Setapp Review: Another (Better) Take on Mac App Store

Utility   •  June 23, 2019

There are many things great when it comes to a Mac! You can count in the workflow, smooth User Interface and the hardware optimization. Along with all these, there is a well-curated app store as well.

Starting with the launch of macOS Mojave, Apple has brought some cool changes too. Now you have a better interface and a new way of finding interesting apps out there. There were also updates that Apple is planning to bring a number of iOS-based apps to macOS.

In short, the Mac App Store is great. But…

Who says you have to use whatever’s in MAS?

Here we express a pessimistic outlook for the Mac App Store (MAS). Well, we’ve some reasons worth looking at.

  1. First things first, App Store is not that affordable. Not everyone can pay for every app they purchase, and the Mac app store consists of fewer free apps than ever. For entrepreneurs and busy professionals, downloading premium macOS apps can prove too expensive.
  2. Making things worse, App Store doesn’t offer free trial. That is, there is no option to check out limited version of an app even if you are interested. Personally speaking, this has prevented me from testing some of the really popular macOS apps out there.
  3. Due to unclarified reasons, app store has not launched support for subscription program yet. It means that you are missing out a lot of apps that are based on monthly/yearly subscription. Developers aren’t able to launch options like paid upgrade or bundle sell either.
  4. Developers too aren’t happy with the revenue policies of Apple. Amounts as high as 30% of overall revenue is being taken as commission by Apple Inc. This is one of the reasons why many developers set up dedicated websites/online stores for their apps.
  5. And, here’s the worst one: you miss a lot of utility apps. App Store has an impractically strict policy when it comes to sandboxing. This is one reason why users cannot find many customization/utility apps on the app store. Even the available ones are scaled down to fit the policies.

In short, though the app store is great, you cannot find many great apps on App Store. Even if you wanted to check out the available ones, you have to pay A LOT.

And we believe these reasons are enough to make you check out the popular alternative to Mac app store. As time would have it, we have found probably the perfect choice as well.

Setapp offers bold alternative to Mac App Store

Yes, after checking out the various mac app store alternatives out there, we’ve found the best one you can find — Setapp.

Setapp is a subscription service for Mac apps. Subscription services are the way forward. Instead of paying for individual apps you want to use, Setapp wants you to pay a monthly fee of $9.99. When you do this, Setapp lets you access one well-curated, regularly-updated and worth-using collection of Mac apps.

Apart from launching a subscription service, Setapp also overcomes a number of bottlenecks seen with the Mac app store. The developers of Setapp says that the collection would have at least one Mac app for one job. And, it’s aptly called the ‘Netflix for Mac Apps’.

Now that you have a clear idea about what Setapp is, shall we review and check out the different aspects?

What we like on Setapp

Like we had different reasons for hating Mac app store, we have many reasons for loving Setapp and what it is offering to the users.

If you are someone who wants productive Mac apps without spending a fortune, you would love the factors too, we believe.

For Mac Users

The Simple, Effective Method

There is nothing complex about Setapp. The whole process of subscribing and using Mac apps can be done in a second or so. You subscribe to Setapp, install the client and start downloading the apps you want. And, as long as you pay the subscription fee, you can keep using the right apps. The point here is that Setapp does not want you to worry about in-app purchases, upgrades or even ads.

A Hassle-free Free Trial

Did we mention that Setapp offers a free trial program? Well, you can use the service, without any limits for a full week. During this period, you can install all the apps in the collection and use them. Considering that the Mac app store does not even offer one of these things, it’s a great advantage in Setapp indeed. This free trial was the reason why I became a regular subscriber of Setapp.

Regular Updates and Upgrades

When you have Setapp subscription, you don’t have to pay for individual upgrades. It does not matter if your favorite writing tool gets a big upgrade, Setapp will bring that to you. At the end of the day, you will be saving a lot of money, which would otherwise be spent for getting newer versions. In short, you have all the perks of the subscription system.

Single Monthly Payment

You are no longer paying for individual apps or upgrades, you know. Instead, there is only payment that you have to think about — an amount of $9.99 per month. And, you can install as many apps as you want from the Setapp collection. It should also be noted that you’re getting the high-end version of each app. So, you don’t have to worry about in-app purchases or ads.

