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25 Free Mac Apps That Will Boost Your Productivity

There are many applications that can help you work faster and efficiently. Though, not many applications come cheap. For this post we tried to digg deep to find the best selection of free and/or open source Mac applications that will help you be a more efficient designer. We’re covering from application launchers, GTD (Getting Things Done) to design utilities that can help you focus on what’s important: create.

1. aLunch Link

aLunch561 is a very lightweight but powerful application that does what it is supposed to do and nothing more: a handy launcher that runs from within the menu bar. The application was written back in 2007, and two years later it still proves to be a strong contender.


aLunch helps you get all your apps organized and get an uncluttered dock. You can customize a hot key combination so a launcher window shows and let’s you choose either a Launcher window or go to the Launcher Menu. You can use this application with a Mac running OSX 10.4 or higher. If you have an earlier OS X such as 10.3, you need to update to version 10.3.9 to use an earlier version of the application.

2. Adobe Kuler Link

Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 applications – Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Fireworks and Flash – have an Extension panel that connects directly to Kuler573, the web-hosted application for generating color themes. Not many designers take advantage of a powerful tool like this one. Logging into with your Adobe ID, you can create color swatches themes from a color, share, rate and search the community color schemes, and upload or use a Flickr image to extract color themes so you can download them as an Adobe Swatch Exchange file that’s compatible with Adobe applications.


But you can also access the Kuler site from its own standalone application to get more flexibility. Also there is a Dashboard widget to help you browse through your color schemes and the communities. To install Kuler Desktop you need to have Mac OS X 10.4.11 or Mac OS X 10.5.4 and up, with Adobe Air5 and Flash Player installed.

3. Name Changer Link

Name Changer586 is a very straightforward and simple tool that will help you rename batches of files without the hassle of Automator or Photoshop batch change – the latter can get a little too technical for some users.

Name Changer7

This application saves you the time of naming each file manually. Name Changer gives you a wide variety of options that go from select text replacement to fully customizable text replacement. Designed for OSX 10.5, NameChanger is a Universal Binary, so it runs on both Intel and PowerPC macs. If you have a OSX 10.3 or 10.4 Mac, there’s a version that you can use too, so those Macs with earlier OS can still use the application.

4. YemuZip Link

YemuZip598 is a more powerful Zip-archive application that with a simple drag and drop interface, makes creating zip files an easy task. YemuZip lets you choose between a PC-compatible format and a Mac format that preserve all the Mac-specific metadata.

Name Changer9

The tool lets you choose the destination of your zip file (same as source, Desktop or Documents) and can attach the file to an email message for easy sending. Runs on OS X 10.4 or later and it is an Universal Binary.

5. Dateline Link

A subtle replacement for having the date shown on the Menu bar, Dateline6010 gives you a linear calendar on your desktop within a transparent window. One very useful feature is that it has direct access to iCal when double clicking on a day.


The background and text colors are fully customizable along with transparency to make it blend seamlessly with your current desktop. This application requires Mac OS X 10.5 and higher.

6. DropBox Link

DropBox12 is by far the easiest way to share files if you are on a low budget and do not want to be bothered with server side issues when sharing files with clients. Since it’s an application that runs in the background, you can leave it running and it does the file updates on the machines seamlessly. You have a 2GB limit for the free accounts, 50GB for the Pro account at $99.00 per year or a 100GB for the Premium account at US$199 per year.

Another useful aspect of this app is that you can sign in and access your files from any browser, not necessarily from your Mac. The file sharing is done over SSL and encrypted with AES-256 before storage, so they are safe. From the visual side, a blue sync mark shows when the files are syncing and a green check mark appears when it’s done. What’s best, it’s that it’s not just for Mac, it’s compatible with Windows and Linux.


Every time you update a file, Dropbox transfers what was updated from the original uploaded file, so working with large Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign documents is a breeze. If you need to share files with users that don’t have Dropbox, you can use your Public folder and all the files in that folder will be given a unique link so you can send that for a direct download. And if you accidentally delete a file, you can “undelete it” from the web interface. Overall, it’s a time saving application when you want a fast way to share files with clients or co-workers.

