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- Best Mac Software
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- Best Software For Macbook Pro 2019
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- January 02, 2020
- 18 min to read
Most free photo editors available on the App Store are quite basic, offering just a limited number of filters and allowing you to easily and quickly liven up your photos before posting them on social media.
But if you’re an aspiring or professional photographer, you probably need a more powerful app with a broader set of tools to use your creativity to the fullest. Besides, you probably use your Mac for photo editing because working on a large screen makes it possible to adjust the slightest details.
1. Apple’s Photos (Built-in app)
Apple’s Photos app is included for free on all recently released Macs. It does a good job at organizing your photos, but its collection of photo enhancement tools leaves much to be desired. Hopefully, our selection of the best free programs for photo editing on Mac will help you choose the right app to suit all your creative needs.
2. Luminar (7 days trial)
Luminar is another full-featured photo editor that’s popular with both Mac and Windows users. It can work as a standalone app as well as a plugin for such popular programs as Apple Photos.
Luminar uses Artificial Intelligence to enable sophisticated yet quick photo enhancements. Among these AI features are Sky Enhancer, which adds more depth and detail to the sky in your photos while leaving other areas untouched; Accent AI, which analyzes a photo and automatically applies the best combination of different effects to enhance your image; and Sun Rays, which allows you to place an artificial sun and adjust the lighting to your liking or make the sun rays already in your photo look even more incredible.
Luminar has over 60 filters you can apply to your photos to enhance them in a moment. Luminar also provides a set of powerful tools for cropping, transforming, cloning, erasing, and stamping, along with layers, brushes, and many more incredible features. Luminar supports the Touch Bar on the latest MacBook Pro, making photo editing even more effortless and pleasing.
3. Photolemur 3 (Free Version with watermark)
Photolemur is a relative newcomer on the photo editing market but it has all the chances to win the favor of beginner photographers and hobbyists. Running on Artificial Intelligence, Photolemur is a completely automatic photo enhancer, meaning that it does all the editing for you in no time. It has the simplest interface, with only a few buttons and sliders to adjust the enhancement to your liking and view the before and after results.
All you need to do is choose a photo (or a few) that you want to improve, drag and drop or import them using the Import button, and let the program make enhancements. After it’s done, you can compare the edited version with the original image by using the before–after slider and, if you want, adjust the skin tone or even enlarge the eyes using additional sliders. Pretty easy, huh?
Photolemur also offers a number of impressive styles to touch up your photos and give them a sophisticated and professional look. With this app, you don’t need to stuff your head with photo editing nuances and terms. Just run Photolemur and watch the magic happen!
4. Aurora HDR (14 days trial)
As you probably can tell from the name, Aurora HDR is designed to help photographers enhance their HDR photos, making them even more detailed and beautiful. It’s an ideal tool for editing your photos, with an extensive collection of more than 20 tools including details, tone, mapping, color, glow, and vignette. Each tool has its unique selection of controls to adjust its effects.
Aurora HDR enables you to work with brushes, layers, and masks, and provides a number of automatic AI tools for recognizing and removing noise, enhancing colors, lighting, and details, improving clarity, and adding contrast to dull areas while leaving other areas untouched.
Aurora HDR does a great job dealing with difficult lighting situations and creating full-of-life images while being easy to use.
5. Pixelmator (Trial 30 Days)
Pixelmator is a photo enhancer beloved by many Mac users, as it offers a good combination of a modern and simple interface, the ability to work on multiple layers, and powerful features that take photo editing to a whole new level. With so many editing tools, brushes, and effects, you can enhance your photos to your liking. You can choose between two versions of Pixelmator – standard and pro – depending on your needs. The standard version is great for basic photo editing with its selection of essential tools and filters, while the pro version is packed with extra brushes, tools, and effects that let you push your creativity to new boundaries. You can decide which version is suitable for you according to what features you’re looking for in a photo editing app.
6. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2020 (Trial link)
Photoshop Elements isn’t as affordable as other photo enhancers for beginner photographers. But luckily there’s a trial version available, so you can check it out before deciding whether this app is worthy of your money. Photoshop Elements acquired many powerful features from Photoshop, only Elements is simplified for amateur photographers and enthusiasts. It includes a good number of effects and filters, plus automated editing options for improving lighting, color balance, and exposure, and even opening closed eyes and reducing the effects of camera shake.
