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Last Updated on March 17, 2021

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2021

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2021

Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

  • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
  • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
  • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

1. Todoist

    Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

    Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

    If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

    Download: Todoist

    2. 1Password

      You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

      1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

      You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

      Download: 1Password

      3. Bear

        Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

        It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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        Download: Bear

        4. Hazel

          Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

          For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

          Download: noodlesoft

          5. Alfred

            Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

            For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

            It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

            Download: Alfred

            6. TextExpander

              TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

              For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

              An individual account is $3.33 per month.

              Download: TextExpander

              7. Backblaze

                If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                Download: Backblaze

                8. Keyboard Maestro

                  Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                  Download: Keyboard Maestro

                  9. Snagit

                    There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                    Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                    10. Bartender

                      Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                      If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                      Download: Bartender

                      11. Otter

                      Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                      Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                      Download: Otter

                      12. Flux

                        Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                        Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                        Download: Flux

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                        13. PDFpen

                        If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                        PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                        Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                        14. OmniFocus

                          OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                          It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                          A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                          Download: OmniFocus

                          15. Franz

                            It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                            Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                            Download: Franz

                            16. MindNode

                              If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                              The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                              Download: MindNode

                              17. Focus

                                The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                Download: Focus

                                18. CleanMyMac

                                  Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                  Download: CleanMyMac

                                  19. Grammarly

                                    A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                    This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                    A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                    Download: Grammarly

                                    Focus To Do

                                      Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                      There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                      Download: Focus To Do

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                      Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                      More to Boost Productivity

                                      Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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                                      Anna Johansson

                                      Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.

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                                      Published on March 22, 2021

                                      7 Best Free Scheduling Apps That Make Scheduling Easier

                                      7 Best Free Scheduling Apps That Make Scheduling Easier

                                      A few years ago, I decided to open up my coaching programmes to the wider world. To achieve this, I would need to shift online and use tools such as Skype and FaceTime. (Zoom was in its infancy back then, and Microsoft Teams was still in development).

                                      One of the first problems I faced was how I was going to schedule my coaching appointments. I live on the east side of the world in North-East Asia, and most of my clients live in North America and Europe. I realized I would be working with up to seventeen hours time difference.

                                      To overcome this difficulty, I began searching for a scheduling service that would automate my calls.

                                      A scheduling service allows you to set the parameters for when a person can schedule an appointment with you. So, all I needed to do was set the times I would be available for a call or meeting, and the person who wanted to schedule a call with me could select a time from the times I made myself available through a link I shared with them. This avoided me having to email back and forth, trying to find a suitable time for both of us.

                                      Scheduling services have come a long way over the last few years, becoming quite a competitive market. One of the advantages of using such a service is that once a person has scheduled a meeting with you, most of these services will add the appointment to your calendar and send out reminders to all parties about the meeting.

                                      With many of us now working from home, the advantage of using a scheduling service is you can set up different time blocks in the day when people can arrange a meeting with you, and you can keep time in the day free of meetings, so you can embark on some quality deep work without worrying about being disturbed.

                                      As long as you share your scheduling link with your colleagues and clients, you can be safe knowing that your carefully planned out day will not be disturbed by people trying to find a mutually convenient time for you to have a meeting.

                                      Below I have listed out my top seven free scheduling services you can use to bring a lot more control to your day.

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                                      1. Square

                                        Square is one of the most popular free services. Square is not just a scheduling service. You can run a business through this service, too as it allows you to take payments and keep track of your clients.

                                        If you are a personal trainer, a coach, teacher, hairdresser or any other business that requires your customers and clients to schedule appointments with you, then Square is a great option to go with.

                                        Square integrates with Google Calendar and has a mobile app for both iOS and Android to manage your appointments wherever you are.

                                        2. Calendly

                                          Possibly, the most popular scheduling service, Calendly integrates with almost all types of calendar; whether you are using Google Calendar, Outlook or Apple, Calendly will integrate with it. You can also embed Calendly right into your website.

                                          More importantly, today, you can also integrate Zoom and Microsoft Teams with Calendly, so all you need do is click on the start meeting right from Zoom or Teams.

                                          As with Square, this app is perfect for teachers, beauticians, personal trainers and any solopreneur as it allows you to set up your schedule, and your students and clients can pick a time and date that suits them.

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                                          You can also set scheduling limits so you don’t get any surprises. For instance, you can set it up so that people cannot book an appointment with you less than a few hours before the time.

                                          3. Bookafy

                                          Bookafy is another free service that has a lot of power under the hood. You can schedule unlimited appointments and types. Appointment types could be the length of the appointment (30 mins, 60 mins etc.) or, if you are a beautician, the type of service being booked.

                                          Bookafy’s website is beautiful, which is an important consideration for your own business branding. It is intuitive for your clients and makes the whole scheduling experience a joy.

                                          You can make sure your customer or colleagues receive all the meeting login details when they schedule the call, and you can also accept payments from your clients through the Bookafy interface.

                                          4. SimplyBook Me

                                            SimplyBook Me is a free service where you can customise the add-ons you require. Most of the add-ons are paid services, but if you are searching for a simple, free appointment scheduling service, then SimplyBook me is certainly worth looking at.

                                            There is a mobile app for managing your appointments. You can also integrate SimplyBook Me with your Facebook page or Instagram account so your customers and clients can schedule appointments through it.

                                            Reminders are customisable, so you can set a reminder of an appointment for the time you want your clients to be reminded. Most services only offer a 24-hour reminder; with SimplyBook Me, you can set your reminder schedule.

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                                            5. Picktime

                                              Picktime is a relatively new service with many features. Its website is both desktop and mobile-friendly and is one of the easiest services for changing or cancelling appointments.

                                              One of my favourite features of Picktime is you can limit the number of people signing up for a specific meeting. This is an excellent way to run a fitness or yoga class, so you do not get too many participants making your job as the instructor difficult.

                                              Picktime is quite new to the scene, so all their services are free — now. So if you want a fully-featured and growing service, Picktime might be the scheduling service for you.

                                              6. 10 TO 8

                                              10 To 8 is a great scheduling service that guarantees that their free service will be free forever. You are limited to 100 appointments per month, but for a small business looking for a better way to manage meetings and appointments, then 10 TO 8 will do the job for you.

                                              Like, Picktime, you can use 10 TO 8 to schedule classes, and you can set up recurring appointments if, for example, you run the same class each day or week at the same time.

                                              Another benefit of using 10 TO 8 is you can set up your Stripe or PayPal accounts, so you can take payments when a customer schedules an appointment with you saving you the hassle of chasing payments.

                                              7. Google Calendar

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                                                Finally, a little known feature in Google Calendar is the ability to set up a calendar where your clients can schedule appointments. It is rather less automated than the services above, but it does work.

                                                I used this service many years ago when I taught English. All I needed to do was set up the time blocks I was available and send the calendar link to my students. They then could pick and choose the times that would work for them.

                                                There are no automated reminders; it would depend on whether your client or colleague has reminders set up on their calendars, but it works, and if you are looking for a service that will always be free and keeps you in control of your times, then Google Calendar will do the trick for you.

                                                Bottom Line

                                                You have a lot of choice with scheduling services today. Many are free and can be integrated into your website to retain control over your branding.

                                                Scheduling services can take the pain out of scheduling appointments, and it also allows you to stay in control of your calendar. This is one of the best features of this service for me. I can get on with my work, safe knowing I will not be getting unexpected meeting invites or phone calls. I can refer people to my scheduling service and let that do all the hard work for me.

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                                                Featured photo credit: Thom Bradley via unsplash.com

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