Better Organization of Apps

Compared to what Mac app store offers, Setapp arranges your favorite apps in the best way possible. There are categories like Lifestyle, Creativity, Developer Tools, Writing & Blogging, Maintenance and Productivity. In each of these categories, Setapp has included some of the coolest Mac apps from the market. Each of the apps is hand-picked by the Setapp team, making things less clumsy.

The Best Apps

It’s true that Setapp collection offers some of the best apps from the market. For instance, we have Ulysses in the Writing & Blogging section. On the other hand, CleanMyMac does a great job in the Maintenance part of the collection. As the developers have said, Setapp will bring you at least one good app for a particular purpose.

The Handpicked Collection

Setapp doesn’t work by dictatorship where you use apps on the list. One of the features I love about Setapp is the powerful community behind. You can let the developers know about your favorite apps and there is a chance to include them in the collection. This makes the whole subscription program even worthier for pro Mac users.

First, here are some reasons why Mac users would love using Setapp instead of the traditional app store.

For Mac App Developers

If you are a Mac app developer, Setapp presents some opportunities as well.

Recurring Revenue

When you make an app available via Setapp, you get paid for it every month. This is great when compared to the deal with one-time purchases. As long as people are subscribing for Setapp, you, the developer, would be paid for it. This is a great form of income if you are looking for something more stable.

Less Marketing, More Reach

If your app is in Setapp collection, you’re getting instant promotion. Thousands of Setapp subscribers would be notified about your product launch and upgrades. This actually equals to thousands of dollars you would otherwise spend on digital marketing or advertising.

Happy Customers

Thanks to the recurring revenue stream, you don’t have to frustrate customers via in-app purchases or ads, for that matter. At the same time, you would be getting an ample amount of money as well. So, it’s like the best of both worlds.

Just so you know, Setapp is very picky when it comes to the app. But, if you have something unique and worth checking out, your app will have a space in the Setapp collection.

How it works

Still wondering how does Setapp work? Don’t worry; we will walk you through the surprisingly simple steps.

Part One

This is where you sign up for Setapp. In case you did not know, Setapp offers a fully-functional free trial mode for seven days. For these seven days, you can use all apps from Setapp collection without any limit. So, we were saying, you have to sign up for Setapp using an email ID and password.

Part Two

This is where you download the Setapp client for Mac. You can use this client to explore the different apps in the collection and install them. Once you have found the right app that you are looking for, hit the Install button to proceed.

Part Three

This is where you enjoy the perks of Setapp. Once installed, you can access the apps from your Mac, as if it’s a normal Mac app. Thanks to macOS notifications and other prompts, you will know when a new app has been launched in Setapp.

You can keep installing and using new apps as they arrive. It’s just that you have to pay the monthly fee of $9.99 on time. As long as you keep the payment on time, Setapp will keep your Mac in company with the right apps.

Using the Setapp interface is also great. There is a My Explorer dashboard where you can check out the newly arrived apps and apps that are recommended for you. By clicking on the app icons, you can see the content as well as screenshots. It’s really quick when it comes to decision making.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

What about the apps?

Of course, you would want to know about the apps included in the Setapp collection. We will now have a look at some of the superb picks from each category.

As we said earlier, each of the apps in the collection is cherry-picked by the team. Fans of Setapp recommend hundreds of new/old apps every month, but there’s a strict scrutiny process. Setapp Team makes sure that the app deserves a place in the collection and then proceeds.

The result? We have the following collection of awesome macOS apps.

Because Setapp does not have any weird sandboxing policy, you will find some better utility apps. We have, for instance, the sound boosting app named Boom 3D. On another instance, you will also benefit from Mac maintenance apps like CleanMyMac too.

Mac Apps for Lifestyle Boost

Lifestyle sector of Setapp is actually very versatile. You have a variety of apps from World Clock Pro to a cool one like Wallpaper Wizard. There are also some apps like Boom 3D.

