One-time paid apps you love!

Alfred is free to use for basic features like opening apps, searching files, custom searches on websites, open browser bookmarks.

I bought it for $50 like 2-3 years ago and its paid back 100x of that. Its a must have for me. TBH, I bought Keyboard Maestro after listening to MPU and its nice and stuff, but I just use Alfred to do everything. The community is great and really active.

You know how @MacSparky says, “Drafts is ‘Where Text Starts’’ on team MacSparky”. Alfred is that to me. Every automation, workflow starts there. Its has replaced TextExpander, Keyboard Maestro and bunch of other things for me.


I love how Alfred also show your usage in a graph, so you can really quantify that 100x :sweat_smile:

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a big +1 for chronosync- still going on my license from 2005, and an app I use several times a week still.

my only older license that’s still active might be FruityLoops which I bought on Windows 98 & which they actually let me transfer to the mac.

BetterTouchTool has been one of my best finds recently! Such a brilliant indispensable MacOS app. The UI leaves much to be desired but I suspect that will improve with time as the focus seems to be functionality. I keep discovering new uses for it all the time!

Interesting. I use to love doing macros (a while back). So Alfred does macros too? I already find it endearing due to the price (so far). I’ll probably add it to my list. Thanks!

Can you use Alfred Remote with just the basic Alfred? (Just looking it up).

I wonder why is BetterTouchTool such an underrated tool? Marketing maybe? This tool does wonderful things I never imagined I needed. The developer is a super nice person and the community is amazingly helpful.

Lesser-known things you can do with BetterTouchTool:

  • Create Context Menu with custom actions
  • Execute shell/appl/JS scripts
  • Create custom menu bar items/subitems
  • Standard shortcuts across multiple apps. Like opt+D is duplicate for me. in finder, it duplicates files, in browsers, it duplicates tabs, etc.

I feel like there have been so many new features added that people don’t know about them, since they’re not hyped that much. $20 for a lifetime license, this is such a steal.

@MacSparky @ismh Maybe a section in one of the episodes about the new stuff in BetterTouchTool would be awesome. :slight_smile:


Endel’s lifetime pricing is kind of all over the place. They bumped it up to $249 on iOS this year but if you buy lifetime through their MacOS app it’s still $89 and it looks like it carries lifetime over to the iOS and iPadOS apps as well as far as I can tell. After a ton of searching on their price change and/or any discounts off of that steep $249 price, I read about the price difference on this blog and purchased lifetime myself earlier this week on MacOS.

Under my user account on iOS and iPadOS, it says “subscription through Mac App Store” on it but otherwise works normally without any limitations. That’s a huge price difference for the same thing unless they decide to limit the MacOS app to only Macs in the future. They haven’t said anything like that, I just wanted to acknowledge the possibility since there are these two weird tiers of lifetime.

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@keatonkeaton wait what? Why would someone pay $249 for 2 devices when they can get it for $89? :smiley: . I guess you paid the 89 and that unlocked all devices lifetime?

Yep! Right now it works on all of my devices, MacOS and iOS/iPadOS/WatchOS for the $89 price through the MacOS in-app purchase. Overall I’m really happy with it so far though I know I would not have purchased lifetime at the $249 price point, at least at this time. I try to support developers as much as I can, especially ones who offer one-time purchases over subscriptions but for me personally, $249 is a lot to throw down on a single app and it’s pretty rare for me to do so unless it is more of a necessity for my work.

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Adding to that:

I’ve been a Things customer since v1, back in 2009. Been using it ver since and bought my way through Mac, iPhone and iPad when those versions were released.

Upgrade from v1 to v2 was not paid (for any platform). Upgrade for v3 had a discount (20%) on launch week.

Considering what I’ve paid for all those years… it’s even more a perk for me and I will gladly support their development should a v4 arrive next year (don’t wait for it, nor any hint from them on this matter. They are really serious on their commitment to not talk about features currently in development).

While I aggree that they may appear to be slow at development, I’m totally ok with this since they always implement features in a incredibly neatly and reliable way. I’ve experienced absolutely no problems syncing since their cloud service was first introduced and the way they handle some features is nothing short of sublime (take their “Type travel” feature… it’s awesome).

That said, they’re very opinionated on their design choices and that may be somewhat controversial to some. To me: it just remains clicking beautifully and reliably.

