Best Free Alternatives to Must-Have Mac OS Applications

In our times, a device can be as useful as the applications in it. An iPhone using only the built in applications, can be boring after a few minutes. The same rule applies for Mac OS and every operating system.

To get the max out of an operating system, what you need is good control over the status of your device and the ability to monitor and keep it secure. Keep in mind that most of the paid software offer free trial versions. You can always try the trail releases and decide which one you would like to use on a daily basis.

Windows Managers

The default windows manager is really basic, since it supports 3 modes in total, which are split screen, full screen and custom window size. In order to improve this feature an extra application is required.

Paid

HyperDock (10$)

Drag and drop features and shortcuts similar to Windows 10. Features which should be built in to Mac OS come to a price of 10$ using HyperDock. This is probably the least value for money windows manager of our time.

Link: Apple Store

Magnet (4$)

Magnet supports up to 6 monitors with different directions and custom shortcuts. It offers every feature needed from a windows manager with an acceptable price.

Link: Apple Store

BetterSnapTool (3$)

BetterSnapTool offers similar features with the previous windows managers, but with more options to configure and better settings. This can be helpful in case you have to work with a lot of windows and you need optimisation on your windows.

Link: Apple Store

Free Alternatives

Rectangle

Rectangle is an open source windows manager, written in Swift with support for Intel and Apple silicon. With programmable shortcuts you can set the way your windows will be placed, based on what is more comfortable for you.

Links: DownloadGithub

Amethyst

Another open source windows manager with rich features, which is actively supported. Amethyst offers more features that most windows managers with more complex layout support.

Links: DownloadGithub

Yabai

Yabai is a windows manager inspired by i3, a Linux windows manager known for lack of icons and with limited use of the mouse. This windows manager required advanced users, but for lovers of i3, this can be a great replacement for Mac OS.

Links: DownloadGithub

Honorable Mentions

System Monitors

System monitors are applications which can be used to inspect the status of your apple device. These will display information like temperature of the different components, fan rotation speed, network speed etc. Especially useful when you are performing intensive tasks.

Paid

iStat Menus (15$)

iStat Menus is probably the leader is this category. Currently it is running version 6 and I have been personally using it for years. It shows all the information you need to know about your system in the status bar, using nice icons. Something to keep in mind is that you need to upgrade if you want to use the latest release, and the price of the update is around 12$. If you don’t mind spending some money, this is the app to go. Note that a similar release is available on Apple store for 10$, but this is not the full version.

Link: Download

System Monitor (5$)

In one third of the price of iStat Menus, it offers fewer features with lack of a professional design and not so great support. This is an option for somebody who wants a tool to just to monitor the status of their device on the status bar and not really care about the appearance or the user experience.

Link: Apple Store

Monity (5$)

This system monitor application is different with the previous two in the way the display the information aggregated since Monity will display the status of your Apple device in form of widgets. This your must-have app in case you want to keep your status bar clean.

Link: Apple Store

Free Alternatives

XRG

This system monitor lacks modern design, but it is completely free open source and displays any time of information a user would need. This project is actively supported with improvements and new features getting added, while the interface is design for more “hardcode” users.

Link: DownloadGithub

eul

A new release in system monitors with modern design and simple interface written completely in Swift. It doesn’t have as much features as iStat Menus, but it is an excellent way to inspect your system without spending any money.

Link: Github

iGlance

Another excellent free alternative for iStats Menus, written in Swift with excellent design and customisable dashboard.

Link: DownloadGithub

Honorable Mentions

Network Monitors

Network monitors are programs which help users control what websites and server your device will connect to. The purpose of that is to keep your device safe from malicious websites and notify you if an application is doing some connections.

Paid

Little Snitch (45$)

Little Snitch is the leader network monitor applications for Mac OS. It offers numerous features, an excellent notification system and great graphs for every connection. Although it is an excellent application, the price is a bit too high making it the iPhone of firewall applications.

Link: Download

Radio Silence (9$)

A beautiful network monitor and firewall application. With a much lower price than Littler Snitch, it offers similar features with a less loaded interface. No complicated graphs and confusing features, while it displays notifications when a new connection is attempted, in order to keep you up to date with the state of your connections.

Link: Download

Murus (10$ / 35$)

Murus offers two different versions for network monitoring. One is the basic release which is for 10$ and allows monitoring of inbound and outbound connections and a generic overview of the active connections. Additionally, there is a Pro Version named Vallum, which is the advanced version with numerous features for firewall configuration and advanced network rules.

Link: Download

Free Alternatives

LuLu

LuLu is the best free and open source network monitor / firewall completely written in Objective-C. With active pop up notifications and list of previous events, it is a simplified version of Little Snitch completely for free.

Link: DownloadGithub

NetIQuette

Another tool by the developer of LuLu, this one with basic network monitoring functionality and without notifications.

Link: DownloadGithub

Honorable Mentions

Final Thoughts

Most of the free applications lack some extra features which make the overall experience of the application better. In my opinion for application like Photoshop there is no competitor using open source tools and the same applies to Microsoft Office. If you are a professional it is better to pay a trusted company offering a product with support and often updates. In case those tools are not essential for your job you can find excellent free alternative solutions, which will save you some money.

Finally, if you plan to buy one of the paid applications, always check the official website, since you can find the same item 30% cheaper, due to the cut that Apple takes of sales from Apple store. If you have some extra tools you believe it is worth mentioning leave a comment below.

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