Five Useful Mac Apps Worth Checking Out - April 2018

Apps designed for the Mac don't typically receive as much attention as apps for iOS devices, so we've launched a monthly series that highlights useful, interesting Mac apps that are worth checking out.

This month's app selection, outlined in the video and the post below, includes apps for managing and organizing your files, getting info about your Mac, accessing your favorite content quickly, and more. Many of the apps we've included this month were chosen by our forum members.

  • DaisyDisk ($9.99) - DaisyDisk is an app that's been around for quite some time, but it was just recently updated with extended support for Apple File System (APFS), the file system on macOS High Sierra. DaisyDisk is designed to show you all of the files on your Mac, so you can see what's eating up your disk space. Using simple drag and drop gestures, you can delete unnecessary content, freeing up storage.
  • Hazel ($32) - Hazel is a little bit more expensive than the typical Mac apps we feature, but it has a unique function -- it automatically sorts and organizes all of your files. You can assign Hazel to watch folders on your Mac, such as the download folder, and using user-specified rules, Hazel will organize all incoming files into categories like Movies, Music, Pictures, Old Files, New Items, and more. Hazel can be used to open, archive, tag, rename, and upload files, and there are tools for cleaning up support files when you delete an app.
  • Shortcut Bar ($8.99) - Shortcut Bar is a simple menu bar app that lets you access your favorite files, folders, apps, web bookmarks, and text snippets, essentially putting all of the files and apps you use most on your Mac right at your fingertips.
  • Station (Free) - Station is an app that's designed to house and aggregate all of your web applications in one easy to access location. Instead of having dozens of tabs open with things like Gmail, Twitter, Instagram, and Slack, you can relocate them all to Station for quicker, more streamlined access. Station is, essentially, a web browser that has a more thoughtful layout for accessing web apps.
  • iStat Menus ($9.99) - iStat Menus is a fairly well-known app that's worth checking out if you haven't already. It provides a wealth of information about your Mac that's accessible through your menu bar. You can track battery life and health, processor usage, memory usage, network details, weather information, and more, and it can send notifications based on your custom parameters. Want to know if your CPU usage has exceeded 60 percent for over 10 seconds or if your internet is down? iStat Menus can do that. It's free to download in a trial capacity, but unlocking full functionality costs $9.99.

Do you have favorite must-have Mac apps that we haven't highlighted yet? Let us know what they are in the comments and we might feature them in a future video. Many of this month's picks came from our forum members.

For more of our Mac app picks, make sure to check out our lists from February and March.

Top Rated Comments

keysofanxiety Avatar
34 months ago

Why pay $9.99 when you can just use Disk Inventory X for free?

Or OmniDiskSweeper! It doesn't look particularly nice but it does exactly what you need it to.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Schranke Avatar
34 months ago
You should look into IINA for next month. Super nice (and free) media player build on mpv. A serious competitor to vlc and looks so much better.
https://lhc70000.github.io/iina/

And here is a list of other apps I always make sure to have installed, all well known.
Alfred - better spotligt
Little Snitch - control app internet connections
Airmail - mail replacement
CoconutBattery - battery utility
Amphetamine - keeps Mac awake
1password - password manager
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
groovyd Avatar
34 months ago
The absolute best app for the Mac in my opinion is menuBus (https://www.menubus.audio).

menuBus is a 'must have' for giving you complete control over all audio on your Mac across all apps (iTunes, Skype, Safari, YouTube, ...). menuBus runs seamlessly in the menu bar acting as a 'master bus' for all audio on your system. Its surprisingly simple interface allows you to drag and drop audio plugins in to the 'bus' for performing systemwide audio equalization, on-demand recording, multi-channel audio splitting, speaker and headphone calibration, you name it. Originally intended for professional use in recording studios and for music creation the app is is highly optimized, bit perfect, glitch free, and rock solid.

To this end, the developer Nathan Tiddy who happens to be a really cool guy (a goat farmer in New Zealand) actually listens to the user base and is constantly improving the app. On his website he provides examples of using it with free plug-ins to correct the frequency response of AirPods to make them 'studio reference' flat and is always super responsive to questions by users on his Facebook group page where users even have a vote for the next great feature he focuses on.

While even the free version has plenty of features for the majority of users to enjoy for only $20 the 'Pro' version is well worth it for the ability to save off unlimited presets activated by user-defined hotkeys.

This is an app that seriously Apple should just include in macOs.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lerokie Avatar
34 months ago

I don’t run any pirated software so Little Snitch is of no use to me.

I do not use any pirated software, yet Little Snitch is one of my favorite programs. It tells me when an app is trying to reach the internet for whatever reason, like new mail, trying to load things from websites I didn't even know about, to tell advertisers that I opened their email.

Best use is to limit connections based on profiles. While I am at home I have unlimited data on WiFi, but when I'm using my phone's hotspot I don't. Little Snitch knows that it is connected to my phone and activates a profile I made for it and blocks connections from apps that I do not want using data from that internet source.

It is especially useful when using public WiFi, as it also blocks incoming connections from the network. I love that it puts me in control of everything I do.

A little involved while you set up all your rules and profiles, but pretty much seamless after a while.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
autrefois Avatar
34 months ago
Big fan of DaisyDisk. It's almost too easy to use. Smooth interface, it's hard to believe you're actually deleting gigabytes of data. Huge time saver as compared to manually figuring out the culprits taking up so much space. I haven't used GrandPerspective or Disk Inventory X to know how they compare, but $10 seems reasonable for what DD does.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
killawat Avatar
34 months ago

I don’t run any pirated software so Little Snitch is of no use to me.

The linkage of Little Snitch as a assistant to Piracy is interesting, I don't think I've ever heard that before. The primary reason I run it is for Privacy and Awareness. I utilize a range of apps, many of which mentioned in the comments, to enhance my Mac experience. Yet, anyone (who isn't yet aware) of how many connections are being made by their Mac on a daily basis are in for a shock. At a minimum, a huge number of utility type Apps I run on my Machine are often trying to connect to Google Analytics servers, update servers, activation servers. Social network and integration features, several connections that you don't even have the option of turning off until you open and start to interact with the app, IF the developer even allows you to toggle the connections. If I don't expect or have a need for app to try and connect to the web, it doesn't. I'll maybe allow activation (if there is no offline option), but after that, it's blocked.

Creative Cloud is the biggest offender of peculiar behavior. A process called "log transport" attempts to connect to Adobe every time I close an application. What's this? Log transport is part of Adobe's telemetry services. I'm not a huge fan of telemetry and so I turn off the feature and block the connection, but it still happens...hmmm....

Another is protection against macOS Malware. XProtect is pretty good, best in the industry IMO, but there is still a lag time between when the threat is in the wild and before it is picked up by XProtect. So in that case, Little Snitch will alert you if a piece of malware is trying to reach out to a remote server. Ok, it won't be obvious (depending on the malware writer, who could put "MacOS Update Service" as the service name, however if you are aware enough to realize that something like this should never connect to "zzzxxxx.update.ru" (a Russian domain), you can block the connect. Infact, several malware even look for the presence of Little Snitch and terminate their connection if found, for risk of being uncovered. You can see a few examples here: https://bitrot.sh/post/24-12-2017-little-snitch/

Not only malware writers are looking for little snitch, but so are "bonafide" application developers, who are often using little snitch on their own workstations. There are several apps that detect the presence of little snitch and offer a pop up box to explain exactly what connection is to where to make the user more informed. Some application devs are great, minimal connections, informed consent, but the majority are not. Several connections to far flung locations doing who knows what without informing the user. We get to keep some control for ourselves.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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