Top 40 Most Useful, Free Mac OS X Softwares


Here are a list of 40 freewares that I dug up from all around the web, tested and reviewed. All that are listed here are pretty useful if you ask me. Each of the listed are free to download and use. If you see something you like, just download it and try it out yourself.

  1. Apple Boot Camp
  2. Boot Camp is a new technology that lets you install and run Windows on your Mac. If you have an Intel-based Mac computer and would like to try Boot Camp, you can download the public beta today.

  3. AppleJack
  4. AppleJack is a user friendly troubleshooting assistant for Mac OS X. With AppleJack you can troubleshoot a computer even if you can’t load the GUI, or don’t have a startup CD handy. AppleJack runs in Single User Mode and is menu-based for ease of use.

  5. Burn
  6. Burn is an application to burn most common disks: data disks, audio disks (mp3, audio cd), video disks (VCD, SVCD, DVD-Video, DivX), images and disk copy.

  7. Butler
  8. Designed to make it easier for users to perform different potentially recurring tasks. Customize and assign triggers to a task. Butler is very flexible and feature rich in terms of triggers and tasks. Start using it and discover the features one day at a time.

  9. Chicken of the VNC
  10. A fast, lightweight Virtual Network Computer (VNC) client for Mac OSX that allows you to display and interact with a remote computer screen. In other words, you can use Chicken of the VNC to interact with a remote computer as though it’s right next to you.

  11. Carbon Copy Cloner
  12. Easy-to-use backup/cloning utility. Other features include synchronization, scheduled tasks, creating disk images on the fly, and creating NetBoot and Apple Software Restore-prepared image sets from fully customized installations of Mac OS X.

  13. ClamXav
  14. ClamXav is a free virus checker for Mac OS X. It uses the tried, tested and very popular ClamAV open source antivirus engine as a back end.

  15. Cyberduck FTP
  16. Cyberduck is a graphical open source FTP and SFTP client for Mac OS X licensed under the GPL. It supports FTP/TLS (FTP secured over SSL/TLS), using AUTH TLS as well as uploading and downloading by drag and drop and is able to synchronize files and directories. In addition, it is also able to open some files in external text editors. Cyberduck includes a bookmark manager and supports the Mac OS X Keychain and Bonjour networking.

  17. Desktop Manager
  18. Virtual desktop manager for the Mac OS X. You can have any number of named virtual ‘screens’ (up to available memory) to arrange your programs on.

  19. FinderPop
  20. A classic Mac utility, now a prefpane for OS X. FinderPop is a Universal Preference pane that extends OS X’s contextual menus using a FinderPop Items folder much as the Apple Menu Items folder used to do for the Apple menu.

  21. iGetter
  22. iGetter is Safari’s download manager replacement. Doesn’t take up too much resources and is easy to use. It greatly improves your download speed by using segmented downloading. You can also schedule downloads for low traffic periods, auto resume broken downloads, shut down on completion, etc.

  23. ImageWell
  24. ImageWell is the easy way to edit, rotate, crop, and resize your image and upload it to your iDisk (.mac account), FTP server, or WebDAV server. No need to launch multiple applications to add text, labels, thought clouds, talking balloons, drop shadows, watermarks, and shapes.

  25. iWebMore
  26. This lets you easily and quickly add features to sites created in iWeb that would be difficult to add without this utility. This is the dig for the iWeb developer. Embed HTML in your iWeb pages and finally have those flash animations, applets and google ads on the website.

  27. iWillQuit
  28. This is sure to save your laptops hard drive. If you have a network in your house, schedule it to download files at night so as to not slow down others using the network or to keep your VOIP working without delay. Apple’s scheduler will not shut down/sleep while there is an internet radio stream, but iWillQuit does. iWillQuit works just as it said it does, shuts down, sleeps, etc.

  29. Linotype FontExplorer X
  30. Font sorting, font shopping and font discovery are now more fun than ever. FontExplorer X gives computer users all the font functions they could need, and lets them decide how deeply they wish to dive into various font themes.

  31. MainMenu
  32. MainMenu will run all the various tools and scripts and system maintenance routines to keep your Mac running smoothly right from your menu bar. It will rebuild your Spotlight library for faster searching, repair permissions, clean caches to improve application performance, etc.

