Seven 'must-have' apps for your new Mac

Starting with a brand-new, blank system can be daunting, but with only seven downloads, I've transformed a new MacBook Pro into a system ready to do some serious work.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

I've just taken delivery of my new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It's a lovely machine but, given that I spend so much of my time within Windows, it is taking some getting used to.

However, I'm eager to start doing some real work on my new Mac as quickly as possible, and in order to do that I've downloaded and installed a number of must-have apps onto my system. These apps have enabled me to turn my new system into a work machine in under an hour.

Here is my list of seven must-have apps for the Mac.

(Screenshot by ZDNet)

Google Chrome

I'm no fan of the Safari browser, so the first thing I did was bin it in favor of Google's Chrome browser. This is my browser of choice on all platforms--Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.


This app is the cornerstone of my work day on all the platforms I use. I use it to store ideas, notes, work in progress, notes, and much more. Everything I need to remember goes into Evernote, and is synced automatically across all my devices for easy access whenever I need it.


(Credit: Snagit)

I take a lot of screen captures in a day, and over a year this must amount to thousands in all. Because of this, I need a screen-capture tool that I can rely on, and the tool I've come to rely on is Snagit.

Snagit comes with quite a hefty price tag, but it's a price I don't mind paying in order to be able to effortlessly take and process screen captures.


It's a good idea to have all your passwords stored in a single, secure location. I've standardized SplashID on my Windows and iOS systems, so it seems like a good idea for the Mac.

To get me going quickly, SplashID even allowed me to sync the data I already had on my devices with the Mac, eliminating the need to move data files about between systems.

Parallels Desktop

One of the reasons I went for a MacBook Pro as a replacement for my old Dell notebook was the fact that it can run Windows as well as OS X. However, the Boot Camp software only allows me to have access to one operating system at a time.

By installing Parallels Desktop, I can access applications and data stored in other operating systems, including Windows 8, Windows 7, Linux, and even Android. This gives me access to a wide range of operating systems from my Mac.

iA Writer

(Credit: iA Writer)

The key benefit of iA Writer is that it offers a distraction-free writing environment.

Not convinced that there can be a distraction-free writing environment? Try it and see the difference. I wasn't convinced initially, but having a writing environment that's free of toolbars and menus, and allows you to focus on just the writing, is a massive productivity booster.


Word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, and more, all in a single suite. A fantastic--and free--alternative to Microsoft's Office.

If you need to handle Office documents--and who doesn't--then LibreOffice is a great addition to your Mac.

Note: If you'd rather limit your exposure to Java then you might want replace LibreOffice with Apple's suite of apps (Pages, Numbers, etc) or grab a copy of Microsoft Office for Mac.

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