30 free and Open-source macOS Apps for Your Daily Use

As a Linux user for so many years and a regular macOS user for the last 7 years, It is very hard to deal with the dilemma of limitation and free open-source programs for macOS. The system is stable, responsive and fast. Though it increased my productivity, unlike Linux, there were fewer options for optimization and customization and system utilities.

Linux users are blessed with many open-source alternative options, but in the macOS world, most of what the user requires is paid and commercial solutions. Even though the AppStore has many free applications, most of them contain in-app purchases, locking most of the features.

Though many open-source programs can be installed and run on macOS, most of them are not system utility apps. So here in this article, we will list a daily use of open-source applications for macOS with a primary focus on system utility programs.

Apple's macOS is steadily gaining new users every day, especially among medical professionals. We have covered many medical macOS apps on this blog like DICOM viewers and workstations, medical record clients (EMR/ EHR) and Digital Pathology solutions. But today's article is different for all kinds of macOS users.

Due to the increase of macOS users especially among doctors, We are delighted to compile this list hoping to be helpful as we selected the most powerful free (Libre) macOS system utilities.

We have published an article about open-source macOS security and firewall, intending to provide macOS with free and open-source alternatives.

This list consists of applications defined under different categories: security, system customization, system utilities, and more. We hope it'll save our reader time and effort looking for worthy and usable commercial-grade free and open-source apps for their Apple's machines.

Everyday Tools macOS tools


Tools

  • Keka (The archiver)
Keka: (src: Keka website)

Keka is a free compression and uncompression lightweight solution. It's easy to use and supports many versions of macOS.

  • The Unarchiver
Unarchiver (src: Unarchiver)


The Unarchiver supports many archived files especially RAR, ZIP, ACE and TAR. It's totally free and supporting many macOS version starting from macOS 10.7. It supports also rare archived formats including old formats as well.  

  • Burn (File burner)


Brun is an amazing file/ disc burner for macOS. It's an alternative to many commercial solutions. It supports making music and video DVDs.

  • KAP (Screencapture)
Kap (src: Kap)

Kap is simple yet very powerful open-source screen-recorder for macOS. It supports multiple format and exports high quality video as well as animated GIF images.

  • Skim: PDF reader and note-taking solution
Skim (src: skim)

Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for macOS (10.7 and later). It's feature-rich program and very useful for researchers as it include notes, highlighting, bookmarks, editing tools and LaTeX support.

Skim also provides a full integration with BibDesk which we covered in this article.

BibDesk: Free Open-source Reference and Bibliography Manager
What is BibDesk? BibDesk is a lightweight free open-source citation/ bibliography macOS package. It provides researchers with a powerful BibTeX file management options without hustle. If you are familiar with BibTeX you will find BibDesk very easy to use. We have created a list for best LaTeX/ TeX…
  • SelfControl

SelfControl A free Mac application to help you avoid distracting websites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. It supports multiple websites, timer, and comes with command-line mode. (I didn't use it much but I would recommend it to other macOS users).

System utilities & macOS maintenance

  • Lynis (System auditing)
Lynis (src: Lynis)

Lynis is my favorite macOS maintenance solution, but it's for pro-users considering it's user-interface. Lynix provide a complete set of system health check for Unix alike systems including macOS.

Lynis can be used for Security auditing, Compliance testing (e.g. PCI, HIPAA, SOx), Penetration testing, Vulnerability detection and System hardening.

  • OnyX (Recommended)
Src: OnyX

OnyX is an up-to-date macOS system maintenance app. It contains many system functions like file cleaning, removing old temporary files, cleaning caches and rebuilding database indexes.

  • Mac Organizer

Mac Organizer  a lightweight open-source to organize folders (directories) on macOS.

  • AppPolice
AppPolice: (src: AppPolice)
AppPolice: An app for Mac OS X with a minimalistic UI which lets you quickly throttle down the CPU usage of any running process.

It's very useful app, I highly recommend it for developers.

  • AppCleaner
AppCleaner (src: AppCleaner Website)


AppCleaner is a small application which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps.

  • Dozer

Are you annoyed by your macOS status bar icons? This tiny small open-source app (Dozer) can hide them with one simple click.


Media applications

  • Iina Player
IINA (Src: IINA website)

Iina: The most innovative open-source media/ video player for macOS with clean UI. It supports dark mode, picture-in-picture mode out of box, touch-bar support and it has very nice music mode as well.

Iina is fully customizable as you can customize the user-interface, online streaming, playlist and has a plugin system.

  • HandBreak
Video converted by HandBreak

HandBeak is a video converter and transcoder for macOS, Windows and Linux. It's free and open source. I have used it several times for my videos it's really easy to use has built-in preset library, supports multiple input sources and dozens of formats and quality options. Here is some of my videos converted with HandBreak.