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Here’s my list (except for the unanimously acclaimed ones such as Alfred and KBM):

  1. Things 3 (as per above)
  2. MarginNote 3 (sometimes it can feel clunky, but there’s no better way to study a bunch of PDFs between macOS and iPadOS)
  3. PDFExpert (back when it was not a subscription)
  4. Script Debugger (It’s Explorer tab on dictionaries help pointing out how the app “sees” whatever you’re doing on the screen, making a snap to create scripts to fetch and transform data via AppleScript)

And here are two free apps, but gladly donated to support their devs:

  1. Meeting Bar (it’s actually free, and a @MacSparky hint, but I like it so much I felt great when I hit that Patronage button and donated to the dev)
  2. Lunar Pro (basic should be fine for most people, bought to show support to it’s dev, who happens to be one of us @alinp32)

Look, I know some of these are repeats, but at least there are links and a short description for each, right?

Also, some of these are free, but since this is the anti-subscription thread, I figured I might as well include those too.

  • ABBYY FineReader PDF - terribly expensive, but best OCR on the Mac.

  • Accordance - great Bible study software. Hard to choose between it and Logos (below)

  • Acorn - I don’t really know enough to use this, but I always like having it around

  • Aerate - image compression

  • AirBuddy - AirPod tool for the Mac

  • Alfred 4 - does anyone not know Alfred?

  • Amphetamine - keep your Mac awake

  • Apparency - security info for apps

  • AppSwitcher - Single-app mode for the Mac

  • AppZapper - if I feel the need to ‘uninstall’ an app, I try this. Not updated in years, not sure how well it works anymore.

  • Audio Hijack - anything by Rogue Amoeba is good, but this one is a power tool for power users

  • Audiobook Builder - turn a bunch of audio files into an audiobook.

  • BackupLoupe - examine your Time Machine backups

  • Bartender 4 - So good it ought to be built-in, but I’m glad it’s not, because I can’t imagine it would be better if it was.

  • BBEdit - The text editor for the Mac

  • Beamer - send video/audio to your Apple TV from your Mac. I hope it isn’t abandoned.

  • BetterTouchTool - I don’t use this a lot, but for the few things I do, it’s great

  • BetterZip - has a QuickLook plugin so you can examine archives in the Finder

  • BLEUnlock - unlock your Mac with your iPhone (for those of us without an Apple Watch)

  • BlockBlock - tells you whenever something installs itself to start automatically on startup

  • Booklet - the easiest way to make a booklet on a Mac

  • Boring Old Menu Bar - makes the Mac menu bar a solid color.

  • Broadcasts - I use this to listen to live on Mac or iOS.

  • Camo Studio - use your iPhone as a webcam. Has free, subscription, and one-time purchase options.

  • Carbon Copy Cloner - backup your Mac

  • Cardhop - was standalone, not sure if it’s subscription-only now, but the best way to make a new contact on the Mac

  • Choosy - use different browsers for different websites, or even for links from specific apps

  • Clicker for Disney+ - watch in an app, not a browser window

  • Clicker for HBO Max - watch in an app, not a browser window

  • Clicker for Netflix - watch in an app, not a browser window

  • Clicker for YouTube - watch in an app, not a browser window

  • CodeRunner - great to testing new terminal commands/scripts

  • Dark Noise - ‘white’ noise app for iOS, but it works on M1 Macs, so I’m counting it.

  • Default Folder X - another ‘should be built-in’ tool. Set default folders for specific apps’ Open/Save dialog windows

  • Desktop Curtain - cover your desktop clutter. Like Rogue Amoeba, anything Many Tricks makes is a good app

  • DND Me - set DND for a specific amount of time

  • Downie - download video from anywhere

  • Downlink - Satellite imagery for your desktop

  • DropDMG - never make a DMG any other way

  • Dropzone 4 - drag and drop actions (has subscription or one-time options, also in Setapp)

  • Due - Usually use this on my iPhone, but handy to have on the Mac too. Not a subscription, you pay for features and keep them. When new features come out, you can pay for them, or not, but you always keep features you’ve paid for.

  • Duet - Use your iPad as a display. The only way to use an iPad in ‘portrait mode. (There is a subscription option, but I use it wired, which is a one-time purchase, and also keeps my iPad charged.)

  • EagleFiler - still trying this one out, but I like that it keeps the files in ‘regular’ format on the disk.

  • Ears - easy switching of audio input and output and it tells you when they change, which is handy for those of us who automate things.

  • Epubor Ultimate eBook Converter - incredibly ugly app that removes DRM from purchased eBooks.

  • EpuborAudibleConverter - incredibly ugly app that removes DRM from Audible audiobooks

  • FastDMG - mount DMGs faster

  • FastScripts - if you want to put AppleScripts in your menu bar and don’t have Keyboard Maestro, get this

  • Feeder - need/want to hand-craft your RSS feeds, say, for a podcast? This is your tool.

