My 14 Favorite Mac Apps for Productivity

I got a new M1 Max 14” MacBook last month and this thing is an absolute beast. With a new computer, it's always a great time to review the apps installed on the old computer and what we can purge or what we need to keep.

Here are my favorite Mac apps that help make Macs more productive. This list doesn't include cross-platform things like VS Code, Chrome, etc.

I'll split these favorite Mac apps into main Mac apps, Setapp apps, and not on Setapp apps. Setapp is a paid subscription that gives you access to many applications that you would normally have to pay for individually. It's like Xbox Game Pass but for Mac apps. If you're interested in Setapp, here's my referral link to get 1 month free.

I like iTerm 2 over the basic Mac Terminal app because it can resize font, split windows, and look better in general.

iTerm2 Split Panels

Install any application with 1 command in your terminal. We can even install multiple apps with 1 command like this:

bash
brew install google-chrome iterm2 spotify discord notion visual-studio-code

Setapp is one of my favorite tools. It is another subscription to add on, but you get access to a ton of very helpful Mac apps.

Referral Link: Get 1 month free

I've never found a time tracking or pomodoro app that I've been able to stick with and use consistently. Session is the only one that I've been able to use. It's well designed and caters to my work style. It's simple to get started, tracks your productivity across Mac and iPhone, and helps you keep working.

Session Tracking

Session also does a great job at analytics. I'm trying to get better at tracking the big tasks, but it was hard to do in December because of the holidays.

Session Analytics

I never thought a screenshots app would be in my top 3 apps, but CleanShot X has made it. They've rethought how Mac screenshots work and they make it really easy to create screenshots and recordings, give you the ability to update it, and share it all without saving the file to your Desktop or Downloads. Chris Coyier also thinks highly of CleanShot X.

CleanShot X

Have you ever had to create a bunch of Finder windows to drag files around. Yoink gives you a temporary dropzone to leave files while you maneuver around your folders. Yoink sits on the left of your desktop while you move around. You can click and drag the files out when you're ready to use it.

3 Files in Yoink

Sip is a colorpicker with great usability features.

Colorpicker with Sip

Swish lets us do window management using our trackpads. Hover over an app's title bar and 2-finger swipe up to maximize. 2-finger swipe down to minimize. Small but useful tool.

Swish can also handle window management by swiping to the corners of your screen.

Bartender has been around for a while. It's an app that lets us clean up our menu bars of cluttered icons.

Bartender Settings

I know on Macs you are able to just delete an app file and you're good to go. CleanMyMac takes this a step further and finds any cached files or other relevant things for an app.

It also does a great job at finding what apps are running on startup and using resources.

Viewing Startup Programs with CleanMyMac X

When in Mac Mission Control, you can't quit applications. Mission Control Plus adds a close button to the top left of apps while in Mission Control.

Close Button on Mission Control Plus

These are the few apps that I use that aren't on Setapp. Raycast and Fantastical are the big ones.

Raycast is a Spotlight replacement. I've used Alfred extensively in the past and Raycast feels like the modern version of it.

My Raycast Most Used Plugins

Easily add plugins and functionality like:

  • Run terminal commands
  • Clipboard manager
  • Search Vercel
  • Search VS Code projects
  • Search Tailwind docs
  • Windows management
  • GitHub Issues
  • Speedtest

Check out the Raycast Store to see what functionality you can add.

Popular Raycast Extensions

Fantastical is a calendar for Mac that puts a mini popover calendar in the menu bar. That's mainly what I use it for.

My Fantastical Menu Bar

When I record videos and tutorials, I need to show what keypresses I make. Keycastr is a simple app that can add overlays for keyboard presses.

Showing Keyboard Shortcuts with Keycastr
  • HazeOver: Blur all windows except for the one you want to focus on.
  • PixelSnap: Measure anything you see with pixels.

All of these Mac apps have been on my favorites list for a couple years. I've put them through the ringer and each has come out proven useful.

Give them all a try and let me know what you think.

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Chris Sev

Chris Sev

Chris Sev is the co-founder of Better Dev. Coding better every day. Previously he created Scotch.io which was acquired.

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