Pandemic Back-to-School: The Best Apps (and Deals) for Your New Mac

Utility  •  Aug. 21, 2020

The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we live, and its impacts are to stay for years. If it were not for the COVID-19 outbreak, though, students across the United States would be rushing to stores to prepare the best for their academic year ahead.

This includes getting the right materials, the best digital devices, and services. Laptops and smartphones had become a part of this back-to-school time for years now. Today, people have added reasons to focus on what to get as a part of the back-to-school drive.

But, how do you find the right apps, devices, and services for a school-year amidst a pandemic?

[ Related: Top Mac Apps for Students – Productive Study Guide ]

Back to school amidst a pandemic

Unfortunately, we cannot yet say when the COVID-19 outbreak would subside. This is why most institutions have opted for a full-online academic semester/year instead of traditional. This means most of you would be staying at your place and virtually attending the classes, among other things.

What does this mean when buying a laptop, though?

You should get a laptop/tablet that can offer the best of both worlds: portability and performance. So, once the situation improves, you can take this device to your campus. Until then, a performance-friendly laptop can keep your productivity level uptight.

What about what’s inside the laptop?

More importantly, going completely digital means you have to make specific changes. For instance, you now need a better set of applications that help you handle your school life. I mean, you may have to attend many classes a day, which can get stressful at times.

What comes to your mind when we say performance laptops and productive apps? Well, a Mac, right? The various devices from Apple’s MacBook lineup have been a student favorite for years now. We are sure many of you are planning to get a new Mac for your upcoming online school year amidst the pandemic.

Are you getting a Mac for school amidst pandemic?

Some of you may be planning to upgrade your MacBook experience to better suit the new normal as well, right? In either case, we’ve got you covered. We have compiled the best back-to-school apps for your Mac and a few deals that you want to check out while buying/upgrading a MacBook.

While searching the internet for the best deals, we also came across a few deals you may want to check out if you are looking for a new Mac device. Shall we explore both of them, then?

Our favorite Back-to-school apps for your new Mac

If you are indeed getting a new MacBook for school, you need the right set of apps to make the best out of the device. Even if you are upgrading your overall Mac experience, a good set of productive apps/services is going to make a huge difference.

#1 PDFelement

PDFelement is one of the best macOS apps you can get during this back-to-school season. This PDF editor is equipped with almost every editing/annotation feature that a student needs regularly. Compared to Preview and other PDF editors in the market, PDFelement has a super-clean interface as well. And, in case you get a scanned document, you can also perform OCR using PDFelement for Mac.


As a tool that we regularly use at SweetBits and in personal life, PDFelement is a perfect companion for learners and teachers alike. While you can use the free version of PDFelement, the premium one brings a lot of features that you need.

As a part of the Back to School campaign, Wondershare is offering 50% OFF on the PDFelement purchase for students and teachers. It means you can get the yearly plan of PDFelement for just $77.4 per year. Judging by any possible standard, this deal is something you should not miss.

#2 IPVanish VPN

IPVanish VPN is one of the most trusted VPN services available for Mac and other devices. As a schoolgoer, you may have to browse a lot of websites that are not 100% safe. You also have to access content that has not been made available in your country. For instance, if you study elsewhere, you may have to connect to the institution through a server in that particular country.


So, on any day, a student needs something like IPVanish VPN. This will be a great addition from the security and productivity point of view. IPVanish VPN also does a commendable job of ensuring the best speed and reliability.

In this Back to School season, IPVanish VPN is offering a 65% discount on its VPN service lineup. You can save a considerable amount by getting the entire first year for just $4.16 per month, which brings you down to $49.99 in a year.

#3 Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Even if you are not a student, you have to protect your Mac from digital threats such as malware and spyware out there. As it happens, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is the best way to do that. This popular anti-malware tool comes with amazing features like real-time protection and adware blocking. You even get a VPN built into the app.

bitdefender mac

You should definitely get Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac if you do something Pro with your MacBook Pro. For instance, if you test a lot of third-party apps or code, you need a dedicated solution to stay away from the potential threats.

Fortunately, you can now get Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac at a 65% discount, which is fantastic. It means you can get the whole security package by paying just $20.99. For less than the price you spend on a good meal, you can effectively protect your Mac.

#4 Setapp for Education

Setapp is a subscription service for Mac that brings you a well-curated collection of productive apps. Setapp brings you a variety of tools that can improve your online learning process. Just to name a few, you get apps like Manuscript, which assists you in writing academic papers, and Studies, an app that makes it hassle-free to manage your study material.

setapp edu

Even from a non-learning perspective, Setapp is a fantastic thing to have during school. Every month, you’d have access to brand-new macOS apps that work well. Ulysses, the distraction-free writing app and Meeter, which makes meeting management easy, are some other examples.

