When I bought my first Mac (it was Mac mini), I absolutely hated it. So, I installed Windows using Bootcamp and used it as a PC. With my next purchase, MacBook Air, I didn’t have enough space to install Windows, so I had to learn how to use macOS (Apple’s operating system).
It took me almost a year to learn basics. I don’t want you to waste a year, so I assembled an absolute minimum you need to know to use Macs efficiently. All you need is to read this blog and open each link I have to other posts I wrote. I guarantee, in the end, you will know more than 95% of users who have been using Mac for years.
So, how a beginner can learn using MacBook Pro or MacBook Air? If you are switching from PC, you need to learn keyboard shortcuts, Spotlight Search, and Finder. Then learn how to install new apps without getting a virus on your MacBook. And finally, learn how to use advanced topics, such as Siri and backing up with Time Machine.
First things you need to know
If you ask what the absolute minimum any MacBook user must know, I will name two: right click and Spotlight Search.
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I must admit I didn’t know how to right-click for at least a year after having my first MacBook. I tried to press on all parts of the trackpad (the sensitive area under the keyboard in the middle) but couldn’t invoke the right click.
I even came to the conclusion that stupid Macs don’t have right-click functionality, the cornerstone of every Windows app. One day I mentioned this fact in front of a sales guy, and he showed me how to do it.
Needless to say, I was extremely embarrassed. After all, I was a programmer, and he was a sales rep.
After this accident, I decided to stop being arrogant and learn how to do things on Macs the Apple way. Once I learned how to use MacBooks, I fell in love with Macs.
There are two ways to right click (also called a Secondary Click) on MacBook:
- Touch the trackpad with two fingers simultaneously.
- Press the control button and then touch the trackpad.
Learn more here about right click and other keyboard shortcuts.
This is the best feature of all in any Mac. Try following: press Command button and then hit Spacebar. You will see a search bar. Now you can type something in the bar. I use Spotlight Search for following things:
- Find the document
- Start application
- Perform math calculations
Main controls of a new Mac
In the picture below, I marked two main controls:
- Menu Bar
The Dock is a place where you can have icons of the applications you use most often. It is also a place where you can see currently running apps even if they were not in the Dock initially. Active apps have a little dot under the icon (in the pic above, you can see that both Safari and Google Chrome browsers are currently active).
You can configure the Dock by adding or removing apps. If you want to add an app, it must be running, so it becomes active in the Dock. Then you can right-click on the app and select Options->Keep in Dock.
If you want to remove an app from the Dock, you can click on the app icon, drag the icon without releasing the touch and then stopped touching the touchpad. Mac will make a Poof sound, and the app disappears. Don’t worry, the app will not get deleted, and you can always add it back to the Dock later.
Additionally, you can change the look and location of the Dock. You can move the Dock to the left, right, or bottom. You can make icons in the Dock larger or increase the size of the icon when you hover over it. And finally, you can hide the Dock when it’s not active, so you can have more space on the screen.
While you can always remove or rearrange icons in the Dock, there are two icons that appear first in the Dock. The very first icon is the Finder, and the second is Launchpad.
Finder is a file manager on Mac. Any time you need to browse folders on your Mac, find files, add or remove folders and files, you will use Finder. I wrote a blog that covers Finder very extensively.
Interesting fact: you cannot remove Finder from the Dock, nor can you move it from the first place.
Every app that comes preinstalled on Mac and any app you download and install later is located in the Applications folder. Launchpad is an easy way to display all apps.
Just click on Launchpad, find the app, and click on it to start. If you have too many apps, then you can use a search bar to filter the one you need.
Granted, if the app icon in the Dock already, you don’t need Launchpad to start it.
How useful is Launchpad? Frankly, I almost never used it. There is a much easier and faster way to start an app without scrolling multiple windows.
All you need is to start Spotlight Search, type the name of the app, and start it from there.
The main feature of the Menu Bar in macOS is that it changes depending on which application is currently active. If you are familiar with Windows, each application there has its own menu. On Macs, there is only one place where menu functions are located, and they always at the top of the screen.
Try it yourself. Click on the Safari icon in the Dock. The icon will start bumping in place – it means the app is starting. Finally, when it starts, you can see that the menu has changed. Now the second item on the menu is “Safari.” You can set Safari preferences from this menu item. Other items have changed as well: File, Edit, Bookmarks, etc.
Now, click on the Mail app. The second item becomes “Mail.” And then there are Mailbox, Message, Format, etc.
The only part of the menu that does not change is the Apple logo. It’s the system menu. No matter which application is active, the Apple log is always there. From here, you can restart or shutdown the Mac.
Another useful menu item is Force Quit. In the Mac world, when users need to kill unresponsive apps forcefully, they call it Force Quit. So, next time, when your Safari stops responding, click on the Apple logo, then click on Force Quit, find the app in the list, and Force Quit it. However, don’t use this function to close apps regularly.
Setting up a new MacBook
Most people, when they get a new computer, start with customization.
Change the Desktop background
Right-click anywhere on the screen. In the context menu select “Change Desktop Background.” Now you can change the Desktop background by selecting from the pictures or themes that came from Apple or use your own photos. You can also change the screensaver.
As always with Apple, there is more than one way to get to the same dialog. Let’s try to use Spotlight Search. Start the Spotlight Search by using the Command+Spacebar combination. Type “Desktop,” and you will see a list of various apps or documents. Click on “Desktop & Screen Saver,” and you will see the same dialog. Do you see how powerful Spotlight Search is?
Another place where you can make the changes to the behavior and the look of your Mac is the System Preferences app. Using Windows analogy, it’s a Control Panel.
From here, you can add/remove users, change Display preferences, configure Security options, set up printers, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and many other things. You can start System Preferences from the Dock or using Spotlight Search.
The cool thing about the latter is that you can start individual sections in System Preferences from Spotlight Search directly. For instance, I never start System Preferences if I need to change user settings. I type users in Spotlight Search and then click on “Users & Groups” in search results.
