden to venture through and explore. Particularly gorgeous on Retina MacBook Pros.

Publisher: Amanita Design
Website: http://amanita-design.net/games/botanicula.html
Version: 1.1.0
Category: Entertainment
Price: $10.00

BusyCal

BusyCal is far more powerful than Apple’s built-in calendar, for one thing it works just like the old Leopard calendar. And it’s chock-a-block with features, like the Info Panel, which lets you edit an event directly, instead of having to click on it to see details. But most importantly, it eliminates a major Calendar annoyance, the inability to see appointment times in month view. It also has many syncing features, including iCloud, Exchange and Google. And it does have neat customization features, like weather icons for instant visual updates.

Publisher: BusyCal LLC
Website: http://www.busymac.com/
Version: 2.6.3
Category: Calendar
Price: $49.99

ChronoSync

How many of you backup regularly? Be honest! If you use ChronoSync you can quickly backup your entire hard disk because it actually compares your original and backup folder and just copies over differences, which is much faster than wholesale copying. Econ Technologies also gets our gratitude for offering perpetually free upgrades.

Publisher: Econ Technologies
Website: http://www.econtechnologies.com/
Version: 4.5.4
Category: Utility
Price: $40.00

Cinch

Cinch offers Mac users a nice Windows 7 feature: Drag a window to the left or right side of your desktop and and the window will “cinch” or snap into place, occupying exactly half of your screen. Perfect for moving files from one window to another.

Publisher: Irradiated Software
Website: http://www.irradiatedsoftware.com/
Version: 1.2
Category: Utility
Price: $7.00

Cinematica

Need a central place to organize your videos? Cinematica is to videos what iTunes is to music, only it can also organize your collection by such technical properties as resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate or video codec.

Publisher: Xeric Design Ltd.
Website: http://www.xericdesign.com/cinematica.php
Version: 2.2
Category: Video
Price: $24.95

Clean Text

Emails, Windows, and sloppy software programs often produce files that are filled with funny Mac characters, dubbed “non-ASCII characters” in geek parlance. Use Clean Text to remove these, plus unwanted paragraph breaks, tabs, or foreign accents from files. Particularly useful in database work, as detailed in our “CRM on the Mac” reference guide.

Publisher: Apimac
Website: http://www.apimac.com/mac/cleantext/
Version: 6.8.2
Category: Utility
Price: $14.99

Cobook

Cobook lives in the Mac menu bar and can be called up instantly to search, add or edit entries in Mac Contacts. Indispensable for updating Mac Contacts without having to laboriously open the application. Unfortunately, Cobook has actually become less usable in its latest incarnations, but who’s going to argue with “free.” Consult our “CRM on the Mac” article for reasons why we like Cobook despite its new-found ugliness. 😉

Publisher: Cobook
Website: http://www.cobookapp.com/
Version: 3.0.6
Category: CRM
Price: Free

coconutBattery

Right now, Apple’s menubar battery status reports that the MacBook Pro battery is charged 100%. But coconutBattery says the real charge is 99.4%. This handy utility also monitors battery health, showing how often the battery was charged and contrasts its current maximum capacity with its factory fresh condition. Currently this particular battery’s “design capacity” is 87.6%, which is down significantly from it factory condition.

Publisher: Chris
Website: http://www.coconut-flavour.com/coconutbattery/
Version: 3.1.2
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

Coda

Edit HTML code simply and quickly with this nice web development tool. Besides HTML, Coda handles CSS, Java, PHP and many other development file types.

Publisher: Panic Inc.
Website: http://www.panic.com/coda/
Version: 2.0.12
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $99.00

Daylite

Daylite

Daylite initially impressed us, but we now recommend Base (see our Mac CRM overview). Daylite is so feature-rich, many features have a steep learning curve. We left Daylite on this list for now for people who need a feature-laden Mac-based CRM program, it is, after all, very cleanly designed.

Publisher: Marketcircle Inc.
Website: http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/
Version: 5.0
Category: CRM
Price: $280.00

Direct Mail

Direct Mail is a freemium program that lets you create email messages and send them to lists using either your email account or Direct Mail’s pre-paid e3 delivery service, which starts at $15 per month for up to 500 email recipients. It’s unquestionably the nicest desktop client for email marketing.

Publisher: e3 Software
Website: http://www.directmailmac.com/
Version: 3.6.4
Category: E-mail
Price: Freemium

Drive Genius

Drive Genius is reportedly used by Apple to check storage devices, and is able to perform a number of functions, including defragging, permission repair and other disk optimization tasks. Prosoft has updated Drive Genius to 3.2.5, which is compatible with Yosemite.

