The macOS is widely regarded by many as the operating system of choice, especially designers and developers. It’s based on Unix, which means developers get to access a familiar terminal with an expansive ecosystem of development tools.
More importantly, a significant part of website or app development relies on working with graphics, from designing logos to working with vector images. It’s an established fact that creative software support on the macOS is miles ahead of what Windows has to offer, which is why it’s the number one choice.
If you’re looking to streamline your workflows, maximize your productivity, and improve your performance, there are several Mac apps that you should consider integrating into your workflow.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at some of the best Mac apps that designers and developers ought to consider using, and highlight their key features.
The Best Mac Apps for Designers
If you’re a designer, here are some of the best Mac apps that you can use.
1. Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer leverages the power of the latest M1 chips, including the Max and the Ultra chips, and is widely regarded as one of the best design apps in the industry right now.
It’s ideal for designing logos, icons, UI mockups, web interface designs, and a lot more. If you’re a professional illustrator, you’ll really like the minimalistic approach that Affinity Designer takes. There’s no bloatware to worry about.
When you open the app, you’re given a blank canvas and a variety of tools that you can get started with. The Affinity Designer engine is capable of handling thousands of objects without lagging, and also gives you a live outline view for selecting objects more accurately.
You can switch between raster or vector workspaces quickly, edit individual pixels, add or remove grain, or clip layers as you see fit.
The app offers several time-saving features, ranging from a saveable history option, auto-snapping and alignment, and a ton of customizable keyboard shortcuts. If you’re firmly embedded in the Apple ecosystem, you can also work seamlessly with the iPad app for Affinity Designer.
- Cross-platform compatibility with apps for iPad and Windows available
- An excellent vector toolset
- Stabilization for pencil and brush tools
- Boolean operations are non-destructive
- Unlimited artboards
- Allows you to view vectors in either retina or standard resolution
- Support for OpenType and an array of paragraph + character styles
Figma is widely regarded as one of the best design apps for web designers and developers. From designing wireframes to app concepts, Figma offers a ton of different components and styles.
Figma is known for its collaborative properties, and FigJam, its online whiteboard is suitable for brainstorming ideas, reviewing processes, mapping user flows, and internal systems.
If you’re a designer, Figma gives you a bunch of options, including OpenType support, a fantastic pen tool, arc designs, and offers quality-of-life improvements such as stretch to fill, Auto Layouts, and automatic resizing.
Figma also has hundreds of plugins that you can use to optimize your workflow and improve your designs. And, if you can’t find a suitable plugin for your needs, you can always design your own. You can even create private plugins and distribute them within the company.
- Cloud-based software with native macOS support
- Intuitive prototyping platform that requires no technical knowledge
- Tons of searchable assets that you can drag and drop
- Responsive components make it easier to hand off designs to developers as they map closer to code
- There’s a free plan available
3. Adobe Creative Cloud
The industry standard in design, Adobe Creative Cloud is essentially a suite of design and editing applications from Adobe Inc. Hosted on Azure, Adobe Creative Cloud’s pricing starts from $52.99/mo, which gives subscribers access to all the Creative Cloud apps.
Whether you’re a freelancer or running a small design agency, Adobe Creative Cloud gives you access to all of the top design apps, including:
- Photoshop — ideal for creating beautiful photos, art, and graphics.
- Illustrator — the leading design app for creating vector illustrations and art.
- InDesign — lets you design and quickly publish elegant layouts for digital and print.
- Creative Cloud Express — allows designers to quickly create unique content by using hundreds of pre-made templates.
- Lightroom — the ultimate application for capturing gorgeous photos, editing lighting, and customizing them to your requirements.
Cross-platform apps are available for the iPad and Windows too, making Creative Cloud the ultimate choice for designers. It’s packed with features, and there’s also a free trial available!
- Includes everything you need to create stunning designs
- Adobe Stock templates for starting your next project
- Ideal for 3D design and development
- Photoshop is the best graphic design software right now
- Compatible apps available for other devices too
- Cloud-based support for easy team collaboration
ColorSlurp is an excellent color tool for designers and developers. It lets you quickly pick any color you want from your screen, and comes with an exceptional magnifier. This makes it easy to pick any color on the screen using simple keyboard shortcuts.
More importantly, you can easily create and organize palettes conveniently using different editing tools, check the contrast, and even select colors using the companion app for iOS. Export and sync options are available with iCloud.
Since you can easily check the contrast between two colors, it also allows you to create more accessible designs. There’s also a cute slurp sound effect every time you pick a color!
- Accurate color picking with an in-built magnifier that lets you select colors from each pixel
- Tons of keyboard shortcuts
- Lets you pick colors directly from pictures through iOS
- It’s free to use!
- Lightweight, functional app
The Best Mac Apps for Developers
If you’re a developer, macOS has a bunch of excellent apps. Here are some of the best that you can use.
5. Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is one of the most versatile code editors for macOS and works very well with different programming languages. VS Code, as it’s commonly known, is completely free to download, and is completely open-source.
It lets you debug code straight from the editor, allowing you to run apps simultaneously and edit code using an interactive, well-designed console. It’s got Git commands built-in, letting you make commits or stage files directly from any major SCM provider.
VS Code is also highly customizable, with a bunch of extensions that you can use. It’s hosted on Microsoft Azure, and developers can use that to easily deploy sites made on Node, Vue, Angular, React, Python, and others all within the editor.
- A blazing-fast cost editor
- An extensive range of third-party extensions that you can use to customize VS Code
- Excellent tool support for JSON, Less, SCSS, HTML, and CSS.
- Open-source, free code editor.
