Welcome to our guide to the best free applications for Mac. All of the apps on this list are available to download, install and use free of charge for the last several versions of macOS. Today, the Apple Mac is more popular than it has ever been, and because of its roots in the UNIX world, there are tons of free apps for you to choose from. If you are looking for free software to help you with both work and play, this is the list for you. Remember, don’t forget to revisit this list from time to time as we will continue to update it to reflect the very best free software available for Apple’s Mac computer line.
Currently the king of browsers, Chrome enjoys a install base of around half of all systems. It’s fast, secure, and with the Chrome Store, you can enhance your experience in ways you never thought possible. It’s definitely a must have addition to any Mac system.
Firefox was one of the first browsers to hit the market to compete with Internet Explorer, and today it is still one of the most popular options on macOS. It’s fast, includes many different addons and themes, and works flawlessly on Mac making this a great second browser to keep on your system with Safari.
Many of the modern features that we have come to expect with modern browsers actually they got their start on this browser. While it doesn’t enjoy the market share that others have, millions swear by this browser and it is fast and reliable. If you want to try a browser that’s a little different, I would recommend giving Opera a try.
Instead of running three different instant messaging apps, why not run one and connect all your accounts to it? Pidgin lets you do just that and with its host of addons and features you will never need another IM app ever again.
Another great open source option, Adium supports multiple instant messaging networks including Yahoo, AIM, and much more. Adium allows you to consolidate your chat needs into one handy app. It’s features are easy to access and the UI is clean and efficient. Like Pidgin, this app could be the last messenger app you ever have to install.
The undisputed leader in online VoIP communication, Skype lets you talk to people all over the world for free. For a small charge, you can even use it as your telephone line and make and receive calls just as you would a traditional land line.
The mail app included with macOS is pretty good, but if you want to get more out of your email and have access to even more features, then I suggest you give Thunderbird a try. From the makers of Firefox, Thunderbird is a full featured mail application that will even give you Exchange compatibility.
FTP transfers have never been easier. Its clean interface and ease of use takes everything complicated out of FTP transfers so you can upload and download from any FTP server with just a few clicks of your mouse.
An early leader in the world of FTP on the Mac platform, Cyberduck continues to be one of the go to FTP apps for Mac users everywhere. It’s clean design and myriad of features including SFTP make Cyberduck a great option for any Mac user.
You can burn inside macOS pretty easily these days, but your options are a bit limited. Granted, this format may be slowly disappearing, but many still need to make the occasional CD or DVD. Burn gives you many options you will find in commercial apps and does an excellent job of burning discs without errors.
Handbrake is a DVD ripper and media encoder. Have you wanted to make digital copies of your movies so you can watch them more easily on your computer? Handbrake will let you do just that.
Quicktime is a great app to watch movies, but there are some formats that just won’t work with Apple’s including app. If you have trouble with some of your videos, try using VLC. VLC will play just about anything you throw at it and its newer media management features make controlling your ever expanding TV and movie library easier than ever.
Still one of the leaders in the world of music, iTunes may be a bit bulky today but it still is one of the easiest apps out there for managing your music library. Add to that everything you can download and buy directly from the service, and you have a complete music library system at your fingertips.
Just because you have a Mac, that doesn’t mean you must use iTunes. While iTunes is great, if you prefer something free and open source, look no further than Tomahawk. It’s free, easy to use, and its user interface is clean, slick, and easy to use. If you prefer to stay way from iTunes and its constant bombardment of selling, then Tomahawk could be the answer for you.
Streaming music doesn’t have to be complicated or cost you a lot of money. With Spotify, you can stream almost any song you can think of right to your computer. With just the occasional ad to pay for the service and a subscription upgrade to open up even more features, Spotify just may be the last music app you ever need.
Who said you have to invest thousands to create and edit photos and digital images? GIMP gives you all the power of Adobe Photoshop without all the cost. While there is a bit of a learning curve, GIMP is one of the most powerful and feature-rich apps out there that won’t cost you anything to use.
