The basic package of applications supplied with OS X is great for simple tasks and educational needs. However, when you’re using Macs as part of your business operations the basic package doesn’t quite hit the mark. There are some big applications for example such as Visio for Mac and Movie Maker that aren’t available on OS X.

In this article I will propose SaaS alternatives to Numbers, Address Book, Calendar, AirDrop and FaceTime. These web-based alternatives offer an array of additional capabilities not found in your pre-installed OS X applications. Read on to find out more!

[Update] This post was originally posted on February 2nd 2012. It was updated on September 25th 2015 to add new business app alternatives.

Alternatives to Numbers: Accounting Applications

Numbers is effective for basic database management, but to take full control of your accounting needs you need a dedicated finance and accounting application. Here are three of the best:

FreshBooks

Freshbooks is simple way to track time and invoice your customers. With powerful mobile integration and easy-to-use payment options, FreshBooks gives you complete control for you and your clients.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks

Pricing

  • Free 30 day trial available.
  • $9.95/month for up-to 5 clients.
  • Ranging up to $29.95/month and $39.95/month for packages with unlimited clients.

KashFlow

KashFlow prides itself on the ability to make accounting, a normally difficult process, simple. This is thanks to an easy-to-follow user interface and features such as PayPal integration, invoicing, and reporting.

KashFlow

KashFlow

Pricing

  • Free trials available.
  • £5/month for the Starter package.
  • Ranging up to £10/month and £15/month for the Business and Business + Payroll packages respectively.

Xero

Xero is a cloud accounting service for small businesses. One of the best features of Xero is its financial overview dashboard which gives you a complete view of all cash-flow. It’s designed to inject a bit of fun into monotonous processes such as transaction monitoring, bill paying, invoice issuing, and expenses management.

Xero

Xero

Pricing

  • $6.30/month for the Starter package. Limited features.
  • $21/month for the Standard package.
  • $49/month for the Premium package.

Alternatives to Address Book: Customer Relationship Management Applications

The Address Book is one of the most basic OS X applications. In order to enable yourself to track customer details and the progression of your conversations a dedicated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) application is the only choice. Below are three fantastic options!

Insightly

Insightly is an online CRM for small businesses. Built for integration with Google Apps, Insightly allows you to easily sync with Google Calendar, Documents and Contacts. Alternative systems, including Xero, MailChimp, and Evernote, can also be integrated just as easily. Through this integration with other applications, Insightly allows the user to bring all customer and project information into one place.

Insightly

Insightly

Pricing

  • Starting from: $12/month per user for Basic package.
  • Ranging up to $99/month per user for Enterprise package.
  • Free package for up to 2 users.

SalesForce Sales Cloud

The goal of SalesForce Sales Cloud is to improve communication between you and your customers. This is achieved by tracking all customer communication in a dashboard. Through this you are given the ability to analyze whether strategies are working or not, this allows you to adapt in the future to improve your customer relations.

SalesForce Cloud

SalesForce Cloud

Pricing

  • $25/month per user for basic sales and marketing for up-to 5 users.
  • $65/month per user for complete CRM for any size team.
  • $125/month per user for deeply customizable CRM for your business (billed annually.)
  • $250/month per user for unlimited CRM power and support (billed annually.)

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft is a CRM tool built for business owners with between 1 and 25 employees. Similar to SalesForce Cloud the application, Infusionsoft allows you to track all customer information and conversations to help improve your sales technique in the future. One way in which Infusionsoft differs is that it provides you with the resources to create an online storefront.

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft

Pricing

  • $199/month for Basic package.
  • Ranging up to $599/month for Team package for larger businesses.

Alternatives to Calendar: Scheduling Applications

Much like the Mac Address Book, the Calendar is built for simple day-to-day tasks but this will not suffice for major company-wide scheduling, making an advanced scheduler a strong option. Below I have highlighted three great choices!

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling possesses a whole host of features that the standard Calendar application lacks. These include the ability for clients to see your availability and then book appointments in advance. Through the software clients can also pay for the appointments using their PayPal accounts. With powerful integration with Google Calendar, iCal and Outlook, Acuity Scheduling is a great way to stay organized.

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling

Pricing

  • Free for solo use, limited features.
  • $10/month for Solo use with advanced features.
  • Ranging up to $19/month and $34/month for greater numbers of staff and text messaging capabilities.

When I Work Scheduling

When I Work Scheduling is an application aimed at helping businesses manage their hourly workers’ schedules. Through the software employees are able to punch in from their smart phones and even receive their schedules through a text message. In addition to this employees are able to accept open shifts and managers can track employees through the location in which they punch in.