  33. Max
  34. Max is an application for creating high-quality audio files in various formats, from compact discs or files. Look nowhere else to meet your needs in handling a wide range of codecs and other audio tools. Sbooth, the developer, is the leader of a community that cares deeply about high-quality audio on the Mac, and he has forums that are a key site for knowledge about Mac audio.

  35. MenuMeters
  36. MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for Mac OS X.

  37. Namely
  38. A very good application launcher that is really easy to use, doesn’t need much resources, and doesn’t get in the way when you don’t need it, which is nice. Namely is actually faster than Spotlight in application launching and you can choose your favourite aqualicious color too so it matches the Spotlight menu or your desktop very nicely.

  39. OnyX
  40. It allows you to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure some hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, Dashboard, Exposé, Safari, Login window and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome, to see the detailed info of your configuration, to preview various logs and CrashReporter-reports, to check the Preferences files and more.

  41. Perian
  42. With Perian, the Swiss Army Knife for QuickTime, any OS X application that uses QuickTime can now use all the other common media types like DivX, XviD, mpeg4, AC3 audio, etc.

  43. PTHPasteboard
  44. PTHPasteboard is one of those applications which expands the functionality of copy and paste. It does this by allowing you to copy many things without having to paste them straight away; making good use of multiple ‘pasteboards’ which store everything you copy. Using this application means you never have to worry about losing anything you’ve copied ever again!

  45. Service Scrubber
  46. Wouldn’t the services menu be much more useful if it weren’t overcrowded by services you never even thought of using? With Service Scrubber, you can restructure the services menu, change service keyboard shortcuts or disable services. It also lets you deactivate, activate, reorder, rename and redefine the keyboard shortcuts for all the entries in the services menu. It does this in a way that is pretty much foolproof so you can always revert.

  47. SharePoints
  48. SharePoints is an application or a preference pane that makes it easy to add and delete share points like in the old Finder. In Mac OS X, by default, you are limited to sharing only what is in your public folder in your home directory. This program makes it easy to share any folder. In addition SharePoints also brings back users and groups management to Mac OS X as well as easy configuration of AppleFileServer (AFS) and Samba (SMB) Server properties.

  49. Sizzling Keys
  50. Sizzling keys allows you to control iTunes with keyboard shortcuts from any application. Pause, adjust the volume or skip a track without leaving the current application. Far more efficient than using iTunes itself. As well, one is generally using a lot more keyboard shortcuts when on the go anyhow.

  51. Skim
  52. Incredible great software for PDF reading. The new version is almost perfect certainly in the field of full screen reading and presentation. Easier to use as a viewer than Adobe Reader. The ability to attach notes is an added bonus.

  53. SlimBatteryMonitor
  54. This application is excellent! It cuts the menubar space by half and is easily customizable. For example, you can easily change the color of the icon outline from black to blue. It is suggested to move the application from the desktop into the Applications folder before installing.

  55. SMARTReporter
  56. SMARTReporter is an application that can warn you of some ATA hard disk failures before they actually happen! It does so by periodically polling the S.M.A.R.T.-status of your hard disk. S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a technology built into most modern hard disks that acts as an “early warning system” for pending drive problems.

  57. smcFanControl
  58. Keep your MacBook about 15 °C cooler than when it isn’t running. When the CPU is taxed, Apple’s controls take over and the fan speed increases according to Apple guidelines, but when it is running normally, you can set the fan at a faster speed to keep your system cool. A great little program that is very unobtrusive, easy to turn on and off at will.

  59. Springy (StuffIt replacement)
  60. Springy archiving and compressing application let you do all your work with archives and compressed files using a graphical interface similar to Finder. Features include browsing files in archives in all three view types (as icons, as list, as columns), extracting all or particular files or folders from archives, modifying archives (add, delete, replace, rename files or folders in archives), full drag & drop support, working with encrypted and password protected files, support for HFS/HFS+ metadata and resource forks, compressing and decompressing files and many more. Dragan Milic, the developer, is pretty responsive. Just leave your issues and you will get addressed in a short time.