In addition to all of these awesome features, Photoshop also offers editing modes for beginners, intermediate users, and experts. Beginners will probably prefer Quick mode, as it focuses on essential tools to quickly enhance your photos by improving color, lighting, and other basic settings. Guided mode provides intermediate users with step-by-step guidance with more professional features like artistic effects, skin tone correction, and background replacement. Expert mode gives you full access to the app’s really powerful editing features and is ideal for creating stunning images.
7. Affinity Photo (Free Trial)
Affinity Photo’s interface may seem overwhelming at first, especially for novices, but when you come to grips with it you’ll find that the app is just what you’ve been looking for. Its numerous professional tools, effects, and filters encourage you to get creative with your photos. Among the coolest features Affinity Photo has to offer is a before and after view to compare the original photo with its edited version.
Affinity Photo works with 15 file types, including common ones like PDF, PSD, JPG, and GIF as well as some less popular ones. The app amazes with its abundance of basic and top-notch editing tools, allowing you to tweak your photos using all possible kinds of instruments. Affinity Photo allows you to edit HDR photos, apply artistic filters and effects, play with masks and layers, and create breathtaking compositions by combining several images in one. If you find its interface a bit much and are afraid of getting lost in all those advanced tools, you should probably look for something more suitable for your level. But Affinity Photo is worth mastering.
8. Google Photos
Google Photos is a popular cloud storage service for photos and videos. It can’t boast countless masterly tools like other photo enhancers that we review in this article, but it includes some fundamental features like filters, color adjustment sliders, and transformation tools.
Although Google Photos may not be that helpful when it comes to editing photos, it does a pretty good job at storing high-resolution images and videos with 15GB of free online storage, compared to iCloud’s mere 5GB (which you can upgrade to 50GB for a monthly fee). If you’re planning to go on a trip and take plenty of photos, then it might be smart to sign up for Google Photos to use that extra storage space when you come back.
9. PhotoScape X (Free)
A relatively new photo editing app, PhotoScape X has been gaining popularity with many Mac and PC users since its release in 2008. Its interface is simple but unconventional, with a number of tabs running along the top of the window. Each is responsible for a specific stage of editing. The Viewer tab allows you to browse and organize your photos. After you pick a photo, you can switch to the Editor tab, which includes a broad set of instruments, filters, and effects and a useful feature that enables you to compare the adjusted photo with the original.
The next tabs, including the Batch tab, mainly concentrate on editing and renaming multiple photos at once. The GIF tab allows you to easily create an animated GIF from a group of selected photos.
The downside of PhotoScape X is a lack of selection tools, so all changes are applied to the whole image rather than to a selected part.
10. Gimp (Free)
Gimp is a free open-source photo editing app that has been on the market for over 22 years and is available for Windows, Mac, and even Linux. Unlike many free apps, Gimp doesn’t have any ads or in-app purchases. Its grey interface might seem a little old-fashioned and it may be a bit sluggish when it comes to complex effects, though.
Gimp offers a vast collection of advanced tools that hardly any free photo editor can boast. It has numerous enhancement options such as clone and heal brushes, layers and channels, accurate selection tools, a number of transformation instruments, and, of course, color adjustment controls. Gimp is one of the most powerful tools for enhancing photos and is beloved by so many users for its price (free) and versatility. But if you can’t come to grips with Gimp’s interface, it may be worth paying some cash for a more user-friendly program.
When choosing which laptop to buy, it makes sense to know what comes with it. And the most significant part of the decision is to know what software you get with the computer.
First, I want to mention that whether you buy Macbook Pro or Air the software bundle that comes with them is absolutely the same. You don’t get more programs if you spend more on the Apple laptop.
So, what software comes with a Macbook?
Any Macbook comes with macOS (operating system) and built-in (free) software such as Time Machine, FaceTime, Safari, and Apple Music and TV. Macs do not come with games, antivirus, MS Office, or Final Cut Pro.
Here is a full list of built-in apps that come with every Mac:
How about MS Office and programs such as Word and Excel? I will touch on this topic after I give an overview of all the built-in apps first.