When I Work Scheduling

When I Work Scheduling

Pricing

  • Can choose to be billed monthly or annually.
  • Starting at $16/month for up to 5 users and limited features.
  • All features available on packages 10 users and up, starting from $51/month.

Wintac

Wintac is a one-time license scheduling tool, giving service and contracting businesses a complete solution to their tracking needs. Aimed at improving efficiency Wintac allows users to set a day schedule and create invoices. In addition to this Wintac gives technicians CRM tools, allowing them to update and track customer job and billing history in real time.

Wintac

Wintac

Pricing

  • Three price bands, Wintac Green, Wintac Pro and Wintac Fuel.
  • Wintac Green, $1995. Wintac Pro, $2495. Wintac Fuel, $2995.
  • All three packages require cost of £1150 for each additional office user.

Alternatives to AirDrop: Collaboration Applications with Document and File Sharing

If your needs require you to efficiently share and store files AirDrop will most likely be a weak choice. Below I have highlighted Slack, Hightail and Stellar Library, each making an effective alternative to Airdrop.

Slack

Slack aims to condense all of a team’s communication into one place. With a plethora of mobile applications and quick search filtering techniques Slack makes it easy to track and notify colleagues of information. File sharing is achieved simply through dragging and dropping.

Slack

Slack

Pricing

  • Unlimited users on every package.
  • $0/month for small teams and limited features.
  • $6.67/month per user for Standard package and $12.50/month per user for Plus package.

Hightail

Hightail is a file sharing tool built for professionals and that is reflected in its structured and professional layout. Through its advanced security measures, Hightail helps to ensure that no unauthorized personnel can access your important files. This is achieved through encryption, password protection, and identity verification.

Hightail

Hightail

Pricing

  • $0/month for Lite package, 2GB limit on storage and 250MB limit on sharing file size.
  • $15.99/month for Professional package, unlimited storage and 10GB limit on sharing file size.
  • $19.99/month for Enterprise package, unlimited storage and 500GB limit on sharing file.

Stellar Library

Stellar Library is a file sharing application which allows files to be quickly shared and accessed on iPad devices. Through the web-based back-end of Stellar Library users can create company databases and control the documents that can be accessed by staff securely.

Stellar Library

Stellar Library

Pricing

  • Free trial available.
  • $10/month per recipient for Standard package.

Alternatives to FaceTime: Video Conferencing and Communication Applications

FaceTime is great basic communicator if everyone owns Apple products, but that’s not always the case, especially in the business world. Using web-based video conferencing tools makes the process of video communication easier and more accessible.

Onstream Webinars

Onstream Webinars give you the ability to set up, schedule, remind and participate in video conferencing. Allowing users to present and share files, videos and even their own desktop easily, Onstream Webinars gives users a complete communication tool. Through the application users can also create polls between those viewing to quickly gather results.

Onstream Webinars

Onstream Webinars

Pricing

  • $49/month for up to 50 participants.
  • $99/month for up to 150 participants.
  • $149/month for up to 300 participants.

ClickMeeting

ClickMeeting is a video conferencing tool that offers a unique feature: the ability to create your own virtual meeting and waiting rooms. Through the addition of your logo, graphics and brand colors, ClickMeeting aims to give your users positive first impressions. In addition to a standard set of features such as file and desktop sharing, ClickMeeting also gives you access to instant translation for 52 languages.

ClickMeeting

ClickMeeting

Pricing

  • Starting at £18/month for Basic package.
  • Ranging up to £172.50/month for greater number of attendees, video recording time and presenter limit.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a straightforward HD video conferencing application that allows you to host online meetings with up to 25 people. Assigned leaders can schedule and set up recurring meetings, these users also have the power to start meetings by clicking “Meet Now.” The process of joining a meeting is achieved through clicking a link, guests can join free of charge, and there is no need to sign up.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting

Pricing

  • $24/month per organizer for Starter package.
  • $39/month per organizer for Pro package.
  • $49/month per organizer for Plus package.

Wrap-Up

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this list of SaaS alternatives to Mac OS X software has helped you in your search for greater productivity. Do you use any of the above applications already? Or do you have another cloud-based business app that accomplishes a similar role? Let us know in the comments below.


Responses

Add Yours
  • Thanks for this great article! Really helpful to find alternatives! You should do more of these ;)

  • Another alternative for text editing is Bean, which is free and a good text editor.

    http://www.bean-osx.com/

    Bean is a small, easy-to-use word processor (or more precisely, a rich text editor), designed to make writing convenient, efficient and comfortable. Bean is Open Source, fully Cocoa, and is available free of charge! MS Word, OpenOffice, etc. try to be all things to all people. But sometimes you just want the right tool for the job. That is Bean’s niche.

