20 Essential Free Mac Apps for New Users

If you’re new to macOS, you might be wondering which apps will help you get the most out of your shiny new Mac without dipping into your wallet.

The good news? There’s a vast universe of free apps out there, perfectly suited for beginners looking to enhance their Mac experience right from the start. Navigating this landscape can seem daunting at first, but that’s where we come in.

We’ve curated a list of 20 essential free apps, covering everything from productivity boosters to security enhancers. These picks are all about making your Mac journey smoother, more efficient, and enjoyable without costing you a dime. Let’s explore these free gems that are just waiting to make your Mac life better.

Content Creation & Productivity

Microsoft To Do
microsoft To Do

Microsoft To Do is an intuitive app that helps you keep track of daily tasks and notes. With cloud synchronization, your lists are always updated across all devices.

Alternatives: Workflowy, Google Tasks, and Any.do.

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10 Best Free Note Taking Apps

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Google Docs
google docs

Google Docs offers a powerful, cloud-based word processing tool. Its real-time collaboration feature makes it ideal for team projects and personal note-taking.

Alternatives: ONLYOFFICE, CryptPad, Apache OpenOffice, and Pages.

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How to Use ChatGPT in Google Docs

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For those seeking a comprehensive office suite, LibreOffice includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, rivaling paid alternatives.

Alternatives: WPS Office, and SoftMaker FreeOffice.

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How LibreOffice Writer Streamlines Your Coursework Writing Process

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Evernote stands out for its ability to organize notes, images, and clips from the web into a searchable database, enhancing research and project management.

Alternatives: Obsidian, Standard Notes, and Simplenote.


Slack revolutionizes team communication, offering instant messaging, file sharing, and integration with numerous productivity apps, essential for remote work and collaboration.

Alternatives: Google Chat, Chanty, and Microsoft Teams.

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15 Useful Slack Tips You Should Know

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Internet & Communication

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a fast, privacy-focused web browser with robust customization options, making it a great alternative to Safari for those concerned about privacy and online tracking.

Alternatives: Brave, Opera, and Chrome.

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mozilla thunderbird

Also developed by Mozilla, Thunderbird is a powerful and customizable email client with support for multiple accounts, making managing emails simpler and more efficient.

Alternatives: Spark, Apple Mail, Canary Mail, and Mailspring.


Skype is a familiar and user-friendly app for video calls, voice calls, and instant messaging, perfect for both personal and professional communication.

Alternatives: Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.

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WhatsApp Desktop
whatsapp desktop

Stay connected with friends and family around the globe with WhatsApp Desktop, offering seamless synchronization with your mobile device’s WhatsApp account.

Alternatives: Telegram, Viber, and Signal.

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Media & Entertainment

VLC Media Player
vlc media player

VLC is a versatile media player that supports almost any video format, eliminating the need for multiple players or codecs.

Alternatives: Elmedia Player, MPV, and IINA.

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Spotify offers a vast library of songs and podcasts with its free tier, making it easy to discover new music and manage playlists.

Alternatives: Tidal, YouTube Music, SoundCloud, and Google Play Music.


GIMP is a powerful, open-source photo editing software that rivals paid options, offering extensive tools for image manipulation and creation.

Alternatives: Inkscape, Paintbrush, and Seashore.

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Convert videos from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs with HandBrake, simplifying media management and sharing.

Alternatives: FFmpeg, MPEG Streamclip, and MacX DVD Ripper.

Security & Privacy

Avast Security for Mac

Protect your Mac from malware, viruses, and other threats with Avast Security, offering real-time protection and regular updates.

Alternatives: AVG AntiVirus, Avira Free Antivirus, and Malwarebytes.

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Top 5 Antivirus Software for Mac (2023)

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LastPass securely stores and manages your passwords, with autofill options for online forms to simplify your digital life.

Alternatives: Bitwarden, Dashlane, and KeePass.

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nord VPN

NordVPN provides a secure and private internet experience, encrypting your online activity and bypassing geographical restrictions on content.

Alternatives: VPN Plus, ProtonVPN, and UrbanVPN.

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Utility & Tools


Alfred boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, and text expansion, acting as a command center for your Mac.

Alternatives: Quicksilver, and LaunchBar


Keep your Mac in top condition with OnyX, a multifunction utility for maintenance, optimization, and personalization of macOS.

Alternatives: CCleaner, CleanMyMac X, and EtreCheck.


Spectacle allows you to easily organize and control windows using customizable keyboard shortcuts, enhancing multitasking and screen real estate management.

Alternatives: Rectangle, and Magnet.