List of essential Mac applications

This is a classified list of applications for your Mac. The list includes free and paid apps. The applications work on latest Mac OS X. The list may come handy if you've just bought your self a brand new Mac. In this case install apps from these lists to make workflow on your new computer seamless. Otherwise it may just help you to discover some excellent apps.

Runtime Environments

Runtime environments (Runtimes) are required by some applications to run. Therefore runtimes strictly speaking are not applications themselves.

  • Adobe AIR free runtime environment from Adobe. Many good apps are created for Adobe Air. Fir example, Kuler Desktop. From programmer's point of view it allows to create powerful desktop apps in HTML, Javascript and other programming languages. Programmers need Adobe AIR SDK.
  • Java Runtime Environment free (JRE) A well established and popular runtime from Sun. Many applications require JRE to run.
  • Microsoft Silverlight free A framework from Microsoft supported by some websites. The purpose is to provide extra functionality on web sites.

To-do, tasks and productivity

Applications below are about personal productivity. They help maintain task lists. Some follow GTD technique, some stick to Pomodoro technique other use their own methodology.

  • Anxiety free A small to-do application which integrates with iCal.
  • OmniPlan paid A project management tool.
  • Remember free Tasks list manager. very simple.
  • Things paid To-do and tasks list manager.
  • OmniFocus paid Elaborate to-do and tasks list manager. Supports GTD (Getting things done) methodology.
  • Todo free Simple to-do list application.
  • iProcrastinate free Small personal time management application.
  • TaskMate free A simple personal to-do task list manager.
  • TaskPaper free A very simple and clever personal tasks organizer. Has a unique way of managing to-do lists.
  • Stone Hill Time Card free Is it related:
  • Focus Booster free Simple timer aimed at Pomodoro technique. Doesn't have tasks list. Just a timer.
  • PomodoroApp free A timer application aimed at Pomodoro technique for time management. Allows to enter a list of tasks, perform duration estimations and track progress.


Software for developers on Mac.

  • Aptana Studio free Development studio for web. Based on Eclipse.
  • Xcode free Software IDE (integrated development environment) for Mac. Has features such as iOS emulation and cocoa integration.
  • WaveMaker free A development environment for creating rich internet applications and databases. Uses AJAX. Is open source.
  • XAMPP free Web development bundle for Mac. Consists of Apache, MySQL and PHP other features.

Internet and FTP

Applications to be used on Internet.

  • Cyberduck free FTP software for Mac.
  • Google Chrome free A web browser from google. It complies with web standards, has many extensions and themes.
  • FileZilla free Popular FTP client and server.
  • Firefox free Webbrowser that complies with web standards. Has numerous extensions, themes and strong community.
  • Paparazzi! free Little application for creating screenshots of web pages. Enter the URL of a web page and save it as an image.


Various utilities for Mac that improve productivity and facilitate your workflow.

  • AppCleaner free Uninstaller for Mac that completely removes applications and all related hidden files. These files usually stay unnoticed when we delete applications by putting them to trash.
  • CCleaner free Uninstaller for Mac. Beside the application it self also rempves all related files that normally are not deleted.
  • Disk Inventory X free A utility that visualises disk usage. Works with USB flash drives.
  • iStumbler free A network utility which shows extra information about connections on your computer. Shows information about AirPort, Bluetooth, Bonjour and other connections.
  • NameChanger free Allows to change names of several files at the same time (i.t. batch file renaming). Has several renaming rules. Supports regular expressions.
  • YemuZip free Creates zip archives on Mac.
  • The Unarchiver free Allows to unpack and extract file archives (ZIP, RAR).
  • Caffeine free Small application to temporarily switch off desktop fading on Mac. Configurable. Locates in task bar.
  • aLaunch free Application launcher that creates a menu in taskbar. Very configurable.
  • Clean free A handy app that cleans your desktop daily. All cleaned files are saved into specified folder. Runs in background. Configurable and free. Extremely useful for some of us.
  • Calendar free Month calendar in task bar. Compatible with iCal. Places a button in taskbar which expands to calendar view. Much is faster that launching iCal.