  • File Juicer - drop a file onto this, and it will extract text, audio, images, etc as separate files.

  • Fission - fast and lossless audio editing and audio conversion. Rogue Amoeba.

  • Fixerrific - make less terrible on Safari/Mac.

  • Fluid - turn websites into apps.

  • FMail - Fastmail client for the Mac. Free!

  • Forecast - podcast MP3 encoder with chapters

  • Gemini 2 - best duplicate-file-finder for the Mac

  • Growl - R.I.P. All these years later, Notification Center still isn’t as good as Growl was.

  • HandBrake - Convert video from one format to another. Free.

  • Hazel - automate file management

  • HomeControl Menu for HomeKit - a terrible name, but a great app for controlling HomeKit from your Mac. Great for automation.

  • Horcrux - email backup for IMAP/Gmail. Works great.

  • IINA - newer video player for people who don’t like VLC

  • ImageOptim - optimizes images.

  • iMazing - want to backup your iPhone locally? Get this.

  • iStat Menus - keep an eye on all your Mac’s stats

  • iTerm - Like, but better. (free)

  • Jayson - ever need to work with JSON files? Get Jayson

  • Jump Desktop - VNC app, like Screens, but I like it better.

  • Jump Desktop Connect - make your Mac available for Jump Desktop

  • Kaleidoscope - Best file compare app.

  • Karabiner - Hyperkey!

  • Keka - file archive utility. Has some nicer features.

  • KextViewr - need to see what kexts are loaded? Get this. And anything else at

  • Key Codes - can be useful for diagnostics

  • Keyboard Maestro - Best automation tool on the planet.

  • KnockKnock - see what’s set to automatically run on your Mac.

  • LaunchControl - if you want to use launchd then get this and preserve your sanity.

  • Levelator - levels the audio

  • Logos - great Bible study software

  • Loopback - audio routing. If you need to get audio from one app to somewhere else, this is what you want.

  • LosslessCut - simple video editor. If you miss what QuickTime 7 Pro used to be able to do, get this.

  • Lunar - control your 3rd-party display using your Mac keyboard shortcuts. Wrote an article about this one.

  • MacPilot - all those ‘hidden’ settings for your Mac.

  • MacUpdater - keep all your apps up to date without using that horrible MacUpdate Desktop app… and no subscription, either.

  • MailMate - hands down the most powerful email app on the Mac.

  • MakeMKV - need to make MKVs? Back up your Blu-Rays or DVDs.

  • Marked 2 - write in Markdown? Get Marked.

  • MarsEdit - never write in the CMS. Use MarsEdit. Blog not compatible with MarsEdit? Switch to something else.

  • mChapters - add chapters to video files.

  • Mic Drop - mute/unmute your microphone. See also “Shush”.

  • Mimestream - Pricing Unknown - native Gmail app for the Mac. Free during beta.

  • Moom - better window control for the Mac. See also ‘Rectangle’/

  • Name Mangler - need to rename files? Use this.

  • NoiseBuddy - control AirPods Pro or Beats Solo Pro noise cancellation from Mac menu bar

  • Obsidian - I mean… you know.

  • OmniDiskSweeper - the best way to find out where all your disk space went

  • Optimus Player - like VLC, but supports AirPlay 2 and also looks nicer.

  • Permute - change video formats. I use this to merge video files into one file with each file as its own chapter.

  • Phoenix - aka Twitterrific for Mac

  • Piezo - quick and easy audio capture for the Mac. If you don’t have Audio Hijack, you should have this. I use both. Belt and suspenders.

  • Pixelmator Pro - I don’t know how to use anything except “ML Super Resolution” which is basically witchcraft and works astoundingly well.

  • Platypus - turn a script into an app.

  • Podcast Chapters - need to make a podcast with chapters and URLs and all that good stuff? Get this. Great developer, very responsive.

  • Power Manager - one of the best-kept secrets of Mac automation. If you have a MacBook Anything, get this app.

  • Rectangle - control windows with the keyboard. Replaced ‘Spectacle’ which is no longer developed.

  • Reeder - my favorite RSS app on the Mac

  • Resilio Sync - sadly, this app seems to be abandoned, but I still use it for syncing files between Macs without a cloud service. Works great. Would recommend Syncthing instead, as it is in active development, but the UI/UX is not as good.

  • Rocket - Slack-style emoji picker for every app in macOS

  • ScreenFlow - best screencasting app on the Mac. Need to learn how to use this better.