Publisher: Prosoft Engineering Inc
Website: http://www.prosofteng.com/products/drive_genius_features.php
Version: 3.2.5
Category: Utility
Price: $99.00

Dropbox

A must have, Dropbox lets you save 2GB of documents and pictures to the cloud, so you can instantly access them on other computers, your iPhone or your iPad, for free. The Dropbox Pro plan let’s you store 1TB for $9.99 per month. Dropbox is one of those “synchronicity” programs we mentioned at the beginning of this article. It’s beautifully simple and works like a charm.

Publisher: Dropbox Inc.
Website: http://www.dropbox.com/
Version: 2.10.52
Category: Cloud
Price: Freemium

eMail Extractor

Like the name says, eMail Extractor extracts email addresses from text files, which is a boon for anyone who needs to build a customer contact list using mailbox data.

Publisher: Maxprog
Website: http://maxprog.com/
Version: 3.6.6
Category: Utility
Price: $19.90

eMail Verifier

eMail Verifier actually connects to your mail server and checks a list of email addresses to verify which ones still exist or are now defunct, and disconnects without sending anything.

Publisher: Maxprog
Website: http://maxprog.com/
Version: 3.6.4
Category: Utility
Price: $29.90

Evernote

Evernote has 100 million users who use it to save notes, images, PDFs or web clippings, and lets you access these notes from any platform. Indispensable for people who do a lot of research, like we do. It’s another example of “synchronicity.”

Publisher: Evernote
Website: http://www.evernote.com/
Version: 5.7.2
Category: Cloud
Price: Freemium

Export Address Book

Apple’s Address Book does not let you export contacts in CSV format. Export Address Book does that plus a lot more, including exporting in a Google Contacts CSV format. Totally worth $4, don’t you agree? Consult our “CRM on the Mac” reference guide to see how we use Export Address Book for email marketing.

Publisher: Stefan Keller
Website: http://www.subclassed.com/
Version: 1.9.6
Category: CRM
Price: $3.99

ExpressScribe

Need to transcribe your Sony or Olympus digital voice recordings? Download the freemium ExpressScribe for a nice solution.

Publisher: NCH Software
Website: http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html
Version: 5.70
Category: Writing
Price: Free

Fantastical

Fantastical has become our go-to calendar program. Sure, we use BusyCal and Calendar too, but Fantastical, like Cobook, can be called up from the top menu bar when you need it, and its scheduling intelligence is great. Just click a day and enter “lunch with Al Roker” and it knows when to schedule your lunch meeting. Looks beautiful too, plus there’s a handy iPhone version. Unfortunately, neither allow you to enter appointments in different timezones, for that you still need BusyCal or Calendar.

Publisher: Flexibits
Website: http://flexibits.com/fantastical/
Version: 1.3.18
Category: Calendar
Price: $19.99

FileMaker Pro

From the Apple mothership comes FileMaker Pro v13 — a fully programmable database that lets you create custom relational databases and deploy them on any platform: Mac, iPhone or iPad. Unfortunately, despite its big version number, FileMaker still looks like the one launched in the 80s. That may be good for those who despise change but FileMaker needs a disruptive UI overhaul to make it more in keeping with today’s modern apps.

Publisher: Filemaker
Website: http://www.filemaker.com/
Version: 13.0v4
Category: Database
Price: $299.00

FinalDraft

Want to write a screenplay or Broadway book? FinalDraft lets you approach it the right way, seamlessly formatting your script as you type.

Publisher: Final Draft Inc.
Website: http://www.finaldraft.com/
Version: 9.04
Category: Writing
Price: $249.00

FontDoctor

FontDoctor organizes and repairs your fonts, at least it says it does. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well as it should because Apple’s FontBook still reports issues with fonts FontDoctor ostensibly fixed. Despite that objection, we don’t know of any software that tidies up a big font collection as well as FontDoctor does.

Publisher: FontGear Inc.
Website: http://fontgear.net/fontdoctor.html
Version: 8.4.1
Category: Utility
Price: $69.99

Free Ruler

Free Ruler is a floating horizontal and vertical ruler that measures on-screen items in pixels, inches, picas,or centimeters. A must-have for web designers. We have been playing with xScope and we believe we’re going to add it to this 100 list, but like the name says, Free Ruler is free, while xScope costs $50.

Publisher: Pascal
Website: http://www.pascal.com/software/freeruler/
Version: 1.7b5
Category: Utility
Price: Free

GarageBand

As Apple puts it, GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac — complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, a sound library, plus virtual session drummers. What’s holding you back from becoming the next Daft Punk? Get happy! 🙂

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/mac/garageband/
Version: 10.0.3
Category: Creative
Price: $4.99 or free with new Macs

GarageSale

GarageSale

Here’s a tool for today’s “the middle-class is screwed” economy. GarageSale is an eBay sales management tool that dresses up your junk in pre-designed templates to make it look pretty. GarageSale then uploads and manages your listing down to seller communication. Slick enough to turn you into the next Michael Dell.

