2020 is the tenth anniversary of the iPad, so there has been a lot of discussion around the best app along with ways to get the most out of the platform and be more productive. However, the Mac is still a great place to work, play, and learn. If you are picking up your first Mac, upgrading from an old one, or just looking to become more efficient, I want to run through some of my essential Mac apps that I am using this year.

Fantastical 3

Much has been said about the move to a subscription, but I think it’s worth it. If you want a free calendar app, Apple’s built-in one will work great. If Fantastical offers some of the features you need, then it’s money well spent. I love its natural language input, ability to see my Reminders lists, weather integration, etc. If you want to check out more about what the app offers, check out David Sparks’ Field Guide (free).

fantastical 3

Download Fantastical directly from Flexibits or on the Mac App Store.

Alfred 4

I’ve been an Alfred customer for years, and it’s one of the first apps I install when setting up a new Mac. I use it for snippet expansion, finding files, launching apps, clipboard history, and more.

Check out this article from 2018 to learn more about my use cases for Alfred. I also highly recommend this episode of Mac Power Users to learn more about “keyboard launchers” and their benefits.

Alfred 4 is a free download with an optional “Powerpack Upgrade” for some fantastic features.

Front and Center

Front and Center app

Front and Center is one of the newest apps I am using, but I hardly think about it. I wrote about it when it was released, but it changes the default behavior of macOS to bring forward all the windows of an app when you click one of them. This method was the default in classic versions of the Mac operating system.

Overall, Front and Center is a simple app, but it does exactly what it says it will do. You can download it for $2.99 on the Mac App Store.


NetNewsWire out of beta, free to use

NetNewsWire for Mac made a return last year in an Open Source version. It’s a long-standing RSS reader on the Mac that has gone through various owners over the years, but its return home to its rightful place with Brent Simmons.

RSS is a great way to keep up what a lot of websites without having to visit them all manually. While version 5 is still evolving, thanks to a dedicated team, it’s getting features at a rapid pace.

Download NetNewsWire for free.

AirBuddy for Mac

AirBuddy AIrPods Pro

AirBuddy brings the iOS experience of AirPods to macOS. When you open up your AirPods near your Mac, you’ll get a similar dialog box that you get on iOS. A simple click is all you need to connect your AirPods to your Mac. It also includes a battery notification widget as well.

You can purchase AirBuddy for $5

Wrap-up on essential Mac apps for 2020

These are just a couple of the apps I am relying on right now. One I didn’t mention but is always a given is 1Password. In light of LastPass retiring, their native Mac app, 1Password is even further entrenched as the best password manager for macOS and iOS.

What are some of your essential Mac apps for 2020? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Bradley Chambers

Bradley lives in Chattanooga, TN.

Tips, feedback, corrections and questions can be sent to Bradley@9to5mac.com.