  • Great article, a real time-saver!

  • Thanks! Great list, I would add Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) : free audio recording and editing, to it.

    • You would add audacity to the list as an alternative to what? This list isn’t just “apps that I like” but “free alternatives to popular mac software”.

      • could be an alternative to soundbooth or garageband

  • Happy to figure that i already have 50% of these apps :)

  • Bowtie > CoverSutra. Seriously.

    Anyways, wonderful recommendations right there. :)

    • it isn’t. bowtie can’t search like coversutra

  • Great article!

  • Anyone know of an Adobe After Effects Alternative? I need to open one .aep file! Ha.

  • Free (GPL) alternative for DaisyDisk/DiskWave: Disk Inventory X
    http://www.derlien.com/

  • Well, there are a few things worth mentioning…

    Seashore is much, much below Photoshop… it’s more an alternative to Picasa’s built-in image editor. Pixelmator comes really close. In fact, the only two reasons why I didn’t buy Pixelmator is the lack of Pen Tool and the availability only through AppStore. Sadly, I don’t have any free alternative to Photoshop to recommend.

    AppCleaner is one of the free apps that work better than their shareware counterpart. Its SmartDelete feature is already more powerful than AppZapper. Also, with AppCleaner you can delete system plug-ins, preference panes, and dashboard widgets.

    And now, about what I know best… I currently own, use, and enjoy Coda. Aptana’s text editing engine, Eclipse, is much better than Coda’s (which is SubEthaEngine). In Coda, you open a tag, and it automatically closes it. In Aptana, you open a tag, it closes it, and simulates two Return keys and a Tab for block elements, and for inline elements it just adds the close tag.

    What killed Aptana for me was its speed, and the useless toolbar that simply CAN’T be configured to be hidden forever (you can hide it, but it appears when you open Aptana next time).

    But I guess you can live with Aptana. Really, it’s more powerful. But I guess it better fits Linux…

    • Have you tried the Aptana Studio 3.0 beta?

      I really liked 1.5 and then wasn’t a fan of 2.0, but in 3, they brought everything back from 1.5 that they took out and I liked and made it even better. Keep in mind that it’s in beta, so it still has some work to be done, but it’s pretty cool.

      • I checked it out in the Summer of 2010… and wasn’t impressed. Back then, it was by far worse than Aptana Studio 2.

        I hope a few things changed… I’m checking it out now. :)

        Thanks.

  • I use Cyberduck almost everyday and I love it. The dock icon is my favorite!

    Aptana is quite good and Inskape is ugly and slow but it works, but nevertheless I think that one of the reasons to switch to Mac is to be able to use all the cool apps, like Coda/Esspreso, Pixelmator, etc. As 3dy mentioned above, probably these apps are better for Linux users.

    • You are very right about CyberDuck. It’s a wonderful piece of software, although I didn’t see it evolve in time (as Transmit or ForkLife do). But it’s still very reliable. Erm… I’m using Coda’s built-in FTP (at least it’s better than Aptana’s).

      I agree with you about Inkscape, and in fact, about any app that requires X11.

      About using the apps designed especially for OS X, you’re right again. Coda is the primary reason why I got a Mac.

  • No love for NeoOffice? It’s a native OpenOffice alternative. It does ask for donations, but none are required to operate. NeoOffice.org

    • AFAIK, NeoOffice is not free –although you can use it without a serial. But for $10/year, it is an excellent alternative to any office suite.

  • There’s a great free audio editor from Macsome.
    http://www.macsome.com/audio-editor-mac/index.html

    Don’t know the paid counterpart :-)

  • Seashore is OK – and very basic, if you want Photoshop/Pixelmator levels of functionality you have to look at GIMP (which requires X11) – don’t forget iPhoto can do basic photo edits and other free tools such as ImageTricks (from BeLight) and the older version of LiveQuartz are available (newest LiveQuartz has gone paid if only $10 and App Store only). Acorn is a sort of shareware – you can use it for free (but with restrictions) – oh and if you need RAW access for free check out Rawker (no do, really)

    Scribus is the only free DTP app I know of and although powerful is a bit clunky and feels very old fashioned… OK if you are familiar with DTP in general but to be honest I would rather recommend Pages or BeLight’s Swift Publisher or even the somewhat obscure iCalamus (which are all paid for I admit but far easier to learn than Scribus for the unexperienced)

    Inkscape is great – and a good Illustrator alternative for those familiar with vector drawing, but like GIMP and Scribus have a steep learning curve for beginners (though to be fair so do the heavyweight Adobe Apps they stand in for) – for beginners some of the paid for Apps like Intaglio, iDraw, WouldjaDraw or ZeusDraw are good low cost alternatives

