Top 25 Mac Apps for Students – Productive Study Guide

Utilities   •  Updated on Sept.1, 2023

Have your grades ever gotten so low that you had to explain to everyone as a joke that you couldn’t raise them because you had put them for adoption?

Have you ever felt like you needed a person to help you plan and keep you focused to get you things organized so that you can study properly for your tests and write all your assignments properly?

Well, fear not because there are tons of apps to help you do just that and even help you remember your teacher’s name (We have all been there).

Here is a list of the top 25 school year Mac apps to help you become more productive and improve your grades.

Note: We have upgraded this article for the Back-to-School time of 2023. We understand that some schools and colleges still rely on a hybrid mode of education. Keeping this point in mind, we have included apps that can help you offline and online.

Must-have Mac apps for students

#1 iStudiez Pro

Do you find it difficult to remember the name of your classes, let alone the full schedule? Well, iStudiez Pro is to your rescue.

This app lets you know what classes you have for the day and reminds you of the upcoming tests and due dates for your assignments. You can even calculate your GPA by entering your grades. So, you would know where you should focus more.

You can add your timetable details, such as the class name, instructor name, and class time, and keep them organized by colors and clean icons. It also helps you keep track of your assignments by letting you add the assignment name, your partner’s name (if you sync your contacts), the due date, etc.

It is a free app with no ads and is available on iOS, Windows, and macOS. You can buy the full version as an in-app purchase for $2.99 for mobile and $9.99 for desktop.

#2 Notion

Having a digital workspace where you can keep all your important things is essential. We are talking about notes, important links, calendars, etc. Notion makes this task possible and easier than ever.

The Notion app is available for macOS and (almost) all devices. You can create and store a variety of content on the Notion app. For instance, you can take lecture notes or set up a mini task management system. You can essentially create more than docs or notes.

Customizability is the best thing about Notion. You are not restricted when it comes to creating content. It also offers thousands of templates that you can choose from. Creators across the world come up with newer templates as well. In short, Notion is a must-have app if you are a student.

Notion is free to use, and you can create unlimited pages and blocks. However, if you need extra storage space and collaboration features, you may purchase the Personal Pro subscription for $4 per month.

#3 Ulysses

Ulysses is a better and dedicated writing tool every student should try at least once. It creates a serene environment for writing and thinking, which may come in handy while preparing an essay or writing a paper.

It is a simple markup-based text editor with auto-save and automatic backup, so you don’t have to lift your finger. In addition, it syncs files effortlessly through iCloud and allows you to do the same with your Google Drive, Dropbox, or hard drive.

One of its loved features is writing goals, which lets you set a goal count for a worksheet and add a deadline. It also allows you to add daily writing goals that motivate you to write daily. If you are into blogging or publishing, Ulysses was made for you, as it lets you publish directly to WordPress, Medium, and Ghost.

It can even let you write the next Romeo & Juliet or the idea for a million-dollar project or even the grocery list, and it all just costs you $5/month across all Apple products. Read our full Ulysses review for more.

#4 Things

Several apps overwhelm you with lots of customization options making you forget what you were supposed to do in the first place. But Things is how things should be in a To-do list app.

It is exclusively designed for the Apple ecosystem and is very powerful yet simple. If you get Things, you will get done with things. It doesn’t have a lot of customization options for themes, but it is excellent because simplicity is greater than customization.

It also has a Logbook feature to go back and look at all your completed tasks, giving you a sense of walking down memory lane when you open your childhood diary. It also uses tags and headings to create milestones or categories, giving you a nice clean structure for your list.

You can even add timely reminders by asking Siri, a nice little feature. It costs $49.99 for macOS, $9.99 for iPhone and watchOS, and $19.99 for iPadOS. You can check out the free trial for 15 days.

#5 Mate Translate

Are you learning a foreign language in college? Or, do you want to use some Latin in your next paper? Then, mate Translate is a fantastic macOS app that all students should have.

