10 macOS Apps That Showcase the Beauty of Well-Designed Software

These award-winning apps are not just the best in their class; they are designed with such care and attention that you may be forgiven for thinking that they were designed in Cupertino itself.

But they were not. These apps are all from third-party developers who love the Mac and go out of their way to make the best Mac apps that they can.

So, without further ado, here are ten of the most beautiful Mac apps on the planet. How many do you use?

1. Bear

If you are looking for a clean and modern notetaking app, Bear is a great place to start. This app won the Apple Design Award two years running, and it’s easy to see why. It is meticulous in the way it integrates with macOS and is a joy to use.

But, it is more than just a pretty app to look at. Bear lets you include text, photos, tables, and to-do lists, all in the same note. It also supports Markdown, tags, OCR searches, and more.

The free plan has enough to let you test the water, but if you want to unlock all the features, including iCloud sync, you need to purchase the incredibly affordable Pro plan for $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

➡️ Try Bear today!

2. Ulysses

For long-form writing, Ulysses has few equals. And, as an Apple Design Award winner, you can be assured that this writing app is worth your time.

Ulysses is a text-first app, and the more you use it, the more you appreciate that. The whole app is designed around making text look good on the screen, and toward helping you be a more prolific writer.

The interface is minimal and free of distractions when you need it to be. This helps you focus on what matters and get more words on the page. It also has a built-in spelling and grammar checker, which is something that every writer can use.

Bloggers can use Ulysses to write, tag, and add images to their posts, then publish directly to WordPress, Medium, Ghost, and Micro.blog. You can use Markup, set goals, and organize all your texts into separate folders.

Ulysses costs $39.99 a year or $5.99 a month. It’s also on Setapp. Discounted pricing is available for students at $10.99 for six months.

➡️ Try Ulysses today!

Image courtesy of Ulysses

3. Things

Things is a task manager that also boasts two Apple Design Awards. It helps you plan your day, manage your projects, and work toward your goals.

In terms of design, it could be the best-looking app on this list. It’s just so clean and easy to read. The fonts, the spacing, and the attention to detail are like few other apps I have used. Things is truly beautiful.

Along with the usual tropes you will find in a task manager, Things includes nice touches like headings to separate items on a list. It also has checklists, an incredible search tool, a collapsible sidebar, and multiple window support.

The only downside to Things is that they charge for apps on every device. The Mac app is $49.99, the iPad is $19.99, and the iPhone is $9.99. And when you are working with a task manager, you want it on all your devices.

However, there is a free trial for Mac users, and the app cost is just a one-time fee, while other apps charge annual subscriptions.

➡️ Try Things today!

Things image courtesy of Cultured Code

4. Reeder

Google Reader may be dead, but RSS is not. However, that’s just one of the reasons why apps like Reeder are so popular with Mac users.

Silvio Rizzi designed Reeder, and it is just beautiful to look at. This is a good thing because the whole purpose of this app is for you to spend time staring at it to read the content you cultivate with RSS feeds.

Reeder embodies everything you have come to expect from a Mac app in terms of design and usability. It also supports all kinds of third-party sources like Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, FeedHQ, NewsBlur, Inoreader, Instapaper, and Pocket.

Reeder 5 is a paid app that costs $9.99 from the Mac App Store.

➡️ Try Reeder today!

5. Ivory

When Twitter killed third-party clients with a restrictive API, the Tapbots team abandoned Tweetbot and set to work on a Mastodon client instead.

Ivory was the fruit of that labor, and it’s widely considered to be one of the best Mastodon clients you can use. It incorporates a lot of the same design language that we saw with Tweetbot, and is just a pleasure to use.

Features include multiple columns, the option to pin timelines, support for Handoff for the iOS app, timeline filters, and different app icons.

Ivory is free to download, but it requires a subscription to use it. Without that, you are in a read-only mode. Subscriptions are $1.99 a month or $14.99 a year and include a free 7-day trial.

➡️ Try Ivory today!