Software That Comes With Every MacBook Air/Pro
Every computer needs an operating system. The operating system performs basic operations such as starting programs, reading data from the disks, controlling the display and sound, etc.
All apps that run on any computer use operating system in order to interact with the user or various computer components.
Is it OSX or macOS? For a long time, the operating system on Mac was called OSX. You can still hear some people use this term. However, in 2016, Apple renamed it to macOS, so we will use this term going forward.
Each year Apple releases a new version of macOS. They used to be backward compatible, i.e., they supported all Mac models produced in earlier days.
Mojave was the first macOS which could not be installed on some of the oldest Macs. I expect every next release will have similar restrictions. So, if you have an older Mac, check you can upgrade it to the latest OS.
Siri on Mac
Siri is a great virtual assistant tool which can increase your productivity if used properly.
What can Siri do? Most people use Siri to search for something on the internet. All you do is ask Siri a question, and it will transform the voice command to a text which will be sent to a search engine. Once Siri gets results, it will tell what it had found.
Another use is to find anything on the Mac. For instance, Siri is great when you need to find a document you worked on last week.
In my opinion, the most powerful feature of Siri is controlling Mac and connected devices. For instance, you can ask Siri turn off Wifi and Bluetooth, raise or lower the sound volume, send a message, set the alarm, take a selfie, etc.
And finally, people use Siri when they are bored. Siri can tell jokes, find the music you want to listen or read the news.
Safari is an internet browser that gets pre-installed on almost all Apple products.
Is it the best browser? Definitely, not, but it does the work. The advantage of Safari is that Apple wrote it specifically for Apple computers. So, it supposed to have some edge over other browsers in terms of energy usage and speed.
If you don’t like Safari, you can always download your favorite internet browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox.
Mail is fairly simple built-in email client. You can do things that any email client does: write and read emails, send attachments, sort and find messages, organize messages in folders. If you a regular email user then Mail client will be enough. Power users will find features limiting and will most likely invest in better solutions.
I use Mail to combine various secondary emails accounts in one place. I don’t use any desktop clients for my primary email, because I don’t want my messages to be stored on the computer in case if it ever gets stolen or lost.
FaceTime on Mac
If you have an iPhone you probably already know what FaceTime is. With FaceTime, you can make a video call to anyone who has FaceTime installed on his/her Mac or iPhone/iPad. You can also make a group call. In both cases, FaceTime uses Wifi as transport.
Additionally, FaceTime on Mac can connect to your iPhone and make a regular phone call.
Messages on Mac
If you have an iPhone, you probably noticed that messages sent to someone who has an iPhone have blue color while non-iPhone users get green messages. It’s because Apple uses proprietary messaging protocol when sending messages between Apple products using Wifi instead of the cellular network.
What does this mean for you? It means that you can send messages to iPhone or Mac users from your Mac without having a cellular connection. Also, it means that these messages do not count to your SMS limit (if you have one in your mobile plan).
Unfortunately, to send messages to Android friends, you still have to have an iPhone which Mac can use SMS.
With the News app on Mac, you can follow a channel or even a specific topic of interest. Apple will aggregate the news and send them to you periodically. You can read them in the app and then like or even share.
In 2019 Apple launched a subscription service called News+. It’s a paid service. With this service, you can get stories from premium newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal or Time.
If you frequently purchase books from the Book Store, they will appear in the Books app. You can see books in all (or almost all) Apple devices, including MacBook Pro. If you don’t buy books or prefer to use Amazon, then you don’t need the app.
Besides following news, you can also follow stock prices. With the Stocks app, you can add ticker symbols to your watchlist. You can also view stocks in the Notification center on Mac. Stocks app also allows seeing price charts with multiple ranges.
Overall, it’s a very basic app for an average investor — nothing to write home about. Serious investors may find the app lacking functionality.
The Home app is a program that may become very big in the future when we all going to have smart homes. If you have a device that can be controlled over the network you can add it as an accessory to the Home app.
Once installed, you can then control lighting, temperature, home security, TV, and speakers. The list is endless. Besides issues commands and changing things in real-time you can set schedule.
For instance, you can set up the thermostat to start heating the house right before you arrive home. And all of this can be controlled thru Siri which will manage the Home app and its accessories.
