There are plenty of lists of “essential” MacOS software out there, most of them are the same Opensource of commercial software.

What I’ve tried to do here is pick out the software I use day to day which

Setup

I’m running macOS Monterey on a 2021 MacBook Pro M1 with 8gb Ram

Software

Bartender

Bartender 4 – Take control of your Menu bar

 

Your System menu can get packed with a myriad of application icons all providing you with access to services running in the background. In some cases, you can choose not to have the Icon display. In most, not.

The Bartender app will provide you with a method of managing these icons reducing them in my case down to

The is the key here

Providing access to the Preferences pane

And a whole heap of options for managing the icons you want to see and want to hide in your menu bar.

Overflow

Overflow 3
The visual launcher for your Mac.

 

If you like keeping your MacOS dock lean but don’t like opening finder to open those occasional apps, or maybe the spotlight launcher isn’t your thing then Overflow might be the app for you.

Assign a hot key (the default is Ctrl Space) and a square will open on the desktop

Within that square, you can add categories with a right-click

And add apps to those spaces

There are the usual level of preferences where things like size, layout and icons can be turned on-off or tuned.

DisplayBuddy

DisplayBuddy
Control brightness, contrast and volume of your external displays from your Mac menu bar.

 

If you run multiple displays on your Mac, DisplayBuddy provides a menu icon that can assist in controlling those external displays.

It should work with most monitors as the site says itself

DisplayBuddy talks to your monitor using the DDC spec. If you’ve a monitor that was manufactured in the last 5 years or so, there’s a very high chance it will work great with DisplayBuddy!

OnlyOffice

Free office suite for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS
Work offline on documents stored on your PC or Mac with ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors

 

There are plenty of options for MS Office replacements out there, LibreOffice is the most touted.

I find Onlyoffice to be the most feature-complete Word/Excel/Powerpoint alternative I’ve worked with.

As well as being cross-compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux (works on ChromeOS/Linux shell too). Onlyoffice also has built-in support for its own cloud back end, GoogleDrive and Nextcloud.

In fact, if you run Nextcloud it can be either run within the Nextcloud web interface or the Desktop App can open files from the Nextcloud instance.

While the interface might not be 100% like for like for the Microsoft versions, for 99% of users this won’t matter because all the major features are there, the save as MS Office format or open Office format DOCX, PPTX, XLSX files is as good as I’ve seen elsewhere and better for some more complex documents.

Screens

Screens for macOS – Control Any Computer Remotely from your Mac
Screens lets you connect back to your computer at home or wherever you are in the world.

 

Screens is a VNC app for macOS. I use this a lot to connect to two Ubuntu servers I run at home.

Both of these servers have been auto-detected as running the VNC protocol internally on port 5900/TCP so no setup was needed.

The manual setup is really easy.

for those who want a little bit more security in their setup than stock VNC

While I’ve set this up for accessing Linux desktops, any os which runs VNC will work with Screens. It’s Silicon ready and has a few other features like multi-screen support. check the weblink above out.

If you’d like access to multiple Windows or Mac devices using this (useful for family support) then Take a look at Screens Connect.

Screens Connect – Make your computer reachable from anywhere – Edovia
Screens Connect lets you connect back to your Mac or Windows PC from wherever you are in the world.

 

Performance for me from the M1 on the local Lan or in a Costa over free Wifi and my home VPN was reasonable and far better than NoMachine NX server.

Hyper

Hyper™
A terminal built on web technologies

 

The macOS terminal is fine, it does the job, and the usual recommendation of iterm2 is OK, I’m a fan of hyper.js as a terminal because it’s just so extensible in code.

Not much you can show about it in a graphical format, I’ve added fish as my back end shell and added a few bells and whistles to this.

It supports plugins, you can configure the shell in so many ways however for me it’s the speed of opening and being up and running. It is fast.

Sensei

Sensei – The Next Generation Mac performance tool
Sensei is a utility for improving your Mac performance — with features for Cleaning, Optimizing and Monitoring every aspect of your Mac.

 

It’s a toss-up between this and Clean my Mac for a dashboard of what is going on on your Mac

Sensei has a nice interface, it is accurate and will also assist in things like improving cooling and keeping the Mac Clean

n8n

n8n
n8n is an extendable workflow automation tool which enables you to connect anything to everything via its open, fair-code model.

 

If you’ve ever used tools like IFTTT or Zapier then you’ll know what n8n does, its a powerful self hosted workflow system where you can run actions, transfer data between apps.

As an example I use n8n when I click on Publish on this blog post, n8n will see the new post and update LinkedIn, Discord and my RocketChat server automatically with the link to the post.

When I first started using n8n it was as a self-hosted docker image. Recently however all the functionality has been ported to a desktop application.

While some code is used, it’s only for some of the more complex workflows, most of what you’d want to do is done using a point and click, drag and drop interface.

Flotato

Flotato – lost in a sea of browser tabs?
Create a light and fast macOS app from any web app.

 

This is really just the latest incarnation of something which has been around for a while, it takes web pages and turns them into Mac apps.

The app comes with its own app store where the various websites have been optimised and you can choose between desktop or mobile apps to launch.  Once the Website is turned into an app, it behaves just like every other Mac App.

This is all done independently of whichever browser you run as default.

Little Snitch

Little Snitch
Protects your privacy and prevents your private data from being sent out to the Internet without your knowledge.

 

Little snitch is the personal firewall macOS should have builtin. once installed and put into the alert mode it goes snooping for apps trying to reach out to the internet and warns you about them.

You can choose to either have the app access anything it wants on the internet or restrict it to specific locations or times.

The Application sits in the menu bar and can be turned off for a period of time if you should need it to.

Having something tell you where hat new application wants to talk to when you launch it for the first time is interesting and gives you more power as to what your Mac is talking to on the internet.

To manage this at a larger scale is the built-in realtime network monitor

Showing you what is talking out on your Mac and where it is taking to

Bonus

Ran into this while writing this post.

Just Stream

‎JustStream
‎JustStream is a great app that can mirror display on Mac to TV, mirror Mac to Chromecast, mirror Mac to Apple TV, and so on. You can stream your video to TV and enjoy it on a big screen without any need of wires or cables or any additional hardware. JustStream features at a glance: **Supports a…

 

I use a Mac however my home is covered in Google devices. Out of the box these don’t play well together and as I use ChromeCasts on multiple screens and pucks I was looking for a way to stream to these devices.

JustStream is the answer to this providing an interface that works well streaming audio or video to Google Cast devices.

Thoughts

there might be something you’ve not used or does what you are looking for, hopefully, it’s been a bit less like the standard lists of Mac software and provides someone with something they want to use.

What could I add to this list?

By davidfield

Tech Entusiast