Roundup: Here are 30 Best Free Apps for macOS Big Sur
Utility • Nov. 12, 2020
It is that time of the year, again. The long-awaited macOS Big Sur is here!
In case you haven’t been paying much attention, macOS Big Sur is one of the most groundbreaking releases in the history of the OS. Apple has practically overhauled almost every part of the OS for better productivity, compatibility, and User Experience.
But, is a Mac experience complete without the right set of apps by your side? Yes, Apple includes the basic set of apps, such as the iWork suite, Mail, and Safari. Nevertheless, sometimes, you may need third-party apps for better performance — and getting things done.
Contrary to popular opinion, being on Mac doesn’t mean that you have to pay for everything. You can easily find reliable apps without paying a penny. And, at TheSweetBits, we are passionate about finding what is up with this area.
This article covers the 30 best free apps you can get for macOS Big Sur. We have classified the whole list into different categories, such as productivity, utilities, and more. In the end, all of them can uplift your macOS Big Sur experience in one way or another.
Note: We have chosen apps that come from trusted developers. It means that these apps have already been updated to work with macOS Big Sur or soon will be. Even in the worst-case scenario, you can expect these apps to work fine by the time the public release of macOS Big Sur is available.
Best Productivity Apps for macOS Big Sur
Here are five apps that can uplift your productivity, with Big Sur or otherwise. Since all these apps are popular among Pro users, they are already compatible with Big Sur.
Alfred is a must-have productivity app that can effectively replace Spotlight on macOS. You can use this app to search for almost everything on your Mac — and beyond. We are talking about web searches, calculator entries, and system commands. Because Alfred integrates so well with macOS, you won’t have trouble when it comes to accessing in-app content, such as contacts or calendar entries.
The powers of Alfred go beyond searching across your Mac. For instance, there are useful functions like built-in define and spell. More importantly, you can launch the settings and customize almost everything. Still, we must add that some of these features require Powerpack, a premium upgrade that will cost $37. Having said that, if you just need a Spotlight alternative on steroids, the free plan of Alfred is enough.
Brave is a web browser app available for macOS and other platforms, including Android and iOS. While it is based on Chromium, Brave does not become a memory hog. It means you can enjoy super-fast web browsing without slowing down the rest of your Mac. There are also some additional features like built-in ad-blocking and anti-tracking.
This innovative web browser takes an extra step to support content creators while removing intrusive pop-ups and ads from the web. As a user, you can earn rewards by signing up for its Rewards program. In case you are just into the browsing part, you can count on features like advanced privacy reports, HTTPS upgrade, Tor support, etc. You should also note that you can stay off the Google radar.
Evernote is an advanced note-taking app that syncs everything with cloud storage. So, if you would like to take notes and share them quickly, you should check out Evernote for Mac. The developers have designed Evernote to help you organize almost everything, including checklists, photos, webpages, and documents of different file formats.
You should keep in mind that the Evernote app for macOS is only one of the many apps you can get for the service. Once you create an account and sign in, you get an accessible space from many devices. As a macOS app, Evernote helps you store everything necessary in a safe place. There are also many integrations you can check out.
Resilio Sync is a free-to-use Mac app that lets you transfer files between your Mac and other devices. In our case, we use Sync to transfer data from our Mac to Android devices quickly. This app comes from uTorrent and uses the same P2P protocol. As long as you have connected both your Mac and Android to the same Wi-Fi network, you can enjoy blazing speeds as well.
If you prefer using fewer cables, Resilio Sync is an excellent option for you. There are also options to add specific folders and keep them in sync. Even when you are away from your Mac, you can download the files to another device — given that both devices are connected to the internet. There are also advanced features such as selective sync and channel control in the Pro version.
Availability: macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and NAS
Amphetamine is a keep-awake utility that you can use on Mac without paying anything. As you can guess, it prevents your Mac from going to sleep. While you can enable this feature manually, Amphetamine makes a lot of things easier. Compared to other apps that do the same job, we think this app offers more control over how things work.
For instance, you can enable the keep-awake mode for a specific duration, until a point in time or when you are downloading a file from the web. There are also options to automate the process based on accessories that you may connect. For instance, you can set up your Mac to stay awake if connected to an external display.
Best Utility Apps for Big Sur
Here are some apps that can help you save a lot of time. Most of these tools add features that we wish Mac had by default.
The Unarchiver is a free-to-use archive manager from MacPaw. Compared to the built-in archive utility that you can find on your Mac, The Unarchiver does the job done quickly. More importantly, the app comes with an intuitive User Interface that shows you the process of archiving/extracting files. If you want to manage a lot of compressed files, this is a must-have app.