My personal favorite. Whether you are recording the lecture in class or just recording your notes for the next blog, Voice Memos can capture your recordings. You can then replay or even edit recordings, although editing capabilities are not too impressive. You can later transcribe voice memos to a text.
Apple has a rudimentary note-taking app. Whether you need to save a recipe or make a to-do list, you can use Notes. This is not the best app by all means, but it comes with some neat features. You can attach different media such as pictures, videos, and even locations on the Maps.
There is also a collaboration feature. You can share a note with multiple people and work together. I’ve never tried it myself because I believe Google Docs is a much better and simpler tool to use for this purpose.
Each computer needs a calendar app, and Macs have a pretty good one. As most applications in macOS, this one integrated with other programs on your laptop. So, if you need to add a location on Maps in your calendar event, you can do it. Other features include sending and receiving invites.
Best Mac Software
Calendar app obviously connected to your Mail app so you can see all meetings from all Mail accounts in one place. You can also color-code your calendars so you can quickly spot events related to family, work, or others.
Overall, it’s a relatively simple app. I always have it on my Dock because I keep forgetting which date it is 🙂
I don’t use the Contacts app at all. With this app, you can aggregate multiple contact lists in one giant collection. But I don’t see any need for that. I prefer to keep contacts on my phone, not a laptop.
Another app without a clear purpose. I use Reminders on my iPhone, but on the Mac, I don’t see a need for it when there is a much more powerful Calendar app. And if I need to take notes to collaborate with other people, I can use the Notes app.
While most of us use MacBooks for work and study sometimes, we want to have some fun, and Photo Booth is super fun to use. With this app, you can quickly snap a selfie of yourself or yourself with friends.
Prefer videos? Not a problem, you can shoot videos with Photo Booth as well. If you need time to set up the scene, there is a default three-second countdown before taking a photo. You can also use various effects to make your photos funny. And finally, you can use any image to create a custom backdrop.
Preview is a very powerful tool on your Mac. When I switched from Windows to Mac, one thing I was missing was an MSPaint program. It took me some time, but I finally learned how to use Preview to edit images for my blogs. In some case, Preview is even better than my old favorite.
For instance, Preview keeps a history of changes you made to the image even after you close the app. In fact, I don’t know any other standard file editing software other than Preview, which allows you to go back in history after you saved the changes and close the program.
Another area where Preview can be useful is PDF annotations. You can add text, signature, or even shapes to any PDF document. And again, Mac keeps the history of changes so you can always go back in time.
Speaking of going back in time, Time Machine is not a fantasy novel. On the Mac Time Machine is a backup tool. If there is one thing that I would like you to remember from this post is you need a backup strategy for your computer. Things happen (virus, crash, documents accidentally deleted) and often the best and only remedy is to restore the old image of your MacBook from the Time Machine device.
I wrote a very detailed blog post about Time Machine and other possible backup tools, so please check it out: Time Machine on Mac: How it Works, Best Practices and FAQ
For a long time, iTunes was an audio and video player that came standard with any Macbook.
However, it was split into multiple apps with macOS Catalina and the role of iTunes was taken by Apple Music.
There is an Apple Music store where you can purchase music and rent movies. You can join Apple music as a subscriber, and you can manage your subscriptions there.
Another app that spawned from iTunes. You can use Apple TV to watch your favorite shows, movies and Apple TV+ channel.
Apple Podcasts is the last part of iTunes that became a standalone app. You can subscribe to podcasts and listen them with this app.
While the list of built-in apps in macOS is good enough, you will always need more programs. There are two main ways to get new programs on MacBook: download from the vendor web site or buy from Apple Store.
If you have both options, I suggest you always go through Apple Store route. Apple has very strict requirements for any app they host in their stores. At the minimum, they all free from viruses. And yes, Macs can get viruses. Another advantage of the App Store is the ease of updates. You can configure the app to install updates automatically same way you configure the operating system updates.
And finally, any app you bought from the App Store you can download again if you deleted it. If you downloaded the app from the vendor web site, the process of downloading and finding a license might be quite complicated.
So this was a brief overview of built-in apps that come pre-installed on any new MacBook. There other applications that you can install for free. Specifically, there are two popular software suits: iLife and iWork.
