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Best Free Apps For Macbook Pro 2018

12/6/2021

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  1. Best Free Apps For Macbook
  2. Best Free Apps For Macbook Pro 2018 Download

If you think you might need an FTP app, CyberDuck is an oldie but a goodie - and can be downloaded for free. If you go to the Mac App Store, it'll cost you £17.99.

How fast does your MacBook need to be to comfortably code iOS apps with Xcode? Is a MacBook Pro from 2-3 years ago good enough to learn Swift programming? Let’s find out!

Here’s what we’ll get into:

  • The minimum/recommended system requirements for Xcode 11
  • Why you need – or don’t need – a fancy $3.000 MacBook Pro
  • Which second-hand Macs can run Xcode OK, and how you can find out

I’ve answered a lot of “Is my MacBook good enough for iOS development and/or Xcode?”-type questions on Quora. A few of the most popular models include:

  • The 3rd- and 4th-gen MacBook Pro, with 2.4+ GHz Intel Core i5, i7, i9 CPUs
  • The 2nd-gen MacBook Air, with the 1.4+ GHz Intel Core i5 CPUs
  • The 4th-generation iMac, with the 2.7+ GHz Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs

These models aren’t the latest, that’s for sure. Are they good enough to code iOS apps? And what about learning how to code? We’ll find out in this article.

My Almost-Unbreakable 2013 MacBook Air

Since 2009 I’ve coded more than 50 apps for iOS, Android and the mobile web. Most of those apps, including all apps I’ve created between 2013 and 2018, were built on a 13″ MacBook Air with 8 GB of RAM and a 1.3 GHz Intel i5 CPU.

My first MacBook was the gorgeous, then-new MacBook White unibody (2009), which I traded in for a faster but heavier MacBook Pro (2011), which I traded in for that nimble workhorse, the mighty MacBook Air (2013). In 2018 I upgraded to a tricked out 13″ MacBook Pro, with much better specs.

Frankly, that MacBook Air from 2013 felt more sturdy and capable than my current MacBook Pro. After 5 years of daily intenstive use, the MacBook Air’s battery is only through 50% of its max. cycle count. It’s still going strong after 7 hours on battery power.

In 2014, my trusty MacBook Air broke down on a beach in Thailand, 3 hours before a client deadline, with the next Apple Store 500 kilometer away. It turned out OK, of course. Guess what? My current MacBook Pro from 2018, its keyboard doesn’t even work OK, I’ve had sound recording glitches, and occasionally the T2 causes a kernel panic. Like many of us, I wish we had 2013-2015 MacBook Air’s and Pro’s with today’s specs. Oh, well…

Learn how to build iOS apps

Get started with iOS 14 and Swift 5

Sign up for my iOS development course, and learn how to build great iOS 14 apps with Swift 5 and Xcode 12.

That 100 Mhz i486 PC I Learned to Code With

When I was about 11 years old I taught myself to code in BASIC, on a 100 Mhz i486 PC that was given to me by friends. It had a luxurious 16 MB of RAM, initially only ran MS-DOS, and later ran Windows 3.1 and ’95.

Best free apps for macbook pro 2018 download

A next upgrade came as a 400 Mhz AMD desktop, given again by friends, on which I ran a local EasyPHP webserver that I used to learn web development with PHP, MySQL and HTML/CSS. I coded a mod for Wolfenstein 3D on that machine, too.

We had no broadband internet at home back then, so I would download and print out coding tutorials at school. At the one library computer that had internet access, and I completed the tutorials at home. The source codes of turn-based web games, JavaScript tidbits and HTML page snippets were carried around on a 3.5″ floppy disk.

Later, when I started coding professionally around age 17, I finally bought my first laptop. My own! I still remember how happy I was. I got my first gig as a freelance coder: creating a PHP script that would aggregate RSS feeds, for which I earned about a hundred bucks. Those were the days!

Xcode, iOS, Swift and The MacBook Pro

The world is different today. Xcode simply doesn’t run on an i486 PC, and you can’t save your app’s source code on a 1.44 MB floppy disk anymore. Your Mac probably doesn’t have a CD drive, and you store your Swift code in a cloud-based Git repository somewhere.