Setapp doesn’t have a back to school drive, but you can get the subscription service at 50% off if you have a .edu/.ac email address. So, you can pay as little as $4.99 per month to get a never-ending collection of macOS apps on your MacBook or iMac.

#5 Zoom

Zoom has become the norm of online meetings, and you can conduct online classes and other conferences using this platform. So, if you have got a new Mac, Zoom is one of the first productivity apps that you should install on it. As you may have noticed, Zoom is pretty smooth when it comes to meeting quality as well. The company is also offering some discounts for teachers.


From classes to graduation, almost everything is handy with the right tools on Zoom. So, it makes sense to keep this on your Mac for the long term as well. If you are a teacher, you can avail more offers and training sessions from Zoom, by the way.

#6 Amazon Kindle for Mac

Apple ships all Macs with a dedicated app for reading books, called Books. However, if you use a Kindle for reading stuff for your school, you should get the Amazon Kindle app for Mac. Besides syncing your Amazon Books library to your Mac, the app provides a decent reading experience as well. You get to enjoy almost all the features you have on a Kindle device, such as X-Ray and Print Replica.


Amazon Kindle for Mac isn’t a tool that is made for students or teachers alone. However, as someone who wants advanced annotation options while reading, you should check it out. On the bright side, it is light and doesn’t consume many system resources. Also, didn’t we say it’s completely free?

#7 Apple Music

If you have a Mac and an iPhone, Apple Music is the best music-streaming service you can get today. Apple has integrated the service to its products and other services so much. On top of all, you have a fantastic set of music tracks as well. Also, you can listen to a variety of podcasts and focus-friendly music that help you while working.


#8 Parallels Desktop for Home & Student Use

Not all of us can have a Mac and Windows PC side by side. However, some apps don’t have a macOS version so far. More importantly, you may have to test certain things on a Windows PC. While dual-booting Windows is an option, it’s not flawless or smooth. This is where Parallels Desktop for Mac comes in. This app allows you to run Windows apps and macOS apps side by side on your Mac.


Parallels Desktop uses high-end virtualization technology to enable this. You also get an excellent set of tools that allow quick modifications. If you have a MacBook Pro or iMac, you can get this software package without a second thought.

Fortunately, you can now get the Parallels Desktop for Home & Student Use version by paying $39.99/year. Compared to the actual price of $79.99, we are talking about a discount of 50%. You just have to verify your educational email ID to get this discount.

#9 Adobe Creative Cloud

Creative Cloud from Adobe has become a centralized destination for all things content creation. So, if you are a student of filmmaking, animation, or design, you need apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, among others. While you can get individual apps and semi-full packages, it makes sense to get the complete subscription from Adobe.

Premiere CC

We think Adobe CC is a must-have suite on Mac for students and teachers in the design/content industry. It also makes sense to keep this suite available at times. I mean, when it comes to creating an awesome poster or design, you can count on Creative Cloud apps.

Adobe has been offering 60% off on Creative Cloud subscription for students and teachers for an extended period now. However, if you get the package before August 28, you can save further by getting your first month free.

Our favorite back-to-school Mac & accessories deals

Do check these deals if you are planning to get a new Mac or accessories this season.

#1 Apple MacBook Air with Retina Display 2020

Apple MacBook Air has been one of the most common choices of students who go back to school or college. With the latest update, Apple has brought some fantastic options like Magic Keyboard and a better display. The Retina Display also does an amazing job of providing the best visual quality, even when you want to edit a video.

Long story short, the brand-new MacBook Air will be a great addition to your school life without a doubt. So, it should be great to know that you can get the 8GB + 256GB variant of the device for just $949 during the Back to School drive.

#2 Free AirPods with Mac or iPad

Apple AirPods are currently one of the best true wireless earphones in the market. As a part of the Back to School promotion, Apple is bundling AirPods with a purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad. You can get any of the following devices from Apple and grab a free pair of AirPods on the way. There is even an option to get an AirPods Pro instead, by paying a little extra.

  • Apple MacBook Air 13”, available for $899, with $100 discount
  • Apple iMac Pro, available for $4,599, with $400 discount
  • 13” MacBook Pro, available for $1,199.99, with $100 discount
  • 16” MacBook Pro, available for $2199
  • 11” iPad Pro 128GB, available for $749, with $49 discount
  • iPad Air 3, available for $479

You have to purchase these devices from an official Apple channel, and you can get an Apple AirPods for free of cost.


We hope you liked our compilation of the best apps and deals for your new Mac in the back-to-school time. One problem with the newfound world of remote learning is that you may face some kind of low points in terms of productivity.

A good Mac device and the right set of apps can make things easier and comfortable for you over time. So, if you are planning to get the best out of your upcoming semester online, make sure you have the right gear with you.

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