7. Quicksilver Link

Quicksilver is a powerful application launcher, an application that will create catalogs of your frequently used apps, folders and documents. What’s interesting is that the search grows and adapts from what you do everyday. One very useful feature, If you have all your contacts in Address Book is that you can search within Quicksilver the contact name and when you hit enter on the telephone number, it shows on big type over the screen, so it’s a quick way of looking at a phone number without launching Address Book itself. An alternative: Namely14.


You can enhance Quicksilver with plugins to do more powerful things, like uploading files using applications as Transmit6215, Queue albums on iTunes16, emailing files or even moving the file’s location without doing it from the Finder. To run Quicksilver, you need a Mac with OS X 10.4 or higher.

8. iClockr Link

This is a small application that tracks your work time. You can set up different projects, and tasks for each project, and associate them to a client. The concept around iClockr6417 is to have actions timed, for that you create tasks to be timed and those tasks add up to create a project. Each task is timed with a stopwatch, even the application’s dock icon changes to a stopwatch.


You can edit the task durations for better and more exact timing. iClockr also offers two modes to manage your times: Flat Rate or Range based. You can match each project with customers (within the application’s Preferences pane). iClockr is a Mac Universal application that runs on Leopard only.

9. Caffeine Link

When video chatting or having a voice-only-call with a client, Caffeine6519 has proved its place on Macs. Caffeine prevents your mac of going to sleep, dimming the screen and avoids the screen savers to start.


To get to the application’s preferences, hold down the Command key while clicking to show the menu. Lightheads’ website doesn’t specify if Caffeine works with other OS versions different than Leopard.

10. iTool Link

iTool is a free application that offers a complete system maintenance and cleaning. It has a friendly user interface that guides you to complete the needed maitenance task.


Also, hidden on the Application menu (not found on the application’s main window), you can reach other options to tweak the look of the Dock (2D or 3D) or the Finder among others. This application is Leopard only.

11. The Unarchiver Link

For those short on budget, there’s a very light and powerfull free app called The Unarchiver6621. It allows you to extract many more file formats besides the .zip, such as .tar-gzip, .tar-bzip2, .rar, 7-zip, .lhA and stuffIt. Also it better handles filenames from foreign character sets, created with non-English versions of other operating systems.

The Unarchiver22

The installation is very simple: copy the applications into your Applications folder and start using the application. The Unarchiver requires Mac OS X 10.3.9.

12. Paparazzi! Link

Paparazzi!6723 is a small utility for Mac OS X that makes screenshots of web-pages. Paparazzi! allows you to define minimum size and capture size, so you can capture the best screenshot according to your needs. You can choose between saving the resulting picture as .jpeg, .pdf, .png or .tiff, also adding a thumbnail and thumbnail icon. Its current version, 0.4.3 works on Mac OS X 10.3 or later, and their 0.5 beta is Leopard only.


13. AllBookmarks Link

AllBookmarks is a small menu bar item that provides you with a quick access to your browser’s bookmarks. It grabs Safari, Firefox and Flock bookmarks and also gives you access to 1Password 1Click bookmarks so you can navigate, fill a form and submit it with ease. The tool is a Universal Binary application which means that it works on Intel or PowerPC Macs, running OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).


14. DockSpaces Link

DockSpaces25 is a small application that allows you to have up to 10 different docks, and swap them from the menu bar. You can also link a Dock with a Leopard’s Spaces26 so you can redefine your productivity. With Growl notification, you know which dock you are using. You can change the configuration for each dock for a more personalized usage. This application is a Universal Binary and Leopard only.


15. TaskMate Link

TaskMate6828 is a very simple and light task management application. Create a task, check it off when completed and it disappears from your list. The completed tasks are visible on the sidebar that you can toggle on and off. TaskMate runs on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and it is a Universal Binary Application.


16. Symbol Caddy Link

The Symbol Caddy Dashboard widget30 keeps a bunch of common special characters at your fingertips. Keyboard mode copies the special character and HTML mode copies the HTML entity code. Mac OS X 10.5.0 or higher is required. CharacterPal does the same and is also freeware.

Symbol Caddy Dashboard widget31

17. iZoom Link

iZoom7032 is a simple application designed to allow you to easily resize and crop your photos for optimized display on your iPod photo, on the web, or in email messages to friends. Built using Java, iZoom is available for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. Currently, JPEG is the only supported image format.