You can always go to its Preferences section and control how the zipping/unzipping process works. Sure, you won’t get many automation or customization options. However, when we compare the experience to what the default compressor offers, you can’t go wrong with The Unarchiver. In the end, it all comes down to if you need a better way to manage multiple compressed files.
f.lux is an impressive utility that can adjust the screen temperature of your Mac based on sunrise and sunset timings. Once you have provided your location — or the custom schedule —, f.lux would adjust the display temperature to suit the lighting outside. For instance, the display would shine bright as it should during the daytime and dim itself during mornings and evenings.
We think f.lux is a must-have app if you use your Mac for an extended period every day. This app can keep your eyes away from stress, with little effort from your side. There are some customization options, such as inputting your wake up time and choosing the desired color. You also have a few options to disable flux for some time. Last but not least, getting used to f.lux takes some time.
CopyClip from FIPLAB is one of the best clipboard manager utilities for macOS. Fortunately, it offers a fully-functional free version. You can use this app to keep track of every piece of text you copy to your clipboard. Unfortunately, you don’t have options to access media-based clipboard entries. This app stays on your Mac’s menu bar, which is convenient.
You can click on the menu-bar icon and access any number of clipboard entries from the past. You also can control how many entries get recorded, and you can clear the clipboard entries after some time. You should indeed check out CopyClip if you have to do clerical tasks where you need to copy and paste various text entries, multiple times.
AppCleaner is a completely free Mac cleaning utility app that helps you to uninstall applications correctly. In case you didn’t know, Mac apps also leave residual files when you uninstall them from your device. These files might slow down your Mac and cause security issues. AppCleaner solves this issue by removing all files belonging to an app intelligently.
Currently, AppCleaner is available for Macs running up to Catalina, but we should expect Big Sur compatibility soon. You can use AppCleaner in two ways. One, you can drag the application to the interface, and it would do the job. You can also see the list of apps and inspect individual apps to know how much space it takes in the system. Either way, it removes every trace of the app from your Mac.
Tiles, a powerful macOS utility, fixes one of the most underdeveloped areas in the OS: window management. It makes it easy for you to resize and place multiple windows on your Mac screen. When you drag a window to a part of the screen, it will preview how the window would look. You can drop the window, and it will take the right size.
Tiles also resides in the menu bar of your Mac. You can also access various window spaces using several keyboard shortcuts or drop-down menu entries. We recommend this app if you recently shifted to macOS from Windows. Even otherwise, Tiles can improve your productivity since it simplifies the whole process of window management.
Best Education Apps for macOS Big Sur
Do you use your Mac for learning and education? If you are also waiting for the launch of macOS Big Sur, do check these apps out.
Numi is a smart calculator app every learner should have on their Mac. It comes in handy while doing typical calculations as well as handling scientific figures. You can also use Numi to do some advanced tasks like data conversion and currency conversion. Considering that macOS does not have the best calculator app inside, Numi is something worth checking out.
As a student, Numi becomes a multipurpose app. You can use this smart calculator to keep track of scientific figures, convert between SI metrics, and a variety of trigonometric functions. We love that Numi can understand every day, conversational language. For instance, Numi can give you the right answer if you ask it ‘CAD 30 in USD’.
LiquidText is a document annotation and review tool available for macOS. Not only is it compatible with Big Sur, but it offers smooth performance as well. LiquidText allows you to capture different contents from many types of documents and annotate them intelligently. More importantly, the app makes it easy to check the annotations later, through proper tracking.
We recommend LiquidText to all sorts of students and researchers. If you have to handle multiple PDF books and documents as a part of your dissertation or essay, LiquidText can be a life-saver. In addition to PDF docs, you can open webpages and images as well. One bottleneck is that advanced annotation options are limited to the paid version.
Manuscripts is every student’s best companion when writing essays, dissertations, and PhD thesis document. This free, open-source macOS app comes with multiple templates and support for different styles that you may need. From setting up the outline to managing your references, Manuscripts can help you deal with the entire thesis.
We recommend Manuscripts to anyone who needs a centralized space to manage their academic writings. More importantly, there are several automation triggers and UI elements that motivate you to write better. The outline sidebar on the left side and academic-oriented editing features add so much value as well. You also get some options to publish your manuscript once you are done.
iStudiez Pro is a legendary planner application that can help students and teachers alike. You get an option to grab complete control over your education life, including but not limited to time-tables and other schedule methods. Once you have provided the basic information, iStudiez Pro will help you track your assignments, exams, and whatnot.
Considering that the world of studies can get really confusing at times, an app like iStudiez Pro can skyrocket the productivity of your Mac. Most features in the app are free, but you have to get the premium plan if you want multi-platform sync. Finally, every section of the app uses an intuitive User Interface that gets the job done.