MacBooks don’t have touch screens (yet), unlike most Windows laptops. And it makes sense.
I had a Dell laptop with a touch screen, and I almost never used it. If you keep poking the screen with your fingers, the screen becomes greasy very quickly. Also, cleaning the screen becomes a pain: Windows will start multiple apps while you are wiping the screen.
However, MacBooks have tools that can significantly improve your productivity if used properly: Trackpad (best in class), Touch ID, and Touch Bar.
Multi-Touch Trackpad (Apple’s name for the touchpad) supports lots of cool gestures involving multi-finger touches and swipes. To see how to use gestures by typing Trackpad in Spotlight Search. This will bring up a dialog box where all gestures displayed in short clips.
My favorite gestures are:
- Scroll – Put two fingers on the trackpad and move up or down to scroll
- Zoom in or out – Pinch with two fingers and increase the distance between fingers to zoom in or opposite to zoom out.
- Show desktop – Spread your thumb and three fingers apart to show the desktop.
Touch ID and Touch Bar
When Apple first introduced Touch ID, my kids loved the feature. They insisted on registering their fingerprints so they could unlock my MacBook Pro.
I personally love this feature; it’s so much better than typing the password. If your MacBook has Touch ID and you didn’t enable Touch ID when setting up your laptop, you can always enable and add multiple fingerprints in System Preferences.
I usually register at least two fingers (right and left hand), so if my primary hand is wet or dirty, I can use another.
Also, Touch ID behaves as a Shutdown button. If you push and hold the Touch ID, it will force MacBook Pro to shut down. To start the laptop that was turned off, push Touch ID again.
Touch Bar is another cool feature. Similar to the Menu Bar icons in the Touch Bar, change with the change of active app. If the Mail app is active, it will show New Message, if Safari is active then New Tab.
If you are just starting using MacBooks, then it’s extremely useful. However, someone like me struggles to switch from using keyboard shortcuts to using TouchBar.
One thing to note is that if you install Windows on MacBook (as I often do), TouchBar loses its flexibility nature. It always shows function keys.
Old MacBooks had multiple extension ports: USB 2/3, SDHC, HDMI, Thunderbolt, a special port for the charger (Magsafe). Now all they have USB-C ports. Even charging happens through USB-C. So, if you had old external devices, you either need adapters or buy new ones. If all you have is two USB-C ports, I’d recommend to buy a hub to connect all devices.
Since Apple is historically greedy when it comes to disk space, sooner or later, you will need an external hard drive. However, most hard drives come preformatted for Windows. But, generally, it’s not a problem, you can reformat it to a Mac format. All instructions are here.
And in case you don’t know which external storage to choose, check my recommendations on the most reliable external hard drives for Macs.
Apps in MacBook
Any MacBook Air or MacBook Pro comes with a bunch of apps pre-installed, and most of them are pretty good. However, soon enough, you will need to install 3rd party programs.
There are two ways to get new programs:
- Download from App Store
- Download from program vendor
Download from App Store
Downloading from the App Store is my favorite way to get new apps. If you have an iPhone, you already know what the App Store is. Apple vets all applications in its store to make sure that it works well with macOS and does not contain any malicious code. In other words, the App Store is the safest inventory of Mac programs.
To download an app from the App Store, start it using Spotlight Search or Launchpad. You must be signed in with Apple ID. Search for the app or category. Click on Get and Install buttons. If the app was paid, then Apple will use the credit card linked to your Apple ID.
Another cool thing about the Apple Store is that it remembers all apps you downloaded previously, including those you paid for. So, if you delete (intentionally or accidentally) the app, you can always re-download it again.
Installations of new apps on Macs are easy. They simply get copied to the Applications folder. No registry non-sense.
Uninstalling apps on Mac is easy. All you need is to use Finder to open the Applications folder. Find the app, right-click on it, and select Move to Trash. In most cases, this is enough to delete the program. However, sometimes, the app caches some data in system folders. Those items might not be deleted. So, some people use 3rd party tools for clean uninstall.
Download from program vendor
Some vendors do not have their software registered in the App Store. The reason often is financial. Vendors must pay to be hosted in the Apple store. Another reason is security. If the app contains malicious code, the only way for them to get on your Mac is to allow them to download their apps from the internet.
If you decide to download something from the internet, make sure to run it through antivirus. What? Didn’t you know that Macs can have viruses? Sorry to disappoint you, but Macs can be infected by malware. In fact, the very first virus was written for Macs, not Windows.
If you don’t have an antivirus, the least you can do is to check the downloaded file on Virus Total. It’s a site operated by Google, and it’s free.
As I already mentioned, MacBooks come with a couple of dozens of useful apps. I wrote a detailed blog post about all of them. Here I just want quickly touch on the main ones.
If you have an iPhone, you already familiar with Siri, a virtual assistant. Siri on Macs is the same as in iPhone, but it’s even more powerful.
Did you know you don’t have to use a voice with Siri? Yes, you can simply type the commands, and Siri will execute as if you made a voice command. This feature could be useful if you are in the library or a similar place. You can find all sorts of cool tricks you can do with Siri here.
You can send and receive messages on your Mac if you have a linked iPhone using iMessage. However, I don’t like this feature. The last thing I want is for people to read my messages on my Mac even if I already deleted them from my iPhone.
On the other hand, FaceTime is a nice video chat app. You can FaceTime to anyone using iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You can even make group calls.
Keep your photos organized with the Photos app. You can share photos across all your Apple devices. Photos app even has some editing capabilities in case you need to change brightness, apply filters, crop, and rotate photos. Photos can be stored either on the disk or in the iCloud.
Speaking of iCloud, it’s a cloud storage provided by Apple. You can choose which applications can store data in iCloud by configuring in System Preferences.
