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20 Best Productivity Apps for Mac You Need in 2021

If you’re looking for some of the best productivity apps for Mac, you’re in the right place! I have 20 excellent options for you to choose from.

Each of these apps does a different thing, and each can be useful to you in many different ways. I, for instance, use and love all of them, and I couldn’t recommend them more!

At the same time, I’ll spare you the obvious, usual suspects like Dropbox, Evernote, Zoom, Slack, Notion, and the likes. Everyone knows those. You probably didn’t come here to read about them.

best productivity apps for Mac
Best productivity apps for Mac: Alfred

Alfred being the no. 1 on this list is no accident. This app is basically the definition of a productivity app for Mac.

At the same time, it’s kind of difficult to explain everything it does in just a couple of paragraphs.

First, the interface:

 

Alfred takes a page out of Mac’s native spotlight search and provides you with a similar-looking input bar.

alfred search

You can call onto that search bar by hitting Opt+Space, and then tell Alfred what you want to do via keyboard input. Pretty much anything is possible – from simple admin tasks to complex automations.

Some of the possibilities:

  • launching apps,
  • finding files/directories,
  • searching the web,
  • doing simple calculations (e.g. “4*2+5”),
  • checking spelling and word definitions,
  • system commands (e.g., “shut down”),
  • clipboard history.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Alfred can also be extended with custom workflows to perform more complex operations on files/data/web searches and more.

For example, I like to use it to do currency conversions on the fly while fetching today’s rates from the web:

alfed currency calculation

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free + there’s Alfred Powerpack unlocking even more features.

1Password

Best productivity apps for Mac: 1Password

Why would you force yourself to remember all your passwords if you don’t have to?

This is where 1Password comes into play. It’s one of the leading password managers out there and the leading such tool for Mac.

 

1Password will:

  • store all your passwords in a safe place (in an encrypted form),
  • auto-fill passwords on websites it recognizes,
  • generate secure passwords for new sites,
  • store other sensitive data for you – like credit cards, file attachments, and more.

Plus, you can use 1Password on multiple devices, with everything synced between them.

One more original feature that 1Password has is the Watchtower. It monitors any publicized password breaches and notifies you when a password change is needed.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: 14-day free trial; $2.99 a month after that.

πŸ‘‰ Check this out to learn about other viable 1Password alternatives.

Backblaze

Backblaze

Backblaze is the leader among cloud backup services.

What it actually does is remarkably easy to explain. It simply takes all your local files and backs them up to the cloud. And I really do mean all your files – there are no limits on the amount of data you can have. All that for a low price.

 

Why is this among our best productivity apps for Mac? Well, Backblaze’s own copy on their website sums this up nicely:

Get peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely

So, yeah, it helps you not to lose sleep over probable hard drive failures.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: 15-day free trial; $6 a month after that (unlimited space).

πŸ‘‰ Here are more cloud backup services you can consider as an alternative.

BetterTouchTool

Best productivity apps for Mac: BetterTouchTool

BTT takes your standard Mac gestures and keyboard shortcuts and puts them on steroids, making it a key selection among the best productivity apps for Mac.

 

Here are some of the things it can do:

  • customize window snapping and resizing (like maximizing one app to the left and another to the right),
  • control the Mac touch bar,
  • trigger other apps,
  • capture screenshots and edit them,
  • run native Mac features off keyboard shortcuts,
  • navigate between desktops,
  • interactions between apps,
  • and much more.

BTT can hook to various events that originate from the user. These are things like hitting a keyboard shortcut, doing a gesture on the trackpad, or responding to a mouse gesture.

BetterTouchTool demo

⚑ Pro tip: Set keyboard shortcuts for maximizing windows to the left and right halves of the screen. That way, you can quickly set a nice side-by-side view for productivity.

⚑ Pro tip 2: Tell BTT to do a Google search with selected text on a four-finger swipe down. This saves you a handful of clicks and copy-pasting when doing it manually.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: BTT is a premium app. However, a free edition called BetterSnapTool is available in the Mac App Store.

aText

Best productivity apps for Mac: aText

This one is the ultimate “text expanding” tool for Mac and therefore one of the best productivity apps for Mac.

If you’re not familiar with text expanding, it’s basically about monitoring what you type on your keyboard and then replacing specific shortened sequences/phrases with longer phrases or even whole paragraphs.

 

Let me give you a couple of examples. Here are the keywords and the phrases you can expand them to:

  • ddate – current date, like 2021.03.30,
  • nnow – current timestamp, like 22 Mar 2021 16:53,
  • tel; – your phone number – if you tend to mess it up a lot,
  • [email protected]@ – your email address,
  • company/product/tool names, like WPP expanding to WordPress.

