Subscribe to this suite of Mac apps to get your creative juices flowing


Setapp Mac apps subscription service
Mac apps subscription service Setapp saves you time, effort and money.
Photo: MacPaw

This post is brought to you by MacPaw, maker of Setapp and proven Mac apps.

Setapp brings the Netflix model to Mac apps, offering access to dozens of legit apps for a modest monthly fee. While the new Mac app subscription service packs plenty of essential utilities, it also includes software designed to delight creatives.

Whether you’re a writer, a photographer, a developer or a general idea wrangler, Setapp’s unique variety of vetted Mac apps will scratch almost any itch. With 69 apps and counting, there’s something for everyone.

To give you a sense of the breadth of Setapp’s offerings, we’ve selected a handful of included Mac apps that should prove useful to anyone working in creative fields. We’ve chosen apps that will help you stay focused, channel your creativity, get your photos organized and write better. (You can see the full list of Setapp’s Mac apps for more info on these and .)

Mac apps for creatives

Stay focused with Ulysses

Ulysses is a streamlined but feature-rich writing app that’s been highly praised for its distraction-free text editor. Despite being clean and straightforward, it boasts a range of document management, syncing and export features. You can mark up images, create footnotes and utilize powerful search filters.

You’ll also find advanced tools for setting and meeting writing goals, and for identifying patterns in your writing. Plus, Ulysses builds a unified library of everything you put down, from notes and ideas up to book-length manuscripts.

What’s more, everything you do on Ulysses can be effortlessly and fully synced to iCloud, whether via Mac, iPad or iPhone. You can import .docx, markdown and text files directly, or export as lovely PDFs, web pages, ebooks, Word documents and more.

Brainstorm better with XMind

The creative process can get messy, which is why a mind map can prove helpful. XMind is one of the most popular mind-mapping Mac apps around. It’s loaded with tools that help you brainstorm, manage complex information, and organize tasks and projects.

With XMind, you’ll easily gather ideas into a logical structure to help identify the inherent relationships, patterns, priorities and trends. Take a central topic and build a “scene” around it, then fill it with new ideas as they occur.

Visualizing your thought process this way can produce surprising results. Plus, you can export and share your mind maps in more than 10 widely used formats like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and PDF.

Organize your photos with Polarr

If you work with photos a lot but aren’t looking to spend the time (or money) to master Photoshop, Polarr Photo Editor is for you. Along with a powerful and intuitive set of tools — like a supercharged version of what you get on Instagram — you also get more than 100 photographer-generated filters.

All the familiar tools for photo editing are here: curves, toning, highlight and shadow tone, lens blur, feathering, invert and so on. Along with the familiar features, you’ll find advanced functions like auto-detection of facial features, automatic global lighting enhancement, color masking, gradient and circular masking and RAW compatibility. Like its more expensive and complicated cousins, Polarr can export entire sets of images with enhancements.

Write more effectively with Aeon Timeline

For in-depth writing, project management and big projects of all sorts, getting a grip on structure is key. Rather than reams of notebook paper or Post-it notes stuck on the wall, you can use Aeon Timeline to build rich, interactive models of any work in progress.

Creative writers can visually group events based on characters, locations or story arcs, with details like character age tracked automatically. Project managers can use a flexible Gantt chart view, which breaks down tasks in a horizontal timeline. The software will keep each section linked and correctly ordered, with nested events, subtasks and project overviews. Plus, Aeon Timeline’s preconfigured, fully editable templates allow users of all sorts to load images, external links, notes and research into custom workflow aids that will boost organization and productivity.

Try SetApp for free

Finding the perfect Mac app for the task at hand can be an expensive and time-consuming crapshoot, but Setapp makes it simple. And once you try some of the dozens of apps available — many of which retail for much more than the cost of a monthly Setapp subscription — you’ll likely find yourself hooked.

Blogger Kitty Kilian tried Setapp because she’s a fan of CleanMyMac (which she calls “the best effing app on my entire desktop”). CleanMyMac developer MacPaw brought the same ease of use to Setapp, according to Kilian.

“I was hoping the Setapp collection would offer the same quality of function and design,” Kilian said in a testimonial for the service. “And heck, it does. Since I started using it I find I am dropping more and more programs because Downie and Alternote and WiFi Explorer and lots of others are simply better than what I used. Or more fun. Plus: I don’t have to spend hours searching Google anymore for the best plugins.”

But you don’t have to take Kilian’s word for it. Setapp brings a swarm of Mac apps that can adapt to any creative professional’s needs. That’s why we recommend you try Setapp for a month, free of charge. You don’t even need a credit card to get started. If you like what you see, you’ll pay just $9.99 a month after your free trial ends.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.