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The best apps to unlock the full potential of your new Mac – 9to5Mac

January 31, 2022

December 25, 2021
Bradley Chambers
– Dec. 25th 2021 7:00 am PT


If you got a new Mac for Christmas, you’re likely wondering what some essential apps to take your macOS experience up another level are. Although Apple includes some great apps built into macOS, several 3rd party options are worth checking out.

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If you regularly snap screenshots for sending over UI corrections, troubleshooting explanations, etc. – you need to download CleanShot X. It is, by far, the best screenshot tool on the Mac. It’s so simple but so powerful. It can record video, make GIFs, add annotations, blur out sensitive material, and much more. I can’t think of a single thing about the app I’d change. I use it multiple times every day, and it’s 100% worth every penny.
1Password is an app I wouldn’t want to be without. I’ve personally been using it since some of the earliest OS X versions. Outside of just password management, there are many features that 1Password supports that make it something worth paying for (vs. Safari’s free features). They include support for secure notes with attachments, personal information such as social security numbers, app license information, credit card information, passport information, and more. I also use it for all my two-factor authentication code storage as well.
Without a doubt, the app I use most on my Mac is Alfred. It’s a macOS launcher that I highly recommend you check out. My most-used feature is the clipboard history (it even works with images). I love quickly swapping what’s on my keyboard without manually recopying something. It also includes keyboard snippets (a basic version of what TextExpander does), converting text into different cases, launching apps, quickly looking up contacts, and more. It’s a free download, but if you end up enjoying it, you’ll want to check out the optional Powerpack.
AirBuddy was developed by 9to5Mac’s Gui Rambo, and I’ve been using the original version since it was released in 2019. One of the benefits of Apple’s W1/H1 chips is how easy it is to pair AirPods and Powerbeats Pro to your iOS device. AirBuddy makes it even easier on the Mac, though. So if you frequently are connecting your AirPods to your Mac for Zoom calls, listening to Apple Music, etc., AirBuddy will become one of your favorite apps.
Unsplash has one of the largest collections of free images to use, so the Unsplash Mac app is a great addition to your Menu Bar. It lets you quickly find high-quality wallpapers and set up your Mac to rotate on a schedule of your choosing.
Pixelmator Pro is the perfect image editor if you want to avoid the subscription cost of Adobe Creative Cloud. Pixelmator Pro includes advanced image editing features like layers, brushes, effects, filters, and more. You can use various selection tools to tweak specific photo regions accurately or use content-aware fill to remove elements from a scene automatically. Pixelmator Pro is frequently updated to support the latest Apple technologies and platform features and uses iCloud to sync and collaborate on projects across its iOS and macOS apps.
If you’re coming from the Windows world with the ability to snap windows to certain parts of your screen, you’ll want to have a look at Magnet. It supports snapping apps to fullscreen, halves, quarters, and thirds. In addition, if you connect multiple displays to your Mac, it works with up to six external monitors.
For macOS maintenance, I highly advise you look at CleanMyMacX. The app helps you reclaim hard drive space from unneeded caches and other system junk, uninstall apps, check for malware, and run optimization tools.
A new Safari extension called “Vinegar” should be installed on all of your devices. It’s a Safari extension for iPhone, iPad, and Mac back in November, intending to replace the YouTube player with a minimal HTML player. I’ve been using it for the past few weeks, and I can’t imagine going back to the default YouTube experience.
These apps are just a few of my favorite macOS apps. If you got a new iPhone or iPad, be sure to check out our list of apps to install. Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!
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Bradley lives in Chattanooga, TN.
Tips, feedback, corrections and questions can be sent to Bradley@9to5mac.com.
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