LibreOffice is a full featured Office suite that will allow you to create documents, edit spreadsheets, create presentations, and much more. You can even use it to edit some PDFs. If you don’t want to invest in Office, but need to create and edit a wide range of documents, this is the best solution for you.
An early leader in the Office alternative space, Open Office is still at the top of Office suite alternatives. Like others, you can edit documents, create and edit spreadsheets, give presentations, and much more. It even offers full compatibility with Microsoft’s document formats so you never have to worry about compatibility issues.
If you have a Gmail account, you have access to the most powerful online suite of document editing and creation with just a few clicks. With Google Docs, Sheets and more, you have full access to an online suite of office applications that will allow you to create and edit virtually any type of document you can think of, without ever having to install anything on your local machine.
Adobe Reader DC
While Adobe may get its fair share of criticism, they are still the industry standard for PDFs. You don’t get much better than Adobe Reader, and it is still free and very easy to use. While there are no editing features, you will be able to use it to modify editable pdf files and view any PDF on the web.
A great open source option for not only viewing, but also editing PDF files. While Adobe’s product may be the industry standard, don’t think you are limited to using just it. To get more out of your PDF life without investing any of your hard-earned money, check out Scribus.
One of the first leaders in to-do lists and note taking, Evernote today continues to show its dominance with its vast array of features that are designed to help you get things done. It’s free and easy to use, and you can even subscribe to really open up the power of the application.
To-do lists have become an important part of your computing workflow today. While Evernote may be the early leader, it really is designed to do much more. If you are looking for a straight to-do list tracker, then you can’t go wrong with Wunderlist. It’s clean, cross-platform compatible, and easy to use so you can start making your lists today.
Dropbox was an early adopter of cloud storage and continues to lead the pack today for cloud storage. It’s compatible with a variety of operating systems including Windows, Mac, and even Linux, making it a great cloud storage option for those that use systems across all three platforms. You get a small amount of storage for free, but can upgrade for even more with a small monthly fee attached to it.
Google Drive is cloud storage offered by Google, and is a great storage system if you live in the Google suite of apps like the ones I described above. For free you will have a small amount of storage, but for a small monthly free you can add to that so you can store all your files on the cloud.
Onedrive is Microsoft’s answer to Google and Dropbox. It is easy to use and integrates very nicely with Windows 8 and Windows 10. Like the other options on this list, you can grab a small amount of space for free which will handle most people’s needs, but if you need more you can always subscribe and get terabytes worth of online storage.
Believe it or not, third party compression utilities are actually few and far between on the Mac. Still, outside of the built in features, you can pick up the Unarchiver to give you even more options. However, while this app integrates well with macOS, it doesn’t archive anything. But it will open pretty much any archive you come across.
Avira comes with a vast array of protection utilities and ranks up there with the very best antivirus protection on the net. However, it’s menus are a little complicated even on the Mac and it can be a bit of a resource hog. Still, if you are looking for the best protection you can get for free, this is where you need to look.
Bitdefender also ranks up there with Avira, and it includes both a free and a paid version to protect you from threats on your Mac. The free version is a little more basic compared to other alternatives on this list but is perfect for users who don’t have much antivirus experience or for anyone that just wants something that works without much configuration.
Without a registry, you may not think CCleaner will do much for you on a Mac. However, the opposite is true. CCleaner will clean up your permissions, temp files and much more. The end result is a machine that runs cleaner and faster without you spending hours deleting files one by one.
There are hundreds of free apps available for macOS today. With so many to choose from, you may have trouble deciding which ones you should use. Hopefully, this list will help you answer those questions. So what are you waiting for? Start downloading today so you can start to use some of the best free apps for Mac today.
If you are looking for free apps for Windows, don’t forget to check out our Best Free Apps for Windows guide to find the best free software for Windows.
Think we should add an app to this list? If so, comment on this post and we will do our best to add your suggestion to this list so you can help us create the most comprehensive software list there is on the Internet today.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.