Back to the Mac: Most useful Mac apps

Image: Malte Fleuter

Back to the Mac is a new series that digs deeper into the macOS operating system. Each week, I will review unique apps, reveal tips and tricks, and teach you how to further customize your Mac experience. This week, we will look into my top app picks for your Mac.

Homebrew — Free


Homebrew is a package manager for macOS that was designed by Max Howell. You don’t download a program, instead, Homebrew is installed and managed through Terminal.

Homebrew installs the stuff you need that Apple didn’t,” says the Homebrew website. In order to install Homebrew, you need to open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/) and enter the following:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Homebrew requires macOS 10.12 or higher, and a 64-bit Intel CPU. You will also need Command Line Tools (CLT) for Xcode.

Once you follow all the steps in Terminal and Homebrew is installed, you will be able to download command-line software to your Mac, also called Formulae. My favorite command-line formulae is Annie: “Annie is a fast, simple and clean video downloader built with Go.” With Annie, you can download videos from any of the supported websites to your Mac.

Rocket 🚀 — Free, Pro: $5.00


Rocket is essentially an emoji manager for your Mac. By simply typing (:) followed by an emoji, you can easily add emojis anywhere. From iMessage to web pages, Rocket is “mind-blowing emoji on your Mac.


Built by Matthew Palmer, Rocket allows you to easily add emojis by just typing in a colon. According to The Verge, “Rocket works just like the emoji finder in Slack… Enter a colon when you want to use an emoji, type its name, and hit enter again to insert. It’s much more convenient than using Mac’s built-in emoji keyboard.”

Rocket is free to download and use, and comes with great features standard. Rocket is also offered in a Pro Version that will set you back $5.00. You can download Rocket here.

Vanilla — Free, Pro: $4.99


Vanilla allows you to hide the cluttered icons on your Macs menu bar. Vanilla was also designed by Matthew Palmer, the designer of Rocket.

I am someone who needs a clutter, distraction-free workspace at all times and that also needs to translate to my desktop. I struggled with an excessive amount of applications and shortcuts until I found Vanilla.

Vanilla is a great, no-frills, way to clean up your menubar. You simply hold the ⌘ key to move the icons behind the (<) icon to hide them. The list then collapses are you have a clean menubar again.

Unlike Rocket, Vanilla doesn’t have many customization options unless you pay $4.99. I recommend that you purchase the Pro version as it is completely worth the price. You can purchase Vanilla here.

That was just a short list of my must-have apps for any Mac user. Look forward to seeing more articles on plenty of other apps in the future, as well as much more Back to the Mac articles.

If you enjoyed this and found this helpful, let me know in the comments. Also, if there’s a specific app you want to see reviewed, feel free to comment that as well.

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