18. JumpCut Link

Jumpcut34 is an application that provides “clipboard buffering” — that is, access to text that you’ve cut or copied, even if you’ve subsequently cut or copied something else. The goal of Jumpcut’s interface is to provide quick, natural, intuitive access to your clipboard’s history. The application is available as a Universal Binary that requires OS X 10.3.9 or later. Users running earlier versions of OS X should try Jumpcut 0.54, which should work with OS X 10.1 and later. Source code is also available. Jumpcut is open sourced under the MIT License.

Image source36

19. Name Mangler Link

Name Mangler7237 is a batch file renamer that supports all common renaming tasks: Find and Replace (including support for regular expressions); Number Sequentially; Change Case; Set Extension; Add Prefix/Suffix; Remove/Insert Characters. You can combine all of these using the Advanced renaming mode, which even comes with some extra features, such as conditional statements, nested counters etc. Name Mangler 2.0 runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later.


20. CyberDuck Link

Cyberduck39 is an open source FTP, SFTP-client and also a WebDAV, Mosso Cloud Files and Amazon S3 browser for the Mac. It features an easy to use interface with quickly accessible bookmarks. The outline view of the browser allows to browse large folder structures efficiently and you can quickly preview files with Quick Look. To edit files, a seamless integration with several external editors makes it easy to change content quickly. An alternative: Filezilla40.


21. TextWrangler Link

TextWrangler7442 is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool. Essentially, it is a free version of BBEdit (see below). It offers a broad range of support for different programming languages, and fantastic find and replace functionality. A reliable and powerful tool, especially considering its freeware status. (via appstorm.net43). Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later. Alternatives: eMacs, Smultron44, TextEdit (native Mac-app).

Image source46

22. Growl Link

Growl7547 is a notification system for Mac OS X: it allows applications that support Growl to send you notifications. Growl offers you complete control over which notifications are shown and how they are displayed. You will not receive any notifications that you do not want, because you can easily turn notifications (specific ones or all of them) off. Growl requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher.


23. Gmail Notifr Link

Gmail Notifr7649 sends you notifications about the received e-mails and other events in your Google account. It supports multiple accounts, checks mail at a specified interval, has Growl and sound notifications and has no background daemon processes installed as Google’s official notifier. Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5+ (Leopard).


24. MAMP Link

MAMP7751 installs a local server environment in a matter of seconds on your Mac OS X computer, be it PowerBook or iMac. MAMP will not compromise any existing Apache installation already running with your OS X. You can install Apache, PHP and MySQL without starting a script or having to change any configuration files.


25. And so many more! Link

Our friends from have recently published The Ultimate Mac Setup For Web Designers: 60 Apps53 and 60 Open Source and Free Mac Apps54 which cover dozens of extremely useful and powerful applications that you can download and use for free. You can also check out the list of open source Mac applications on OpenSourceMac.org55.

We missed some really cool open source Mac-application? Please let us know in the comments to this post!

All the links mentioned in the article.

  • aLunch561
    A very handy launcher that runs from your Mac’s menu bar.
  • Kuler573
    Color themes generator.
  • Name Changer586
    A powerful batch name changer.
  • YemuZip598
    Creating Zip files has never been so easy.
  • Dateline6010
    Linear calendar for your desktop.
  • DropBox61
    Online file sharing system.
  • Quicksilver
    Adaptive appliction launcher.
  • Transmit6215
    Powerful FTP client software.
  • iTunes63
    Digital media player from Apple.
  • iClockr6417
    Timing application for multiple projects.
  • Caffeine6519
    Keep your mac from sleep.
  • iTool
    Complete System Maintenance, cleaning and customizing the look of Leopard.
  • The Unarchiver6621
    Unarchive with power.
  • Paparazzi!6723
    Grab stunning screenshots of webpages.
  • AllBookmarks
    Bookmarks from your menu bar.
  • TaskMate6828
    Task management made easy with a OS X feel.
  • Symbol Caddy69
    Keeps a bunch of common special characters at your fingertips.
  • iZoom7032
    Allows you to easily resize and crop your photos for optimized display.
  • JumpCut71
    Provides “clipboard buffering” – access to text that you’ve cut or copied, even if you’ve subsequently cut or copied something else.
  • Name Mangler7237
    A batch file renamer that supports all common renaming tasks.
  • CyberDuck73
    An open source FTP, SFTP-client.
  • TextWrangler7442
    The powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool.
  • Growl7547
    A notification system for Mac OS X.
  • Gmail Notifr7649
    Sends you notifications about the received e-mails and other events in your Google account.
  • MAMP7751
    Installs a local server environment in a matter of seconds on your Mac OS X computer.