6. Craft

I have a confession to make. I’m on a seemingly never-ending journey to find the perfect notetaking app. I enjoy looking at different options, but at the back of my mind, there is this recurring voice that says, “Why don’t you just use Craft?”

I like Craft a lot, so I am not sure why I continue to look at other options, but you don’t have to make the same mistake as me. Craft was Apple’s App of the Year in 2021, and today, it has over a million users.

Few note-taking apps make your notes look this good. The design is lightyears ahead of its competitors, and the options you have at your fingertips for creating great notes are almost too numerous to count.

The free account gives you one workspace and unlimited documents, and paid plans start at $5 a month. Craft is included with Setapp subscriptions, and there is even a free Craft Pro license for teachers and students.

➡️ Try Craft today!

Image courtesy of Craft

7. MindNode

When you need to plan out a project or explore interrelated ideas, a mind-mapping tool is what you need. And if you are using a Mac, MindNode is one of the best.

The app’s design is simple, yet perfect for creating some complex mind maps. Apps like Lucidchart are great, but the numerous options make it hard to find what you want. Not so with MindNode. The interface is minimal but easy to navigate and never gets in the way.

With MindNode, you can create outlines and turn them into mind maps you can be proud of. You can use words, images, links, tasks, or notes to capture your thoughts.

Maps can be customized with themes and stickers and then shared with others as text or image files. You can also share to Apple Reminders, Things, and Omnifocus.

Mindnode is free to download from the Mac App Store. The free version lets you create and edit simple mind maps. The Plus version, $19.99 per year, has more flexibility and includes themes, a focus mode, visual tags, notes, and more.

➡️ Try Mindnode today!

Image courtesy of Mindnode

8. Spark

Readdle has long been known for creating great apps for Mac and iOS, and Spark is no exception to that. It’s an email client that is designed to cut out distractions and help you be more productive.

It’s also one of the best-looking email clients on the market. It follows a “less is more” approach to the user interface and is completely devoid of ribbons and tools at the top of your screen. Instead, the focus is purely devoted to the reason you opened this app: your emails.

With Spark, you can mute threads, group emails by sender, and highlight priority emails so you don’t lose track of them. The Smart Inbox shows you what you need to see, and when you need to see it, while the built-in AI can help you compose and reply to emails.

Spark works with iCloud, Google, Exchange, IMAP, and more. The free plan lets you experience a lot of how this email client works, but the best features require an annual subscription of $59.99 or a Setapp subscription.

➡️ Try Spark today!

Image courtesy of Readdle

9. Mela

If you like Reeder, the chances are high that you will also like Mela, an app from the same developer with many of the same design cues.

I store all my favorite recipes in OneNote, and I have done for years. However, now that I have found Mela, OneNote’s days are numbered. It’s nicer to look at, easier to organize, and purpose-built for finding and storing recipes.

You can find recipes using the built-in browser or via the handy share extension. There is a full-screen cook mode that shows recipe directions like Apple Music shows lyrics and a calendar to help you plan out your meals. There’s even a grocery list that syncs with Apple Reminders, so you don’t forget ingredients.

Mela is free to download but requires a one-time purchase of $9.99 to unlock all features. If you ask me, it’s well worth it.

➡️ Try Mela today!

10. Day One

Journalling is very much a sign of the times. All the cool kids are doing it. If you are looking to start a digital journal, Day One is a great place to start.

Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, owns Day One. It received Apple’s App of the Year award, has over 15 million downloads, and boasts 200,000 5-star reviews in the App Store. Not bad for a journalling app!

You can add photos, videos, drawings, or audio recordings to bring your journal entries to life and take a trip down memory lane with the “On This Day” feature. Your journal is protected with passcodes or FaceID, and all your entries are end-to-end encrypted.

Day One describes itself as “free to use, better with premium,” which pretty much sums it up. The premium plan is about $35 a year and gives you unlimited journals, videos, audio recordings, and even PDF embeds.

➡️ Try Day One today!

Image courtesy of Automattic

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