Make your Mac better, faster, safer, and more productive with these OS X utilities

There's little doubt that OS X 10.11 'El Capitan' is a fully-featured operating system that helps you to get a lot done, but adding a few extra utilities will allow you get an awful lot more from the platform with very little extra effort.
Topic: Apple
1 of 16 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet


There's little doubt that OS X 10.11 "El Capitan" operating system is a fully-featured platform that helps you to get a lot done, but by adding a few utilities you get an awful lot more from the platform with very little extra effort.

Here's my list of top utilities that I have installed on my Macs. Some are free, others are going to cost you a few bucks, but all of them are superb.

These utilities are all compatible with OS X 10.11 "El Capitan," as well as earlier releases of OS X. For exact system requirements check out the vendor's website.

    See also:

    2 of 16 Alasoft

    DiskWarrior 5

    Sometimes even OS X has its bad days, the sort of days where you fire up the system and find all your data gone. And the worst kind of bad days are bad data days.

    DiskWarrior works not by patching corrupted directories it finds on your hard drive or SSD, but by creating new ones. And once it's done that it verifies that the replacement is error-free before saying the job is done.

    If you're serious about your Mac and the data that's on it, this is the tool for you.

    Price: $119.95 | More info.

    Carbon Copy Cloner
    3 of 16 Bombich

    Carbon Copy Cloner

    In addition to running Time Machine backups, I also use Carbon Copy Cloner to create on-site and off-site backups of my Macs. When it comes to backups, you can never have too many.

    I especially like the fact that Carbon Copy Cloner allows me to not only create bootable backups, but it also does it fast because it uses Smart Modify technology to make sure that only those files that have been changes are backed up.

    Don't take chances with your data, because when it's gone, it's gone!

    Price: $39.99 | More info.

    F-Secure Freedome VPN
    4 of 16 F-Secure

    F-Secure Freedome VPN

    If you take your Mac out and about, chances are that you connect to a myriad of different Wi-Fi connections at cafes, hotels, and workplaces.

    But how do you know your connection is secure?

    Don't leave it to chance, instead, install Freedome VPN and with just one click of a button you can enjoy private, untracked, anonymous browsing wherever you are. I've tried and tested a number of VPN solutions, and Freedome is, without a doubt, the best, most reliable, easiest to use on offer.

    Price: From $49.99 (free 14 day trial) | More info.

    5 of 16 f.lux


    A tiny utility that helps you get a better night's sleep by zapping the blue light from your display as evening approaches.

    I've gone from being skeptical that the blue light filter did anything (despite the fact that there's a lot of science to back up these claims) to being a total believer.

    Price: Free | More info.

    6 of 16 Techsmith

    TechSmith SnagIt

    I know that there's a way to take screenshots in OS X using some keyboard voodoo that I can never remember, but I take a lot of screenshots every week - sometimes hundreds - and SnagIt is a huge timesaver that streamlines the whole process.

    It also makes taking complex screenshots - where perhaps you have to use a timer or scroll down a window - a snap.

    If I could only have one of the utilities listed here, it would be SnagIt.

    Price: $49.95 | More info.

    7 of 16 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

    Bartender 2

    I have a lot of apps installed, and that means I have a lot of icons cluttering up my menu bar. Bartender 2 allows me to take control of the menu bar back by letting me control how they are displayed.

    Price: $15 (one month free trial available) | More info.

    Sophos Home Antivirus
    8 of 16 Sophos

    Sophos Home Antivirus

    No matter how secure OS X is, I still like the piece of mind of having a good antivirus solution running. Sophos Home ticks all the boxes - it's easy to use, it's lightweight, it's effective, and it's free!

    Price: Free | More info.

    9 of 16 Lighthead Software


    A simple app that does just one thing, but is does it so darn well that it's an invaluable addition to any Mac.

    Caffeine is an icon that sits in the menu bar, and when you want to stop your Mac from going to sleep for whatever reason, you click on it. When you're done, you click on it again.

    You can also enter custom durations for it to prevent your Mac from going to sleep. Works perfectly on OS X 10.11 "El Capitan."

    Price: Free | More Info.

    10 of 16 VLC


    Without a doubt VLC is the best media player for the Mac (and for that matter, Windows too). Works with a myriad of different audio and video file formats, with no codec downloads required. It can also do media conversion and streaming.

    And best of all, it's free!

    Price: Free | More info.

    11 of 16 Dag Agren

    The Unarchiver

    While the tool built into OS X can do a reasonable job with some compressed file archives, The Unarchiver has you covered no matter what crazy file format you have to deal with!

    Awesome tool that I use on a regular basis!

    Price: Free | More info.

    12 of 16 Appgineers


    If you juggle a lot of volumes on your Mac then Mountain is the tool for you. It allows you to fast and intuitively work with volumes from the menu bar, letting you eject and remount volumes without having to unplug cables or turn off devices.

    It also supports automatically ejecting all external volumes when the system is going to sleep and remounting your favorite network drives when recovering from sleep.

    One of the features I really like is being able to identify apps that are preventing volumes from being unmounted, and allowing me the option of either closing those apps or forcing unmounts.

    This is an absolute must-have app.

    Price: $5.99 | More info.

    13 of 16 Freemacsoft


    This is a small utility that scans your system, removing all traces of uninstalled and unwanted apps.

    A quick and easy way to reclaim lost disk space.

    Price: Free | More info.

    14 of 16 Bjango

    iStat Menus

    iStat Menus is an advanced Mac system monitor, covering an enormous range of stats ranging from system temperatures to CPU performance.

    iStat Menus puts an awful lot of important and useful information right at your fingertips.

    How detailed is it? Well, it can show you the battery levels of your Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad and Apple wireless keyboard. That's pretty detailed in my opinion.

    Not only does iStat Menus display a lot of vital information, but it does so in a stylish manner that fits in well with the OS X look and feel.

    Price: $16 | More info.

    15 of 16 Tunabelly Software

    Temperature Gauge Pro

    Apple is pretty good at keeping Macs running cool even when they are under heavy loads, but when I'm pushing my hardware hard I like to keep it a little cooler than the limits Apple's engineers have built into the system.

    To do this I use Temperature Gauge Pro. This is a simple utility that sits in the menu bar that not only gives me a complete overview of system temperatures, but also allows me to set temperatures at which the system fans kick into high gear.

    Price: $14.99 | More info.

    16 of 16 BinaryNights

    ForkLift 2

    Finder is good, but ForkLift 2 is better. It is the most advanced file manager and FTP + SFTP + Amazon S3 + WEBDav client available for OS X. It is packed with awesome features such as:

    • Multi-file rename
    • Sync to
    • Transfer queue
    • Virtual file containers
    • And much more!

    Price: $29.95 | More info.

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