There are thousands of Mac productivity apps out there, from simple to-do lists to highly complex project management software. If you’re as much of a productivity fiend as we are, you’ve probably tried a wide range of them.
In the end, finding the right productivity tool — or the right combination of tools — is worth the effort. Finding the best Mac productivity app is easier and faster than you might think.
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What do you need a productivity app for?
This is an important question that many people forget to ask. Productivity apps all focus on helping you solve specific problems, and different Mac apps solve different problems. So understanding what you need help with will make a big difference.
Whether you manage a business that hires multiple freelancers or you’re a freelancer juggling a variety of clients, you likely need help to keep track and prioritize what needs to get done first. That’s a basic function of any to-do list app (which is why they’re some of the most popular ones).
Check out these productivity apps for MacOS that can help users reach peak productivity:
- Time management: Hubstaff
- Project and task management: Hubstaff Tasks
- Planning: Calendar
- Organization: Evernote
- Communication: Slack
- Password management: 1Password
- Tracking to-dos: TickTick
- Video meetings: Zoom
- File management: Google Drive
- Background noise reduction: Krisp
- Staying focused: Cold Turkey
Having a list of things to do isn’t enough — you need to put effort into accomplishing them. And how do you know if you’re really making progress?
Simple: you keep track.
This is where Hubstaff excels. With just one click, you can start a timer to keep track of what you’re working on.
This lets you see where your efforts are going, how much time you spend on work, and which distractions are causing you the most problems. Managers can see what their team is working on, how much time they’ve spent on a project, and whether they’re able to stay focused.
Knowing that you’re on the clock helps in motivating you to work at a consistent pace. All of these factors put together make a time tracker an essential Mac productivity tool.
Hubstaff isn’t limited to your Mac, though — you can use it on any platform, including your phone, to keep track of all of your tasks. Review it weekly to see your productivity strengths and weaknesses.
Our free trial lets you experience all of Hubstaff’s features before committing anything. What do you have to lose? (Hint: the answer is “wasted time.”)
Organizing your tasks without a software tool is hard. You’d have to remember which tasks you have and haven’t done, memorize complex task dependencies, and constantly revisit your calendar to check for upcoming deadlines. In short, it can be a punishing experience and not a valuable use of your time.
Hubstaff Tasks lets you concentrate on work and not stress over the possibility of overlooking an important task. With a simple Kanban interface from one project view, you can see which tasks are going as planned and which ones are at risk of being delayed.
Simply create a Kanban card for each task, and organize them according to their project stage. This helps you make sure that every task is attended to in a timely manner.
Hubstaff Tasks integrates seamlessly with Hubstaff. All the tasks assigned to you will automatically be reflected in the time tracker. You can record the time you spend on your tasks directly from the desktop app.
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To be able to plan effectively, you need to be 100% accurate when it comes to your current and upcoming projects. “I’m not sure” and “I forgot” can lead to major inconveniences for both you and your clients, which is why they should be avoided as much as possible.
Calendar is a planning app that lets you view everything you have planned for your day, week, or month. It integrates with popular calendar apps like Outlook and Google so all your scheduled appointments can be viewed from inside Calendar.
Create events in Calendar with just a few clicks. You can set the time, the meeting URL, and the location if you’re meeting in person. All your appointments — and even potential overlaps — can easily be seen in a friendly and colorful visual interface.
Evernote is one of the most widely used note-taking and-organizing app. The app makes it easy to take, organize, share, and search notes. You can type those notes, write them on a tablet, import them from other apps, and clip them from the web.
Evernote’s tagging and search functions help you find the things you don’t want to lose, and the ability to share and chat with teammates from within the app make it great for business users.
If you commit to using Evernote for storing business cards, contracts, and other business-related items, you’ll be more organized in no time at all.
And like the other items on this list, there’s a free option if you want to try it out across all of your devices.
For a long time, email was the most widely used business communication method. Compared to the other alternatives available today, email’s weak points quickly stand out. Slack is an instant messaging tool that’s taken over the business world with its sleek interface and design that fosters not only communication, but also collaboration.