I highly suggest to go over iCloud settings and make sure to select only things you want, because by default Apple gives you only 5GB for free. You can always purchase more, however.
iCloud is central to many apps. For instance, Find my iPhone uses iCloud. Your passwords will also be stored encrypted in iCloud.
The default mail client in macOS is called Mail. You can have multiple accounts in the Mail app. While I never connect to my main email account (I prefer to use it online to minimize problems if I lose my laptop), I often connect my secondary email accounts.
The Mail app is not something that makes a strong impression; there many apps that have way more features. So, if you are a power user, I’d suggest finding something else.
All Macs come with a default internet browser – Safari. It’s a pretty good app. The biggest advantage of Safari is that it uses less energy than other browsers because it was written by Apple. But you are definitely not limited to Safari only. You can always download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox if you want.
For a long time, you would use iTunes to listen to music and watch movies. With macOS Catalina, Apple split the functionality between four apps: Podcasts, Music, Apple TV, and Books.
Did you ever need to transfer docs or photos between Mac and iPhone? You can use AirDrop for this. The app allows sharing content wirelessly between Apple devices.
MacBook Pro comes with a simple text editing tool – TextEdit. Frankly, I really hate it. I am a programmer, and I need way more functions when working with text files. For instance, I am using Visual Studio Code app when writing this post. Check here my recommendations on text editors.
Sooner or later, you will need to do something on the system level. And sooner or later, you will need to learn how to use Terminal, a command-line tool in Mac.
If you are coming from the PC world, you probably noticed that there is no PrintScreen button on the keyboard. How do you take screenshots then? It’s very simple, macOS has several keyboard shortcuts. You may need to remember just one: Command, Shift, 3.
It will capture the entire screen. It’s exactly how I made screenshots for this post. I captured the entire screen and used Preview to cut the things I needed.
But this key combination is not the only one. Believe it or not, I wrote a post with 27 screenshot tips.
Managing files and folders
More about Finder
I already mentioned Finder, a file manager for Mac. It’s a good tool to browse and create folders. However, it lacks a fundamental feature – it does not have a function to create files. I don’t know why Apple doesn’t make it easy, but I solved this problem by installing a simple free app.
You don’t have to install anything in theory. There are other ways to create new files in the Finder.
Another thing that Finder does beautifully is a file search. If you keep losing files, or if it takes you longer than several seconds to find the document you have worked recently, check my file finding tips here.
Similarly, maybe you don’t want someone to find the files (documents, photos, videos) on your computer. In this case, I have 7 ideas on hiding files on Mac.
Another cool feature for organizing files in Finder is custom tags. I use them to tag documents I am using for work, photos from vacations, or fun pics. Once you organize the files, finding what you need is very easy.
Switching from Windows PC to Mac
I know how frustrating it is to switch from one platform to another. I often read on various forums funny stories where Mac users complain about Windows and PC users complaining about macOS. Here I want to point to some non-obvious things for non-Mac users and some very useful tips.
Apps on Macs have three circles: Close, Minimize, and Maximize. The first problem is they located on the wrong (left side). But this is not the most disturbing. If you click on the red circle with ‘x’, the does not get killed.
If it is a browser with multiple tabs, all tabs will be closed. But the browser (or any app) will still be loaded into the memory. It still uses RAM. You can tell if it’s still running by a little dot under the app icon in the Dock. Apple does so to reduce the start up time.
If you short on memory resources and you want to unload the app fully, you can do it from the Menu Bar by selecting Quit menu item or using keyboard combination Command + Q.
Delete button works as Backspace – it deletes a symbol in front of the cursor, not behind as you would expect. So, how do you delete the character after cursor position – use the Delete button while holding the fn key.
Trash is a name for Recycle Bin. You can delete a file or folder in the Finder by using Command+Delete. The deleted file will be moved to Trash. You can then restore the file from Trash or empty it.
One thing to note, emptying Trash in macOS is a blast. It may take an hour to empty a big Recycle Bin in PC, but clearing Trash is almost instantaneous.
Use Command key instead of Control
We all used to copy and paste a lot. You can use right-click to Copy and then Paste items in Finder or other apps. Or you can use the keyboard shortcuts, but with Command key: Command+C to copy and Command+V to paste. However, there is no Command+X in macOS.
This is another thing that took me long to learn. If you want to Cut and Paste, all you have to do is select the item, use Command+C to copy, and then Option(Alt)+Command+V to move.
Option (Alt) is a button used a lot to modify menu actions in macOS. For instance, if the app does not have Save As functionality, try using the Option key – the menu will change and enable Save As.
If you are having issues with your MacBook Pro and wondering where is the Task Manager, Apple has a nice app called Activity Monitor. Check how to use it to kill misbehaving apps here.
If you really want to run Windows apps on Mac without installing Windows, you can do it. For instance, before I learned how to use Preview to edit pics for my blogs, I used Paint. Macs also have a nice calculator app. Much better than the one in Windows.
Since Macs are not cheap, I strongly advise to spend a little time and make sure that you can find your MacBook if it gets lost. Or make sure that thief can’t get to your data: Track Stolen or Lost MacBook.
No, this is not a sci-fi novel; it’s a name for Apple’s backup tool. I strongly suggest making at least one backup copy. You will thank me one day. I can’t tell you how many times I had to restore my MacBooks when I did something irreparable.
I think that’s all I wanted to share with you. If you have any questions or missed anything here, send me an email at [email protected]
Now, when you know how to use MacBook, it’s time to learn how to maintain it, so it works for years and years until you get tired of it and splurge money on a new device:
While I tried to put as much information as possible I realize that it is hard cover everything in one post. So, if you serious about learning macOS and Mac basics, I suggest to check a Udemy course written by the founder of MacMost (one of the oldest sites about Macs).macOS Catalina Basics
Recently, we had covered some of the best ways to run Windows apps on macOS. The point was to overcome the lack of multi-platform software. This time, however, we have something different. We are going to talk about the ways to run Android apps on Mac. Yes, about using Instagram, playing Asphalt 8, or listening to Audible on Mac.