Initially, the iLife software suite consisted of multiple apps, most of which were discontinued. The only two apps left are iMovie and GarageBand.
The GarageBand lets you play, record, edit, mix, and share music! You do not have to worry that you do not know a single note. Everything is there. Just open the application, select an instrument, then press the notes that tingle your ears. As easy as that, you can create your music. You can also add your voice by recording it.
iMovie, on the other hand, gets you in touch with your video skills. It is the perfect application for neophyte video editors. It provides a user-friendly interface but lets you turn your raw footages into one creatively edited video. Personally, I use iMovie to edit my YouTube videos, and I found it very easy to learn and use.
There is a suite of apps that mimic Microsoft Office functionality, and they are free for anyone using macOS: Numbers, Pages, and Keynote. You can download all three from the App Store.
- Numbers is an alternative for MS Excel. You can save Numbers spreadsheets as Excel documents or import Excel documents in Numbers.
- Pages is an alternative for MS Word. You can save Pages documents as Word files and edit Word documents in Pages.
- And Keynote is an alternative for Powerpoint. As you already understand, it is possible to work with Powerpoint documents in Keynote.
What Apple empathizes is that with iWork, you can work on MS Office documents just in different apps.
Apple provides a way to share the documents built-in iWork apps through the iCloud or Box. Another neat feature you can use Touch ID to lock and unlock the iWork documents.
Software That DOES Not Come With Macs
MS Office on Mac
iWork may be a viable alternative to MS Office, but feature-wise it’s nowhere near to Microsoft suite. Fortunately, Microsoft ported the big trio of apps to macOS. These apps look a little different than Windows counterparts (key combinations are different), but they are very close. If you had experience working with any Office apps on Windows, you would quickly figure out how to edit documents on Mac.
Does MacBook Pro come with Word or Excel? No, Macs do not come with MS Office pre-installed. Although it is free to download, remember that you still have to pay to have an account for the Microsoft office to be activated in your MacBook Pro. The Microsoft Office from the App Store only gives you a 30-day free trial.
How to get Microsoft Word or Excel on MacBook for free?
There are three possible ways to get Word or Excel for free:
- Get Office license at work. For instance, your account may allow you to install up to five copies. So you can install one at the work computer and one at home. But first, ask permission from your manager.
- Get Office license in college. Most colleges in the US provide free Office licenses.
- Download from pirate web sites. I do not recommend doing this for two reasons: it’s illegal and very hacked programs contain viruses. In fact, if you see any link with a promise of a free Word install, know it’s a scam. Don’t click on those links!
There are, however, two ways to get MS Office for less money:
Software For Mac
- Get a student edition. In this case, you either need to be a student or know someone who’s a student.
- Some sites may offer to sell Microsoft apps for deep discounts. What they do is they have volume editions, i.e., multiple licenses they paid for. Then they sell those individual licenses. All you need is to download the program and apply for the license. Is this legal? I don’t know. As they say, consult with your attorney.
Does Photoshop come with MacBook Pro/Air? No, it does not. Adobe offers 7-day free trial version after which it is required to subscribe for one of their plans: Photography ($9.99/mo), Photoshop ($20.99/mo) or Creative Cloud Apps ($52.99/mo). Students and teachers can get Creative Cloud Apps for $19.99/mo.
Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X
Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X are the most popular Apple apps, but unfortunately, they are not free. Moreover, they are very expensive. You can buy Logic Pro X for $199.99 and Final Cut Pro X for $299.99 from the Apple App Store.
I often hear people saying that Macs don’t get viruses, however, I know that this is not true. It is true, however, that macOS has some rudimentary defense against malware, but if you are serious about security you need to either download a free antimalware app or buy a commercial one.
Zoom, Skype and Teams
What Is The Best Software For Macbook Pro
Most video conferencing tools, such as Zoom and Teams are free for Macs. They have some internal limitations, but there is nothing specific to Apple products.
Apple computers do not come with games included. So, if you are a fan of Fortnite or Civilization you have to purchase them. The same applies to Steam games.
Best Software For Macbook Pro 2019
There is no even Solitaire or Minesweeper on Mac (my favorites on PCs).
Best Antivirus Software For Macbook Pro
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