Publisher: iwascoding GmbH
Website: http://www.iwascoding.com/GarageSale/
Version: 6.9
Category: E-commerce
Price: $39.99

GitHub

If you use GitHub, and what technocrat doesn’t, you already know about this app. An absolute must to navigate GitHub’s turgid interface.

Publisher: GitHub
Website: http://mac.github.com/
Version: Medium Hefson
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $0.00

Google Chrome

Google Chrome has become the most popular browser because it’s frequently updated in the background, lightning fast and easily extensible. And because of that sneaky background updating we’re already up to version 38. Bet you didn’t know that! Chrome distinguishes itself by having far more Extensions than Safari. We also like that it can duplicate tabs, a feature sorely missing from Safari.

Publisher: Google
Website: http://www.google.com/mac/
Version: 38.0
Category: Browser
Price: $0.00

Google Earth

Put the world at your fingertips with Google Earth. Fly to any place around the globe and see maps with 3D buildings and street-view terrains. Mindbendingly fun.

Publisher: Google
Website: http://www.google.com/earth/index.html
Version: 7.1.2.2041
Category: Mapping
Price: $0.00

GoToMeeting

If you produce or attend webinars or online presentations, GoToMeeting is definitely the most popular online meeting world solution. Work with anyone, anywhere, as long as you can afford that monthly $49 fee. A cheaper alternative is Fuze, which is free for up to three participants or $20 a month for up to 25. We like Fuze a lot.

Publisher: Citrix Online LLC
Website: http://www.gotomeeting.com/
Version: 6.3
Category: Online Meeting
Price: $49.00

GrandTotal

Create invoices and estimates using a custom designed look. Automatically attaches a PDF invoices to emails for quick sending. Great for consultants and other business that need to bill frequently. The latest version features a much improved interface.

Publisher: Stefan Fürst
Website: http://mediaatelier.com/GrandTotal/
Version: 3.2.5
Category: Finance
Price: €79 ($98)

iBooks

iBooks lets you read books published in Apple’s book store. While it’s nicely done, there is not as much to choose from as on Amazon.com.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/
Version: 3.2
Category: E-books
Price: $0.00

iBooks Author

iBooks Author

iBooks Author lets you create sophisticated e-books with video, photo gallery widgets and more. It’s an astonishingly powerful layout program, too bad no one reads books anymore. 😉

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/
Version: 2.2
Category: E-books
Price: $0.00

Icon Slate

Do you need to design a favicon for your website, you know, those cute little bookmark icons? Then you need Icon Slate, an easy-to-use tool that generates favicons, including Retina versions, plus a whole lot more.

Publisher: Jeremy Marchand
Website: http://www.kodlian.com/apps/icon-slate/
Version: 4.0.0
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $4.99

iDraw

iDraw is the first truly viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This vector design and illustration program reads both Illustrator and Photoshop files and can export drawings in a host of formats, including the latest darling of the web, SVG. If you frequently need to create website buttons or logos, iDraw should be your first choice. And, best of all, it’s Retina compatible.

Publisher: Indeeo Inc.
Website: http://www.indeeo.com/idraw/
Version: 2.4.1
Category: Design
Price: $24.99

ImageOptim

ImageOptim compresses images to make them take up less disk space and load faster, without sacrificing quality. It optimizes compression parameters, removes junk metadata and unnecessary color profiles.

Publisher: ImageAlpha
Website: https://imageoptim.com/
Version: 1.5.4
Category: Design
Price: Free

iMovie

iMovie lets you edit camcorder and iPhone movies and organizes them for easy browsing and watching. Here’s one perfect example everyone needs. When you shoot a video on the iPhone in horizontal format, your phone will only play it back in vertical mode. Import that movie into iMovie and use the cropping tool to “flip it.” Undoubtedly one of the best movie editing tools out there, although, we think, Apple could make it even easier to use.

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/
Version: 10.0.6
Category: Video
Price: $14.99

iPhoto

iPhoto grabs photos from your digicam or iPhone, organizes them by event or exposure date, allows you to fix and retouch photos and emails pix to your friend or posts them to Facebook, all without ever leaving the program.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/ilife/iphoto/
Version: 9.6
Category: Photography
Price: $14.99

Kaleidoscope

If you code, or are a lawyer, and need to compare two documents to detect differences. Kaleidoscope will make your life much easier. It also sports a beautiful interface. Unfortunately, Black Pixel decided to nearly double its price to $70. Not totally ubercool but worth it if you compare files a lot.