First things first, Mate Translate is designed for the Apple ecosystem. So, you can expect the best experience on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The translation app integrates well with other apps as well. For instance, thanks to the extension, you can get instant translation pop-ups on Safari.

Here’s the best part. You can use Mate Translate to translate anything between 103 languages, and the task is seamless. Instead of providing the translated meaning alone, Mate Translate offers accurate and excellent pronunciation examples. You can also count on features like cross-platform sync and a custom phrasebook.

Mate Translate is free to use; you can download the app from its official website and use it without any kind of constraints.

Best productivity apps for students

#6 Obsidian

If you value your privacy and don’t want your notes to be stored in a cloud database or want the freedom to customize your productivity app to fit your workflow, Obsidian may be the right thing for you.

Notion and Evernote are some of the favorite apps for note-taking and staying productive, but they have disadvantages such as security issues and being slow. It is a simple text note-taking app that does not store your notes in the cloud but locally on your device. This makes it faster as all your notes are present locally and not online.

One of the greatest features is its customization. With an international community and community plug-ins, you can build the productivity app to work and look exactly how you want. Every note you create in Obsidian is connected, thanks to features such as Backlinks and Outgoing Links.

The best part is it is completely available for free for personal use and $50/month for commercial use.

#7 BeFocused

Being focused on a task as a student with lots of distractions may sound challenging but Be Focused can help you do that. It is a simple Pomodoro timer that allows you to organize your study time into intervals.

This technique helps you complete your tasks by giving you 25-minute work and 5-minute break intervals. In addition, it allows you to customize the timing of your work interval, short breaks, and long breaks. The Long break is a timer that starts after you complete your target intervals for a task.

You can enter a task name and start the timer or even pause it whenever there is a quick distraction that hasn’t affected your productivity. It has a feature called Reports which gives you a summary of your tasks, such as the number of work intervals, skipped work intervals, completed tasks, and duration of a task.

Overall, it is a simple app that lets you focus on your workflow and keeps you out of distractions. It is a free app that is available for the Apple ecosystem. It also has a pro version for $4.99, including sync on all devices.

#8 MindNode

Studying a whole book for a single test may seem like the end of the world! But, with MindNode by your side, you can mind map all the important points and topics helping you to keep calm and stay organized.

Whether in the bathroom or the cafeteria, this app lets you capture your thoughts and brainstorm ideas. It has all the popular features in every productivity app, such as sync across all devices, focus mode, quick entry, customizable themes, and more.

It has a unique feature called Visual Tags, which lets you add more contexts to your thoughts and focus on the key points, and with 250+ stickers, you can add more simplicity to your thoughts and give life to your ideas.

It is available free only for the Apple ecosystem and has a premium version for $2.99/month or $19.99/year.

#9 Tick Tick

It is a simple To-do List application that serves more than just striking out things from your list and offers you a variety of features such as integration with your calendar and other third-party apps, habit tracker, etc.

The best thing about this app is the Kanban view in the List feature, a simple way of structuring and checking your tasks. You can use it to organize and rearrange your list in a way that makes sense. You can also integrate the app’s calendar with the Apple calendar. It’s a premium feature, though.

There is also a feature called Pomo Timer, designed based on the Pomodoro technique. It helps you log distractions and stay more focused while at study. This is one of the best To-do List apps due to its subtle and minor features. For example, if you go into any of your tasks, you can track the progress of your tasks.

If you are still not sold, note that Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, uses this app to stay productive. You can download the free version of Tick Tick or get the premium version for $2.79/month or $27.99/year.

#10 1Password

As a student, you must keep things secure at this age, and you can’t even think of using the same password twice. Fortunately, 1Password is there for your rescue.

1Password is one of the best password managers for macOS and other devices. And it offers all the essential features you would expect for the price. In addition, since 1Password has been designed for families and businesses, it will also be suitable for your education-related needs.