This time too, we have found multiple ways to run Android apps on macOS. Since different people have their different purposes, we’ve different methods too. In this article, you will find the best methods to run Android apps on Mac for normal users, gaming enthusiasts and developers. Shall we now check out the options?
Run Android Apps on Mac
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#1 BlueStacks — Best for Running Apps
BlueStacks (also called BlueStacks App Player) is the oldest and the most popular way of running Android apps for Mac. You will be able to run almost any Android app using this simple emulator. It’s the best choice if you want to run WhatsApp on your Mac or access your Instagram account. You will be able to run your Mac apps and Android apps side by side, which is great.
The BlueStacks interface is equally awesome as well. Apps are opened in individual tabs and you have access to Google Play Store. Depending on the specifications of your Mac, BlueStacks lets you handle multiple apps with ease. Despite the optimizations for running apps, BlueStacks offers a true Android feel as well. You can even make changes from the Settings section.
Installing and using BlueStacks is like a piece of cake! You have to download the free installer from the official site of BlueStacks and run it. If you have previously installed bluestack, do a clean uninstall, before you reinstall it. Once the installation is done, it may take a few seconds for starting up. Before you can install apps, however, you need to sign into a Google account. Altogether, we think it’s really easy to get started with BlueStacks.
As far as running apps is concerned, BlueStacks does the job very well. We were able to install and use apps like WhatsApp and Instagram without any hassle. We also tried playing some Alto’s Odyssey game.
- BlueStacks is really easy to set up
- It doesn’t involve long installation processes
- Performance is optimized for apps
- Not much suitable for games or development
Who Is It For
We think BlueStacks is the best option for those who need to use Android apps on Mac. It works fine when it comes to running apps like WhatsApp and Instagram. While the gaming performance is okay, we believe there are better options.
Check Out BlueStacks
#2 VirtualBox — Best for More Control
At the core, Android is also a Linux-based operating system. As it happens, you can install Android on Mac using a tool like VirtualBox. In order to do this, you have to create a virtual machine and install Android in it. Compared to the other options we’ve listed, this VirtualBox method offers better control over the Android device and the apps you install.
Once the installation is done, VirtualBox gives you a pure Android experience. This is because we’re installing the basic Android Operating System on the virtual machine. However, you should not expect an optimized environment for running apps or games. Chances are, there are some bugs too. On the bright side, you can deploy Android v8 Oreo in the virtual machine.
We would not say that Android on VirtualBox is easy to set up. There are some downsides that you will have to tolerate in the long run. In order to do this, you need to download Android x86, a project that ports the popular OS to PCs. Then, as we always do, you can create a virtual machine based on Linux, Android. Once the installation is done, you’ll have a full-screen Android experience.
While apps like WhatsApp and Instagram work fine, the performance isn’t the best. Apple mac air update. We would not suggest this method if you’re into gaming either.
- Offers more control over the virtual Android device
- You can run the latest version of Android
- It offers a fully-fledged Android OS experience
- Installation is somewhat complex
- Lacks performance optimization or customization options
- Chances of bugs
Who Is It For
Running Android on Mac using VirtualBox is best when you need better control over the process. As a virtual machine, you can customize performance too. However, in the long run, you will have to compromise overall performance and gaming controls.
Check Out VirtualBox and Android x86
#3 Nox Player Mac — Best Optimized for Gaming
If you want to play some graphic-rich Android games on Mac, Nox Player Mac is the best option in town. It’s an Android emulator that prioritizes speed and performance. There are also some features such as screen capture, on-screen button mapping etc. Once set up, Nox Player Mac offers a standard Android experience as well.
Nox Player Mac manages to run apps as well. However, we found that things aren’t as smooth as BlueStacks when it comes to app downloads and installs. But, the reason you should install Nox Player Mac should be to play high-quality games like PUBG on Mac.
To install Android apps on your Nox Player, you can either login with your Google account and use the built-in Google Play Store or if you don’t want to go through that hassle, you can download the apk using the browser and install it directly.
Nox Player Mac is the easiest to install. It doesn’t even ask you any questions. Just run the installer and in a few seconds, you will find the fully-fledged Android virtual tablet. It runs Android v4 KitKat — which is a downside when compared to others.
Nox Player Mac is perfect when it comes to handling popular apps. So, if you want to bring some common apps and high-end Android games to Mac, choose this program.
- Easy to set up and get started
- Optimized performance for games and apps
- Advanced features like keyboard mapping and location manipulation
- Not suitable for development
- Runs on Android KitKat
- Ships with some bloatware
Who Is It For
Nox Player Mac is the best option if you’re into high-end Android games. Even if you have a mid-end MacBook Air, it should offer the best performance. Also, thanks to the macro and mapping features. We’d also recommend the tool for running WhatsApp and all.
#4 Genymotion — Most Suitable for Developers
Genymotion is an innovative way to run Android apps on Mac — and on Cloud, for that matter. However, it is offering a bunch of different options. If you’re a professional, you can create a virtual Android device on a Mac or in the cloud. Let’s come down to the Desktop version, which is great. You will be able to create a big variety of Android configurations for testing.
For instance, you can change the Android version, device hardware etc. Genymotion is the best option to make sure that your app runs perfectly on all Android devices out there. However, if you are getting started as a developer, you can find standard solutions as well. Genymotion also offers some additional features, for instance, embed your Android app on the website and let people try the app.
There is no necessity that you should install Genymotion on your Mac. As we said earlier, it can be used as a cloud service as well. However, Genymotion Desktop is really easy to install. We used the Personal version of Genymotion as well. It’s more convenient if you just want to try some apps. On the other hand, if you like the fully-fledged Android development experience, Genymotion Desktop is the way to go.
Running apps on Genymotion isn’t as smooth as the other platform. This is because the emulator has a major focus on features that help developers.