Publisher: Black Pixel
Website: http://www.kaleidoscopeapp.com/
Version: 2.1
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $69.99

Keynote

Keynote was the program that enticed us to switch from PC PowerPoint to the Mac. It’s that good. Outstanding ease of use and superb special effects will thrill your audiences. We finally switched from Keynote 09 to Keynote 6.5 because it’s now stable enough. Keynote’s versatility and features blow us away, even today.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/iwork/
Version: 6.5
Category: Presentation
Price: $19.99

Kindle for Mac

Amazon.com wants to sell you books. To make that easier, the free Kindle for Mac was born. Books on your MacBook? Download your copy from the App Store or the link below.

Publisher: Amazon.com
Website: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201246110
Version: 1.10.6
Category: E-books
Price: $0.00

Launchbar

Do you dislike having to plow through your application folder or endlessly scrolling the toolbar with 72 app icons that, after a while, all start blending together? LaunchBar lets you use Command-Spacebar and enter one or two letters to quickly summon an application. The good news is that Objective reduced the price of Launchbar to $29, so they heard us. 🙂

Publisher: Objective Development Software GmbH
Website: http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/index.html
Version: 6.1.5
Category: Utility
Price: $29.00

Mail

What can we say about Apple’s built-in email program that you don’t already know? It’s flexible and fast and, with a few exceptions, it does just about everything well. We live in it, but we’ve also discovered a program we now use to just check Gmail, Mailbox, so read below.

Publisher: Apple Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/osx/
Version: 7.3
Category: Email
Price: $0.00

Mailbox

Mailbox was created by a startup that wanted to reinvent the way email works. It succeeded so well that the company was acquired by Dropbox, which, happily, continues to publish Mailbox. Its innovations include swipe left gestures that allow you to “snooze” emails for later today, this week or this weekend, for example. Ideas so good that Google knocked them off for their own Inbox mobile app.

Publisher: Dropbox Inc.
Website: http://www.apple.com/osx/
Version: 0.3.14 (beta)
Category: Email
Price: $0.00

MailSteward

MailSteward archives huge volumes of email by storing them in a database that offers sophisticated searches plus the ability to extract mail addresses. Unfortunately, Publog.com is one of those companies that offers paid upgrades every year with negligible increases in functionality, much like Extensis, Intuit or Parallels also do. We’re sticking with our 9.2 version. (Did we mention that we pay for all our own desktop software? No freebies here.)

Publisher: Publog.com
Website: http://www.mailsteward.com/
Version: 10.0
Category: Database
Price: $49.95

Mint QuickView

And speaking of Intuit, this Mac application is the company’s companion program to the Mint website, which it acquired in 2009. It brings the same beautiful graphics to the desktop but adds another nicety: a menu icon that instantly tells you when a bank transaction has occurred. It’s a great tool for managing your financial life, and God only knows how much you need help. 🙂

Publisher: Intuit Inc.
Website: http://www.mint.com/
Version: 2.0.1
Category: Finance
Price: $0.00

Name Mangler

Need to rename a large set of files, like for example appending a file’s pixel dimensions and/or file size to its name? Name Mangler will do this to one file or a folder full of files. It can also remove characters from file names starting at a certain position, or add suffixes and prefixes to file names, like “Hawaii vacation.” It will also “dumb down” file names for Windows, trim white spaces, convert AM to am, and add a time-stamp to file names, among many other things.

Publisher: Many Tricks
Website: http://manytricks.com/namemangler/
Version: 3.3
Category: Utility
Price: $19.00

Numbers

Numbers is Excel for the Mac, only better. It’s far easier to use yet offers a lot more power in the aesthetics department with styled sheets that can instantly be applied. After Apple upgraded Numbers in 2013 to better match its iOS version, we held off upgrading until recently. But now that we’ve been using it for a while, we love it and have not looked back.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/iwork/
Version: 3.5
Category: Finance
Price: $19.99 (Free with new Macs)

OmniOutliner

OmniOutliner is our favorite tool for creating to-do lists, packing lists, Mac software lists or any task that requires outlining or hierachies. We recently upgraded to version 4, and we’re happy to report that Omni Group finally addressed OmniOutliner’s usability challenges with a much cleaner interface.

Publisher: The Omni Group
Website: http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnioutliner/
Version: 4.1
Category: Writing
Price: $39.99

OnyX

How about a versatile utility with a nice interface that handles system maintenance tasks and is shareware? That’s OnyX, and it’s only available on the Mac. The latest 2.9 version is compatible with Yosemite too.

Publisher: Titanium Software
Website:

OpenOffice

Need a free tool that can open Microsoft Office documents? Look no further, OpenOffice is your master key for access to word processing documents spreadsheets, and presentations.

