SLIDESHOW

The 29 best reviewed Mac apps of 2016

mac apps
The best software for your Mac

There’s a lot of Mac software available, and here at Macworld, we take pride in finding the best applications. If you just got a new Mac, or you’re looking for an alternative to software you’re not satisfied with, or you want to change from what’s you’re currently using, take a look at this selection of the top-rated apps we reviewed in 2016. You’ll find disk utilities, font tools, filters for Photos, video editors, and a lot more.

All the apps here (listed in alphabetical order) received a 4.5- or 5-mice rating, so you know they’re good. We reviewed many other good apps that aren’t listed here; you can find them in our Reviews section.

ipassword 6 mac icon
Credit: AgileBits
1Password 6

AgileBits’ 1Password 6 ($3 per month subscription fee; available on the App Store as a single-purchase license for $65) is perhaps one of the most venerable members of the family of password manager programs, and one that, with its newest version 6.0 release, aims to retain its position as the leader of the pack. Its great feature set, longevity, and ability to rely on multiple synchronization services, make this app one of the very best of its kind. Read the review.—Marco Tabini

Airfoil 5
Credit: Rogue Amoeba
Airfoil 5

Airfoil 5 ($29) is a digital ventriloquist that lets you throw your computer’s “voice.” The latest version builds on the foundation of letting you take a single app’s audio output and route it to one or more places to play it back. It’s something like iTunes multi-“speaker” support but with much more control and it works with any application, all while not relying entirely on AirPlay. Read the review.—Glenn Fleishman

Blocs 2
Credit: Caboozi
Blocs 2

Blocs 2 ($80) sticks squarely with its basic web design-as-Lego-kit approach. Choose from an abundant menu of pre-built chunks of code (“blocs”) that snap together to quickly build your site’s basic structure. Then customize the paragraphs, images, buttons, and other premade elements of those chunks (“brics”) by typing directly into your design, or adjusting their parameters in the program’s sidebar. To add images or picture or video backgrounds, just drag the files straight from your desktop, or from Blocs’ clean and well-organized Project Assets window. Read the review.—Nathan Alderman

Day One 2
Credit: IDG
Day One 2

It’s a snap to start typing a new journal entry in Day One 2 ($40 on the App Store), either from the app itself or its convenient menu bar widget. The latter also provides customizable reminders to write down your thoughts at a given time. Day One 2 tags entries with the date, time, any custom tags you care to create, the current weather, and your GPS-based location. Read the review.—Nathan Alderman

disk drill 3
Credit: IDG
Disk Drill 3

Disk Drill 3 offers data recovery as a free download, which includes a handful of tools for monitoring disk health, identifying and removing unwanted files, performing data backups, and more. It also has the ability to recover data from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, which is handy when an iOS update fails without a current backup available or an older device stops working because of water or other physical damage. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

dragon mac icon
Credit: Nuance
Dragon Professional Individual for Mac 6

Despite the price, I wouldn’t want to be without Dragon Professional Individual ($300). I don’t dictate all of my work (far from it), but I take advantage of Dragon’s powers to change the way I work several times a week. Instead of leaning over my keyboard, I sit back, relax, and talk to my Mac. And my words appear on screen. That’s pretty magical. Read the review.—Kirk McElhearn

External Editors for Photos
Credit: Karsten Bruns
External Editors for Photos

External Editors for Photos ($1 on the Mac App Store) allows OS X Photos users to seamlessly edit images using any Mac image editor, no export/import required. External Editors for Photos works like other Photos extensions, but hands the actual editing duties off to standalone applications already installed on your system. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

Fantastical 2
Credit: IDG
Fantastical 2

The guiding philosophy for Fantastical 2 ($50; available on the App Store) is that it’s a calendar app that focuses on upcoming events in a list view, keeping that view active no matter whether you’re looking at a graphical layout of day, week, month, or year. I live in the week view, and the combination of the upcoming list and a glance at the current week tends to work well together. Read the review.—Glenn Fleishman

FileMaker 15
Credit: FileMaker
FileMaker 15

With version 15, the FileMaker relational database platform gets better, and it was pretty good already. But in terms of features, FileMaker 15 is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary release. Many existing users may not feel the need to rush to upgrade, and both new and current users may find the new licensing options a bit confusing. (Individual, perpetual licenses: $329 for Pro, $549 for Pro Advanced, and $1044 for Server. Multi-license and subscription pricing available.) Read the review.—William Porter