- Awesome features for developers
- Multiple Android configurations
- Better Control over Running Apps
- Performance Optimization could be better
Who Is It For
Genymotion is the best solution for Android developers who want to run their Android apps on a number of virtual devices. It syncs so well with your coding process and customization needs. Thanks to the plug-in, you can integrate this program with Android Studio as well.
Check Out Genymotion (free trial, $136/year)
#5 Andy — a Smoother Workflow
Last but not the least, Andy is another way to run Android apps on Mac. However, compared to all emulators we’ve listed above, Andy offers a smoother workflow. The best part is that you’re getting a 100% full Android experience when you start up. You get built-in apps like Gmail, ES File Explorer and a lot more. It’s running on Android v4.0 KitKat, though.
Because Andy comes with Play Store access, you can easily download and install apps. There are some other important features as well. For instance, you can run the Android emulator in vertical and landscape modes as well. Also, there’s Key Mapping and Location manipulation. These features are awesome when you want a more optimized way to run Android apps.
Andy has one of the easiest installers we’ve seen. It’s an online installer, which would download files over an Internet connection. It needs to be noted that Andy downloads around 500MB of files, the largest on the list. Once the installation is done, Andy will show you the standard Android interface. You can use the mouse and keyboard for managing the virtual Android tablet.
As we said, Andy is the best when it comes to running apps. However, it would not be our go-to choice when it comes to playing Android games.
- Easy to Install and Manage
- Best optimization for apps
- Offers a standard Android experience
- Runs on KitKat
- It’s lagging a bit when other apps are running
Who Is It For
Andy offers the perfect level of optimization and a standard Android experience. We’d recommend this tool if you need a real-like virtual Android device on your Mac. Of course, there are some performance lags but you can avoid it by avoiding multitasking.
Check Out Andy (Free)
The best way to Run Android Apps on Mac?
So, these are the five different ways to run Android apps on Mac. In a way, you’re creating an Android device within macOS environment as well. As we said earlier, not a single solution is suitable for everyone. We have recommended Nox Player for Mac if you want to play games. On the other hand, if you just want to use apps smoothly, BlueStacks and Andy are the best options. And, for those upcoming developers out there, we will recommend Genymotion, which has a ton of features packed inside.
On this website, I have covered a ton of paid apps, and that’s because in general, paid apps tend to offer more when compared to free apps. However, that does not mean that there are no good free apps out there. In fact, there are a ton of them. That’s why it is going to be a long article as I am bringing a list of 35 best free apps you can get for your Mac right now. Some of the apps on this list are evergreen and you most probably already have them installed on your device. But some of them are entirely new. Well, at least they are new to me and that’s the beauty of it. No matter, how old an app is, it is new for somebody out there. That said, no matter how avid a Mac user you are, I can bet that you will find new Mac apps in this article that you have never heard of before. So, open your Macs and get ready to download these awesome free Mac apps.
Note: Be sure to read our must-have iPhone apps article to get the best apps for your iPhone in 2020.
Best Free Mac Apps You Should Install in 2020
While most of the apps in this list are free, some of them offer a paid option. That being said, when it comes to paid apps, I have only included those options that offer a generous free tier. I am using free versions of all the apps (that offer paid options) and find them suitable for most users. No app with a free trial or heavily restricted free tier has been included.
1. Audiobook Binder
While you can listen to books in MP3 format, I like the M4B format more as it supports chapters. M4B is also the native format that Apple Books support. If you want to keep your music library separate from the book library, this is the format to use. Audiobook Binder is an app that lets you convert MP3 files into M4B files. It also lets you bind multiple MP3 files into a single M4B file and converts those MP3 files into chapters. You can also add custom book cover and edit book’s metadata including name, author, and narrator. I have been using this app for the past year and a half to listen to public domain audiobooks and lectures and it has never failed me.
Best Video Editing App For Macbook Air Free
Password management is something people ignore. Since passwords are hard to remember and most third-party password managers charge a hefty monthly subscription fee, not everyone is aboard the strong and different password train. To those users, I suggest LastPass. LastPass offers a very generous free tier that allows you to use the software on two different machines. And if you want to use it on more, you can always use its web app that works everywhere. I have been using LastPass for the past two years to manage my passwords and I never had any problem.
Its apps are installed on my primary MacBook Pro (learn MacBook Pro tips and tricks) and my iPhone. Since it supports browser plugins and iPhone’s automatic password fill feature, I never have to type my password or remember them. All my passwords are secure, long, and use an alpha-numeric combination. If you are still using the same password everywhere or setting weak passwords, try out LastPass. It’s free for personal use and you have no excuses not to use it. Its one of the best free Mac apps that you can get.
While I love Safari and use it for most of my tasks, it’s not perfect and I have to turn to other browsers from time to time. My biggest problem with Safari is its nescient extension library. Safari is also slow to adopt the latest web technologies. I know Apple does this to keep browsing private and secure, but sometimes it causes hindrance in my work. For a long time, I was using Chrome for this work but I hated two things about it. First, Google Chrome is a resource hog and decreases battery life, causes overheating, and several other problems. Second and more importantly, I don’t like sharing my data with Google more than I already do. It was one of the reasons why I switch from Android to iOS several years back.
The solution is the Brave browser. It’s a browser that is built on the same Chromium engine that Google Chrome uses, so you are getting all the features and extension support. But, since the creators focus on privacy, your data is always secure. It brings an automatic tracking blocker and even blocks most of the annoying ads. Since it blocks the most harmful scripts, you get to enjoy a faster internet. Also, in my testing, it’s far better than Google Chrome at handling resources. While it’s not as good as Safari, that’s a trade-off that I am ready to make. If you are also looking for a good Chrome alternative, you should try using the Brave browser.
