If you feel like you’re just not making the most of your waking hours, you’re not alone. With all the competing demands on our time and energies, most of us can use a bit of help prioritising our most important goals and keeping focused on the steps we need to take to reach these goals.
Happily there are some fabulous apps available for Mac users that can help you do just that.
I’ve created a list of the ten best free apps that will help you jump-start your productivity. All are free, but some invite you to upgrade for a fee, in order to access an ad-free or more feature-rich version of the app. For many users, though, the free version will be all you ever need to get the job done.
Without a doubt the first step to boosting your productivity is to get organised, and the best way to do that is to be clear about what your goals are and prioritise the tasks you need to execute every day to fulfil those goals.
The Todoist app is a simple to-do list that helps you to manage your daily tasks by documenting them, prioritising them and adding deadlines or due dates.
- add, complete, and reschedule tasks from mobile devices, desktop, browser, email, etc.
- syncs automatically across all your devices
- add sub-tasks, task priorities, sub-projects, and color-coded projects
- share projects, assign tasks, and add comments to team members from within the app
- and more
User SamManns says:
"Love this app. Beautiful, uncluttered interface."
If you work with a lot of images, graphics and/or videos, then you know how important it is to be able to access your media quickly and easily on different devices and to be able to share files with colleagues in an instant when necessary.
Photo Transfer WiFi enables you to do just that by making speedy, hassle-free transfers between devices on the same W-iFi.
- Simple drag and drop operation
- Import HD videos to Mac from another Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, or iPad Pro
- Make your pictures accessible from your Mac to other users on the same WiFi network
- Transfer your single and multiple photos and videos, albums, photos in full resolution
- and more
User David Paine says:
"You put a copy of this on your iPad and a copy on your Mac. You start both programs. They talk to each other. The Mac program sees your iPad and the iPad program sees your Mac.You drag and drop from your Mac into the little program window and transfer is instant, even with a little wavefile sounding of the photo wizzing off to your iPad. Is really amazing. Buy this…you won't regret it."
3. Be Focused
One of the most important factors in living a more productive life is being able to focus on one task without distractions for a period of time.
Be Focused helps you get tasks done by breaking up the time you spend working on them into discrete intervals separated by short breaks.
This helps you retain motivation and focus. You can track your progress throughout the day, week or any custom period you choose.
- fast and easy goal tracking
- customise work interval and break duration
- different alarm sounds
- syncs between Mac and mobile devices
- and more
User ElevatingCreativity says:
"Be Focused allows you to keep track of specific activities that you're engaging in, and how much time you're spending there. It automatically alternates between focus sessions and break sessions. It allows you to specify how much time you want to alternate between focus and breaks, and will automatically remind you to stay on track. I haven't yet tried the pro version, but just this free version does a lot and is very useful."
Where does the time go? This is a mystery for many of us, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to understand exactly how you’re spending the working hours of a day, then Toggl Desktop app is an indispensable tool.
Each time you begin a new task, you enter it in the app. When you’ve completed the task you log out. At the end of the day, week, and month you'll have a detailed record of how you’ve spent your time.
- idle detection
- tracking reminder
- task timer
- and more
User Lucas2114 says:
"I use Toggl as a freelancer. It’s amazing how good the free version is. I tried many apps and this one is perfect. It’s also open-source, which is cool."
AudioNote Lite is a brilliant app that will save you time and energy while improving the quality of the notes you take in meetings, lectures, interviews or study sessions.
The app is essentially a notepad and voice recorder combined. When you hit the record button the app begins recording, and thereafter each note that you type acts as a link to the point in the recording that you typed it.
This means that during playback, you don’t have to waste time searching through the entire recording to find a certain point. Just click the note you’ve written and it will take you to the exact point in the recording when you made it.
- synchronised note and audio recording
- find important parts of audio instantly just by tapping notes
- ability to insert text, drawing, photo, and highlighter notes
- audio amplifier for recordings made in larger conference rooms
- and more
User Thumper124 says:
"This is one of the best note taking apps I've tried. I especially like the recording feature, and the option to type your notes instead of writing if that is what you prefer. Love this app!!"
