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15 Best Productivity Apps for Your Mac

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You can be even more productive than you are now. All you need is the right tools.

The more effective your workflow is, the better. Improving your productivity means spending less time on routine tasks and more time on tasks that are important to you.

Mac apps can help you to become more productive. Some of the best productivity apps enable you to get more done. But you have to know what apps are the right fit for your needs and how to use them.

In this tutorial, we cover the best Mac productivity apps and explain how each one can help you become more productive. Also, we link to a number of our tutorials on these Mac apps here at Envato Tuts+ so you can start using them to punch up your workflow. 

Mac productivity apps
Mac productivity (illustration).

How Mac Productivity Apps Improve Your Workflow

There are many ways that Mac apps can save you time. For details on how apps can automate your Mac, review this Envato Tuts+ post from Harry Guinness:

Apps can also help you with routine workflow tasks such as remembering your password, creating keyboard shortcuts, storing and managing files, and more. 

In this tutorial, I'll cover four areas of your workflow where Mac apps will help you become more productive. Those areas are:

  1. Security. With these apps, all you need to remember is a single password to find the information to log into any site where you have an account.
  2. Shortcuts. Many tools allow you to create shortcuts or macros. Other tools come with shortcuts already built in. Make the most of shortcuts with the right Mac app.
  3. File Management. These productivity apps help you to become more efficient by encouraging better file management. 
  4. Lists and Note Taking. Lists and notes are important tools to help us remember what we’ve learned or what we would like to do.

We'll discuss each of these areas separately starting with security.

Security Apps for Your Mac

Nearly every tool and website uses a password. Passwords should be unique and not easily guessed. Unfortunately, passwords are often forgotten. If you've ever forgotten a password to an important website, you know how resetting the password can eat into your productivity. It doesn't have to be that way.

You may be tempted to use the same password over and over again for various sites and tools to save time. Don’t do it. These password productivity apps allow you to use a unique password for every site or tool you use without losing track of your passwords.

Here are some of the best Mac apps to help you remember your password:

1. 1Password 

1Password

1Password stores your passwords safely and securely. It also includes a password generator. The Watchtower service checks your passwords to make sure you aren’t at risk and lets you know when it’s time to change a password.

This is a great tool for teams since you can create more than one vault or shared vaults for team members who use the same tools. 1Password’s iMessage tool is a quick way to share a single password with another 1Password user.

2.  KeePass

KeePass

KeePass is an open source password manager that allows you to store your password information securely. KeePass works by allowing you to create an encrypted database. It’s a safe way to store your passwords.

To learn how to get started with KeePass, review our tutorial on getting started from Mladen Jevtić:

Now that we've looked at security apps, let's examine how shortcut apps can save you time.

Shortcut Mac Apps

If you often type the same information over and over, you're in luck. Using shortcuts or creating a macro will save you time. Instead of typing long strings of data, type a few simple characters to enter the same information.

Remembering all those shortcuts can be a struggle. And some macros are difficult to create. There are a number of Mac apps that offer great solutions to this issue. Here a few of the best to help you create or find shortcuts:

3. Alfred  

Alfred

Alfred lets you create a system of shortcuts and hot keys. It’s also helpful for finding files, and more. It integrates with OS X, allowing you to customize and control system functions.

With the PowerPack extension, you can do even more with Alfred. One of the strengths of Alfred is the many pre-created workflows.

At Envato Tuts+ we have several Alfred tutorials and here is one to get started with: 

3. Cheatsheet

Some software tools have pre-programmed shortcuts. To use them, however, you have to know them. With this Mac productivity app you get a list of shortcuts for whatever tool you are currently using. What a timesaver to have your shortcuts in one place.

5. IFTTT 

IFTTT Best productivity apps

This web app lets you automate related apps using recipes that you create. You can also browse through a library of pre-created recipes to find one that meets your needs.

Imagine automatically sending out a reminder thirty minutes before a meeting is scheduled. Or set up a recipe to save files to Dropbox. The possibilities are endless.

Learn more about how to use IFTTT: 

6. Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro lets you create your own macros quickly and easily. Macros can be triggered with hot keys or with a hot key and a name. Plus, you can share your macros with other users.

The Macro Inspector function tells you how often you use a macro and the last times that you have used it. This can be helpful if you need to de-activate old macros.

To learn more study our Keyboard Maestro tutorials, starting with: 

7. TextExpander 

TextExpander productivity app

Create customized keyboard shortcuts with TextExpander. It also fixes common typos.

This tool is helpful for anyone who types a lot. It’s especially helpful for coders who may need to create snippets. If you type the same characters often, TextExpander automatically suggests that you turn those characters into a snippet. Keep a library of customized email signatures, and more.