Make no mistake: owning a MacBook is a luxury. Not because learning to code was harder 15 years ago, and not because computers were slower back then. It’s because kids these days learn Python programming on a $25 Raspberry Pi.

I recently had a conversation with a young aspiring coder, who complained he had no access to “decent” coding tutorials and mentoring, despite owning a MacBook Pro and having access to the internet. Among other things, I wrote the following:

You’re competing with a world of people that are smarter than you, and have better resources. You’re also competing against coders that have had it worse than you. They didn’t win despite adversity, but because of it. Do you give up? NO! You work harder. It’s the only thing you can do: work harder than the next person. When their conviction is wavering, you dig in your heels, you keep going, you persevere, and you’ll win.

Winning in this sense isn’t like winning a race, of course. You’re not competing with anyone else; you’re only really up against yourself. If you want to learn how to code, don’t dawdle over choosing a $3.000 or a $2.900 laptop. If anything, it’ll keep you from developing the grit you need to learn coding.

Great ideas can change the world, but only if they’re accompanied by deliberate action. Likewise, simply complaining about adversity isn’t going to create opportunities for growth – unless you take action. I leapfrogged my way from one hand-me-down computer to the next. I’m not saying you should too, but I do want to underscore how it helped me develop character.

If you want to learn how to code, welcome adversity. Be excellent because of it, or despite it, and never give up. Start coding today! Don’t wait until you’ve got all your ducks in a row.

Which MacBook is Fast Enough for Xcode 11?

The recommended system specs to run Xcode 11 are:

  • A Mac with macOS Catalina (10.15.2) for Xcode 11.5 or macOS Mojave (10.14.4) for Xcode 11.0 (see alternatives for PC here)
  • At least an Intel i5- or i7-equivalent CPU, so about 2.0 GHz should be enough
  • At least 8 GB of RAM, but 16 GB lets you run more apps at the same time
  • At least 256 GB disk storage, although 512 GB is more comfortable
  • You’ll need about 8 GB of disk space, but Xcode’s intermediate files can take up to 10-30 GB of extra disk space

Looking for a second-hand Mac? The following models should be fast enough for Xcode, but YMMV!

  • 4th-generation MacBook Pro (2016)
  • 3rd-generation Mac Mini (2014)
  • 2nd-generation MacBook Air (2017)
  • 5th-generation iMac (2015)

When you’re looking for a Mac or MacBook to purchase, make sure it runs the latest version of macOS. Xcode versions you can run are tied to macOS versions your hardware runs, and iOS versions you can build for are tied to Xcode versions. See how that works? This is especially true for SwiftUI, which is iOS 13.0 and up only. Make sure you can run the latest!

Pro tip: You can often find the latest macOS version a device model supports on their Wikipedia page (see above links, scroll down to Supported macOS releases). You can then cross-reference that with Xcode’s minimum OS requirements (see here, scroll to min macOS to run), and see which iOS versions you’ll be able to run.

Further Reading

Awesome! We’ve discussed what you need to run Xcode on your Mac. You might not need as much as you think you do. Likewise, it’s smart to invest in a future-proof development machine.

Whatever you do, don’t ever think you need an expensive computer to learn how to code. Maybe the one thing you really want to invest in is frustration tolerance. You can make do, without the luxury of a MacBook Pro. A hand-me-down i486 is enough. Or… is it?

Want to learn more? Check out these resources:

Learn how to build iOS apps

Get started with iOS 14 and Swift 5

Sign up for my iOS development course, and learn how to build great iOS 14 apps with Swift 5 and Xcode 12.

Macbook

In a previous article where I talked about the 5 best cheap Mac apps under $10, it seems that many of you wanted to know if these apps had any free alternatives. The straight answer is yes, but it is a little bit more complicated than that. As a rule of thumb, you should know that for every paid Mac app, there is a corresponding free app out there. You just have to search for it.