  61. SuperDuper!
  62. Exactly duplicate your hard drive. The clone is even bootable. The interface explains clearly what’s going to happen so that you can be sure that you are doing what you want to do. Runs both on Intel and Power PC Macs! Taking into account its clear interface, excellent functionality, and informative documentation, I consider SuperDuper! to be a must-have utility for Mac OS X.

  63. TextWrangler2
  64. TextWrangler 2.0’s text-handling operations are swift and precise. The ‘Text’ menu holds an array of time-saving commands. This version of TextWrangler is a boon to coders and system administrators. It gives you direct integration with the Unix scripting environments of Perl, Python, and shell scripts. This version has improved syntax coloring for a plethora of structured languages and file formats. The program also now sports a powerful AppleScript dictionary.

  65. TinkerTool
  66. TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the applications delivered with the system.

  67. Transmission
  68. A lightweight yet powerful BitTorrent client whose simple, intuitive interface is designed to integrate tightly with whatever computing environment you choose to use. Transmission strikes a balance between providing useful functionality without feature bloat. Furthermore, it is free for anyone to use or modify.

  69. Unarchiver
  70. The Unarchiver is a replacement for, the small application that handles archives by default in OS X. However, unlike the default archive helper, this program has a very impressive list of supported formats that it can work with. These formats range from very common ones, to some of the most obscure.

  71. UNO
  72. UNO is a theme that brings the sunken unified toolbar/titlebar look & feel to every single window on your system (metal or aqua, and already unified windows as well).

  73. Vienna
  74. Vienna is a freeware, open source RSS/Atom newsreader for the Mac OS X operating system. It provides features comparable to commercial newsreaders, but both it and the source code are freely available for download.

  75. VLC Media Player
  76. VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, etc) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

  77. WhatRoute
  78. WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Macintosh to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router, thus enabling you to determine slow links or hops in the Internet. WhatRoute can also find dead links, such as routers that don’t respond.

  79. Yahoo Messenger
  80. The ONLY Mac messenger at the time of writing that can consistently do video chats with people who aren’t using Macs. iChat and AIM seems to be very fickle with cams. Plus, since YIM and MSN now interact happily, it’s easy to cam for anyone on your MSN or YIM lists.


51 thoughts on “Top 40 Most Useful, Free Mac OS X Softwares”

    1. it’s sad when i wasted so much time downloading apps that expired…like Perian, and apps that only show “error” like UNO and other apps that warn it will cause my mac to no longer restart and apps that don’t even open or turn out to be useless.

      your work is a waste if my time. DO YOUR HOMEWORK :DOCTOR” HA

  1. I usually hate these kinds of articles because they don’t have anything to say. This one was well-written and actually turned up some apps I didn’t already know about. Thanks.

  2. “The ONLY Mac messenger at the time of writing that can consistently do video chats with people who aren’t using Macs.”

    aMSN, Mercury Messenger and Skype also support video chat between Macs and other platforms. Skype supports Video conference between Mac and Win platform.

  3. macenstein, michael : replaced with the proper pic for apple boot camp. thanks.

    leonardo : yeah.. but i find it more flexible and reliable than others. I’ve enjoyed using Yahoo messenger for a few years now.

  4. iGetter isn’t freeware – it’s shareware and has a nag screen if not purchased.

    I agree that Quicksilver deserves a spot, as does growl (when used with other supporting apps).

  5. The problem I have with many of these lists is that they are not the most. for instance you forgot firefox or some other browser. as well as some quicksilver/launchbar app.

  6. How can you say Yahoo does video chat? It does video, but the framerate usually sucks, resolution is low, and there’s no sound!

    Skype does an amazingly better job at video and has better sound than long-distance phone calls. And did I mention it actually HAS sound?

  7. Hi:

    Great blog and software.

    I also suggest that you add to your “40 list” of software (btw, there is no plural of software–no ‘s’) ANACRON. This is an amazing simple app to update daily cron files.


  8. I echo what people have already said about Quicksilver. It is honestly a surprise it’s not on the list. Butler and Namely are rendered obsolete by Quicksilver – as well as Sizzling Keys and iWillQuit …

    Secondly, about putting Growl on the list – it seems to be well liked and supported – but it *is* visible in your picture for Max (look at the blue “bubble” dialogs in the upper right hand corner).

    iGetter, as someone else mentioned, is actually nagware and shareware. Too bad.