Slack lets you easily organize both individual and group chats. You can also create channels so keeping track of projects and team-specific projects is painless. Slack also has a couple of handy features such as message threads, video and audio calls, and file sharing.
Slack integrates with several leading platforms like Asana and Google Drive. You can use Slack for free with limited features, but the paid plans start at $6.67 per month per user.
Getting a password incorrect — or worse, forgetting it completely — can lead to wasted time and potential work inconveniences. Using just one password for all of your platforms could be a solution, but it’s a security risk more than anything else.
1Password helps you manage your passwords much better, so you no longer need to worry about having too many passwords for different sites or tools. This will save you a lot of time spent on repeated login attempts or going through countless files to find a particular password.
A free 30-day trial is available if you want to check out 1Password’s features. Its pricing starts at $2.99 per month when billed annually.
TickTick is a great option for anyone who needs a simple list-making tool that offers a lot of extra features. Multiple lists and sub-tasks help you stay organized, and the clean interface helps keep you from getting overwhelmed.
TickTick will keep you from forgetting the things you need to do — and will help you meet your deadlines with reminders.
The basic version of the app is completely free, but its premium features such as custom smart lists and Siri integration cost just $2.79 per month.
Teams have a tendency to avoid meetings, but not because they don’t want to speak with each other. Rather, it’s because they don’t want to waste time on a bad conferencing experience. Zoom is built to provide teams with a high-quality video conferencing service, plus more.
Zoom simplifies starting and joining meetings. You can generate a meeting link that you can send to your team and they can join by clicking it. And since they can join from their laptops or from their phones, availability won’t be as big an issue. Zoom also has other great features like file sharing, simultaneous screen sharing, and meeting transcripts.
Zoom’s has three paid plans, each of which are suited for a specific business size. It also has a free plan with just enough features for freelancers or very early startups.
9. Google Drive
File management and collaboration have never been simpler with Google Drive. No longer do you need to edit a document on your computer, attach it to an email, and wait for a colleague to acknowledge the receipt. With Google Drive, everything’s instantaneous.
Google Drive lets you work on several kinds of files without needing any other apps. You can track the edits made on documents and tag other people using their email address. You can also install its Backup and Sync service to your computer and manage your Drive files straight from your Mac’s file browser.
Google Drive is free to use for up to 15 GB of storage. This includes support for documents, slides, spreadsheets, and several other file types.
Going into a meeting with lots of environmental noise prevents being able to understand each other. Krisp removes background noise so you can clearly hear the person you’re talking to and proceed with the call smoothly.
With Krisp, you no longer need to worry about asking people to repeat what they just said. Background noise wastes both time and energy, and Krisp alleviates this problem quite well.
Krisp has a free plan that removes background noise from incoming audio. If you want to remove noise when speaking as well, the paid plan starts at $3.33 per month.
11. Cold Turkey
Part of being productive is staying focused on the tasks. It may sound like a simple task, but it can be surprisingly hard. That’s where Cold Turkey comes in.
If you find yourself getting distracted by Facebook, Twitter, sports scores, or other non-work-related sites, Cold Turkey will block it. You can set a timer or create a schedule that the app will follow so you can concentrate on work better.
Cold Turkey has a free version with just the basic features. Additional features are included in the paid versions, which start at a one-time payment of $29 CAD.
Have you found the productivity app for you?
The great thing about finding the right apps is that you’re not limited to just one. In fact, finding the best combination of apps is likely to yield better results. You might find that you need a scheduling app to supplement your list of to-dos, or that a project management tool can maximize the benefits of time tracking.
Stick to whatever fits your approach to work best. And if your current system isn’t working, try other apps. You may have to try several apps to find the right ones for you, but it’ll be worth it.
What are your favorite Mac productivity apps? Share your recos in the comments below and spread the productivity love!
This post was originally published in October 2017. It was updated by the Hubstaff Blog Team in November 2019.