Evernote is all about being organised, and where it really excels is in enabling users to make notes in a variety of formats, including text, sketches, photos, audio, video, PDFs and web clippings etc. and then organise those notes in searchable notebooks and checklists that can be automatically synced between a computer and various mobile devices.
- everything you store in Evernote is searchable including pictures and annotated images
- share, discuss and collaborate with others all in one app
- gather, capture and store every thoughts and ideas
- clip and organise content from the web
- and more
User madman420 says:
"The Mac version of Evernote keeps getting better. I love that I can drag multiple files onto the dock icon in order to create multiple notes with the files attached to each note, and I also appreciate being able to open multiple Evernote windows. This, combined with the flexible workflow tools and features like reminders, tagging, PDF mark-up, OCR search, synced notebooks, offline notebooks, local notebooks, and easy collaboration make it the ultimate, indispensible tool for managing my life and business."
If you're ooking for a great digital notebook that you can use for jotting notes, crafting longer pieces, writing code snippets or sketching, then check out Bear.
It's a beautiful, flexible writing app that allows you to create many different types of notes and access them across devices.
- focus mode helps you concentrate
- ability to link notes to each other
- ability to use hashtags to quickly find and organize notes
- Smart Data Recognition of elements like links, emails, addresses, colours, etc.
- and more
User CompSciProf says:
"There are three main reasons why I love this app: 1) You own your data, meaning it is not stored in some proprietary format. Along with this, you can export your data and backup your data very easily. 2) App is iOS and MacOS only. The advantage here is the development team can focus on one platform instead of trying to fit their app into each platform. 3) The app is easy to use and very intuitive. Instead of focusing on creating folders or creating tags, Bear takes care of that for you by creating the tag structure dynamically based on the content of the notes. With the latest updates, the development team does a great job of balancing features while avoiding bloat."
Skitch is one of those apps that once you start using, you’ll wonder how you lived without it for so long.
An add-on for Evernote that can also be used independently, Skitch helps users to use screenshots, PDFs or images from your hard drive, mark them up with various notes, comments and diagrams and send them to colleagues in an instant.
- send marked-up documents and images via social, email, SMS and more
- multiple users can mark up one document or image using different coloured text
- can be accessed across devices
- and more
User mcgski says:
"I’ve been a Skitch user since it arrived as an add-on for Evernote. I’ve come to rely on it many of my work and personal workflows. For example, at work I’ve used it to take screenshots, annotate these screenshots, and embed them into Evernote notes for use as simple and quick How To for clients."
Text2Speech is a free app that reads aloud any text copied into the app’s text load window.
You can change the speaking rate or the speaking voice, as well as pause or stop the program at any point.
- supports over 20 languages
- can select additional voices from Apple’s System Preference
- and more
User Raven3-3g says:
"I’m working on a research paper where I need many sources from academic articles and this app is saving me a lot of time. I’m better able to take notes on my readings and I can have the app narrate to me a lot faster than I’m able to read silently. This is still an amazing app. Very much worthwhile to have."
Cloud storage has become very popular and very competitive lately. One of the reasons why is that it frees us up from endless drives and the problems associated with them. It also allows us to access our data from any device and makes sharing documents and collaborating with colleagues far easier.
OneDrive gives you free online storage for your files, so you can access them from your Mac and any other devices you use.
- access your OneDrive files directly from the Finder
- work with your OneDrive files even when you’re offline. Your changes will sync automatically the next time you’re online
- add several files or folders to OneDrive at a time by dragging them to the OneDrive folder
- easily open, edit and create docs and other files in OneDrive
- and more
User Simon Beech says:
"I’ve used a range of cloud saving apps but OneDrive has been the most reliable and easiest to use. The quick link between my iPhone and Mac has saved me countless times in interviews, meetings and presentations where I would normally have to resort to a USB memory stick."
Well there you have it, the ten best free Mac apps to jump-start your productivity currently found in the App Store.
Of course, there are many others I couldn’t cover in this article, so if you have a favourite that I haven’t mentioned, please drop a mention in the comments.