News reader

  • Vienna (RSS Reader)
Vienna

Vienna is an RSS/Atom reader for macOS, It has many features to make it worth using everyday as your primary news reader. It supports folders, smart directories, search, navigation and built-in web browser.


File sharing && Download managers

  • qBittorrent
qBittorrent


The qBittorrent is a free useful torrent client alternative. Unlike many other torrent programs qBitorrent does not contain spyware, adware or any advertisement of sort. Above all, it helps the user to search dozens of torrent websites without opening them sparing the user from ads and many infected websites.  It has a plugin system but be aware some plugins are not that good as it'll conflict with other search plugins.

  • Persepolis


Finding the right free download manager for macOS was not easy, It took me sometime to find Presepolis. It works on many operating system and has features you only see in commercial programs like multi segment downloading support,queuing support, and scheduling management.


Window Management

  • Spectacle

Spectacle allows you to organize, resize, and move application windows without using a mouse. It's free app with no hidden fees or ads. However, it's unmaintained application.

  • Amethyst

Amethyst: I have been using tiling window managers on Linux for ages (Mainly AwesomeWM and xmonad WM) , Since I start using macOS, I was looking for tiling WM alternative. Amethyst was there, an amazing application, free and easy to use with customizable shortcuts.

Amethyst (src: Amethyst)
  • AppGrid

AppGrid is a Vim-inspired Window manager for macOS. If you are a Vim user you will like this app.


Communication

For communication there is a long list of messengers and chat applications, however We have covered several messenger application for macOS with end-to-end encryption you can read about in the following link:

Top 12 Open source Messengers with End-to-end Encryption
What is end-to-end encryption End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a secure communication model that is designed to prevent third party from accessing plain raw messages, as the sender sends an encrypted message only the intended recipient’s device will be able to decrypt and read it, Which will ensure …

  • Colloquy

Colloquy is an IRC client for macOS with a native memory-efficient user-interface.


Productivity

  • Itsycal
Itsycal (src: Itsycal website)

Itsycal is a tiny menu bar calendar. It's totally free and useful app. I would recommend it especially for extensive calendar users. Please consider donating to the developer if you install the app and like it.

  • Mark Text
Mark Text editor (src: Mark Text)

Mark Text is a markdown editor for macOS, Linux and Windows. As I am using Linux and macOS. It has amazing features that will increase the productivity, with support of dark mode, focus mode, graphs, tables and inline scripts.  It's the perfect markdown editor for researchers, developers and writers.


Security

We have written an article about the most useful security apps for macOS, this section is an extension to this article.

Best +10 Free Open source Security Apps for Mac OSX (Firewall,File Encryption, Anti-virus, & Password Managers)
Finding professional open source software for Mac OSX is not easy, Mainly the main reason because OSX developers tend to release their solution under commercial license as paid or with a subscription. Though, Security programs are needed and should be available for anyone for free, lucky for Mac O…
  • Cloaker (Password file Encryption)

Cloaker is a password-based file encryption tool that works with simple drag and drop to encrypt and decrypt files and folders.

  • macOS Quick Lock

macOS Quick Lock is an easy-to-use file encryption tool for macOS. With simple right click on the file you can easily encrypt and decrypt files and folders.

  • Cryptomator
Cryptomator: Free Open source encryption software
Cryptomator is the answer for consideration and worrying as well as the real alternative to the commercial over-priced solutions to encrypt files and ensure privacy. And it’s Open source.

Cryptomator is a Free client-side encryption for your cloud files. We have reviewed it in this blog before and we have been using it for a long-time now. It does not require registration and it's very easy to use.

  • VeryCrypt

VeraCrypt is a free open source disk encryption software for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.

  • Tunnelblick (VPN client)

Tunnelblick  is an Open-VPN client for macOS

  • Murus macOS Firewall
Murus macOS Firewall (src:Murus macOS Firewall)

Murus macOS Firewall Unchained with rich-feature set and native user macOS user-interface. It's super user friendly especially for non-technical users.


Developer apps

  • iTerm2
iTerm

iTerm is a terminal alternative for macOS. I have been using it for years. It comes with many options like split-pane, custom background, hotkey support, search and auto-complete. iTerm also supports history management, multiple languages, and multiple profiles as well. It's the perfect terminal for Fish.

  • Cakebrew
CakeBrew (src: Cakebrew website)

Cakebrew is an open-source graphical desktop client for Homebrew package manager. It's very useful especially for normal users to manage brew packages. Cakebrew lists all packages in their categories as installed and outdated.

Cakebrew
Cakebrew - The Mac App for Homebrew

Conclusion


The apps we listed here will sure ease and improve your daily use on macOS. Though, we believe there are many other useful tools out there, If you believe some other open-source tools are worth mention in this list, please drop a comment or contact us.


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Hamza Mu Author: Hamza Mu

A physician with programming skills, Linux user since late 1990s, Open source supporter. Coding with Python, NodeJS (Meteor, VueJS, Express, D3, PhantomJS), SmallTalk & R language.












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