Do you use spaced repetition for effective learning? If so, you should check out Flippy 2, a native macOS app that makes learning with flashcards simple. You can create as many sets of flashcards as you want and use them for continuous learning. The best part about Flippy 2 is that it automates many tasks. For instance, the app can generate tailor-made sessions for you.
Considering that conventional reading is not effective when you want to remember things for an extended period, you should have Flippy 2 on your Mac. As you move forward with the help of Flippy 2, it would also show you detailed statistics. This comes in handy when you want to streamline your learning process to get the best results.
Availability: macOS, iOS, iPadOS
Pricing: Free, Upgrade available
Best Media Apps for macOS Big Sur
Are you a media enthusiast? Do you love to collect and watch movies? Well, here are some apps that can be helpful with everything media.
IINA is a modern media player that is made for macOS. Completely free and open-source, this media player offers more features than VLC for macOS. You also get some fantastic features like Touch Bar support, system media control, music control, gesture support, and plugin system. You can use this app to run almost every media format you come across.
We think you should have IINA on your Mac due to several reasons. Most importantly, the built-in QuickTime Player does not support even some of the popular video formats. Nor do you get the options for streaming content from platforms like YouTube. On the other hand, IINA brings all of these features, with a design better than that of VLC.
ApolloOne is a pretty robust image and video viewer that you can get on your macOS Big Sur device. Even if you are not into professional photography, this EXIF editor will help you manage photos better. On any given day, this app performs better than the default Photos app on macOS. Besides giving you a platform to view all photos and videos, there are some organizing features.
We believe ApolloOne is an effective alternative to Photos and Preview on macOS. As a photographer, you’ll have to edit photo collection and even change a specific photograph’s details. With the help of this app, you can do all those tasks from a unified interface. For instance, the drag-and-drop maps feature to edit the Geotagging details of a photograph.
HandBrake is an ultimately powerful video transcoder app that helps you convert videos from practically any format to another. Because the app comes with support for so many different codecs, you don’t have to be worried about compatibility. Even when it comes to ripping CDs and DVDs, HandBrake can get the job done. As an app, it receives constant updates as well.
We think every media enthusiast and professional should have an app like HandBrake on their Mac. It helps you to save time and get the best out of your Mac’s performance. As a video editor or filmmaker, you would have to convert videos more often than you think. The best part is that HandBrake is available other OSs — giving you the same performance.
If you have too many movies and TV series stored on your Mac, keeping them is a herculean task. Well, this simple app called Movie Explorer solves that problem for you. Once you have selected the folder, the Movie Explorer app automatically indexes and organizes all the movies. It even goes to the extent of downloading the right banner of the film or TV series.
Once again, we don’t have a built-in movie organizing app on macOS. Looking from that perspective, Movie Explorer gets everything right. In addition to simple organizing, it supports technical information as well as categorizing as well. If you want, you can create a special section and keep all the movies in that collection. In the end, you save a lot of time.
Even if you are barely into streaming and content creation, you should consider installing OBS Studio on your Mac. This frequently-updated free app works seamlessly with macOS, and you can make the best out of its comprehensive support for media sources as well. The app comes with easy integration with many streaming services as well.
There are many premium streaming software in the market, but Open Broadcast Software Studio is powerful enough for most people in the industry. Even if you are trying to create professional-grade content via more than media sources, you can count on OBS Studio. Just like some other tools on this list, OBS Studio is also available for multiple platforms.
Availability: macOS, Windows, Linux
Best Free Security Apps for macOS Big Sur
Just like every other version of macOS, Big Sur also comes with security improvements. Even then, these free apps will make your life more secure.
LastPass is an effective password manager app that offers many premium-quality features without asking for a payment. You can enjoy features like multi-device password syncing and other privacy features in LastPass Free version. The best part is that the service offers a fully-fledged app for macOS and extensions for each web browser.
We think you need LastPass because of two reasons. First, you should use complex passwords, even for the slightest things on the internet now. Second, LastPass makes it easy to keep track of these passwords — no matter which device you are using. Besides, using this app is an effortless thing. It doesn’t add much weight but makes your life easier.
Sophos Home is one of the most reputed antimalware protection suites in the industry right now. Well, the free version of the service is a great option to ensure the best security of your macOS device, even when it’s running Big Sur. This free security app brings a handful of features like real-time monitoring, web filtering, and advanced ransomware protection.
In the past couple of years, cyber threats targeting macOS have increased like anything. Looking at things in light of that, you certainly need a dedicated antimalware tool for your Mac. The good thing about Sophos Home Free is that you don’t have to worry about ads or privacy. And, at any point in time, you can upgrade to its premium version — but you won’t probably need that.