    Shareware is *not* “free with conditions” – shareware is “try before you buy.” That’s all. It has a price and is *sold* – you are only given a while to try it out for free. The assumption from the very beginning is that you will *buy* if you like it, and delete it otherwise.

  9. Some people have told me UNO slows down your system a lot. Not surprised, since it’s changing the whole look of the system. You forgot the Mozilla suite {all of them are FREE, USEFUL and ESSENTIAL}, I think at least Firefox and Thunderbird {if not Sunbird} deserve a mention here.


  10. “Quicksilver should be n. 1 on the list. It isn’t even there. This is a joke.”

    What! It’s not a joke: believe it or not he doesn’t have to like what you like. Personally speaking, I wouldn’t let QuickSilver anywhere near my Macs either.

  11. Very informative Essentials list for MacOS, I’ve yet to get my macbook but I’ll be sure to bookmark this page should I need to find some essential tools for my lappy. Kudos on a job welldone!

  12. Awesome list, thanks!

    You can’t get every great program in a 40 item list, plus this is a list of free stuff, but if it were longer and included pretty cheap stuff, I’d add

    AppZapper! $12.95 It deletes all the associated files along with your application, saving you time and space on your hard drive! The zapping sound is bold and satisfying.

    Vault! $4.95 It is a password protected vault to store all your passwords and usernames!

    And I have to put my vote in for quicksilver too. Thanks!

  13. Hmm… this steps on alot of Leopards and Tigers toes, Boot camp isnt even offered as a public beta anymore… I have the standard volume and iTunes controls on my keyboard, and Namely really just another tool to get in the way- spotlight is alright..

  14. i like apple system & every software are apple . my favourate comp is apple . so u daily send me news to apple software & apple machines ,desktop, laptop& any other .

  15. One I’d definitely add to the list, for people who have come over from Windows or Linux and have have been used to using some type of Norton Commander type program (e.g. Total Commander, Midnight Commander, Krusader, etc.) would be muCommander – it’s free and actually works surprisingly well once you spend a little time with it and learn how things are done (such as, pressing the shift key changes the legend on the buttons and gives them the functions you’d probably expect if you use one of those other programs). In fact about the only thing it doesn’t have that I miss from Total Commander is the file sync utility and the ability to do mass file renaming, but there are probably other free utilities that can be used for those functions. Also it’s a cross-platform program that runs on any system with Java support. If you want to try it out go to the download page at

  16. Hey, this is a sweet list. However I need a free screen cam that can record Motion (unlike “Grab”) and isn’t laggy. I would use “Gamecam” but it is not supported by Mac’s. Can anyone help me?

  17. Hey Chris

    I found a new free software which I thought I shall share with you. It is Memorycell which displays the memory used by the application which is opened, this helps you keep track of how much is each application consuming at that point of time, it’s easy and very simple. Also there are a couple of free softwares in that site.

    As the number is increasing, so I guess you might have to change the number(40) in most useful free mac os x softwares 🙂


  18. Hi. I was wondering if anyone knew where I could pick up a free Keyword Research SEO tool for mac? Any suggestions would be highly appreciated. THANKS!!


  19. Nice list. I use Cyberduck. I like the peripheral features like being able to open files directly from the finder pane. A nice companion program to Cyberduck is BBedit. With BBedit you can edit your web files and in the preferences use Cyberduck to automatically upload the new file.

  20. Great list. I’ve been checking out a lot of them since I am new to the Mac. I can’t seem to get Uno to operate. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

  21. Hey Pradeep. Can’t seem to find much info about Memory cell.

    James, I think AdWods keyword tools will suit you well.

    Marshall, Cyberduck is already in the list.

    Ron, I’m not so sure what you’re doing wrong. How about a google search on the issue you are experiencing?

  22. I really miss my fonts from my PC. Mac doesn’t have a great choice, so I was really pleased to see you had a “free” app, only to find it’s not free, but shareware. I will probably try it for the 30 days, see how much it costs and if it’s worth it.
    Thanks for all your work.

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