The 14 best apps for getting the most out of your Mac

It’s no secret that a Mac is one of the best tools available for getting things done — both in work and in play.

And Mac apps are the key to that. The following apps are the “must-haves,” the ones that will actually change the way you use your Mac. These apps will take your movie-watching to the next level, keep your Mac running clean, or let you make your own GIFs at any time. On the more serious side, they will help you take great notes and build effective passwords to keep your accounts safe.

There’s even an app to make your computer screen easier on your eyes.

At the root of it all, these apps make it easier than ever to do nearly any common task — in other words, these are the 14 Mac apps you should download today.

Additional reporting by Kyle Russell and Steven Tweedie.

Helium is the best way to watch Netflix while getting work done.

Steven Tweedie

Helium is a multitasker's dream, making it easy to watch your favourite shows without sacrificing any valuable screen real estate or resizing windows. The secret? It turns your videos partially transparent while removing your mouse's ability to interact with it, freeing you up to use your mouse to click, scroll, and select anything that resides behind your video.

Price: Free

Cheatsheet shows you all the shortcuts in whatever app you are using.

Cheatsheet

Cheatsheet is an app that makes using all other apps better. After Cheatsheet is installed, you can just hold the '⌘' key a bit longer than usual, and Cheatsheet will bring up a list of all active shortcuts in the app you are using.

Price: Free

F.lux gives your eyes a break by reducing your screen's colours to match the time of day.

F.lux is perfect for those mornings when you have to work on your computer before the sun comes up. Instead of squinting for the first twenty minutes, you can open your laptop to a warmer, more comfortable screen.

Price: Free

VLC is your Swiss-Army Knife for playing any audio or video file

VLC is the best media player out there. With VLC, you don't have to waste time looking for a bunch of apps or plug-ins to play specific file types (avi, mkv, mp4, etc.). VLC can play pretty much anything you throw at it.

Price: Free

Pixelmator is the best alternative to Adobe Photoshop that won't break the bank.

Whether it's for photo editing or graphic design, Adobe's Photoshop is overpriced for what your average user will be able to do with it. For occasional image editing, you can't do better than Pixelmator for the money. You can touch up photos, sketch, draw, paint, add text and shapes, or apply Pixelmator's built-in effects.

Price: $US29.99

1Password creates incredibly strong passwords and remembers them for you.

It's easier and safer than keeping them on a sticky note or in a text file somewhere on your computer. With 1Password, a single click gets you a random password you can save for a new account, or paste into another app.

Price: $US49.99

Letterspace is an elegant note-taking app that is built around hashtags

Letterspace

Letterspace is a note-taking app organised around hashtags. While it's hardly the first note-taking app to do this, it manages to stand out from the pack with a beautiful design that's sparse and clutter-free. It also syncs with its iOS app, which contains a unique swipe bar that makes scrolling through notes easier. It's a simple system that's elegant and just plain works.

Price: $US9.99

Alfred lets you do most common tasks on your Mac without ever taking your hands off of the keyboard.

This one's a no-brainer. Without ever having to click into an app, Alfred lets you find apps or files on your Mac, search the web, search your iTunes library, look at things you've previously copied to your clipboard, or send an email within seconds.

Price: Free

Spotify is the best free music app out there.

Spotify

Spotify is the premiere music streaming app for Mac (sorry, Apple Music). It has over 30 million songs, a slick interface, and AI-fuelled playlists that have become a cult hit. It should be a sign that Spotify's user growth has increased since the launch of Apple Music.

Price: Free ($US9.99 per month for premium)

NameChanger lets you quickly rename batches of files.

If you take lots of photos on a standalone camera, NameChanger is a great way to quickly give your photos understandable names so you don't have to deal with hundreds of files with names like 'IMG_371.'

Price: Free

GifGrabber helps you create animated GIFs in seconds

GifGrabber

GifGrabber lets you capture animated GIFs from any video source on your screen. You just resize the GifGrabber window, hit record, and anything within the window will become part of the GIF. It's simple and easy.

Price: Free

Handbrake converts all your old DVDs to digital files.

Handbrake is the perfect tool for converting all your old DVDs into a digital format -- ripping them, if you will. After a few simple steps, you'll never have to carry around a DVD, or a disk drive, ever again. It can also convert a suite of file formats to different types.

Price: Free

CleanMyMac 3 makes sure your Mac is always in shape.

CleanMyMac 3

CleanMyMac 3 is the best tool for keeping your Mac clean and running fast. It's easy to use and crisply designed -- which is good for an app about keeping your Mac in shape. The app scans everything on your Mac: the system, iTunes, Mail, iPhoto, trash bin, whatever you can think of. Then it tells you what you should clean, and you can select when.

Price: $US39.95

Slack will change the way you chat with your coworkers.

Slack

Slack can completely revolutionise the way you communicate at work. You can chat individually or create 'channels' (basically chat rooms) for groups of coworkers. One of Slack's wonders is that it integrates with tons of other apps and services -- like Google Calendar, or the more whimsical Giphy, the world's best GIF database. Everything in Slack is also archived and searchable, so you'll never lose a conversation.

Price: Free (with premium tiers for bigger businesses)

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