CopyClip is a Mac utility that stores everything you copy in a clipboard. Copy-and-paste is so integral to our work that we cannot even imagine a time when this feature was not available. Still, Mac’s clipboard is probably the most neglected feature in the macOS. Even after so decades, you still cannot hold more than one entry in your clipboard. Enter, CopyClip. It’s a clipboard manager that saves entries into the clipboard. You can use a simple keyboard shortcut to easily copy any item and paste them anywhere you want. CopyClip not only saves text input but also preserves images and documents. While I use “Paste” for my clipboard management as it offers more features, for a free app, CopyClip works exceptionally well.
Best Apps For Macbook Air 2015
For a long time, it was hard to recommend a good free text editor on Mac. All the good ones were paid, and the free ones were just not up to the mark. Well, after a long hiatus, BBEdit, one of the most exemplary text editors, is back on the Mac App Store. For the past 20 years, BBEdit has been the text editor to beat and now that it’s back on the App Store with a freemium model, you can use it for free. Only the advanced features of BBEdit are hidden behind a paywall and 90% of regular users will not need those features.
Whether you want to write a long blog post, edit snippets of code, design website or web apps, BBEdit is the text editor to use. The best thing about BBEdit is how fast it works. It opens text files with hundreds of thousands of words in seconds and never falters. In my years of using this app, I have not lost even a single line of text. It has a powerful search that lets you locate and find keywords across files. There’s no free text editor out there that can match its prowess.
The death of Google Reader placed a dark cloud over the future of RSS readers. But, if anything, RSS is showing a sign of resurgence in the past year or so. From the launch of acclaimed RSS reader app Reeder 4 to the rebirth of NetNewsWire, RSS readers are becoming popular again. And if you are looking to create a personal news feed, there’s no better app to do it with than NetNewsWire. Built on-top of free and open source reader named Evergreen, NetNewsWire is an excellent feed reader for Mac.
The app makes it easy to subscribe to RSS feeds and brings excellent search capabilities. It also brings a beautiful design and I adore its dark mode. It also supports online feed syncing services such as Feedbin. I still prefer Reeder 4 as it brings more features, but seeing how NetNewsWire is still young and free to use, I cannot fault it. If you are looking for a free RSS reader, you should try NetNewsWire.
7. DaVinci Resolve
While Macs come with a basic video editor for free (iMovie), anyone who is serious about video editing will have to go for the pro video editing apps. The problem with apps like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro is that they cost a lot. If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, and still want to use a full-fledged video editor, DaVinci Resolve is the best option for you. Even when I am writing this, I cannot believe that such a capable video editor is free to use.
The latest version of the software, DaVinci Resolve 16 combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects, and audio post-production all in one software tool. Color correction tools of DaVinci Resolve are better than most paid video editors including FCP and Premiere Pro. From custom timeline settings to facial recognition to keyframe editing, it brings all features that you require from a professional video editor. It is one of the best free Mac software that you can install. Free Mac apps don’t get better than this.
Folx is a powerful native download manager for Mac that not only works great but also looks cool. It features a true Mac-style interface and supports both direct and torrent downloads. The app also offers extensions for Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. The extensions help Folx in catching downloads and thus ensure that you are not using the crappy download manager of your browser. Folx can split downloads into multiple threads resulting in faster downloads and also support download pause and restart. The free version of the app is enough for most users. I was using it for years without any complaints. I only bought the paid version to support the developers. The extra features are nice to have but they have not drastically affected by usage.
macOS Mojave introduced dark mode to our favorite desktop operating system. The dark mode on macOS Mojave is not half-cooked as it is on windows. When you turn on the dark mode on your Mac, not only it turns the system UI but also the stock apps. Not only that, apps that support automatic dark mode also adhere to the same guideline. Once you turn it on, they automatically default to dark mode.
While that's great in most situation, I wish Apple included a way to create a whitelist for apps that are not functional in dark mode. The default Mail app and the Evernote app are a few examples of an app that still work best in light mode. That's where NightOwl comes in. It's a menu bar app that allows you to create a whitelist of apps that you don't want to use in dark mode. Not only that, but it also allows you to quickly switch between dark and light mode with a simple click at its icon. You can read more about the app in our article here. The app is completely free to download and use with a voluntary donation.
10. Unsplash Wallpapers
I want to start this article with an app which I have discovered just a couple of months back and have fallen in love. As its name suggests, Unsplash Wallpapers is a wallpaper app for Mac which gives you access to unlimited ultra-high resolution wallpapers for your Macs. One of the things that I love most about MacBooks is its display. Apple packs phenomenal displays on the Macs. Stop me if it’s just me, but I enjoy changing the wallpapers on a regular basis just because they look so damn beautiful on my Mac’s display.
Before I discovered Unsplash Wallpapers, it used to be a chore to change wallpapers. First, I had to find good wallpapers, then I had to download them, and only then I could use them. With Unsplash Wallpapers app, you can change the wallpaper just with one click. If you like a wallpaper, you can even download it. If you love wallpapers, you are going to love this free Mac app.
11. The Unarchiver
This is one of the first free Mac apps that I download whenever I move on to a new Mac. The app is basically the best unarchiving app you can get for your Mac, free or otherwise. The Unarchiver cannot only unarchive common formats such as Zip, RAR (including v5), 7-zip, Tar, Gzip, and Bzip2, but it can also open formats such as StuffIt, DiskDoubler, LZH, ARJ, ARC, ISO and BIN disc images, Windows.EXE installers and more. Basically, it’s a one-stop solution for all your unarchiving needs.
We all know that Macs bring a long battery life and while some of it has to do with Apple’s excellent hardware, most of it is because of how macOS efficiently manages battery. One of the things that macOS does to preserve the battery life on your computer is to put it to sleep whenever you don’t interact with your Mac for a set period of time. While this is really good, sometimes you need to keep your Mac running even if you are not interacting with it. One of the examples that come to mind is when you are downloading a large file. If your Mac falls asleep during the download, it will stop it, and depending on the software that you are using to download the file, you might have to restart the download from the beginning.