That said, the free apps do have their own limitations. Mostly the limitations have to do with the user interface of the app. The paid apps generally have a more modern and easy to navigate user interface than their free counterparts. The paid apps also bring more features which make the apps more productive. I guess what I am trying to say is that in most cases, you essentially get what you paid for. That’s not to say that there are no good free apps out there. On the contrary, there are a ton of awesome free apps, and if you want to see a lit of them, do let me know in the comments section below.

However, this article is not about the best free Mac apps, it’s about the best-paid macOS apps and their free alternatives. Before we get into the article, one thing I would like to mention is that I have taken a little bit of liberty with the concept of free apps, which you will understand as we get into the article. So, if you don’t think that the paid apps deserve the price that they are asking for, here are the 7 best paid Mac apps and their free alternatives:

7 Best Paid macOS Apps and Their Free Alternatives

Since there are going to be a lot of apps on this list, I am not going to go in-depth for each one of them. Rest assured all the apps that I mention in this list has been thoroughly tested by me. Also, if you like to see an in-depth review of any of the apps mentioned in this list, do let me know by writing in the comments section below. I will make sure to fulfill as many of your requests as I can.

Best Free Apps For Macbook Pro 2018

1. Best Password Manager App for Mac: 1Password

It’s 2018 and if you are not using a password manager today, I am sorry to tell you the truth, but you are a fool (unless you have a Sheldon like memory which allows you to create and remember strong and random passwords). If you take your account safety seriously, you should be using a password manager. A password manager not only allows you to create random and secure passwords but it also makes them easily accessible. All you need to do is remember one master password. As long as you remember that you can use your password anywhere, be it on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

1Password according to me is one of the best password managers you can get for yourself. All your data is encrypted using end-to-end AES-256 encryption and PBKDF2 key derivation, which is a technical way to say, that there is no way in hell anyone can get into your account if they don’t know your master password. The service syncs all your password across devices and supports all the major platforms including macOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows. So, no matter which device you are using, you are covered.

Install:1Password - Free trial ($3.99/month - paid annually - individual plan / $4.99/month - paid annually - family plan up to 5 members)

1Password Free Alternative - LastPass

One of the biggest restrictions that come with using the free version of any password manager software is that the free version doesn’t allow you to sync your password across devices. This is where LastPass wins as the free version of the software allows you to sync your passwords across devices. Remember that I told you that I am going to take a little liberty when it comes to what free app means, that declaration applies here. Although LastPass does have a premium subscription model, it’s free version is enough to fulfill all your individual needs. In fact, I myself use the free version of LastPass and has never felt a need to upgrade to the paid version.

That’s not to say that the paid version doesn’t come with extra features. The paid version brings features like desktop application logins, desktop fingerprint identification, two-factor authentication, and 1GB of encrypted file storage. That said, none of those features are necessary. All the necessary features like password creation, auto-fill and auto-login in browsers, password sync across devices, form filling, secure notes, and more are present in the free version. That’s why I consider, LastPass to be the best free password manager you can use today.

Macbook

Install: LastPass - Free ($2/month - paid annually - individual plan / $4/month - paid annually - family plan up to 5 members)

2. Best Menu Bar Manager for Mac: Bartender 3

One of my favorite features of Mac is its Menu Bar and the apps that it can hold. The Menu Bar not only provides us with a quick way to access important information and give us app specific contextual menus, it also allows us to use Menu Bar apps which are quite nifty applications. However, if you are as obsessed with apps as I am, you will soon find that your Menu Bar has become too crowded and unorganized.

That’s where Bartender comes in as it allows you to organize your menu bar apps, by hiding them, rearranging them, or moving them to the Bartender Items. But that’s not all, Bartender also allows you to quickly search for Menu Bar apps and use keyboard shortcuts to access them. Bartender is a must-have application for anyone who is looking to manage their Menu Bar items.

Install: Bartender 3 - Free trial for 4 weeks - $15

Bartender3 Free Alternative: Vanilla

I will be the first one to come out and say that Vanilla is nowhere as powerful as the Bartender app. That said, The app is free and allows you to hide your Menu Bar apps elegantly. When you install the app, you will see a small arrow icon which you can click on to either expand or hide the Menu Bar icons.

