Tom's Mac Software Picks 2016

Only the Best Mac Apps Earn a Spot on This List

Since 2008, I’ve been picking the best Mac apps each Saturday and adding them to our collection of Tom’s Mac Software Picks. Over the years, we've put together quite a collection of Mac apps that I believe provide exceptional value and meet our standards for quality.

In 2016, I'll continue our tradition of selecting amazing apps for you to consider for your Mac. I try to pick apps that have demos available, although that isn't always possible, especially with the Mac App Store being a driving force in the Mac app distribution business. The Mac App Store doesn't generally allow demos, but many app developers have demos on their web sites, or provide apps for free or at a very low cost through the Mac App Store, and then later offer the option to turn on specific features with an in-app purchase.

For many apps, the in-app upgrade is a modified demo. Try the app for free, or a very low cost, and if you like it, purchase an upgrade that turns on advanced features. In the case of games, the in-app purchase is almost required to be able to complete a game, advance a level, or gain points that are used to “purchase” necessary game paraphernalia. I’m not fond of these types of games, and if I select one of these games, I'll mention in the review that additional purchases are required.

So, with the overview out of the way, let's get right to Tom’s Mac Software Picks for 2016.

1
Onyx

Onyx system utility running on macOS Sierra
Onyx system utility with the Parameters function selected. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Onyx is a free system utility that provides access to hidden features and services of OS X and macOS. It also provides easy access to common troubleshooting techniques.

2
MacDraft Pro 6.2

MacDraft Pro 6.2
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

MacDraft Pro 6.2 is a 2D drafting app that has a long history of association with the Mac. In the early days of the Mac, MacDraw was the basic drawing app for the Mac, and MacDraft was the professional version used for architecture and CAD. MacDraft is still with us after all these years, and still provides a very good 2D CAD drawing app.

3
Enpass Password Manager: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Enpass password manager items list
Courtesy of Sinew Software Systems

Enpass is a password manager for the Mac, Windows, or Linux desktop; it's also available for most popular mobile platforms. Enpass keeps track of your login, password, banking, and credit card data, securely storing the information locally on your Mac in an AES-256 bit encrypted vault, yet providing easy access to you for your use.

4
App Tamer: Tom's Mac Software Pick

App Tamer window
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

App Tamer gives you control over every app and process running on your Mac. You can designate how much CPU time each is allowed to use, and control what happens when an app moves from being the front most window to being covered up by other apps.

With App Tamer, you can also extend battery performance and help keep your Mac running cooler on hot summer days.

5
Add New Gestures with BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool: configuring a new gesture
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

BetterTouchTool provides the ability to make use of additional gestures for your multi-touch pointing devices. Going well beyond what Apple provides, BetterTouchTool comes with a large number of predefined gestures and actions you can make use of; it also allows you to create custom gestures to meet your needs.

6
Corel Painter 2017: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Corel Painter 2017 with Texture Painting tools
Courtesy of Corel

Corel Painter 2017 is one of the leading painting applications for the Mac. If you work in the digital media arts, Painter can provide all of the painting tools you'll need to work in illustration, manga, comic art, graphic novels, fine art, and concept art.

7
AppDelete

AppDelete window
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

AppDelete is a universal application uninstaller for the Mac that doesn't rely on using background processes to monitor app installation. AppDelete can uninstall any app, preference pane, widget, plugin, and even screensaver from your Mac. AppDelete can also be used to find orphaned files left behind from apps you have previously deleted.

8
System Monitor

System Monitor with General preferences displayed.
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

System Monitor is a great way to keep track of your Mac’s overall performance. You can monitor CPU, network, and drive performance, keep an eye on internal temperatures and fan speed, or see what app is using up all your memory.

9
Zen Pinball 2: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Sorcerer's Lair Pinball Table, part of Zen Pinball 2 game.
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Zen Pinball 2 is very possibly the best pinball game engine available for the Mac. With over 50 pinball tables available, including the free Sorcerer’s Lair, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give Zen Pinball 2 a try.

10
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test

Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

How fast is that new drive you just hooked up to your Mac? While drive manufacturers may provide accurate performance information, they don't provide any context. Blackmagic Disk Speed Test is a free benchmarking tool that provides a quick look at overall drive performance, on your own system.

11
Wunderlist: An Essential To-Do and Task List Manager

Wunderlist app with list of tasks displayed
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Wunderlist is a task manager that can easily keep track of all the tasks and chores that may sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed. Wunderlist apps are available for just about any device, including Macs, iOS, Android, Windows, and Kindle Fire, as well as directly on the web, so you can keep track of tasks, as well as edit or update them, from just about anywhere.

12
Run Windows With Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Parallels Wizard used for installing guest OS.
Parallels Wizard used for installing guest OS. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac is a virtualization app for the Mac that allows you to run multiple operating systems concurrently on your Mac; no need to reboot when changing from one OS to another. As long as you have enough RAM, you can run as many operating systems as you wish.

13
GraphicConverter 10: The Swiss Army Knife for File Manipulation

GraphicConverter 10 image browser
GraphicConverter 10 image browser. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

GraphicConverter 10 is the latest version of the popular image processor from Lemke Software. GraphicConverter has been providing advanced image file conversion and image processing for Mac users since 1992, and the latest version is a must-have.

14
HoudahSpot

HoudahSpot 4
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

HoudahSpot is a remarkable search system for the Mac that works with Spotlight and provides the ability to create complex search filters to better find the exact file you're looking for.