Amphetamine solves this problem by allowing users to keep their Macs awake even when they are not doing anything. The app is powerful and allows users to keep their Macs awake for how much ever long they want. Not only that, users can also set triggers to keep their Macs awake. For example, you can tell Amphetamine to not put your Mac to sleep whenever a certain app is running. Lastly, it allows you to easily access all these features as it lives right there in your Mac’s menu bar. It’s one of the most useful apps for Macs and I love it.
13. GIPHY Capture
Gifs are all the rage today. More and more users are creating and sharing their own gifs. And if you want to be one of them then this is the tool you need. GIPHY Capture is an app that lets you capture and create gifs. Once you launch the app it will create a translucent green window with a capture button at the bottom. All you need to do is to drop the window on top of the video you want to capture and click on the capture button. Once you are done with the recording, click on the record button again to stop the recording. It is probably the easiest way to create gifs on your Mac.
Spectacle is one of the apps that I install instantly on a new Mac. Macs are good at many things but one thing that still eludes it is a good window management feature. Apple has not solved the window management problem in the latest macOS Catalina so I guess, we have to wait for one more year. In fact, the window management problem has become even worse in macOS Catalina in my opinion. If you are also fed up of Apple's native approach towards window management, you should Install Spectacle.
This is a simple menu bar app that allows you to easily resize and place windows with keyboard commands. I can easily set a window to either half of the display both vertically and horizontally, make it go full screen, snap it to the center, and more. Once you install this app, your window management workflow will become ten times faster.
ImageOptim is one of the most used free Mac apps on my MacBook Pro. In my line of work, I have to attach a ton of screenshots (like in this article). And before I upload any picture on my website, I pass it through ImageOptim. The app deletes all the unnecessary metadata such as GPS position and camera's serial number and compresses the image. This allows me to upload the image on the web without any privacy hazards and ensures that the file sizes are low.
The app is pretty easy to use. You just drag and drop images into its window and then click on the button at the bottom-right corner. If you share a ton of images on the web (whether on your blog or social media websites like Twitter and Facebook), it will be good for you to pass it through ImageOptim first. I have used paid image compression apps but nothing has been as good and as easy to use as ImageOptim.
16. Alfred 4
Alfred is an all-purpose tool for your Mac which can boost your productivity ten folds if you learn how to use it. Of course, there’s a learning curve to this app, but if you invest in it, it will pay you back. Alfred allows you to quickly launch apps, use text expansion snippets, search on the Mac and web, use hotkeys and keywords, and much more. Alfred used to be a paid app, but the developers were kind enough to release the app for free. There are add-on power packs that you can buy, to use cool features like Alfred workflows. But, for most normal users, the free app itself is enough to boost their productivity.
Pocket is a popular read it later service which allows you to save articles offline so that you can read them later. I mostly browse for articles on my Mac and whenever I find something that I would want to read, I just save it in Pocket. Pocket has an excellent Safari extension that allows me to save articles and read them later. Since Pocket syncs across devices, all my saved articles are automatically synced to my iPhone where I can read them at my will. Recently, I have also started using Pocket as a research tool. Since Pocket allows me to organize saved articles using tags, I just tag the items I am using for research so that I can find them easily later.
Spark is my most favorite free app on Mac. For those who don’t know, Spark is an email client for Mac. I love spark because it intelligently categorizes all the emails that I receive into different categories, giving me access to the most important emails first. It also has a very robust set of features. I can easily snooze, archive, delete, and tag emails. I also love the fact that it allows me easily search for emails using natural language search. I can also search for emails based on attachments, and more. Lastly, Spark also has apps for both iOS and watchOS so no matter which device I am on, I can user Sparks to get through all my emails.
GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program is an open source photo editor for Mac which packs so many features that you won’t be able to discover all of them in your lifetime. It is basically Photoshop but free. You can use GIMP to perform any kind of image manipulation that you can think of. That said, since it packs so many features, GIMP also has a pretty steep learning curve. Also, being a free an open-source project, its user interface is not very intuitive and feels archaic. That’s why I recommend GIMP only to those users who need a robust photo editing software but cannot afford to buy one.
As per the description of the app on its website, 'DarkTable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. A virtual light-table and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable light-table, and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them'.
Basically, it is super powerful photo editing app for Mac that allows you to use pro-level photo editing features for free. You are required to learn the app as it has a steep learning curve but once you get used to it, you won't go back to even the best-paid photo editing apps on the market. This one is definitely one of the free Mac apps that you can download in 2019.
Simplenote is one of the best designed free Mac apps you can find. As its name suggests, Simplenote is an easy note taking app which allows you to easily jot down notes. What I love about this app is that even though it is completely free, your notes are synced across devices. Apart from its online sync features, I am also a fan of its clean user interface. Simplenote is also a really good app for someone who is looking for a clean app to write long-form content. You can use tags to organize notes easily and search for them using either their title, content, or tags. I have been using this app for quite a few years and I still don’t understand how it’s free. If you love writing, you will love Simplenote.
Itsycal is an open source small menu bar calendar application for Mac. If you like Fantastical 2 for Mac, but hate that it’s priced so high, Itsycal is for you. Although Itsycal is nowhere as powerful as Fantastical 2, it brings all the basic features that you would want from a menu bar based calendar app. It shows you month view of your calendar, your upcoming events, and also allows you to create or delete events. I also love the fact that I can configure Itsycal to show not only the date but also the month and the day in the menu bar icon itself. It’s a good menu bar application and a must have for anyone who schedules everything on their calendar.
Audacity is one of those free Mac apps that is even better than most of the paid apps out there. For those who don’t know, Audacity is an audio editor app for your Mac (available for Windows PC too). If you are someone who deals with a ton of audio, you must have already heard about this software. If you have not, you probably don’t need it. Still, it’s such a good app that I couldn’t keep it away from the list. Just remember that if you ever need to edit an audio file to make it better, Audacity is the tool to do it.