You would not be disappointed if you looked at the features, either. Some include single-click sign-in, easy password sharing, multi-platform access, and a security dashboard. So you can manage the security of your online life from a single dashboard.

The personal plan of 1Password starts at $2.99 per month when billed annually. You can also go for the Families plan if you need sharing options.

Best utility Mac apps for students

#11 PDF Expert

Every student faces the problem of editing PDF files and converting them into Word/Excel documents for their assignments and essays, but times have changed now with the introduction of PDF Expert.

It is an all-purpose PDF editing tool that lets you edit the text in your PDFs for quick changes and convert it into other formats such as Word, PowerPoint, or Excel. You can add a page, delete a page, rearrange and add page numbers. You can also use a variety of annotation features to jot down your ideas while reading.

One of the key features is the OCR (Optical Character Recognition). It means you can capture scanned documents from your class and turn them into editable text using PDF Expert. It comes in handy during data-based research. You can also send password-protected documents for more security.

PDF Expert is available for macOS and iPadOS, along with a standard app for iPhone. You can get the entire subscription for $6.67 per month. You can also claim your 50% off student discount on PDF Expert.

Read our full review of PDF Expert here.

#12 CleanShot X

While your Mac’s default screen capture tool serves its purpose, there’s a game-changer on the block – Cleanshot X.

Cleanshot X enhances your screenshot game by allowing you to add annotations. You can mark items with borders, shapes, add text callouts, and highlight elements, making your screenshots clearer and more informative. Setting a timer for screenshots is a breeze, ensuring you never miss crucial moments in online classes or presentations.

What sets Cleanshot X apart is its ability to extract text from images or scanned documents. This feature proves invaluable for students who need to transcribe content while taking notes or completing assignments.

But that’s not all; Cleanshot X also empowers you to capture video segments and transform them into GIFs, perfect for adding engaging visuals to your presentations or projects. Priced at just $29 as a one-time purchase, but you can get it with $9.99 per month of Setapp subscription.

#13 Snagit

If you learn media studies or film production, you need a robust utility to record and edit videos from your Mac, right? Snagit, one of the popular apps for the purpose, fits this description.

Snagit offers many features compared to the built-in screen recording feature on macOS. For instance, you can record at the highest quality possible. You will also have access to a great stock media library. The app also comes with iOS integration, which helps you record content from your iPhone or iPad.

There are some purpose-specific features as well. For example, you can easily create software tutorials and guides using Snagit. You also get features like media management and Closed Caption support. Last but not least, you can export your projects into various formats.

Snagit is a little expensive, though. Its plans start at $62.99, but you can get an educational discount if you have valid credentials.

#14 Bartender 4

Bartender 4 is the best macOS utility app we can confidently recommend to students. It does an excellent job of keeping your Mac’s menu bar clean and accessible.

The macOS menu bar may become messy if you use many menu bar apps. But, there are some excellent menu bar apps you cannot miss out on. Bartender 4 brings an easy solution by dynamically hiding and showing the many menu bar apps you have installed.

You can decide the essential icons you want on the menu bar and hide the rest. But, if you need those icons, you can access them from the Bartender 4 menu. There are also some nifty features like hotkey support and customizable menu bar spacing.

You can download the free trial of Bartender 4 and use it for up to four weeks. After that, you have to pay a one-time charge of $16.

#15 Alfred

Spotlight Search is great for finding things on your Mac and outside the Mac. However, you may want to check out Alfred, a Spotlight Search alternative on steroids.

Alfred is easily one of the best productivity Mac apps for students. It creates a comprehensive index of your Mac so that you can search for almost anything. You can also integrate Alfred with other apps like the Google Chrome browser.

The package also contains a number of mini-apps like a calculator, system commands, workflows, hotkeys, in-app media control, theming, and navigation. You can also integrate Alfred with apps like 1Password to efficiently manage sensitive information.

The core version of Alfred 5 is free to use. However, if you need powerful features like automation, you’d need to get the Alfred Powerpack.

