Here is my list of free, macOS apps that I have installed and use often. Many are also open source! When I first got my Mac I searched the internet for lists of useful apps but found most outdated. I decided to compile this list as part of a cleanup and "audit" of what's useful IMHO.
- free, open source
- free, closed source
- free on Mac App Store, but who knows, this may change
In no particular order:
- Itsycal pop up calendar with next 7 days of events
- Spectacle move and re-size windows
- f.lux "night shift" mode for macOS (similar functionality is now built into macOS Sierra 10.12.4 thought f.lux is more configurable)
- Shade hides desktop icons
- gfxCardStatus for MacBook Pros with discrete GPUs (graphics cards like the Radeon)
- MonitorControl to control external display brightness
- BetterDummy HiDPI / Retina virtual display for mirroring (from the makers of MonitorControl)
- Rectangle move and resize windows using snap areas (ala Windows)
- Commander One free (with Pro IAP) dual-pane file manager
- Keka archiver that extracts RAR and 7-Zip archives (not free on the AppStore)
- Wine run Windows EXEs. You may want to compile Wine with Retina mode following my guide , or
- WineBottler packaged Wine that does not need XQuartz
- KeeWeb KeePass compatible password manager, an open-source alternative to 1Password that I like.
- AppCleaner cleanly uninstalls Apps by removing preferences and associated files
- CheetSheet shows all shortcuts when Command key is held down
- ForkLift 2 file manager, superseded by the paid ForkLift 3, but still good enough
- Karabiner Elements keyboard mappings, use to create a physical Escape key on a MacBook Pro with TouchBar
- Strongbox freemium open-source Keepass-compatible password manager
- Glance Quick Look plugin to add support for Markdown (.md), Source Code (.cpp, .js, ...), archives (.zip, .tar, ...), etc.
Graphics and drawing:
- ImageOptim losslessly shrinks PNGs and JPGs with OptiPNG, Jpegtran, etc.
- GIMP photo editing and drawing
- Scribus Desktop publishing
- Krita painting
- MediaBang Paint painting with tools for comic artists like panels, perspective gridline, etc.
- Visual Studio Code IDE with debugger (great for Node.js), markdown text editor and plugins galore
- VirtualBox virtual machine (great to run Windows using the free 90-day Windows VM images from Microsoft)
- TextWrangler text editor
Browsers and networking:
- Firefox my current browser of choice
- Chrome Google's Chromium browser
- Moonlight Chrome NVIDIA GameStream client, installed a Chrome extension. I have a post on Moonlight in macOS and iOS
- Cyberduck FTP client and Cloud browser
- Vivaldi very configurable browser, also based on Chromium
- NetSpot free edition for Wi-Fi coverage for site survey
- Privoxy non-caching web proxy with filtering i.e. ad-blocking
- Audacity audio editor plus LAME MP3 encoder plug-in
- VLC video player
- HandBrake video transcoder, and if required, libdvdcss from VLC (1.2.12 compiled for MacOS)
- Hit Film Express amazing video editor with basic 3D compositing
- Kodi media center, with a great UI and even works on Raspberry Pi. You might want to read about to configure a macOS sandbox for Kodi
- IINA “the modern media player for macOS”
Updated Feb 2017: A few small additions including Privoxy and Kodi.
Updated April 2017: Both Parallels Desktop Lite and ForkLift 2 seem to be permanently free, but Typeeto is not.
Updated May 2019: Added Karabiner and gfxCardStatus, removed Parallels Desktop Lite which requires annual subscription.
Updated May 2020: Cleanup, added Glance and Strongbox, removed Typeeto and Parallels.
Updated Dec 2021: Added MonitorControl, BetterDummy and Rectangle.