20 Free and Useful Mac Apps

May 8th, 2011 by Tony de Jesus

If you’ve just bought a new Mac and don’t know what to install, this article is for you. If you are looking for alternatives to some applications you’re using in your Mac, the following list may help you too.

I’ve been a Mac user for 6 years. During this time, I’ve installed and uninstalled a lot of applications in order to test its features and value. Some applications were only installed and I’ve never used them again. Others (a very small group) are used by me every single day. I’ve compiled a clean list of 20 useful free Mac applications that you can download and start using today. These apps include some categories and can be used by anybody although the entire list is dedicated to developers.

Adium's LogoAdium

Adium is a free and open source instant messaging application for Mac OS X, written using Cocoa API. It allows you to connect to any number of messaging accounts on any combination of supported messaging services like AIM, MSN, Yahoo and more.



AppCleanerAppCleaner icon

AppCleaner is a small application which allows you to uninstall apps. Simply drag and drop an application onto the AppCleaner window. It will search for all related files and you can delete them by clicking the delete button.


Appfresh iconAppFresh

AppFresh is an application that helps you to keep all applications, widgets, preference panes and application plugins installed on your Mac up to date. All from one place, easy to use and fully integrated into Mac OS X.



CyberduckCyberduck icon

Cyberduck is an open source FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Cloud Files and Amazon S3 browser for Mac. It features an easy to use interface, allows for the efficient browsing of large folder structures as well as quickly previewing files with Quick Look.


Dropbox iconDropbox

Dropbox is an appplication that syncs your files online and across your computers. Put your files into your Dropbox on one computer, and they’ll be instantly available on any of your other computers that you’ve installed Dropbox on (Windows, Mac, and Linux too!).



Google NotifierGoogle Notifier icon

Google Notifier is an application that shows you alerts in your menu bar, so you can see when you have new Gmail messages or upcoming Google Calendar events without having to open a web browser.


Growl iconGrowl

Growl is a notification system for Mac. It allows applications that support Growl to send you notifications. It offers you complete control over which notifications are shown and how they are displayed because you can easily turn notifications (specific ones or all of them) off.



iStat ProiStat Pro icon

iStat Pro is a highly configurable widget that lets you monitor every aspect of your Mac, including CPU, memory, disks, network, battery, temperatures, fans, load & uptime and processes.


jCodeCollector iconjCodeCollector

jCodeCollector is a multiplatform application that helps you to manage your code snippets. It’s written in Java and it’s available for Mac OS X, Windows XP/Vista/7 and Linux. It allows you to store, tag, comment your snippets and find quickly the code you need.




MAMP stands for: Macintosh, Apache, Mysql and PHP. With just a few mouse-clicks, you can install Apache, PHP and MySQL for Mac OS X. MAMP installs a local server environment in a matter of seconds on your Mac OS X computer, be it PowerBook or iMac.


OnyX iconOnyX

OnyX is a utility which allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, QuickTime, Safari, iTunes, Spotlight and many Apple’s applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders and more.


OpenOfficeOpenOffice icon

OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.


Perian iconPerian

Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.



QuicksilverQuicksilver icon

Quicksilver is a light, fast and free Mac OS X application that gives you the power to control your Mac with keystrokes alone. Want to start the Mail application? Just type “mail” and hit return. Too much typing? Just type “m” and select Mail from the list of results.


Remote Desktop Connection iconRemote Desktop Connection

Remote Desktop Connection is an application that allows you to quickly yet securely connect your Macintosh computer to a Windows-based computer and work with its files, applications, devices and networks.


SmultronSmultron icon

Smultron is a text editor designed to be easy and intuitive for both beginners and advanced users. Some of its features are line numbers, syntax colouring for many different languages, functions list, support for text encodings, snippets, HTML preview, split window, multi-document find and replace with regular expressions, possibility to show invisible characters, tabs and more.


unrarx iconUnrarX

UnRarX is a Mac OS X Cocoa application that allows you to expand rar archives and restore corrupted or missing archives using par2.



uTorrentuTorrent icon

uTorrent is a BitTorrent client designed to use minimal computer resources while offering functionality comparable to other larger BitTorrent clients. To be honest, I don’t know what this program does. I think it was already installed on my Mac when I bought it. It’s the first time that I hear about BitTorrent 😉 .



VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.



YemuZipYemuZip icon

YemuZip is an easy-to-use application for making zip files. Just drag, drop, give a name to your zip file and you’re done. Mac’s built-in compress function makes zip files that contain Mac specific information that, when extracted on a PC, looks like garbage. YemuZip lets you choose between a PC-friendly format and a Mac format that preserve all the Mac-specific metadata.


Help me find more!

These are some free applications that I use everyday and I consider very useful. There are a lot of websites that list +100 free applications for Mac, but most of them are rarely used or even used only once: when installed for testing. I’ve tried to create a “clean” list useful for everyone (especially developers). However, if you know any free application that can be used everyday, be sure to leave its link so we can all check it out.



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