15
TableEdit

TableEdit Showing Graph Creation
Courtesy of Core Code.

TableEdit is a free spreadsheet app for the Mac. It provides all the basic tools and features you would expect in a spreadsheet application. It also supports importing and exporting Excel and .CSV files.

16
Hazel

Hazel for Mac with Folder view
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Hazel is an automation tool for the Mac that allows you to build complex workflows for the Finder. With Hazel, you can monitor the contents of one or more folders, and perform specific actions based on trigger events that occur within the monitored folder.

17
MacCheck

MacCheck Mac Hardware Tester
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

MacCheck is a free troubleshooting and testing app from Micromat that can find basic problems with your Mac’s hardware.

18
Radio Silence

Radio Silence Firewall displaying Network Monitor tab.
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Radio Silence is a firewall for the Mac that can prevent apps from phoning home behind your back. Radio Silence uses a simple block list; no complex rules or distractions. Simply add an app to the block list, and you're done.

19
BusyContacts

BusyContacts app running in OS X Yosemite
Courtesy of BusyCal, LLC.

BusyContacts may be the best contact manager available for the Mac. It's not perfect, but it offers more features and functions than Apple's Contacts app, which is a bit too basic for my taste. I especially like the Activities list in BusyContacts, and how it's able to display all recent activity that involves a selected contact.

20
Vivaldi Browser

Vivaldi browser with notes panel open
Courtesy of Vivaldi Technologies

Vivaldi is the modern desktop browser for power users. With an amazing ability to be customized, and a vast selection of features and capabilities, Vivaldi should be part of your Mac’s browser options.

21
Nik Collection

Nik Collection of Image Editing Apps
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Nik Collection from Google is a free suite of image editors that can give your photos that professional touch. You'll find seven top-notch tools in the Nik Collection.

22
Airfoil 5

Airfoil 5 + Airfoil Satelitte
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Airfoil 5 is an audio streaming app for the Mac that allows you to send sound and music from your Mac to just about any remote device on your network. With Airfoil, you can stream iTunes, or the sound from any open app, to any AirPlay device, any Bluetooth audio device, or any Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, or Android device you have.

23
F.lux

F.lux icon
Courtesy of F.lux

F.lux offers the ability to adjust the color temperature of your Mac’s display over the course of the day, mimicking the types of color changes seen at sunrise, sunset, during the daytime, and during the nighttime.

F.lux’s developers say that by adjusting the blue spectrum being emitted by your display, you can help encourage better sleeping patterns.

24
TinkerTool: Tom's Mac Software Pick

TinkTool utility
Screen shot Courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

TinkerTool is an easy-to-use utility for accessing hidden system preferences in OS X. With TinkerTool, you can perform many of the complex Terminal tricks we write about, just by checking a box in a preference window.

25
Lyn

Lyn image browser
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Lyn is an image browser that you can use for managing your photos or images. It is very fast, and allows you to use your own custom image library based on folder structures you create.

Lyn includes metadata editors, an image editor, and a map view for images that contain GPS data.

26
Data Rescue One

Data Rescue One
Courtesy of ProSoft Engineering

Data Rescue One is a complete data recovery service contained on a flash drive or external hard drive (depending on the model you choose). With the simplicity of a few clicks, you can easily recover lost files or the entire data from a failing drive.

27
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac is the only anti-malware/adware app I recommend for the Mac. It works well, can detect all known Mac malware and adware, and uses a signature file custom-created for the Mac. It’s lightweight, putting no performance burden on the Mac, and is by far the fastest scanner I have ever seen. 

28
Screenium 3

Screenium screen recording app
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Screenium hits the sweet spot for Mac screen recording and screencast creation apps. With an easy-to-use interface, a full-featured editor, and many recording options and templates available, Screenium will have you finishing up your first screencast in record time.

29
Geekbench 3:

Geekbench 3 score
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Geekbench from Primate Labs is a versatile cross-platform benchmarking tool that you can use to measure and compare your Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, or Android device's performance.

30
Acorn 5

Acorn Image Editor
Courtesy of Flying Meat, Inc.

Acorn 5 is an amazing image editor for the Mac that performs like an expensive editing app, such as Photoshop, but for an extremely low cost. Acorn is easy to use, with an interface that you can quickly understand. It brings all of its editing tools directly to you, without having to search and search and search…

31
1Password 6: Tom's Mac Software Pick

1Password 6
Courtesy of AgileBits

1Password 6 from AgileBits is a password manager for the Mac OS, Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Besides keeping your passwords and login information safe, 1Password can sync its data with other devices you use, ensuring easy and safe access to all of your login data.

32
Loopback

Loopback app from Rogue Amoeba
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Loopback allows you to route audio between various Mac apps or audio devices. You can create complex audio routing to meet just about any sound need you may have on your Mac.​

33
PhotoBulk

PhotoBulk
Courtesy of Eltima Software

PhotoBulk from Eltima Software is an image batch processor specializing in adding watermarks, resizing images, optimizing images for file size, or basic file renaming. It performs these services quite well, at a reasonable price point.

34
Fantastical 2

Fantastical 2 calendar app
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Fantastical 2 is a calendaring app that can easily replace the Mac’s built-in calendar app. It works with iCloud, Google, and Yahoo calendars, and supports Handoff with Fantastical for iOS.

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