Every time I get a new MacBook, I set it up from scratch. No scripts, no Time Machine, just a fresh start. That being said, I do have a slew of apps that are an immediate download for me. Here are my absolute must-have Mac apps.
Window management: Magnet
There are number of window management apps out there, but Magnet has consistently been my favorite after trying some others. I refuse to use a machine without a decent window management system.
Default browser: Arc
I am a browser connoisseur, but Arc has actually made it to default status for me and has stayed. The ability to switch profiles with a swipe, the little previews windows, side-by-side tabs. This thing isn’t going anywhere for me.
Privacy-focused browser: Mullvad
One of the newer entrants to the privacy-focused browser realm (Brave, Librewolf, Tor, etc.) is from Mullvad. Mullvad is known for their really terrific VPN and their complete dedication to privacy.
Password management: 1Password
After grabbing my browser, I download my password manager of choice so that I can log in to things. I switched to 1Password for the amazing family sharing, terminal integration (SSH key management), and the overall polished user experience.
Spotlight alternative: Raycast
I previously used (and was an avid fan) of Alfred. However, Raycast has taken the cake for me from a delight perspective. Just like with Arc browser, there are a plethora of features I can’t live without now. My favorite is the “my schedule” command that shows me upcoming meetings (I can even join the Zoom call).
Though iTerm is a great terminal replacement, there are many other exciting competitors. At this point, I’m with iTerm out of habit. I’m actually really excited to give Warp a try. One thing iTerm has going for it is the community of themes and the ability to easily customize.
Code editor: VS Code
In the past, I’ve used editors from JetBrains, SublimeText, and Atom. Though it can get bogged-down with extensions, VS Code has been an absolute staple for me since about 2017. The community around it is massive and it’s integration with GitHub offers a fantastic experience.
Emoji picker: Rocket
This was one of the easiest buys for me. I’m a big fan of using emoji, and I’d argue there is no better app. Not only can you quickly grab emojis, you can choose what apps not to use Rocket with. Additionally, you can use glyphs, ASCII Emoticons, and create custom snippets!
Screen capture: Cleanshot X
One of the most utilized, paid Mac apps I have is Cleanshot. I use it for screenshots, marking-up screenshots, and even recording demos. With Cleanshot, I can record my screen, show clicks and keys I press, capture background music, use my microphone, and capture my webcam all at once. It’s quite magical.
Camera preview: Handmirror
No one wants to join a Zoom call wondering how they’re going to look on camera. Handmirror solves for this with a little window that pops open showing your camera feed. You can switch between cameras, choose custom icons, change the window size, and much more. It’s a must have.
Notes app: Bear
I exclusively take notes in Markdown. I do this not only for speed, but also because I can pickup my notes and take them practically anywhere. I’ve gone through many phases using Obsidian, Roam, Notion, etc. But Bear offers easily the best setup for Markdown. It’s the little touches that they get just right that keeps me coming back.