Office applications are required by vurtually most computer users. These include word processors, spreadsheets, presentations and other apps.

  • Keynote paid For creation of presentaions. Part of Apple's iWork suite.
  • Numbers paid Spreadsheets from Apple. Part of iWork suite. Allows to layout many spreadsheet on each page along side with other type of information like text block, images and diagrams.
  • OpenOffice .org free Open-source office suite. Has word processor, spreadsheets, presentations and database and formula editor. Real alternative to commercial office suits like iWork and MSOffice.
  • Pages paid A word processor from Apple. Very user friendly like all Apple's software. Part of iWork.
  • Pages paid A word processor from Apple. Very user friendly like all Apple's software. Part of iWork.
  • Compendium free An environment for knowledge and information management. Useful for academics, research and studying.
  • Pages paid A word processor from Apple. Very user friendly like all Apple's software. Part of iWork.
  • Compendium free An environment for knowledge and information management. Useful for academics, research and studying.
  • iBooks Author free Allows to create books for iBooks.
  • ABBYY Finereader Express paid Powerful OCR tool to convert images and PDFs into editable texts.
  • Picasa free Organizer for images from Google. Allows tomanage and manipulate photographs and images. Works with Picasa web service.

Text editors

Some text editors for Mac.

  • TextWrangler free A text editor more advanced that standard TextEdit on Mac. Used by programmers.

Diagramming and Mind mapping

Diagramming apps for Mac.

  • FreeMind free Wonderful mindmapping application. Allows to create mindmaps which can be exported to various formats.
  • OmniGraffle paid A very strong diagramming software.
  • Diagrammix free Lightweight diagramming software for Mac. Can use OmniGraffle's stencils.
  • yEd Graph Editor free Diagramming tool and graph editor. Distributed free of charge.
  • Dia free Diagramming software. Cross-platform and open source.
  • Compendium free An environment for knowledge and information management. Useful for academics, research and studying.
  • Balsamiq Mockups free For creating mockups and wireframes of user interfaces for applications and websites. Good for web designers and application developers. Allows to draft user interfaces before actual construction.
  • ArgoUML free A UML editor that is cross-platform and open source. Java based.

Project Management

Free and paid project management tools for Mac.

  • Open Proj free Project management software built with Java. Is open source.
  • Merlin paid Project Management software. Has almost all advanced features.

Enterntainment and games

Have fun on your Mac with apps below.

  • The Lost Watch 3D Lite free Very nice 3D desktop background and screen saver.
  • Moonlight Mahjong free Wonderful 3D Mahjong. Several modes of gameplay. Has a surprise at the end of each game.
  • Stellarium free Have a look at all the stars on your Mac. A virtual planetarium.

3D/2D CAD and Modeling tools

These CAD and modelling tools for Mac are used by professional designers and engineers.

  • Sketchup free Full featured industrial level 3D modelling application which allows to create 3D models and animations. You can purchase Pro version which adds solid tools, Layout for preparation of 2D and technical drawing and few other extras.
  • Blender free A popular open source 3D suit which can be used for 3D modelling and animation.
  • Sweet Home 3D free An application aimed at interior design. Cross-paltform and open source.
  • CorelCAD paid A professional industry level CAD software that work on Mac. Very price competitive.

Audio and Video

Mac software related to audio and video playback and manipulation.

  • VLC free A popular alternative media player. Cross-platform. Has a mdeia library.
  • Audacity free Popular open source audio editor. Works on Mac. May be used for professional sound recording and editing.
  • K-Lite Codec Pack free A popular package of all possible codecs. Codecs are required to play video and audio files. Has several versions that vary by size and number of codecs.
  • Flip4Mac free This is Windows Media Components for Mac. Allows QuickTime Player to play Windows Media files (wma and wmv). Alswo adds browser support of Windows Media.
  • HandBrake free A video converter whic supports many video and audio formats and codecs. Can change ratios, speed and has many other features.
  • VartualDJ Home free Application for mixing songs on your Mac.