You can use aText to prevent typos on difficult words too. For example, expand entrr to entrepreneur. The tool can also be useful for fixing common contractions. For example, expanding Im to I'm, youre to you're, and so on.

Check out this demo for a more visual view of how aText works:

⚑ Pro tip: Need dummy text often? Expand loremm to an entire “Lorem ipsum” paragraph.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: 21-day free trial available. After that, the unrestricted version of the app is only $4.99.

Bartender

Suffering from a too-huge Mac menu bar?

Bartender can help. It will hide some of the apps that you interact with less frequently or highlight the more important ones.

This will give your Mac an overall cleaner look with fewer distractions in the menu bar.

bartender demo

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free trial available; the full tool is $15.

Rocket

Rocket calls itself the best emoji app for Mac, and it’s hard to disagree with that. It truly is brilliant if you’re an emoji aficionado. 🧐

Using it is as straightforward as possible. The app monitors all inputs coming from your keyboard and displays a popup as soon as you start typing an emoji like :thumbsup (πŸ‘). You can pick a specific emoji from the box that pops up, or you can finish typing and hit enter.

rocket demo

The catalog isn’t missing any of the popular emojis. πŸΎπŸ’°πŸ˜…

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free + there’s a pro extension allowing you to also use GIFs, custom symbols, and other shortcuts.

Lightshot

Best productivity apps for mac: Lightshot

If you find yourself taking screenshots a lot, Lightshot will make the task much more efficient for you, and it certainly should be in your toolbox of the best productivity apps for Mac.

The usage of this app is very simple. It hooks to one of your Mac’s native keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots and adds another layer of control over what is captured.

 
  • You can select the exact part of the screen that you want to capture
  • Annotate your screenshots
  • Add arrows, underlines, and other elements to them
  • Save the screenshot to your local drive or upload to the cloud for free – you get a sharable link immediately

⚑ Pro tip: Don’t use this tool for capturing sensitive data if you then want to upload them to the cloud. Dropbox is safer for things like that.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free

You may also be interested in:

Lungo

Best productivity apps for mac: Lungo

Here’s one well-known problem with the macOS system: no one really knows what the go-to-sleep settings are by default – or where to change them.

As a result, your Mac will go to sleep at the exact moment you don’t want it to – like when you’re rendering a video or compiling some source code.

 

Lungo prevents that. It will, so to speak, caffeinate your Mac so that it doesn’t fall asleep.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: available on the Mac App Store for around $2.99.

NightOwl

Best productivity apps for mac: Nightowl

I’m not really sure why, but “everything dark mode” is gaining a lot of buzz lately.

We do now have a dark mode on Mac as well. However, while you can enable/disable it whenever you wish, the controls for that are a bit hidden.

 

NightOwl makes switching between light and dark modes a lot simpler. Actually, it’s one-click simple. Plus, there’s a cool hoot sound accompanying the switch. πŸ¦‰

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free; donations are accepted.

Numi

Numi

Numi is a calculator app on steroids.

The great part is that instead of giving you a huge, advanced calculator interface, Numi goes the complete opposite way and simplifies things as much as possible.

 

Numi lets you use natural language when doing calculations. For instance, it will understand inputs such as:

  • $70 as a % on $20
  • 5% of what is 6 USD
  • 30 cubic inches in ccm

Or even a sequence of inputs like:

Cost: $20 + 56 EUR Discounted: prev - 5% discount

Or:

Line 1: $10 Line 2: $20 Result: average

Then, there are also variables:

v = $20 v2 = 5% v times 7 - v2 v + $10

Doing CSS work? No problem, Numi will tell you things like:

  • 12 pt in px
  • 1 inch in px

Truly incredible and rightfully among the best productivity apps for Mac! Now the best part:

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free

HazeOver

Best productivity apps for mac: HazeOver

HazeOver is going to be a great app for those of you who have (too)large displays and feel that there’s too much going on on the screen to be able to focus on the task at hand effectively.

The app simply takes everything that’s in the background – everything that’s not the current app’s active window – and darkens it.

 

You can customize the degree of the haze-over effect and also set app exceptions.

Here’s a demo:

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free trial; the full version can be bought from the Mac App Store for $4.99.

Tyke

Best productivity apps for mac: Tyke

Tyke is probably the simplest, most straightforward note-taking app available for Mac.