Useful Apps For Macbook Air Free
Lightworks is a full-fledged video editing app which gives you access to all the tools that you will need to get your video editing on. To be fair, Lightworks also sell a Pro version of the app, however, the free version is powerful enough to handle most of the tasks. Whether you are a budding YouTuber or someone who just want to give an edge to their homemade videos, Lightworks is the right tool for you. What I love most about this app is that the website gives you ample tutorial videos to get you started. If by any chance you were looking for a free video editing software, look no further and download Lightworks.
HiddenMe is a small menu bar app which comes in very handy at times when you want to show a clean desktop without having to organize your stuff. The app lives in your menu bar and allows you to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s hiding everything on your desktop. With a click of the button, everything that’s on your desktop is hidden, giving you access to a clean desktop. I constantly use this app whenever I am giving a presentation or taking screenshots of my desktop for an article. This small application has saved me from embarrassing myself a number of times and it can do that for you too.
Do you know that whenever you delete an app on your Mac, it leaves behind a ton of residual files which does nothing but eating up storage on your Mac? Well, it’s true and if you install and uninstall a ton of apps, you might have lost gigabytes of storage already. While there’s another app on this list which (Onyx) which can help you recover that storage, AppCleaner is an app which makes sure that the apps you delete don’t leave any residual files. Just launch the app and drag and drop the apps that you want to uninstall and it will take care of the rest. It is a must-have utility tool for any Mac user who wants to keep their Mac clean.
LiteIcon is the app from the same developers who made the AppCleaner. It is a simple app which allows you to change your system icons quickly and easily. Simply drag an icon onto the one you want to change, and click the Apply Changes button. That's all you need to do. If you want your older icon back, just drag out the new icon. If you like to customize how your icons look on Mac, try out LiteIcon.
I have written about GrandPerspective a couple of times on this website and you might be familiar with it by now. For those who are new to our website, it’s an app which allows you to visualize storage on your Mac. Using GrandPerspective you can easily find out which files are using how much storage and find and delete the files which are not necessary. GrandPerspective is a very nice app for anyone who doesn’t have any idea as to where all his/her Mac’s storage went.
Manuscript is a free Mac writing app for students which makes writing school assignments including dissertation easier. Manuscript is a powerful writing app which allows students to complete their assignments right from the planning stage to completing it. It lets students easily insert citations, figures, tables, mathematical equations, and more. The app also allows for importation of citations from various tools including Mendeley, Zotero, Papers 3, Bookends, and EndNote. If you are a student who is looking for a good writing app, you don’t have to look any farther than Manuscript.
IINA is an open-source video player for your Mac which offers one of the best amalgamations of features and user interface. The app looks extremely beautiful and supports all the modern features including force touch, picture-in-picture, and even offers Touch-bar controls for the latest MacBook Pros. IINA also supports almost all the video formats that you can think of, including the ability to play even GIFs. The app also comes with theming capabilities allowing you to use either light or dark themes. I have discovered this app just a few weeks back and I am already in love with it. If you consume a ton of media on your MacBook Pro, this is the right app for you.
OnyX is your one-stop solution for all your Mac’s maintenance needs. In fact, I cannot describe the app better and more succinctly than what’s written on its website. OnyX is a multifunction utility that you can use to verify the structure of the system files, to run miscellaneous maintenance and cleaning tasks, to configure parameters in the Finder, Dock, Safari, and some of Apple's applications, to delete caches, to remove certain problematic folders and files, to rebuild various databases and indexes, and more. However, do remember that it is an advanced tool and hence before you do anything, make sure that you get familiar with the app as you don’t want to delete files which can corrupt your entire system.
Best Free Apps For Macbook Air M1
The last app on our list the SpotMenu app which is a nifty little menu bar application. The app basically allows you to control your iTunes and Spotify music player from the menu bar giving you access to controls such as play, pause, forward, and rewind. It’s a pretty basic application, however, it does come in handy. One thing that I like about the app is that it shows the name of the song that is currently playing right on your Mac’s menu bar. When you click on the icon, the drop-down window which harbors all the features also showcase the album art of the song that you are playing.
33. White Noise Lite
White Noise Lite is an app that helps you sleep better. If you are a light sleeper who wakes up multiple times in the night without any apparent reason then this app can help you sleep better. It brings fifty different HD quality ambient environment noises to help you sleep. The app brings a beautiful cover flow design which lets you easily swipe between cards to select different tasks. Although the app markets itself as a sleep enhancer, I mostly use to provide background music when I am working as it helps me concentrate. You should download this app right now and see if it helps you sleep better or work better. Whatever the result, you will be better off with this one in your arsenal.
Install:White Noise Lite
Shazam is an app that needs no introduction. The app helps you discover songs by identifying whatever song is playing in the background. I personally use Shazam more as a tool to keep the list of songs that I have discovered. Suppose I am listening to a song and YouTube and want to save it. I just click on the menu bar icon of Shazam and it identifies the song and saves it on the list. I don't have to write it down anywhere. Later I can see the list and add to my Apple Music Playlist at my convenience. Shazam is a great app for discovering and keeping track of music that you like.
You know how when you accidentally yank headphones out of your iPhone, the music suddenly stops, well, Muzzy brings that functionality to your Mac. The app also does a lot of other things like allowing users to play, pause, and change the music from its menu bar app, integrates with Last.fm, shows songs lyrics, and more. However, I don’t care for any other features and I just use this app to stop music whenever I accidentally yank my headphones out. Sadly, the app only works if you are playing music through iTunes.
Best Free macOS Apps: Final Thoughts
I hope that you found some apps which are useful to you. Do let me know which of these were your favorite and which ones you discovered. Also, if you know free apps that deserve to be on the list but aren’t, drop their names in the comments section. That’s all I have for this article. If you liked this article, share this on your social media profiles because we need your help to get the word out. As always, drop your opinions and suggestions in the comments section down below. We love to hear from our readers and your comments are always welcome.