Publisher: Apache Software Foundation
Website:
http://www.openoffice.org/
Version: 4.1.0
Category: Productivity
Price: Free

Pacifist

Pacifist is a shareware application with a suggested donation that opens Mac OS X .pkg package files, .dmg disk images, and .zip, .tar, .tar.gz and .xar archives and allows you to extract individual files and folders. This is useful if an application installed by the operating system becomes damaged and needs to be reinstalled without the hassle of reinstalling all of Mac OS X.

Publisher: Charles Soft
Website: http://www.charlessoft.com
Version: 3.2.12
Category: Utility
Price: $20.00

Pages

Pages is the Microsoft Word for the Mac. Like Numbers, Pages has outstanding layout capabilities, as exemplified by its beautiful built-in templates and handy style sheets. Well worth $20 or getting it free with a new Mac. Was updated to a 2013 version. While we don’t think Pages improved as much as Keynote and Numbers did, we’ve grown to like it a lot.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/iwork/
Version: 5.5.1
Category: Writing
Price: $19.99 (free with new Macs)

Panorama Sheets

Need to manipulate lists? Like join two fields or clean up a database marred by sloppy data entry? Panorama Sheets parses your data fast by doing all its work in RAM. If you don’t need to handle more than a few hundred records, you can keep using the demo version, since Panorama Sheets works for free on less than 250 records.

Publisher: ProVUE Development
Website: http://www.provue.com/
Version: 6.0.0
Category: Database
Price: $39.95

Paparazzi

Paparazzi captures screenshots of websites but goes beyond the call of duty by grabbing the entire page, as far as the eye cannot see. However, this program is going to be dropped in favor of Awesome Screenshot.

Publisher: Nate Weaver
Website: http://derailer.org/paparazzi/
Version: 0.6.7
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

Paprika

Paprika is the best recipe manager on the Mac today. It grabs recipes from the web using its built-in browser, organizes them by ingredients and directions, and then syncs recipes to your optional iPhone app, while generating shopping lists.

Publisher: Hindsight Labs LLC
Website: http://www.paprikaapp.com/
Version: 2.1.1
Category: Food
Price: $19.99

Parallels Desktop

Run Windows apps on your Mac in a separate window. Drag and drop text between Mac and Windows applications, all feats made possible by Parallels. The progress in the field of virtualization is remarkable. Parallels 9.0 is much easier to use than previous versions. Now Parallels want to charge us $50 for a new Yosemite “compatible” release that offers minimal enhancements. Having already upgraded twice in the past few years, we’ll pass until the company makes significant improvements.

Publisher: Parallels IP Holdings GmbH
Website: http://www.parallels.com/products/desktop/
Version: 10.0
Category: Virtualization
Price: $79.99

Pixelmator

Pixelmator

Need Photoshop’s features but don’t want to pay Adobe’s monthly cloud fees? Pixelmator does what you absolutely need: resizing, retouching, layering and more. We continue to be impressed with Pixelmator’s speed, ease of use and simple, clean interface. Its very attractive price makes Pixelmator a no-brainer alternative to Photoshop.

Publisher: Pixelmator Team Ltd.
Website: http://www.pixelmator.com/
Version: 3.3 (Limestone)
Category: Creative
Price: $29.99

Pixillion

Pixillion has replaced Batch Image Resizer for us, so now you know what it does. NCH Software also offers a free license for personal use only.

Publisher: NCH Software
Website: http://www.nchsoftware.com/imageconverter/index.html
Version: 2.80
Category: Utility
Price: $34.99

Presentation Prompter

Would you like to do Obama-like speeches, minus the constant head turning? 😉 Presentation Prompter turns your Mac into a teleprompter, offering full control over text display preferences, including scrolling speed and character size.

Publisher: NextForce Software
Website: http://presentationprompter.com
Version: 5.3
Category: Video
Price: $65.00

QuarkXPress

The founder of this site published a 50,000-circulation weekly, MacWEEK, using one of the first versions of Quark. MacWEEK was the first publication to be typeset and color-separated on the desktop. That would not have been possible without a formidable publishing tool. While we prefer InDesign’s ability to live preview styling changes over Quark’s non-realtime approach, Quark 10 does offer retina compatibility vis-à-vis the orphaned InDesign CS6.

Publisher: Quark
Website: http://www.quark.com/
Version: 10.2
Category: Design
Price: $799.00

Quicken for Mac 2015

Here’s one rare case where a Windows program still outshines the Mac. But if you want to balance your checkbook the Mac way, Quicken Essentials is good enough. Unfortunately, as we mentioned before Intuit has adopted that useless Windows strategy of updating its Mac software needlessly each year with the announcement of Quicken for Mac 2015, which jumps in price from $40 to $75. We’ll stick with the very capable Quicken Essentials version, thank you, and which remains available online.

