7 Must-Have Alternative Apps for Your MacBook

7 Must-Have Alternative Apps for Your MacBook

For all the wonderful things that official MacBook Apps have brought to their dedicated legions of users, Apple remains a stickler when it comes to the freedom to choose. Even giants such as Dropbox, Spotify, and Adobe Creative Cloud can’t be found in the official App Store.

This forces users to have to go hunting for alternative MacBook apps on vendor websites or alternative app stores. We believe this practice can only harm Apple in the long run.

Downloading such innocuous apps as Dropbox or Coda from a non-App Store location only encourages users to go hunting for other alternative apps. Soon, they will discover that many of those apps are better than the ones Apple has sanctioned.

By shutting off access to what Apple considers an acceptable app, the company reveals itself as an emperor without clothes. We find this to routinely be the case with Apple’s Finder app, which has so many user complaints that there are tons of alternative app replacements for it, including our very own Path Finder App.

In the spirit of Better MacBook Apps for everyone, we provide the following list of 7 Alternative Apps for your MacBook that should be on the App Store, but aren’t.

7 must-have alternative MacBook apps

F.lux blue light filter

Blue light from computer screens has been found to reduce melatonin production and thereby affect people’s sleep when they work late at night on a screen.

Although Apple introduced Night Shift to MacBook Air devices in 2012 and MacBooks in 2015, its feature set is pretty limited. F.lux is an alternative MacBook app with an extensive feature set and options, including:

- Fast transitions

- Sleep in on weekends

- Extra hour of sleep

- Expanded daytime settings

- Color effects

- And many more.

Hazel MacBook organizer

Hazel is an organizer for your MacBook. You can point it at a folder and configure preset rules to keep that folder organized. These rules can include organizing based on the file name, file type, date, where it was downloaded from, and other rules. The tool can even upload or archive files automatically using pattern matching to set up workflows.

Dan Miller of MacWorld said that “Hazel's combination of power and ease of use makes it one of the handiest Mac utilities I’ve used.”

OpenEmu gaming emulation

For those gaming enthusiasts who have shamefully considered turning coat and buying a PC simply because of the gaming emulation software that exists for Windows computers, OpenEmu is for you.

The OpenEmu MacBook App offers an enormous range of console emulators for your Mac. Classic controllers are beautifully rendered, making you feel like it’s 1991 all over again while you power away at Sonic the Hedgehog on your emulated Sega Genesis.

Oh, and don’t forget the obligatory Pearl Jam tracks playing in the background.

Path Finder—replacement for Apple’s Finder

Yes, we created Path Finder here at Cocoatech, and we sincerely believe it is one of the best Finder replacement apps out there. The app was created to overcome some of the stock Finder’s limitations such as a lack of dual panes, zero integration with cloud services, and lack of full keyboard navigation.

At the core of Path Finder’s superior system is a concept called “Modules.” By simply dragging and dropping a module into the Path Finder interface, you can do such things as view additional information about your files, integrate with GitHub without leaving the interface, change permissions, and do much more.

SuperDuper! drive cloner

SuperDuper! lets you create a fully bootable backup clone of your MacBook’s drive. If your entire Mac crashes, you will be able to boot into your Mac (or a new one) with the SuperDuper clone and so recover your work.

Best of all, SuperDuper has a clutter-free interface which makes it easy for “mere mortals” to take care of their backups. It also has a scheduling feature because, let’s face it, people forget to back up their stuff all the time!

The MacBook App is Apple silicon native, making SuperDuper also super-fast.

Default Folder X

We’re good friends with the folks at Default Folder X. In 2021, we got together with their developers to ensure that the Path Finder and Default Folder X code worked together seamlessly to ensure a far improved experience for MacBook Users.

But that’s not why we’re recommending their software. Default Folder X is really awesome.

What it does is put your Open and Save dialogs on steroids. This might not sound like much at first glance. But if you think of how much time you spend using these windows, the increase in productivity can be immense, especially for Power MacBook Users.

Some of the features that Default Folder X offers are:

- Lets you navigate through folders via the context menu without having to endlessly click into subfolders

- Single-click saving to a folder by simply clicking in that folder in Finder (or Path Finder)

- Access recent and saved folders easily

- And a bunch of other awesome features!


AirFoil solves that ever-present headache that hardcore Apple users suffer from—the incompatibility of non-Apple devices with their MacBook Apps.

Whereas Apple’s AirPlay lets you send music from your MacBook to an AirPlay device, AirFoil gives you far more control over that process, and lets you send it to every single device and speaker that it can communicate with.

That means that the AirFoil MacBook app can play music from your MacBook on:

- Bluetooth devices

- Sonos devices

- Google speakers

- Google Chromecast

- Airplay Devices

- HomePods

Honorable mentions

There are, unfortunately, some apps that were once great and which did not make it onto this list because they no longer exist. It’s tough to support an app that is actively blocked from entering the App Store by the Apple Megalords, even though the app greatly benefits users.

Still, those apps remain in our hearts as champions of a more open ecosystem, and which kept the hope alive of a better Mac. Because Macs remain, despite these restrictions, still the best machines in the world for personal and business computing.

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