There really is nothing more to it than an icon in the Mac menu bar and this box for writing down your note:

 

The app is great if you need a space for temporary notes that you don’t want to be stored anywhere. As soon as you close the app, the notes go away, so keep that in mind!

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free

iA Writer

Best productivity apps for mac: iA Writer

This is my favorite writing app for Mac. It’s really minimal, yet it has all the key features you might ever need for writing.

The interface is ultra-clean and helps you focus on individual paragraphs. There are no sidebars and/or top-bar text controls, so nothing distracts you from the task at hand.

 

If you like to write using Markdown, you’ll be happy to know that iA Writer supports it as well.

You can export your work as PDF, HTML, or Word document. There’s also a side-by-side PDF preview if you want to make sure your document will look a-okay.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: 14-day free trial; $29.99 after that (available in the Mac App Store).

Grammarly

Best productivity apps for mac: Grammarly

Speaking of writing, Grammarly should be the main tool in any writer’s first-aid kit! Okay, maybe only second to coffee.

Grammarly calls itself a writing assistant. It analyzes your text (English) and suggests changes to make it better – typo-free, more readable, and clearer overall.

 

The tool is AI-powered, which is a trendy thing to say nowadays.

Grammarly will help you with emails, documents, blog and social media posts, basically anything where written content is the main vehicle.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free + pro version with more advanced features starting at $11.66 a month.

Timing

Best productivity apps for mac: Timing

Timing is one of the most functional time tracking apps for Mac. The cool part is that it does its magic without you having to interact with it in any way – as in, there are no trackers to enable by hand.

Timing works quietly in the background and tracks all your interactions with other apps throughout the day.

 

Then, the next day, it gives you a detailed report as to where you spent your time – listing apps that you used most frequently, websites you visited, plus other interesting tidbits of information.

This sort of overview can be a truly eye-opening thing for discovering what you really spend your time on at work.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: 14-day free trial; after that, the full version is $6 per month.

F.lux

F.lux is a life-changing app. I should have probably put it higher on this list.

Anyway, I hope I got your attention!

The idea behind F.lux is simple. It makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day. The most significant difference is visible in the evenings. It’s when F.lux makes the colors warm by limiting the amount of blue light getting through.

Best productivity apps for Mac: flux

This, in result, makes your eyes less tired and even helps you sleep at night. Don’t believe me? Read about blue light and its impact on our circadian rhythm.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free

Newton

Best productivity apps for mac: Newton

I guess there’s really no single best email app overall.

Everyone has their personal preferences, and different features are important to different people.

That is all okay. But you’re wrong. Here’s why Newton is the best:

 

Okay, joking. But hear me out:

  • Newton is super clean. There’s just your inbox in the center and no sidebars distracting you.
  • The single email view is similarly distraction-free.
  • It has integrated read receipts – find out if people read your email.
  • There’s the Recap feature – letting you revisit unresolved conversations from a couple of days back.
  • It helps you clear unwanted emails.
  • Snooze email conversations for later.
  • Set emails to be sent later.
  • True dark mode!

πŸ’΅ Pricing: 14-day free trial; $49.99 annually after that.

MindNode

Best productivity apps for mac: MindNode

Mind mapping is a cool concept overall. It helps you think in a nonlinear way, capture your thoughts, and then organize them neatly. It’s great for brainstorming and proves to be a much more effective method than simply writing things down in a Word doc.

If you’re not familiar with the concept itself, read this.

 

MindNode is one of the best mind mapping apps for Mac – and there’s quite a lot of those on the market.

This tool has a clear user interface, it’s intuitive, and also quite attractive-looking. Using it is a great experience overall.

In the end, if you want to give mind mapping a try, do it with MindNode.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free + there’s MindNode Plus with more features for $19.99 annually.

ImageOptim

Best productivity apps for mac: ImageOptim

ImageOptim is a minimal, no-nonsense app for optimizing images. As in, it makes your images take up less space on the hard drive without any loss of quality.

It works with drag-and-drop and does its magic by removing bloated metadata and running optimization algorithms on the image itself.

 

Why is that among the best productivity apps for Mac? ImageOptim is particularly handy when you use it before uploading images to your websites. Smaller images will take less time to upload and less time to be then delivered to the visitor. Overall, everyone wins.

πŸ’΅ Pricing: free

πŸ‘‰ Learn more about image optimization for the web in this ultimate guide.

What’s your favorite productivity app for Mac?

Found your new favorite productivity app for Mac among this selection? Or maybe there’s an app we’ve missed that you totally can’t live without? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%:

 

Layout and presentation by Chris Fitzgerald and Karol K.

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