Get the most from our TextExpander tutorials, starting with this one: 

Keeping your files organized and backed up is another way to improve your productivity. Let’s look at some file management apps.

File Management Apps for Your Mac

Organizing your files is an important part of productivity. You can waste a lot of time looking for your files. If you forget to back up your files or if your computer crashes, you may find yourself redoing a lot of work—which definitely decreases your productivity.

Mac file management apps can help. With these productivity apps store your files securely, create backups, find files quickly, and extract compressed files.

Here is our list of Mac file management apps to help with your productivity:

8. CrashPlan

CrashPlan

What would happen if your computer crashed? Would you lose a lot of work? Would you lose files containing information? CrashPlan continuously backs up your information so that you don’t have to worry about losing anything.

Best of all, the backups are stored in the cloud, away from your machine. If something happens to your equipment, your backups are still safe.  You can also back your files up to an external drive.

CrashPlan is easy to use and it’s free. Learn how to use it with our tutorial on getting started with CrashPlan: 

9. Dropbox  

With Dropbox, your files are stored in the cloud. So, you can access them from just about anywhere there’s an internet connection. This app is particularly helpful if you travel a lot or work from client sites.

Saving your files to Dropbox also means that there’s a copy offsite in case of emergency. It’s always good to have a backup. Dropbox also lets you share files with remote users.

Learn more about how to use Dropbox effectively with one of our Dropbox tutorials. Here's a good one to start with if you're thinking of using Dropbox with your team: 

10. Google Drive  

Google Drive  apps

With Google Drive you start with 15 GB of free cloud-based storage. Use it to store a wide variety of file types. It works with a lot of popular tools so that you can save a wide variety of file types.

Share a file with anyone who has a Google account by inviting them to view your file.  This makes it a great tool for online collaboration.

Learn more about how to use Google Drive with our helpful tutorials. Here's a good one to start with on importing and exporting documents: 

11. Hazel

Hazel

How organized are your files? If they aren’t organized, you could be wasting precious time. With Hazel you create rules that automatically put your files in the right places. 

This Mac app is helpful for dealing with downloads and email attachments. Imagine, photo downloads are automatically moved to your Photos folder, music downloads to your music folder, and so on. With Hazel it can happen.

Arrange files by date or use another organizational method. You can even use color coding to label your files. Maximize your use of Hazel with one of our Envato Tuts+ Hazel tutorials or get started here:

12. The Unarchiver

If you ever deal with compressed files, this handy app can save you a lot of time. It handles a large number of file extraction formats. It can also open archives with foreign language characters.

Compressed files are often used when files are sent through email. Older files are sometimes compressed and archived to save space. If you have a compressed file you can’t open, try this app.

Taking notes and making lists are a large part of being productive. Next, let’s look at some list making and note taking productivity apps.

List and Note Taking Apps for Your Mac

Lists and notes let us document important information. They provide us with something we can refer back to so that we don’t forget. They can also serve as a time-saving reference that we use over and over.

Using a list or note taking app is a great way to improve your mac productivity. Apps can help you take and organize your lists and notes. Here are some of the best apps for lists and notes:

13. Evernote

Evernote productivity

Evernote allows you to store information you want to remember. Use it to create lists, take notes, scan documents, and even add photos and audio files.  Whatever you save in Evernote can be organized into Evernote notebooks.

One of the strengths of Evernote is that you can save information from any device and access it from any other device. So, if you scan a document into Evernote with your smart phone you can retrieve it on your desktop later. This is important in today’s increasingly mobile environment.

Evernote also includes the Evernote Web Clipper, which lets you save part of any web page for retrieval later on.

We have several Evernote tutorials on Envato Tuts+. Here is a good one to start with: 

14. Pocket

Have you ever glanced at an article, thought to yourself “that’s interesting, I’ll look at it later?” If you’re like me, when later comes you can’t always remember where you saw the article you wanted to read. Pocket can help.

Use Pocket to save content from over 1500 apps and tools for later review. Pocket even works on mobile sites like Twitter and Pulse. Tag articles to organize them. You can even share with other Pocket users.

15. Snappy

This Mac app provides a great way to collaborate. “Snap” an image of what’s on your screen, add your comments and send it to someone else.

Screen images captured with this tool stay “in focus” until you dismiss them when you are done using them. This can be another time saver since it eliminates the need to toggle between images.

Improve Your Workflow

With the right tools, you can get more done. Review the list we've provided to find the tools that work best for you. Be sure to take the time to learn how to use each tool so that you can get the most from it.

To learn even more about how the productivity apps in this tutorial can optimize your workflow, review this comprehensive tutorial from Richard Guay: 

We also have a number of helpful productivity tutorials that teach the basics of how to improve your approach, get started with these: 

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