Computer Aided Translation (CAT)

Translation tool to be used on Macs.

  • OmegaT free Computer aided translation tool. The only one open source CAT tool that is so advanced and is cross-platform. Among features has translation memory (TM), glossaries, and fuzzy matching. Supports Google Translate.
  • Wordfast Professional paid Link to the old site:

Timers and Alarm Clocks

Timers, coutdown clock, alarm clock for Mac.

  • Menubar Countdown free A handy little count down timer in statusbar.
  • Sleepytime free Alarm clock for Mac. Can use custom audiofiles and iTunes playlists to sound an alarm.
  • Mornings free Alarm clock for Mac. Uses iTunes playlists or built-in sounds for alarms.

Applications Catalogues for Mac

Alternatives to iTunes.

  • Bodega free In the same niche as App Store. Browse and discover new applications and update old ones.
  • Store News free Discover new application for Mac, price drops and discounts.

Personal documents and information management

Applications that help managing personal files and documents of Mac.

  • Together paid Personal note taking, document management app.
  • Papers2 paid Document manager aimed at researchers, students, lawyers, scientists and others who deal with research papers and patents. But beside that has a document management functionality like in Together, DevonThink and other applications.
  • National Velocity free A simple personal notes application. Very comfortable to use due to clever usability.


Graphic editors for Mac.

  • Pixelmator paid A popular Mac style image editor akin to Photoshop. Many tutorials and strong community.
  • Gimp free Image editor viewed by many as real alternative to Photoshop on Windows platform. Works on Mac under X11.
  • Seashore free An image editor for Mac. Regularly developed and open source. Said to be based on GIMP project apart from which doesn't use X11 but works natively.
  • Inkscape free Vector editor, open source, popular on other platforms. Works on Mac under X11.
  • Hugin free An application for creating panoramas from your photos. Very sophisticated, supports many types of panoramas including cylindrical and spherical. Has a very useful automatic panorama creation mode (just load your images and press a button).
  • Paintbrush free A Mac application with basic drawing functions for image creation. User interface closely replicates Paint found on Windows.
  • Pencil free Animation and drawing tool. Allows to create hand drawn cartoons. Works on Mac, Windows and Linux.
    (There is also wireframing tool Pencil)

Color Schemers

Create wonderful color schemes with applications below.

  • ColorSchemer Studio paid Very strong application for creation of color schemes. Very useful for designers of all sorts. Has various preview tmplates and browser of community color schemes.
  • Adobe Kuler Desktop
  • Colorate free Small free colour picker and colour palette generator for designers.

Desktop Publishing (DTP)

Prepare books, papers, posters and other types of dicuments for printing.

  • MultiAd Creator Pro paid An advanced DTP application.
  • Scribus free A popular open source Desktop Publishing (DTP) software. Used to create brochures, posters, books, and other printed media. Has page imposition and other advanced features. Cross-platform.
  • Swift Publisher paid A small desktop publishing (DTP) application. Has many features.


Communicate with other users on-line.

  • Skype free Voice over IP (VoIP) application which can be used to talk with anybody around the world who has Internet connection.

Viewers and readers

Applications that help viewing various types of files.

  • Adobe Reader free PDF viewer from Adobe. Allowes you to open, print, comment PDF files.
  • Tofu free Application that makes reading texts on screen comfortable. Has minimal interface.
  • Xee free Image viewer alternative to standard Mac viewer.

File Managers

Alternative file managers for Mac.

PDF editors

Manipulate PDF files.

  • PdfSam free PDFsam if for splitting and merging pdf files. Also has many other functionls like page extraction and rotation. Built on Java.

CD and DVD Authoring

Easy optical disk burning on Mac.

  • Burn free Application for burning CDs and DVDs on Mac.

Virtual reality

Explore virtual reality World.

  • Google Earth free Application from Google to discover virtual 3D Earth.


Mac Applications that did not classily into one of the above categories.