My essential Mac apps for working from home

People always go gaga over shiny new gadgets and hardware. However, it is usually the software that ultimately dictates whether there is a good and intuitive user experience.

For that reason, I prefer macOS computers over Windows machines.

My established workflow is just more efficient on a Mac – more so these days when I am working from home.

Even though I have a Windows gaming rig, it is purely for gaming (time to upgrade to Nvidia RTX 3080, by the way). And while I have a company-issued Windows laptop, I use it only to input my articles into the company’s system.

I am a good example that you can run everything on a Mac.

Here are my essential productivity apps for a work-from-home Mac set-up.

1.  iA Writer


PHOTO: INFORMATION ARCHITECTS

$44.98, available on Mac App Store

I don’t use Microsoft Word. Instead, I have been using the writing app Information Architects (iA) Writer for many years to type out my articles, like this one here.

Unlike Word, iA Writer does not have any rulers, formatting bars and other stuff to distract you.

It offers you just a white (or black when in Dark mode) canvas for you to write your articles, craft your reports and code your programs.

It even has a Focus mode that will black out everything else except the sentence or paragraph you are currently working on.

I like the app so much that I also bought the iOS version to use on my iPhone and iPad. It is also available on Windows and Android.

2. Pixelmator Pro


PHOTO: PIXERLMATOR TEAM

$40.98, available on Mac App Store

If you are tired of Adobe’s subscription model for its Photoshop imaging-editing suite, you should check out Pixelmator Pro.

It might not have an image-browser tool like Bridge that accompanies Photoshop, but Pixelmator Pro has all the image-editing tools you need and more.

One key difference is its use of machine learning (ML) to enhance your photos.

For instance, its ML Enhance feature uses an ML algorithm trained on millions of professional photos to give you automatic enhancement with one click.

But I am especially impressed with its ML Super Resolution feature that allows you to increase the resolution of your existing images, like what you see in movies.

You can zoom in, select ML Super Resolution and witness a pixelated area being filled up with pixels while maintaining the subject matter.

3. Parallels Desktop 16


PHOTO: PARALLELS INC

US$79.99 (S$109) for a yearly subscription

There will be instances when you need to use Windows apps because they are not available on macOS – especially for companies that have proprietary Windows apps.

This is when a virtualisation software like Parallels Desktop 16 (PD16) comes in handy.

With PD16, you do not need to reboot your Mac to run Windows using macOS’ native Boot Camp app. You can start Windows 10 on macOS itself and run Windows apps like a macOS app in the Mac environment.

This latest version offers better performance and faster graphics. It is also optimised for the upcoming macOS 11 Big Sur operating system.

But there is something I like more than the PD16’s virtualisation capability – the accompanying Parallel Toolbox.

Into its fourth version, this suite offers around 30 shortcut tools that will increase your productivity. For instance, it allows you to free memory, start screen recording and easily download a video clip from a browser.

4. Acronis True Image 2021


PHOTO: PARALLELS INC

$82 (standard version for one PC)

The macOS is essentially more secure than the Windows platform by virtue of its small market share. No hacker would want to spend time and effort to target a small portion of the market.

However, that does not mean the macOS is 100 per cent malware-or virus-proof. It still needs to be protected from cyber attacks.

And Acronis True Image 2021 is one of the few security software that is available for macOS. Its Active Protection mode continuously checks every file you open to see if it has malicious elements like ransomware.

It also features anti-virus scan for you to check your Mac any time you like or you can schedule a weekly scan. In addition, it lets you back up your computer to another drive, so you can recover it in the event of hard drive failure.

On the downside, the macOS version does not come with video-conferencing protection to prevent “Zoom-bombing” or illegal entry into your Zoom or WebEx meetings.

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