Publisher: Intuit
Website: http://www.quicken.com/personal-finance/quicken-2015-mac
Version: 1.0
Category: Finance
Price: $74.99

Reeder

We can’t tell you how happy we are that Silvio Rizzi has finally seen the light and released a way-too-long-due update to his gorgeous RSS reader. Like its iOS brethren, Reeder now syncs with Feedly and provides the best experience for keeping up with RSS feeds, bar none.

Publisher: Silvio Rizzi
Website: http://reederapp.com/
Version: 2.5.1
Category: RSS
Price: $9.99

Safari

For those who need to create screenshots of websites on a regular basis, Safari is the only way to go. Chrome has no setting to get rid of its web address toolbar, which explains why just about all advertising and collateral screenshots are taken with Safari. Even better, the Yosemite version of Safari is fast too.

Publisher: Apple
Website: http://www.apple.com/safari/
Version: 8.0
Category: Browser
Price: Free

Screenshot Plus

While we wait for Snapz Pro X to be made compatible with Yosemite, Screenshot Plus is capturing our screenshots complete with white space and nice drop shadows.

Publisher: Hyrax Inc
Website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/screenshot-plus/id653900948
Version: 1.5
Category: Collaborative Tools
Price: $1.99

Scrivener

Scrivener

We’re still baffled that Scrivener doesn’t get more press attention, it’s perhaps the most amazing organizational and thought collector tool in existence for thinkers and writers. While it’s designed for book authors, we use Scrivener for just about any project that requires collecting data, organizing it and distilling it into written or presented materials. Scrivener lets you organize your writing and thoughts by folder or sub-folder. You can paste graphics into its text documents, which can then be hierarchically organized. We’ve started moving all of our writing — whether for book, client, site, collateral or anything else — into Scrivener. Highly recommended for anyone who creates any communication, from business plans or brochures to novels.

Publisher: Literature & Latte
Website: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/
Version: 2.6
Category: Writing
Price: $45.00

Sketch

Between Macaw and Sketch you should now be able to handle any web design task thrown at you. Sketch is getting rave reviews from all over the web and for good reason. It is the most powerful interface and icon design tool we have ever used. And its sheer versatility has attracted a legion of resources, such as Sketch App Sources. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Bohemian Coding
Website: http://bohemiancoding.com/sketch/
Version: 3.1.1
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $79.99

Skitch

Skitch is a popular app that was acquired by Evernote in 2011. What Skitch is good at is capturing web pages and annotating them with rectangles and arrows so you can point out the good things and bad that the competition does on their website. 🙂

Publisher: Evernote Corporation
Website: https://evernote.com/skitch/
Version: 2.7.6
Category: Collaborative Tools
Price: Free

Skype

Since its launch in August 2003, Skype has reshaped the chat and internet calling market. But the latest Mac version, 7.0, has made us ecstatic. Skype finally raises the profile of one of its best attributes, smileys, by showing them off big when used by themselves in their own text bubble. Since Skype’s chat smileys are the best designed emoticons in the business, we applaud Microsoft for leveraging its strongest asset.

Publisher: Microsoft
Website: http://www.skype.com/
Version: 7.0
Category: Chat
Price: Free

Slack

Slack is a wildly popular collaborative tool that is growing by leaps and bound in enterprises because of its simplicity and ease of use. Slack organizes conversations and threads by hashtag, so collaborators can quickly find topics of interest. Topics can be made public or private depending on content sensitivity. Verge reports that users are addicted to Slack, spending as much as 10 hours a day on it. At the time, 125,000 people were using the app every day, among them 13,000 teams at companies such as eBay, Sony, Yelp, and NBCUniversal.

Publisher: Slack
Website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smultron-6/id692204913
Version: 6.0.10
Category: Developer Tools
Price: $4.99

Snapz Pro X

Mac designers create a lot of user documentation, so taking great screenshots is key. Snapz Pro X works the same way as Apple’s Grab but offers more options, like saving directly to a PSD file with drop shadow. Ambrosia has promised an update that is compatible with Yosemite without providing a date when it would be available. We hope they deliver soon, but in the meantime, we recommend you use Screenshot Plus to capture screens.

Publisher: Ambrosia Software Inc.
Website: http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/
Version: 2.5.4
Category: Utility
Price: $69.00

Sol Basics Solitaire

If you’re addicted to Solitaire, specifically Spider Solitaire, you will like Sol Basics. For 10 bucks, you get Sol Basics Solitaire, Spider, Free Cell and Klondike. Unfortunately, Smallware has not made the game compatible with retina displays, so we’re looking for another Spider Solitaire game.