Although the app is free forever, it does have a Pro option which adds extra features like keyboard shortcuts and automatic icons hiding. However, if you are not ready to pay, the free version will just serve you right as the app never ever nags you for upgrading.

Install:Vanilla - Free/$3.99

3. Best Storage Manager for Your Mac: DaisyDisk

DaisyDisk is one of my most favorite macOS apps and considering how much it helps me, I am more than happy to pay for the service. I have already talked about the app in great detail in the best Mac apps under $10 article, which you can read if you want to. The short version is that the app helps you scan your Mac’s internal storage as well as any other storage devices that are either physically connected to your device or are on your server and helps you find and delete unwanted items to free up storage on your device. DaisyDisk is a prime example of an app which is really useful but that’s not why you are buying it. You are buying it for its extremely beautiful user interface which makes using this app a delight.

Install:DaisyDisk - $9.99

Best Free Apps For Macbook Pro 2018

DaisyDisk Free Alternative: GrandPerspective

GrandPerspective is the best app for anyone who is looking for an alternative to DaisyDisk. The basic premise of the app is the same as DaisyDisk, that is, it scans your Mac to give you a graphical representation of the disk usage. You can choose to either scan your entire Mac or individual folders. Once you run the scan, the app will show all your files and folders represented by solid colored squares.

The bigger the file size, the bigger is the square. Thus you can easily find out which files and folders take up the most space. The app is free to download from its official website but cost $1.99 on the Mac App Store. But whichever app you download, you are essentially getting the same thing. The paid version is just your way of supporting the developers.

Install: GrandPerspective - (Free from Sourforge / $1.99 from Mac App Store)

4. Best Writing App For Mac: Ulysses

Ulysses has garnered a lot of hate after the service decided to go the subscription route, but the thing is, whether you love it or hate it, there is no denying the fact that it’s the best writing app for Mac. In fact, all the article that you see on this website have been researched, drafted, and written on Ulysses. The best part about Ulysses is that it is an extremely powerful and productive writing tool which packs enough features that can handle any writing project irrespective of its size or complexity, and yet it still manages to maintain a simple and distraction-free UI so you can get the work done. I have already published an article detailing all the features of the app which you can go through if you want to make yourself familiar with the app.

Install:Ulysses ($4.99/month or $39.99/year - special student pricing available)

Ulysses Free Alternative: Typora / Elephant / Focus Writer

Probably the hardest thing when drafting this article was finding a worthy free alternative for Ulysses, and sadly even after scouring the whole internet, I could not find an app which can replace Ulysses alone. Don’t get me wrong, Typora is a fairly worthy app, however, it’s only free till it’s in beta.

Focus Writer is free but it neither bring the handy markdown editing feature nor the exceptional organizational feature of Ulysses.

Elephant is an open-source alternative to Evernote which also has a built-in markdown editor.

In the end, I still think that iA Writer ($9.99) is the best Ulysses alternative but you can surely check these apps to see if they can help you in replacing Ulysses or not. If you are already using a Ulysses alternative which you think is better than anything mentioned on this list, do help us out by dropping its name in the comments section below.

Install:Typora / Elephant / FocusWriter

5. Best Photo Editing App For Mac: Affinity Photo

I have used a ton of photo editing apps on Mac, however, I have always come back to Affinity Photo. The biggest reason why I prefer Affinity Photo is not just because it packs more features that you will ever need and is regularly updated, it’s because Affinity provides a plethora of resources to help you master the software. I also love the fact that unlike most of the good photo editors out there which uses subscription-based pricing, Affinity photo charges a onetime fee.

One more reason to go for Affinity Photo is its iPad app. Affinity Photo’s iPad app is the most robust photo editing app that you can use on your iPad, period. If you are ready to pay the price, Affinity Photo will provide you with one of the most versatile and extensive suite of tools you will find in any photo editing software.

Best Free Apps For Macbook

Install:Affinity Photo - $49.99

Affinity Photo Free Alternative: Fotor / Gimp

Fotor is probably the best free alternative to Affinity Photo which makes this one the best free photo editing app for Mac. The biggest benefit of using Fotor is the way it handles its interface. All the important tools are available right within your reach and you don’t have to dig through various sub-menus to find them. That said, Fotor is not truly free as it offers in-app purchases.