Folx 5
Credit: Eltima Software
Folx 5

Perhaps the greatest argument for the free Folx download manager is the ability to schedule downloads for a more convenient time; late at night while you’re asleep, for example. This can be done on a case-by-case basis as downloads are queued, or on a global basis from the Preferences panel. Eltima has thoughtfully added auto-complete options to quit the application, sleep or shut down the system when finished. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

FontAgent 7
Credit: Insider Software
FontAgent 7

FontAgent 7 ($59 annual subscription; Standard single-user version available for one-time $99 fee) is the easiest way to share fonts among multiple Macs or a workgroup. Current FontAgent users will appreciate version 7’s greater accuracy in identifying fonts used in documents, Smart Sets that automatically update, and the elimination of Libraries. New users can feel confident that their fonts will import without duplicates, and in the location required by Apple in OS X El Capitan and macOS Sierra. Read the review.—Jay J. Nelson

FontExplorer X Pro 6
Credit: Monotype Imaging
FontExplorer X Pro 6

FontExplorer X Pro 6’s ($99) support for macOS Sierra, plug-ins for the latest apps from Adobe and Quark, and detection of fonts in Microsoft Office documents make version 6 a worthwhile upgrade for most users, and a necessary one if you skipped version 5. Read the review.—Jay J. Nelson

FotoMagico 5
Credit: Boinx
FotoMagico 5

Boinx Software’s FotoMagico 5 ($50; available on the App Store) blends iLife-style simplicity with a robust set of tools for creating impressive, visually rich slideshows in up to 4K resolution. Whether it’s for a wedding, to enhance travel videos, or a visual scrapbook of family memories, FotoMagico gets the job done with style and grace. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

HazeOver
Credit: Maxim Ananov
HazeOver

HazeOver ($5 on the App Store) helps you deal with multiple windows by masking the ones that are in the background, putting a sort of translucent curtain behind your frontmost window. Instead of seeing multiple windows with their text and graphics distracting you from your task at hand, HazeOver lets you focus on the app and window you’re working in. Read the review.—Kirk McElhearn

MailButler
Credit: Feingeist Software
MailButler

Billed as “your personal assistant for Apple Mail,” MailButler (monthly subscription fees range from free to €30 per month) is a bundle of plugins that extend the capabilities of Apple’s email client. I’m talking about new features like uploading attachments to cloud services other than iCloud Drive, and following up on sent emails that have gone unanswered. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

OpticsPro 11
Credit: William Porter
OpticsPro 11

OpticsPro 11’s Smart Lighting feature now has a spot-weighted option that’s more powerful and more versatile than using spot metering in your camera. For example, take a shot of an informal portrait of someone standing in front of a window at midday, using your camera’s matrix metering system for the best overall exposure. OpticsPro will find the face, recognize the strong backlight, and then automatically try to brighten the face and balance the backlight. ($179 for the Elite version; $129 for the Essential version.) Read the review.—William Porter

Paragon Hard Disk Manager
Credit: Paragon Software
Paragon Hard Disk Manager

One of Paragon Hard Disk Manager’s pride and joys is its Snapshot technology, which allows users to create an exact sector-level copy of the operating system and all user data. Compared to Time Machine and other Mac-native backup solutions, Snapshot offers improved performance, with system recovery times in minutes rather than hours. ($40.) Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

Parallels Desktop 12
Credit: Parallels
Parallels Desktop 12

The marquee feature of Parallels Desktop 12 ($100 one-year Pro Edition or Business Edition subscription; $80 Standard Edition one-time purchase; $40 Student Edition one-time purchase) is a bundled standalone application called Parallels Toolbox (sold separately for $10). Toolbox consolidates 20 common, everyday tasks into a single menu bar window, making them easier to find and use. These tools offer one-click simplicity for downloading or converting video, recording audio, muting the microphone, or performing system tasks such as locking the screen, hiding the desktop, preventing your Mac from going to sleep, and Do Not Disturb, which temporarily pauses notifications and Dock activity. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