  • Script Debugger - if you do any AppleScript work, get this app. The full version is $100, but the free version is super-capable and 100x better than Apple’s Script Editor.

  • Service Station - one of my favorite new apps in the past few years. Add scripts/apps to the Finder’s context menu.

  • Sharpshooter - best screenshot tool for the Mac if you don’t want something like Clean Shot X that requires a subscription.

  • ShortcutDetective - “Why isn’t this keyboard shortcut working?!?!?!” Probably because another app is using it. This app will help you figure out which one.

  • Shush - This hasn’t been updated since 2014, use Mic Drop (above) instead, but I have to give it props for still working.

  • Simon - if you run a Mac server (and you probably don’t) or have a bunch of Macs (you might) you might find this useful. I do.

  • Soulver - I was told there would be no math. This app helps me to do the real-life math that I feel like I should be able to do, but… well. Anyway, just get it.

  • SoundSource - awesome, powerful audio control for the Mac. Did I mention it’s by Rogue Amoeba?

  • Stop The Mac App Store - stops the Mac App Store app from automatically launching. By Jeff Johnson.

  • StopTheMadness - “StopTheMadness is an extension for Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave that stops websites from making your browser harder to use. And it protects your privacy on the web. StopTheMadness is not an ad blocker.” By Jeff Johnson. This one is $10. The other two are free. Get all three and consider it $3.33/each.

  • StopTheNews - takes Apple News URLs and opens the original article in Safari instead. Also Jeff Johnson.

  • Subtitles - have a video file that doesn’t have subtitles, but should? This will find them if they exist. Much better than searching OpenSubtitles by hand.

  • Suspicious Package - lets you see what’s in a .pkg file before you install it. (Hint: some .pkg installers don’t need to be installers, you can just extract the app from the .pkg)

  • SwiftBar - write scripts, have output added to menu bar.

  • Syncthing - free file syncing tool that I’m going to replace ‘Resilio Sync’ with. UI/UX is a little less pretty, but it works very well. And it’s free.

  • TableFlip - if you ever make Markdown tables, get this app.

  • The Unarchiver - more powerful unarchive utility than Apple’s.

  • ToothFairy - easily manage Bluetooth connections

  • Tot - I use this all the time as an “I need to put this somewhere for a while” tool.

  • Transloader - Have an URL on your iOS device that you want to download on your Mac? This can do that. You can even pair it with Downie (see above) and download videos. Read the blog posts for more info.

  • Transmission - for all your Linux-distro-via-torrent needs.

  • Transmit - move files from your Mac to another computer or vice versa.

  • Type2Phone - use your Mac keyboard to type on your iOS devices, or Apple TV, or anything else that takes a Bluetooth keyboard.

  • Typinator - before TextExpander, there was Typinator. And it’s still here, with no subscription.

  • VLC - venerable media player.

  • Webcam Settings - have a webcam connected to your Mac? This app will probably let you access more controls without installing terrible webcam software (looking at you, Logitech).

  • Yojimbo - kind of like Evernote, except no subscription, and it’s not a terrible app.


Thanks @tjluoma

Now this is what you call a list👏


@tjluoma great work. Thanks!!

Wow definitely lesser known! I had no idea about these. The app is indeed a trove of wonders and I’d gladly pay more for it.

I do think the marketing is almost nonexistent probably because it’s a single dev that’s focused on functionality.

Thanks for sharing!

First, thanks for a great and well annotated list. Second, Platypus alone is worth a big thank you! Had never heard of it.

Fantastical (for me its one time buy)
Better Touch Tool
All of Rogue Amoeba apps

GV Connect. One time paid but I have sent the dev extra money just because.

You’re nuttier than I am, TJ! ;o)

NEVERTHELESS, I love your list!

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I’m a little late to this party and there’s lots of great apps listed which will keep me busy checking out some I’ve been curious about. I will add one that hasn’t been mentioned yet - for people who teach or make presentations and want content creation as well as remote control of your laptop from an iPad, recorded video of your screen and your voice …


The iPad app was (and still is) free and I paid the license fee back in 2009 for the laptop app. I’ve downloaded several major / minor upgrades and I just paste my original license number in the license key field and keep going. For the app on the iPad, there are more capable content creation apps but for both content creation and remote control of the laptop, I have yet to find another system that is so easy and seamless. Anything that you can show / play on your laptop can be controlled from the iPad and recorded as part of your presentation - audio, video, websites, apps, PowerPoint / Keynote, etc etc etc. Great value for money and I have presented and recorded hundreds of hours of lectures for that one-time $25 fee. It is now $30 but still no expiration as far as I know.