    IceClean is OK, but nowhere a patch on OnyX (or its subset siblings Deeper and Maintenance) from http://www.titanium.free.fr/download.php also worth a look are YASU and TinkerTool…

    Can’t recommend Bean enough as a great basic Word Processor (even has a few basic page layout tools) – not up to Pages but a great place to start (have to give honourable mention to iTextExpress as a “TextEdit on Steroids” tool and xPad (though XPad is more a notetaker app really)

    To add some apps to your list:

    SimplyBurns or Burn – great Toast alternatives, neither are as flashy but both will do what Toast does… SimplyBurns is my favourite of the pair.

    Audacity or Handbrake – great free audio tools (not my bag audio but they get endless recommends)

    Colloquy is great for IRC, as is the older X-Chat Aqua – for other multi-protocol IM options Adium, Nimbuzz and Proteus and recently Voxox have a lot to recommend them and I believe Trillian is now available on OS X…

    Oh yes and everyone should have CarbonCopyCloner… nearly as good as SuperDuper! (which I cannot fault, and has a basic free mode too anyway!) or at the least iBackup…

    VLC should be in every Mac user’s Application folder… and everyone who can install Perian should have that too.

    If you want a free and excellent thesaurus get Nissus Thesaurus and for a better calculator get Magic Number Machine

    FWIW if you feel the need for anti-virus (if only to not pass on Windows nasties) look at ClamXav (use the folder sentry feature) or more recently the free Sophos offering here (http://www.sophos.com/products/free-tools/free-mac-anti-virus/) – tried and killed it personally, but it there if you want

    Transmission or BitTorrent – torrent clients, I like Transmission best – most Mac like client I have ever used.

    Mactracker – amazing database of every Apple product ever…

    Think – free last time I looked and another “Isolate/Concentrate” type tool allows hiding all apps and has modifiable “allowable helpers” to allow access to listed apps “through the curtain” without leaving the Think environment…

    I am huge fan of free apps – can you tell? :D

    For anyone reading looking for anything always try http://www.pure-mac.com – a great resource for finding all sorts of Mac software (not complete no matter how hard they try… but a great starting point)

    I am sure I could ramble on longer about more obscure stuff – but hey, enough is enough

    Great article – and a great site, check it regularly…

    • Handbrake is a video transcoder ;)
      (by far one of the best)

    • @ Serenak Thanks for the tip on Nisus Thesaurus. Great little app.

    • @serenak,

      Useful tips. Thanks.

      How would you rank the various low cost vector graphics apps? I notice you left out a few that seem to be popular on the App store (vector designer, eazydraw, artboard)

      • There are so many vector apps it is hard to grade them as they range in price and ability sooo much… but as a professional Illustrator user (and a MUG member interested in alternatives for non pro users) I have checked a lot of them out

        Inkscape is probably my favourite… especially at the price point! But I recently came across a little program called DrawBerry… it is currently free as it is only at v0.8 and that is a basic but rather nice little application

        EazyDraw is a pretty good vector drawing tool by what I recall of testing it… but then it should be as it is at the upper end of the price range. Not mad on the somewhat “toy town” icons in the Toolbox though

        I think I looked at Vector Designer but I don’t recall much about it… so it probably falls exactly where I would expect a $30 Application to fall, same goes for Artboard, which I tried recently and thought was a decently featured app for the money.

        I haven’t tried iDraw… as there is no demo available, but I did have an earlier version, and that was pretty good for the price.

        The best thing is to try out the free trials – because a $30 app that is sufficient for some users is a $30 underpowered piece of junk to another.

        Though on NO ACCOUNT bother with Macware’s Graphic Design Studio.. it is a piece of broken junk even at v3.0 and even DrawBerry is better – really

    • Perian is great, but was discountinued. It still works well for me in 10.8.2, but I am not sure how long it would be an option.

  • As far as a DaisyDisk alternative goes, OmniDiskSweeper is a great free app that shows exactly where space is being used on HDD’s. It used to cost money, but OmniGroup decided to make it free along with a few other apps like OmniWeb.

    There really is no other better choice for disk space management than OmniDiskSweeper.

  • Grand Perspective is a great free alternative to DaisyDisk. You still get a nice visual representation of your drive… for free :)

  • TunesArt>Bowtie…

    • TunesArt is very nice, but it does not work correctly with iTunes 11 and takes a good amount of memory.

  • Filezilla and Cyberduck is pretty par…

    http://filezilla-project.org/

  • I am pretty curious to check out Aptana Studio. Have been wondering for a while whether or not to rake out the big bucks for Coda after hearing rave reviews…maybe one last shot at saving some money.