Fig came out of Y Combinator’s S20 Class and managed to raise more than $2M right off the bat. Fig essentially improves your command line terminal, adding a range of enhancements that developers will greatly appreciate.
For instance, one of its biggest advantages is the autocomplete feature. As soon as you start writing a command in the terminal, Fig automatically shows you a drop-down menu of recommendations and saves your selections as you go.
This is ideal for developers who type similar commands on cloud services daily, simplifying workflows and saving precious time. Fig also has a platform that Markdown-based apps can use, adding a visual interface when you add commands. Pretty neat.
- Integrates with macOS’ built-in terminal seamlessly
- Excellent autocomplete feature that you can tweak to your preferences
- Saves a great deal of time, especially when running repeat commands
- Built by the community, and all completion specs are open source
Termius is an excellent SSH client that works seamlessly across different platforms, including macOS, Windows, and Linux, and allows you to easily connect to your servers. There are companion apps available for iOS and Android as well.
Termius is a command-line solution that’s ideal for network engineers or for allowing remote access to sysadmins. There are 12 themes, adjustable fonts, and it’s even got a dark mode!
Termius offers a 14-day free trial, and syncing using military-standard AES-256 encryption. It also lets you pair credentials and servers, offering quick access to your data. It’s ideal for accessing IoT or Linux-based devices and fixing problems quickly and efficiently.
- A single subscription works with all desktop and mobile devices
- Lets you save repetitive shell commands
- Server tagging for better organization
- Port forwarding to encrypt any connection
For developers who work primarily with data, DataGrip is an excellent option. DataGrip is a simple database IDE that’s designed for SQL developers.
DataGrip offers simple schema navigation, letting you switch to any view or table efficiently, and even lets you execute queries in different modes. It also offers context-sensitive code predictions, so you can complete SQL queries faster.
More importantly, DataGrip also highlights bugs and even offers suggestions for quick fixes. That’s great when you are trying to identify unresolved objects through your code. The smart text editor can be customized to your preferences, with a bunch of themes and a light/dark mode option.
- Automatically detects issues and helps you fix probable bugs
- Resolves all your references in SQL files
- Customizable appearance
- Automatically generates code for changing objects like columns and tables
- Offers schema switching, including a local history so you keep track of all activity
The Best Apps to Improve Your Workflows
Using a password manager is virtually necessary for the modern age. Your data is at considerable risk if you aren’t using a decent password manager that generates strong passwords and keeps them safe. 1Password, thankfully, does all that and more.
Its native Mac app lets you automatically enter passwords in browsers and anywhere on your system. It’s a great option for developers as it lets you store SSH keys, any infrastructure-related secrets, and passwords, in an encrypted vault.
It supports biometric unlocking, and you can even set up workflows or manage your SSH keys straight from the terminal. A REST API lets you move encrypted data directly to services that need authentication.
- Completely eliminate any plaintext keys on your system
- No more manually typing in passwords
- Use Secrets Automation to create a single source of truth for managing all infrastructure secrets
- The industry standard when it comes to password security
On the surface, Superhuman may look like an email app on steroids, but if you take a look under the hood, you’ll realize it’s got a lot more going for it. It’s only available to macOS and iOS devices, and every person who signs up is personally onboarded by one of their agents.
Superhuman’s aim is simple: to help you reach inbox zero. It looks absolutely stunning, with its minimalistic interface. It’s incredibly fast — probably the fastest email app out there, so you’ll be blazing through your inbox in no time.
It’s even got an Undo Send button, so you can quickly correct typos and errors before resending emails. It even has read receipts built-in!
Superhuman follows a simple approach: it gives you a ton of keyboard shortcuts, so you don’t have to use your mouse when you’re in the app. That’s also a slight downside because to leverage the full power of the app, you need to know these shortcuts!
Any doubt that Superhuman might be designed for casual email users goes away when you consider the price point: it costs a whopping $30/mo to use this service! But, if you’re a power user, that’s a small price to pay.
- Read receipts are built-in
- Automatically set up follow-ups and reminders
- Snooze conversations to focus on your work
- A ton of built-in keyboard shortcuts
- Personalized onboarding so you can set up Superhuman the way it should work for you.
Arguably the most popular task management app on macOS, Things is an excellent app that lets you manage your time and your work better. The newly redesigned app doesn’t just look great, but it’s also more functional.
It’s easy to get an understanding of tasks, and to-do lists and the design language is so simple that users intuitively know what to do next. Information is presented in a neat, well-designed layout right on your screen.
The only gripe I have with Things is that you have to pay separately if you want the app on your Mac and your iPad, or your iPhone. They are discrete versions, even though you can sync them together.
- Quick Find feature lets you quickly search through everything to find what you need
- Includes everything you need to organize your tasks lists
- A beautiful, aesthetically pleasing user interface
- Reminders, quick commands, and an option to work on multiple projects simultaneously
12. CleanShot X
The default screenshotting solution in macOS is good, but it could be better. This becomes important when you have a bunch of images to share back and forth with clients. Enter CleanShot X, a minimalistic screenshot tool that adds a ton of functionality to boring screengrabs.
For starters, it lets you quickly highlight important parts with annotations, and you can even upload images to the CleanShot Cloud and share it with others.
From pixelating items on the screen to auto-smoothing, CleanShot X lets you take precise screenshots in under a second. You can efficiently adjust overlay sizes, positions, and even view file information!
- Simple drag and drop in any app you use
- Hide overlays temporarily or access quick actions
- Screenshot with or without backgrounds
- Scrolling capture
- Record your screen (and adjust recording settings!)
The macOS is known for its excellent support for different apps. Designers and developers are often very picky when deciding which apps to use. However, if you really want to streamline your work, these are some of the best Mac apps out there!