Best learning/writing apps for students

#16 Manuscripts

You have to write countless essays, papers, and dissertations as a school or college student, right? Here is a killer app that can keep you sane throughout the process.

Manuscripts for Mac is a free app that helps you write killer manuscripts with ease. You can manage almost everything regarding your work from the simple interface. For instance, reference management and outline navigation are superb features, indeed.

We think you will love Manuscripts if you work in the STEM field. It is easy to manage figures, tables, equations, and text content with Manuscripts when compared to using Word or Google Docs. Once done, you can export everything to a compatible format.

The best part? Manuscripts for Mac is absolutely free to use. So, you don’t have to worry about subscriptions or huge one-time fees.

#17 Grammarly

Grammar errors can be a turn-off when writing something academic or sending a formal email. Thanks to Grammarly, you can worry less about grammar errors and express what you want.

Grammarly is an intelligent grammar checker app available for Mac and other devices. You can use the Mac app to write without grammar errors. In addition to checking grammar errors, Grammarly can also suggest styling and delivery improvements.

In other words, Grammarly can make your writing better in many aspects. This app is handy when you want to draft a stunning essay or compose an important mail. You can stay away from errors and sound more professional.

Grammarly has a free version, but it checks for grammar-related errors only. The premium subscription will set you back at $30 per month. However, you should check if your school/college has an educational plan.

#18 Aeon Timeline

Whether you are planning your college journey or preparing a great project does not matter. But, you cannot do it without a proper timeline. Fortunately, you have an app like Aeon Timeline to help you.

Aeon Timeline is one of the most intuitive timeline creation apps we have tested. And we are sure students will love the design and customizability. Depending on the scale of the idea, you can create sub-sections and pointers.

For instance, if you want to learn the history of English literature, you can have multiple timelines for many books and even chapters. The number of combinations you can create is also impressive. We also love the app for its great environment for brainstorming and pitching ideas.

Aeon Timeline is a paid app that costs $64.99, but you can download and use the app for a few days. It can be used as a part of the Setapp subscription as well.

#19 MonsterWriter

If you thought Manuscripts was too advanced for your writing needs, you should check out MonsterWriter. It also creates a suitable environment for writing academic content.

The primary objective of MonsterWriter is to help you write a thesis or article. It even tries to make the task more enjoyable. Rest assured, you can focus on the writing part, as MonsterWriter handles formatting and arrangement.

Researchers will also love some excellent features like automatic typesetting and keyboard shortcuts. When you want to focus on the writing process, MonsterWriter will be a great assistant. Once you have completed writing a paper, you can export it to PDF, HTML, LaTeX, or Markdown.

A single-user license of MonsterWriter will set you back at $34.99, but it is a worthwhile investment. It offers a free trial as well.

#20 Mochi

One of the hardest things as a student is remembering what we studied. Here is where Mochi comes to play. It is powered by the Spaced Repetition System.

It is a simple app that lets you take notes, create flashcards, and help you study them using spaced repetition system. Spaced Repetition System (SRS) is a powerful flashcard technique that uses the principle of the forgetting curve, which says that you don’t quickly forget things if you are reminded of them frequently.

The app’s simplicity and best features, such as bi-directional linking between cards and adding attachments such as cloud syncing, make it worth your time. You can also use tags to group related cards and even import decks that are available online.

It is a free app that is available for Mac. However, it has a pro version which would cost you $5/month for additional features such as sync across all devices and cloud storage.

Best apps for hybrid learning

#21 Presentify

Do you want to deliver better presentations by using clever screen annotations? Presentify will help you do it, and it is a must-have app in this age of hybrid learning and education.

Presentify is a fantastic choice because the app sits on your menu bar. From there, you can access various options for annotating the screen. Once enabled, you can draw on the screen anytime and anywhere. It will have a significant impact while explaining something to your classmates.