CCleaner for Mac is a popular macOS cleaning app that doesn’t cost you a bit. You can use this app to remove junk files and tracking web cookies from your Mac with ease. The best part is that you can select the apps whose data you want to clean. In the end, you can have a more spacious and secure Mac in just a few seconds.
Privacy protection and computer speed-up are the two major features you can enjoy in the free version of CCleaner for Mac. If you are looking for extra security, there is a paid option as well. We think the free version is sufficient for most people. If you use many apps for content creation or browsing, a tool like CCleaner can help you make things faster.
Best Development Apps for macOS Big Sur
If you are a coder or developer, you can find a fantastic collection of development apps optimized for Mac. Here are some of the best free options from that list.
Atom is a desktop-grade text editor that has been made for the most modern coders. It has been designed to work with almost every coding language out there, giving you freedom of choice. While it may not be as powerful as an IDE, Atom comes with support for many things, including GitHub and Teletype. You can also enjoy features like auto-completion and theme support.
We think the Atom editor is an excellent choice for beginners and Pros alike. In both cases, the smart auto-completion and the minimal editing environment enables a smooth coding experience. In case you missed, it’s an open-source tool that gets regular updates. With thousands of developers using Atom as their primary editor, you have a robust community to depend on as well.
Visual Studio Code is a better choice for developers if they need an advanced environment for development projects. This app from Microsoft also supports many programming languages, regardless of the domain. It should be noted that Microsoft has added features like IntelliSense for highlighting and auto-completion and built-in GitHub support.
Despite being completely free, the Visual Studio Code is a competitive option for colossal development projects. Even if you want to build a super-huge web app and its back-end, VS Code should do the job. In the end, installing Visual Studio Code on your Mac is about whether you want a seamless development process or not.
Availability: macOS, Windows, Linux
Miscellaneous Free Apps for macOS Big Sur
Here are five more apps that you may want to install on your Mac.
LibreOffice is a free and open-source document suite you can use on your Mac. Sure, macOS comes with the iWork suite, but it’s not always the most compatible choice. And, if you don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars a year on MS Office, LibreOffice is your best friend. The collection consists of a word processor, one powerful spreadsheet manager, and a slideshow maker.
Unlike some other open-source apps, LibreOffice receives frequent updates and support. In the case of macOS, it already has Big Sur support, which means a lot. We think you should give LibreOffice a try before moving to Microsoft Word or Excel. In the end, you get almost the same experience, with similar UI and better compatibility.
iMovie comes with the macOS installation but sometimes goes unnoticed. Nevertheless, iMovie is a superb choice if you want to edit movies and get started with filmmaking in general. In light of using it for lectures and documentaries, we can vouch for its capability. Even more impressive is the fact that you can get top-of-the-class speed from the app.
We have used a variety of free editors for Mac so far. Even after all that, we prefer iMovie for native and optimized performance. There is also a great collection of effects and transitions that you can depend on. It may not be as powerful as FCP or Premiere, but it’s the right choice for beginners. And you can integrate it with other apps as well.
Spark is a feature-rich email app that can easily replace the default Mail app on your Mac. If you have to manage hundreds of managements every day, you should install this free app. In addition to its support for most webmail clients, you get so many features to take control of the inbox. Intelligent prioritization is one outstanding feature that matters.
There are advanced features like email scheduling, follow up reminders, built-in calendar, smart search, and quick replies. All these features come in handy from the productivity standpoint. The best part is that you’d be able to enjoy the same features on your iPhone/iPad as well. Spark Email also comes with some team-based features.
Even the most fluent speakers of English make grammar mistakes sometimes. However, writing error-free becomes a necessity in professional environments, you know. This is why you should check out Grammarly’s free plan, which points out and corrects the several grammar and syntax errors in your document. The Mac app of Grammarly offers a unique writing environment as well.
We can definitely recommend Grammarly to students and professionals in the world. When you upgrade to Big Sur, this app will ensure that you can understand and correct the mistakes you may make. In some cases, Grammarly suggests readability-based changes as well. There is a premium plan that you can shift to if you need more features.
Meeter is a must-have macOS app during the work-for-home days and otherwise. In case you didn’t guess, the app makes meeting management easier than ever. Meeter can analyze your calendar for appointments in the future and give you a one-click interface to access these meetings. Even after the pandemic is over, it will help you keep things up-to-date.
Probably the best thing about Meeter is that it has a minimal User Interface. The app resides on your Mac’s menu-bar and controls everything from there. Because Meeter can understand the various meeting apps in the world, it can give you hotlinks. In the long run, Meeter helps you focus on the meetings instead of worrying about the logistics.
The Bottom Line
That’s about it, folks. We hope you loved our collection of the best free apps for macOS Big Sur. All of these apps come with the best experience and can elevate your overall computing experience. In the end, that is what you expect when you get a Mac, right?