December 22, 2022
– Dec. 22nd 2022 10:11 am PT
Setting up a new Mac, or just want yours to learn new tricks? These are my must-have Mac apps and Safari extensions that make my Mac feel like it’s mine.
After growing up on Windows, I’ve used a Mac since I was old enough to live on my own and make wiser decisions for myself. More than a decade later, I’ve established some preferences for how a Mac should work. Each of these tools are required to make that happen.
You don’t have to attend daily meetings to benefit from a great calendar app. In fact, a well-crafted calendar for your Mac just might encourage you to seek out the perks of scheduling. Apple’s built-in Calendar (once known as iCal) doesn’t inspire calendaring, but there’s an undisputed heavyweight in the Mac calendar space.
Fantastical is a stellar calendar for Mac that started life as a simple menu bar app. Natural language input made creating events super simple, and a streamlined list view made finding upcoming events just as easy.
Apple’s Calendar app has underwent a name change and a facelift, but it still doesn’t match the basic features of Fantastical. Those essential features live on in Fantastical today, and years of progress have turned the Mac app into a wildly functional tool compared to the built-in calendar.
Flexibits, the makers of Fantastical, used the same approach with a contacts app called Cardhop. Both apps are so functional and easy to use that you’ll never touch the built-in apps again.
Sure, I ran a cracked version of Photoshop on my PC in high school. Who’s asking? I hope Adobe isn’t reading this… anyway, Pixelmator Pro is perfect for casual photo editors and graphics producers who can’t justify the cost of something like Creative Cloud. That’s just one reason to look at Pixelmator Pro. The app is also an amazing citizen of the Mac. Pixelmator Pro is constantly introducing useful new features and takes full advantage of machine learning and more. Essential, must-have, go get it now type of app.
I’ll keep this simple – iA Writer is a really pretty text editor. Apple includes TextEdit in macOS, but I cannot tell you that it’s pretty.
I like iA Writer because it lets me write without alllll the chrome that something like Pages includes. iA Writer is also available on the iPhone and iPad, which is nice. Don’t quote me on this, but I’m told iA Writer is used for a lot of other functional stuff beyond simple text entry, but I’m a simple user.
StopTheMadness makes the modern web browsable without all those insane interruptions that haunt us all. I also use it for never auto-playing videos and automatically using the highest resolution option on YouTube videos.
PiPifier lets you run any video from Safari with picture-in-picture. macOS supports system-wide PiP, but let’s just say not every video player on the web is compatible. PiPifier fixes that. True story: I just assumed Hulu offered PiP on the Mac until last week when I was setting one up from scratch. Nope, that was PiPifier. You know an app is great when it just works in the background without you ever realize you’re using it!
Noir is my new best friend. I love dark mode, especially after sunset. Many websites support dark mode, but not all. Noir does a really good job fixing that. Even the 9to5Mac backend (WordPress) has dark mode thanks to Noir! I can’t believe how late I am to Noir.
Presented alphabetically, these apps are just as important to me and worth trying out if you’ve slept on any of them:
This is hardly an exhaustive list of the great Mac apps of our time, but each of these apps must live on my Mac for it to feel like my Mac. The machine just feels broken otherwise.
Have your own favorites? Share yours with everyone below!
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Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.
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