There are also options to highlight your mouse pointer and curser. You can easily change the highlight color and opacity. All these tasks go like clockwork without taking up a lot of system resources. Even if you do not deliver many presentations, you may want to use Presentify for screen recording.

Presentify is available for a one-time purchase of $5.99. You can also get this beneficial app via the Setapp subscription.

#22 Studies

Studies is a Mac app that describes itself as an app for serious students. So if you think you are one, you can get it to manage different aspects of your school/college life.

Regardless of whether you have access to your campus, the Studies app will help you learn things better. To get started, you can create study notes for different subjects. You can also create flashcards that use a proven method for repetitive learning.

The app gives you on-time notifications when your submissions or learning sessions are due. The app can be a lifesaver if you handle multiple subjects in college. Additional features of the app include sync and in-depth statistics. It comes from the developers who made the Manuscripts app.

Studies for Mac is available for $24.99, and you can get the iOS/iPadOS version for just $4.99. This nifty app is also part of the Setapp bundle.

#23 KeyKey Typing Tutor

Better typing speed is never a bad thing, is it? With the help of KeyKey Typing Tutor, you can improve your typing speed as much as possible.

KeyKey Typing Tutor takes a different approach to help you increase your typing speed. It will also help you to develop muscle memory, which can boost your typing speed to the next level. It is not limited to QWERTY, either.

You can improve your typing speed in different layouts and languages. For instance, you get full support for QWERTY, DVORAK, COLEMAK, AZERTY, and Neo in English. In addition, the app supports typing lessons for languages like French, German, Italian, Russian, and Greek.

You have to pay $14.99 for a single license of KeyKey Typing Tutor. However, considering that a better typing speed can help you throughout your life, it is a small amount to invest.

#24 ChatGPT

There are so many AI options for learning online, right? But, ChatGPT is an advanced AI chatbot designed to empower students in their educational journey. It can quickly answer questions, assist with research, and guide you on various topics. If you’re stuck while writing, it can even help you structure your blogs and essays, which can boost your assignment performance. If you want to practice coding or programming, you can ask ChatGPT for examples of code snippets, too.

Thanks to its natural language skills, ChatGPT becomes a helpful virtual friend for students. You can use their GPT-3 module for free, but access to the GPT-4 module comes with a subscription fee.

#25 Camo

While you wait for Apple’s Continuity Camera to launch, why don’t you use Camo to convert your iPhone into a super-high-quality webcam?

Camo is a great app for the hybrid learning culture you are about to enter. The next time you want to show your science project to your class, you do not have to rely on the subpar webcam. Instead, you can use one of the powerful cameras on your iPhone.

You can connect to Camo using a USB or WiFi connection. Either way, you do not have to worry about issues of latency. This app from Reincubate is also a must-have for many students. As you can guess, the app works with Google Meet, Teams, Skype, Google Chrome, and FaceTime.

Camo is free to use, but you need a Pro subscription if you want access to all features. The yearly subscription costs $39.99, though.

Extra tips for productive studies

1) Break it down: We often get scared by the massive volume of books we have to study for a test, leading to procrastination. But by breaking down a big task into simple and smaller jobs, you will find the confidence to complete the task.

2) Set goals: You will not be able to finish all your tasks in a single session but what you can do is set yourself a goal to be completed within a certain period. By using Pomodoro timers, you can achieve that and keep yourself focused and productive.

3) Limit distractions: If you are surrounded by distractions, you will only find it difficult to study, but limiting your usage of devices with the help of apps like BeFocused and finding a quiet place to learn can help you improve your study sessions.

Embracing your new school year

The capacity to learn is a gift. The ability to learn is a skill. But the willingness to learn is a choice; you can choose to stay productive even if it is challenging to start.

The best way to start is by embracing your new school year and following our study tips.

We hope that the list of best Mac apps for students will give you the upper edge you need to excel at your school, whether on campus, hybrid, or online.

Meanwhile, here are some other articles that you might enjoy:

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