So you came out of the holidays with a new Mac! Congratulations! Now, whether it’s a MacBook or 27-inch 5K iMac, we’ve got you covered with the best picks for apps, utilities, tools, and everything else to get the most out of your new computer.
We've rounded up our favorite and most-used apps and utilities for the technology we use every day. Check out our picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs, Macs, and game consoles. We've also listed our favorite games for iOS and Android from this year.
1Password is an essential purchase. Password managers are no longer an optional utility; they’re a must-have way to safeguard the many accounts you use online. 1Password remains the de facto choice because it’s secure, frequently updated with new features, offers convenient syncing over iCloud or Dropbox, and works across Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android. Download it. Try it. Buy it. It’s worth it.
Pixelmator can do probably 90 percent of the things you’d want Photoshop for, all at a fraction of the price. It’s one of the best Mac-only apps you’ll find (well, there’s also an iOS version), and regularly gets better with new updates that add even more features to what’s already there. Need great image editing software? Look no further.
Sure, if you’ve got a Mac, you might already be satisfied with Apple’s own Photos software. But Google has become our favorite thanks to unique features like automatic GIF creation — seriously, they can be a welcome, heartwarming surprise — and amazingly powerful search, which doesn’t require any extra effort on your part. There’s not much work to do here; download the app, point it to where your photos are, and rest assured that they’re stored safely in the cloud.
But you should also think about putting everything else in the cloud, too. Having a Time Machine backup on an external hard drive is critical, but what if your house burns down or your stuff gets stolen? Backblaze is a great service that can safely put everything on your Mac in the cloud. If disaster strikes, you can download individual files or even have them send you everything on a USB drive. For all that peace of mind, the cost is pretty cheap, too.
Apple wants you to use its own streaming music service, but your friends are all using Spotify, right? Thankfully Spotify’s Mac app is pretty good and does everything you need it to without annoying obstacles or bugs. Could it be better? Sure, but anything beats having to open iTunes.
Several successful iPhone apps have also made a name for themselves on OS X. Fantastical is one of those, offering a tremendous calendar experience that beats what Apple gives you out of the box. The ability to use natural language, means scheduling meetings and to-dos really can’t get much easier.
Twitter’s official Mac app was actually updated this year, but considering how rarely new features come along, you should just keep avoiding it. Just as on iOS, Tweetbot for Mac is the best third-party app you can get for keeping up with all that’s happening in your timeline.
Evernote’s going through a bit of a rough time on the business side, but the company’s core app is still an essential productivity tool. Take pretty much anything you want on your Mac — notes, to-do lists, web links, photos, etc. — drop it into Evernote, and you’ll be able to access it from your smartphone, tablet, or any other device that has its own Evernote app. (It’s just a shame we couldn’t include Skitch on this list with its uncertain future.)
There’s no better way of wasting time than making your own GIFs, and GIFBrewery is one of the easiest ways of doing so on your Mac. Why bother with work? Go ahead and try your hand at making the next viral moving image.
If you’re someone who still turns to Bit Torrent for downloads, Transmission is your best option for a Mac app. It’s clean, lightweight, and fast — pretty much all the things you’d want in a single-task utility like this one. It has also been around forever and gets regular updates, so you can count on support for a long time to come.