Pastebot 2
Credit: TapBots
Pastebot 2

If you find yourself wishing you didn’t have just a single level of clipboard depth, or yearn for the sweet return of Scrapbook, Pastebot 2 ($20 on the App Store) provides that in an efficient way with lots of options for customizing to work best with you. The combination of being able to assign keystrokes and change basic behavior while retaining a deep backlist of clippings means you can retain the history of what you’ve cut and copied and find and apply it easily. Read the review.—Glenn Fleishman

PDF Expert 2
Credit: Readdle
PDF Expert 2

With the release of PDF Expert 2 ($60; available on the App Store), Readdle not only delivers PDF editing, but it also comes surprisingly close to feature parity with the reigning PDF heavyweight, Adobe Acrobat DC. Want to add links or redact text inside a PDF document? No problem. Need to keep PDF files from potentially prying eyes by protecting documents with a password? Consider it done. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

PDFpen 8
Credit: Smile
PDFpen 8

PDFpen ($75; $125 Pro version) has seemingly nearly as many features and options as Adobe Acrobat, but I consistently find myself able to figure out how to accomplish what I want in PDFpen, while I often have to consult web documentation and poke around in Acrobat to get to where I’m going. I went back and forth between PDFpen and Acrobat, and Smile’s software was a consistent relief to which to return. Read the review.—Glenn Fleishman

Perfect Eyes and Perfect Skin
Credit: Athentech
Perfect Eyes and Perfect Skin

There’s now a better way to click your way to the perfect portrait shot, even if your Photoshop or Lightroom skills aren’t the greatest. Perfect Eyes ($49) and Perfect Skin ($59) are not standalone applications, but rather plugins that work entirely from a new window inside your preferred host software, and can make any subject look like a professional portrait. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

Postbox 5
Credit: Postbox
Postbox 5

After months of watching Apple Mail mangle my messages, swapping their headers or dumping them down the memory hole, Postbox 5’s ($40) simple competence felt like a breath of fresh air. My messages downloaded quickly and accurately, and after I let it spend a few hours archiving those thousands of missives, Postbox 5 rewarded me with fast, accurate searches. Read the review.—Nathan Alderman

Premiere Elements 15
Credit: Adobe
Premiere Elements 15

Premiere Elements 15 ($100) provides a respectable number of useful new and augmented features that add a pro touch to your videos. Newcomers, especially those who seek an alternative to iMovie, will find it easy to use and learn and well maintained with tons of variety. This new version makes it even more fun and useful. Read the review.—Jackie Dove

quarkxpress 2016 stock
Credit: Quark
QuarkXPress 2016

QuarkXPress 2016 ($849) has innovative new features, many of them based on requests from users. QuarkXPress 2016 is also impressively fast and stable, and those upgrading will be delighted that XTensions written for QuarkXPress 2015 also work with QuarkXPress 2016 (as long as the XTension doesn’t conflict with a new function). And unlike Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress doesn’t require an ongoing subscription. Its perpetual license lets you use the program forever. Read the review.—Jay J. Nelson

Radio Silence 2
Credit: IDG
Radio Silence 2

For less than 10 bucks, Radio Silence 2 is an indispensable Mac utility to monitor outgoing network activity and selectively block applications from phoning home to the mothership. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

SoundSoap+ 5
Credit: IDG
SoundSoap+ 5

The SoundSoap+ 5 ($100 on the App Store) audio noise reduction app is remarkably easy to use, and fairly automatic in typical use. While playing a section of audio containing the noise you’d like to eliminate, click the Learn button. The software intelligently analyzes the unwanted sound and removes it without requiring the end user to have a degree in audio engineering. Read the review.—J.R. Bookwalter

Suitcase Fusion 7
Credit: IDG
Suitcase Fusion 7

Suitcase Fusion 7 ($120) is a powerhouse of a font manager, with features that extend a million pixels wide and at least several picas deep. Version 7 adds support for the newest Mac and Windows operating systems, automatic cloud-based backup and syncing, and a new plug-in for Adobe After Effects. However, these new features just add icing to the cake that was Suitcase Fusion 6. Read the review.—Jay J. Nelson

World of Warcraft: Legion
Credit: IDG
World of Warcraft: Legion

World of Warcraft: Legion ($50; World of Warcraft main game required) is the expansion to the game players have been waiting for, even if your faith has been shaken by somewhat mediocre expansion packs over World of Warcraft’s 12-year history. Whether this gets you back as a subscriber and a fan is another thing, but for the time being, Legion is definitely worth your consideration. Read the review.—Chris Barylick