Publisher: Smallware LLC
Website: http://www.solbasics.com/
Version: 1.2.1
Category: Entertainment
Price: $9.99

Soulver

Is your mind sometimes on the fritz? Do you have to do calculations that require dividing by the billions? These are instances that are perfect for Soulver, which is a “natural language” calculator. It’s not totally natural, you still have to adhere to Soulver’s set wording for a formula but it does make it much easer to follow a complex calculation, or if you find yourself mathematically challenged, you can simply enter, “what is 20 percent of 100?” and it will answer 20.

Publisher: Acqualia
Website: http://www.soulver.com/
Version: 2.5
Category: Entertainment
Price: $11.99

SpamSieve

After once again receiving more spam than we care for we went on the hunt for a Mac-based spam filter that could improve on Apple’s built-in junk filter and found SpamSieve. Installed as a separate app, SpamSieve runs concurrently with Mail, and is very effective at eliminating spam once trained.

Publisher: C-Command Software
Website: http://c-command.com/spamsieve/
Version: 2.9.18
Category: Utility
Price: $30.00

SplashID Safe

We have two password keepers in this list. That’s because SplashID does a somewhat better job of organizing non-web logins, while 1Password is better at inserting logins into web pages with both Chrome and Safari extensions. Splash took a lot of heat for its previous update, which forced users to hand over their password to enable a new cloud synch feature. We elected instead to sync locally via Wi-Fi only. We also discovered that you could use the older desktop version with its newer iOS counterpart. Now we have updated the 6.2 desktop version to 7.2.2 and the iOS version to 8.0.4 and have, miraculously, not been charged for updates, nor have we encountered any compatibility problems. Your results may vary, but since we manage 1,213 passwords, it’s best to maintain two separate databases of passwords, just in case. 😉

Publisher: Splash
Website: http://www.splashdata.com/splashid/desktop/
Version: 7.2.2
Category: Utility
Price: $19.95

Suitcase Fusion 5.0

The bane of dealing with a lot of fonts is that the one you need is not always available. Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to manage a huge font library by turning fonts on and off when needed. Not cheap but definitely worth it.

Publisher: Extensis
Website: http://www.extensis.com/suitcase-fusion-4/
Version: 16.0.5
Category: Utility
Price: $99.95

Text Expander

Here is another program that we wished we had acquired earlier. Text Expander saves so much time typing repetitive things like URLs and return addresses, it’s simply amazing. It even handles embedded terms that require further input as you type. There is now also an iOS version available, which syncs to the desktop via Dropbox. Highly recommended.

Publisher: SmileOnMyMac LLC
Website: http://www.smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/index.html
Version: 4.3.4
Category: Utility
Price: $34.95

Things

Things is a well-executed to-do list manager and was one of the first apps that allowed users to synch between Mac and its iPhone app ($10), perfect for list checkers. What we really like about Things is that it has a little Helper app that lets you add tasks from any program (as long as Things is running in the background) using the keyboard command sequence Control-Command-Space.

Publisher: Cultured Code GmbH
Website: http://www.culturedcode.com/
Version: 2.5
Category: Task Management
Price: $49.99

TimeMachineEditor

While Time Machine is a great backup solution, it has one annoying habit: it backs up all the time, slowing down your Mac. TimeMachineEditor solves that problem by scheduling backups on a pre-determined schedule. We backup at 11:45pm on Saturday night.

Publisher: Time Software
Website: http://timesoftware.free.fr/timemachineeditor/
Version: 4.0.2
Category: Utility
Price: Free

TinkerTool

What we used to tweak with Mountain Tweaks, we now do with TinkerTool, and that’s showing invisible files, hiding the title bar in QuickTime and other sundry control-freak customization tasks. 🙂

Publisher: Time Software
Website: http://www.bresink.com/osx/TinkerTool.html
Version: 5.31
Category: Utility
Price: Free

TorBrowser

Would you like to surf totally anonymously? The TorBrowser is a secure web browser that allows you to access web sites completely incognito. Take that NSA!

Publisher: Tor Project
Website: https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
Version: 4.0.1
Category: Browser
Price: Free

Transmit

We’ve been experiencing transfer difficulties with our previous recommended software, ForkLift, which the company could not explain. So, we’ve been using Transmit and find it fast and reliable. Transmit installs a menubar item that makes accessing sites even easier. And it has a Finder mode that treats your website as if it were a local drive, Finder window and all.

Publisher: Panic Inc.
Website: https://www.panic.com/transmit/
Version: 4.4.8
Category: Communication
Price: $34

TuneUp Gold

TuneUp will parse your iTunes music library and find song duplicates, missing cover art and correct information, including artist, track name, album name, etc. While it is not Retina-optimized — particularly galling given its $50 price — it does work well.