  • Boom 3D is an awesome sound-enhancer app for Mac. You can use this tool to customize the sound output from your macOS device. It’s great if you are an audiophile who cares about the listening experience. It also lets you simulate a Surround Sound experience even when you are using a normal pair of earphones.
  • Downie is more than a YouTube video downloader. You can use this Setapp app to download online videos from platforms like Facebook, Vimeo, Instagram and up to 1200 other websites. The simple interface would help you in keeping everything together.
  • Folx is one of the best download managers for Mac. It lets you download normal files as well as torrents on the go. It even has browser extensions to make your life simpler. Pro version of Folx is one of the best things I personally love in the Setapp collection.

Mac Apps for Developers

If you are a growing developer, Setapp has some apps for you too. Some of these are hard-core dev while others can be helpful for beginners.

  • CodeRunner is one of the best multi-language programming editors we’ve seen. Not only is it easy to use, it offers extensive support for code completion. You get the benefits of an IDE without dedicating huge amount of resources.
  • Hype is a unique app for HTML5 content creators. You can use Hype to create interactive content based on the HTML5 platform. If you want to add something more interesting to your existing webpage content, this would be a great help.
  • RapidWeaver, one of my personal favorites, helps you build HTML websites with ease. Simply choose one of the templates and you can start building. It allows code-level customization, but you may not need that all day.

Mac Apps for Writers & Bloggers

This is one of my favorite categories in the Setapp collection. Being a regular editor, I’m benefitted by almost all apps in this list.

  • Ulysses is probably the best distraction-free writing solutions out there. It comes with markup support and various editing options. You can also direct-publish content from Ulysses if you’re interested. Altogether, its experience is just great.
  • Manuscripts is the Mac app for professional writers and academics. It’s a great help if you want to complete a professional project on time — say a research paper or a dissertation. It works better than your traditional word processor.
  • Aeon Timeline is a great app for visualizing your ideas. Be it a business plan or something like your creative workflow, everything can be made into something simple. If you are writing complex stories or novels, this would be of huge help.

The Productivity Bunch

If you ask me, the real power of Setapp collection lies in the Productivity sector. This section consists of some of the best apps I’ve ever used on my Mac.

  • Focus is one of the best distraction-blocker apps for Mac for sure. I have been using this for a long period of time so that I don’t use Facebook or Twitter while writing an article. It offers a bunch of customization ways as well.
  • BusyCal is an upgrade from the built-in Calendar app of macOS. You have options for advanced sync and an enhanced level of customization. You also get features like integrated to-do lists and support for weather & alarms.
  • Numi, yet another favorite, is a smart calculator app for macOS. You can use it as a normal calculator, but it has many things inside. It lets you quickly do conversions, use higher-level math problems etc. Sign and word operations are also available in the package.
  • Flume is an Instagram app for Mac. This app gives a more native way to watch your Instagram feed or upload some photographs. You can even connect multiple accounts to Flume and shift between them effortlessly in a second.
  • CleanMyMac X is one of the popular Mac cleaning software out there. You can count on this tool if you want to get rid of junk files from your macOS device and start afresh. It’s offering a bunch of security and additional features as well.

Altogether, the app collection of Setapp is just amazing and so inclusive. You would not miss anything that is worth the deal.


As we said earlier, Setapp offers a 7-day free trial. It does not require credit card and you can cancel the deal anytime. And, if you want to continue using the apps, there are different pricing plans to check out.

If you want to pay monthly, the subscription costs $9.99 per month.

On the other hand, paying annually would bring down the amount to $8.99.

There is also now an educational discount price of $4.99 per month for students.

Wrapping up

This is what you should know about Setapp and how it works. As you’ve seen, the collection of premium apps is just great for everyone. It does not matter who you are — a writer, developer, student or a designer.

And, by paying just $9.99 per month, you are getting life-time upgrades and updates as well. Within the service Setapp provides are apps for everything from budgeting to improving the performance of your Mac, marketing tools to task management, productivity, Mac hacks and dozens of other useful solutions.

Unlike the Mac App Store, there is no difficulty finding what you need, no in-app purchases and no adverts in any of the apps on offer. Download what you need when you need it. Similar to other subscriptions, you’ve also got the freedom and flexibility to cancel or subscribe again whenever you want.