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

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Kitty Florido is a graphic designer and photographer from Guatemala, big fan of macs and music. You can follow her on Twitter.

  1. 1

    Thanks a bunch! :) AppCleaner is a nice tool, too.

  2. 2

    WoW! Cool list. Thanks a lot.

  3. 3

    Thanks!! I’ll give it a try to iClockr.

  4. 4

    bad research or title.
    you should really check the information you get from twitter.

    some apps are not opensource!

  5. 5

    Quicksilver is my personal favourite!

  6. 6

    Daniel Schroeder

    July 5, 2009 8:16 am

    What a nice collection. There are few tools which will boost my productivity by 500%!
    Thanks dude!

  7. 7

    Thx Smashing :)

  8. 8

    Bruno Casarini Grillo

    July 5, 2009 8:22 am

    iZoom is quite nice, but it´s been dead for some years and it’s not an universal binary yet!

  9. 9

    Since when has GTD stood for “Got To Do”? I’m sure it’s “Getting Things Done”, right? Or have I really been alive all these years and thinking the wrong thing? Tell me that’s not the case.

  10. 10

    Zachary Spencer

    July 5, 2009 8:45 am

    So….. since when did “Open Source” Translate into “Closed source, trialware applications?”

    Because I’m pretty sure only 5 (or less) of those are actually open source…

  11. 11

    Simon Harlinghausen

    July 5, 2009 9:05 am

    Genius collection.
    Especially the link list at
    the end of this article.

    Stay tuned …

  12. 12

    Nice roundup. Although there are even better freeware alternatives to these.

  13. 13

    Floris Fiedeldij Dop

    July 5, 2009 9:09 am

    Excellent list, nice to see I was already using a few of them. I got the website screenshot maker one added to my systems too now.

  14. 14

    Jonathan Sterling

    July 5, 2009 9:10 am

    As far as I know, the following apps are in fact NOT open source:
    – aLunch
    – Adobe Kuler
    – NameChanger
    – YemuZip
    – Dropbox
    – iClockr
    – Caffeine
    – iTool
    – Paparazzi
    – AllBookmarks
    – TaskMate
    – SymbolCaddy
    – iZoom
    – Name Mangler
    – TextWrangler

    In fact, the only apps on this list that are truly open source are:
    – DateLine
    – Quicksilver
    – The Unarchiver
    – Jumpcut
    – Cyberduck
    – Growl
    – Gmail Notifr

    The majority of the apps on this list were just freeware. Freeware != Open Source. I would have expected a lot better from Smashing Magazine. This article should either be corrected or removed.

    • 15

      dumb ass – read the article one more time…..the article is about free apps not open source apps, moron.

      • 16

        With how many people are complaining about that distinction, I am going to assume the title once read open source before being corrected… Especially since the URL to this page indeed is “” so the Title once read 25 Open Source Mac Apps that will Boost your Productivity…

  15. 17

    I agree quite strongly with those insisting on a distinction between the terms “open source” and “freeware”. I notice that this is mainly en error in creating the title of this post, but I believe that the distinction needs to be vigorously and always enforced. The issue is not that one is inherently better or preferable in any way, but the developers’ methods and decisions must be respected in this regard.

    I would also encourage people who are interested in app launchers to investigate ABC Launch :) I love this app!

  16. 18

    I also thought dropbox was closed source…

  17. 19

    I just wanted to drop a line saying that I’ll unsubscribe from the RSS now. I know research is hard, but there’s a great way to make it easy: write about something you know a lot about. It often appears Smashing doesn’t, and reading articles with bad research is a big waste of my time.

    I don’t mean to be a drama queen over unsubscribing – I just wanted to let you know that you have a quality problem, and you should fix it.

  18. 20

    mamp ftw!

  19. 21

    I have an error with this post by rss:
    “XML Parsing Error: not well-formed
    Location: file:///
    Line Number 119, Column 12:DockSpaces….”

  20. 22

    Jash Sayani

    July 5, 2009 9:56 am

    You could have included Remember The Task, is a tiny Remember The Milk client that keeps ToDo lists on fingertips:


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