Publisher: TuneUp Media Inc.
Website: http://tuneupmedia.com/
Version: 2.4.8
Category: Utility
Price: $49.95

TurboTax Home Business 2014

Intuit makes great tax preparation software. While you can choose between filing taxes online or the software version, please note that Intuit raised the price of its desktop software product to $100 this year, so the online version is now $25 cheaper.

Publisher: Intuit
Website: http://turbotax.intuit.com/
Version: 2014
Category: Finance
Price: $99.99

TweetDeck

Heard the bad news? After taking Facebook out of Tweetdeck, Twitter has announced the end of the road for TweetDeck, a very popular and preferred Twitter client. So get it while you still can, it’s still the best social media client, period.

Publisher: Twitter
Website: http://www.tweetdeck.com/
Version: 3.8.4
Category: Social Media
Price: Free

UnRarX

Some online repositories like compressing files in a weird format called rar. UnRarX lets you expand these rare rar archives. 😉

Publisher: Alexander Roshal
Website: http://www.unrarx.com/
Version: 2.2
Category: Utility
Price: Shareware

VLC Media Player

VLC lets you watch videos encoded in formats QuickTime player cannot handle, including MKV, WMC and AVI. As CNET puts it: If you want a player that can be totally customized and configured, and is not only updated frequently but also regularly offers new features and options created by a huge community of programmers and users — the answer is VLC Media Player.

Publisher: Twoflower
Website: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/download-macosx.html
Version: 2.1.5
Category: Video
Price: Free

Webbla

One area where the Mac suffers in comparison to the PC is bookmark management. Webbla organizes bookmarks the way iTunes does, either visually or as lists.

Publisher: Celmaro Ltd.
Website: http://www.celmaro.com/webbla/
Version: 1.5.6
Category:
Price: $22.99

White List

White List will parse your Apple Mail folders and provide stats on email addresses you have communicated with and ranks them in order of number of emails sent. An invaluable tool for making sure your email lists contain the people you correspond with frequently.

Publisher: Patrick Stein
Website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whitelist/id412034673/
Version: 1.14
Category: CRM
Price: $7.99

Window Tidy

Window Tidy goes beyond Cinch in that it’s able to not only snap windows to the sides, but also can resize them to a specific size, say 1024×768 in the center of the screen, which is convenient for taking screenshots you see in this article. Window Tidy displays rectangles on screen whenever you grab a window and begin dragging it. You can either choose to start the program at login, or if those rectangles bother you, simply start the program only when needed and not at login.

Publisher: Light Pillar Apps
Website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whitelist/id412034673/
Version: 1.31
Category: Utilities
Price: $7.99

Wondershare AllMyTube

There are many utilities that claim to be able to download videos from YouTube, but most don’t work very well. Wondershare AllMyTube downloads the highest resolution videos available from YouTube, and even Vimeo. A welcome tool for presenters.

Publisher: Wondershare
Website: http://www.wondershare.com/pro/mac-allmytube.html
Version: 5.3.3
Category: Utility
Price: $29.00

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate

Despite the fact that Macs are hugely popular among video pros, you rarely find good info on the best video converter utility. Search no more, Wondershare is it.

Publisher: Wondershare
Website: http://www.wondershare.com/mac-video-converter-ultimate/
Version: 4.4
Category: Video
Price: $59.95

Writer Pro

Writer Pro is a professional writing tool that features syntax analysis, plus a simple workflow. Syntax Control scans English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish text, and highlights your adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, or conjunctions. So compare and contrast to your heart’s content.

Publisher: Information Architects Inc.
Website: http://writer.pro/
Version: 1.3
Category: Productivity
Price: $19.99

WriteRoom

If you need to write without distractions, WriteRoom is a full-screen writing environment that eliminates clutter. WriteRoom even lets you mimic those word processors of yore, like WordStar. Fun!

Publisher: Hogbay Software
Website: http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/xee
Version: 3.4
Category: Photography
Price: $4.99

XMarks

Xmarks is a Safari and Chrome extension that allows you to sync bookmarks between both browsers, a must-have utility for cross-platform users.

Publisher: LastPass
Website: https://www.xmarks.com/
Version: 2.0.18
Category: Utility
Price: Free (premium version syncs with iOS)

XMind

XMind is a brainstorming and mind-mapping software program that lets you diagram website structures or org charts. It’s priced using the freemium model, so no arguments here.

Publisher: XMind Ltd.
Website: http://www.xmind.net/download/mac/
Version: 3.5.0
Category: Design
Price: Freemium

Note Regarding Pricing

  • Price – All prices are list but promotions are frequently available, as are Amazon.com discounts.
  • Free – Means the product is free.
  • Freemium – There is a more capable version available or you can avail yourself of paid premium services.
  • Shareware – The author would like you to donate money so he/she can survive. Make sure you do if you find the app useful.

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Michael Tchong’s Ubertrends book
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