If you are looking for a truly free alternative to Affinity Photo, Gimp is what you should be looking at. Gimp is an open source photo editing tool for Mac. Being an open-source app, it brings all the advantages and disadvantages that come with the domain. What I mean by that Gimp has all the photo editing tools and features that you will find in any pro photo editing tool, however, it also comes with a steep learning curve and you will have to invest a considerable amount of time in learning it.

Install:Fotor / Gimp

6. Best Productivity App for Mac: Alfred

If you have ever searched for productivity apps for Mac, I can bet that Alfred was at the top of most of the results. Alfred is such a powerful tool that I will need to dedicate a series of articles if I want to really explain its power. The app not only helps you to quickly find files, apps, and more on your Mac, it also allows you to search the web, execute system level commands, create and execute workflows, assign hotkeys, control your music, automate your workflow, and much more. The possibilities are endless here. With its latest update, Alfred has taken the route of the freemium model where all its basic functions are free but pro functions are hidden behind a paywall, which you will need to buy if you are serious about using Alfred.

Install:Free / £19

Best Free Apps For Macbook Pro 2018 Download

Alfred Free Alternative: Quicksilver / Flashlight

QuickSilver is an open-source alternative for Alfred. Almost everything that you can do with Alfred, you can do with Quicksilver for free. However, as it is with any open-source application, Quicksilver also comes with a steep learning curve and doesn't have a great UI. That said, if you are ready to invest your time, you will be thoroughly rewarded.

Quicksilver will turn you into a Mac ninja, making you a far more productive than your average Mac user. However, if for some reason you are yet not ready to give up on Spotlight and still want all of Alfred’s power, you might want to check out Flashlight. Flashlight is not an app in itself but a collection of plugins which enhances the features of Spotlight bringing it closer to the likes of Alfred and Quicksilver.

Install:Quicksilver / Flashlight

7. Best Task Management App for Mac: OmniFocus

I understand that everybody has their own system for managing tasks, and there can be no one task management app which is best for everyone. However upon trying multiple apps, I have found that OmniFocus is one of the best if not the best task management app for Mac. OmniFocus uses the “Getting Things Done” principle to help you, well, get things done. I love how OmniFocus not only allows me to create individual tasks, it also allows me to create projects, folders, attach contextual menus, defer tasks, and more. OmniFocus also comes with apps for iPhone,iPad, and Apple Watch, so no matter which Apple device you are using, OmniFocus is always there for you.

Install:OmniFocus - $39.99

OmniFocus Free Alternative: Wunderlist / Todoist / Reminders

While I searched high and low for a free task management for Mac, every app that I found which was worth getting on the list followed a freemium model. Of all those apps, I found Todoist and Wunderlist to be the best of the bunch. I personally prefer Wunderlist more than Todoist, however, Todoist has certain advantages over Wunderlist and most of those advantages have to do with various automation tools which greatly cuts down the time you spent on the app itself and more on the tasks in hand.

However, if you don’t want a freemium app and need something truly free, I think the built-in Reminders apps that come with macOS and iOS is your best hope. The Reminders is not only for creating one-time reminders rather you can also create lists which can act as your projects. The app also allows you to set due dates and share reminders with someone which is a much-needed feature if you work in a collaborative environment. However, the biggest thing that goes in favor of reminders app is the fact that it is deeply integrated with Siri so you can use Apple’s voice assistant to easily create tasks without having to open the app itself.

Install:Todoist / Wunderlist

Paid Mac Apps and Free Alternatives: Final Thoughts

Since I took this topic on, I realized that while some of the paid Mac apps have worthy alternatives, most of the best paid apps offer features and user interface which cannot be replicated by any free app. Maybe that’s why it’s better to pay for the apps that you are going to use on a daily basis rather looking for their free alternative.

That said, not all of us are lucky enough to afford all the paid Mac apps. Hence, what I feel the best thing to do is to buy the apps which are essential for your workflow (you can look at cheaper alternatives which are much easier to find than free ones) while use the free ones for those which are not that important and will not hamper your productivity in a big way.

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