    • Yep, it’s a really good idea. I’m using Coda over Aptana because I don’t create web applications or code in anything else than HTML, CSS and JS (although I heard Coda is also great at PHP). Aptana is, in my opinion, better for everything else…

      So if you just use the four languages I mentioned, Coda is infinitely useful because it supports them very, very well (although I expected more help with JS… but that’s it) and all its goodies are designed for them. But don’t even try to write Java in it…

  • Onxy is great for system clean up’s as well.

    • Onyx just allows you to do things the system does automatically anyway. Macs don’t need this kind of maintenance.

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  • Harry,

    Please please please. “If you’re looking” is the correct way of writing it. Not “your”. ‘You’re”.

    Please fix the article.

    • Seriously?

  • Nice post… Thanks a lot !

  • Ummm.. Photoshop is $700? I thought it could be bought for around half that price. I mean if you buy it individually.

    • Nope, although they have ~50% discount for students. I’m in Romania, and I paid for Photoshop Extended CS5 around 450$ with this discount. In US / UK, you pay a little less.

      • I believe the student version is for learning, but not for producing commercial work…

        Adobe can get away with this since they know their the king of the hill.

  • Seashore 0.5.1 instantly crashes every time I start it (as it has on every 0.5 release). Only the 0.1.9 version is reliable for me (on OSX 10.6.6).

  • Also, a good alternative to DaisyDisk, if you are a visual person, is Disk Inventory X. It’s not as pretty as DaisyDisk, but it does it’s job. And it’s free.

  • Cyberduck is one of my new favorites, and its UI is much nicer than FileZilla’s. Plus, it runs on Windows 7 too … and since I don’t have a Mac, its always nice to find newer, nice apps for PCs :)

    • I have bad experience with Cyberduck on Windows. I don’t like it at all. :(

  • I’m very partial to many paid apps, but I have always been impressed by Aptana and Cyberduck. Both have saved me on several occasions.

  • I know this article is a wee bit old but I hope this gets read: another great alternative to a form of photoshop and vector editors and the like is Aviary. Its a free online app which allows you to make what you want, whether it be image editing, music, vectors, whichever. I love it :D

  • Thanks!

  • I would add FileZilla to the list of free FTP. Bizarre toolbar, but otherwise, very easy to use.

  • Thank you for this useful post! Cyberduck (Transit alternative) is something I can definitely use!

  • I have recently fallen in love with OpenOffice! I can’t believe how much stuff they packed in there, for FREE! Also use Filezilla, it rocks on Mac and PC.

  • I’ve recently fallen in love with OpenOffice! I can’t believe how much stuff they packed in there, for FREE!!! +1 on Filezilla.

  • Having got my first Mac yesterday, this blog has become the new go-to place for me :) Very nice article btw, there’s a lot to explore out there for newbie OS X users like me..

  • what about ?

  • Great list, many I have never heard of before. I’ll be trying AppCleaner and Cover Art Assistant today !!! Thanks !!!

  • What about Soulver ($25) and Numi ($5) ?

  • Oh.. Forgot that only free apps in contest! Sorry :-)

  • Limechat is the best free IRC client for mac. And LibreOffice is better than Open.

  • Useful list. I love AppCleaner. Thank you.

  • Cyberduck is really lame compared to what MacFusion does. I stopped using FTP clients and started using Finder (+ TotalFinder) for my file transmissions!

  • OmniDiskSweeper from the famous OmniGroup can replace DaisyDisk

  • Nice list, except for: (all listed are free)

    – OpenOffice forked after being bought out by Oracle, so now you need to look at LibreOffice instead.

    – Look at Fraise for your text editing. Touch friendlier than Text Wrangler (to me).

    – Another choice for an IM client that works with most services is Adium.

    – Pixen is very much worth a look for free image editing.

    AND, look for Flip4Mac – a QuickTime add-on allowing you to play Windows media files via QT. Get Perian add-on too and you’re pretty much covered. Get VLC as a separate player, JIC, and you are definitely covered!

  • What a great article! Very helpful indeed – wished I had found it earlier. Thanks!!!

  • nice post.. thanks for sharing. It is very useful for newbie mac users like me.

  • Hey I had purchase New Mac Mini And i dont have any FUll Version Software ..
    Can any buddy Help me..??

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  • CODA have some fancy features that come built-in, but you can achieve much more with aptna and eclipse.

    people that complains about eclipse speed, should turn off “automatically build” and edit the “eclipse.ini” file in order to allocate more memory for the text editor.

    surely its not as light as sublime text or coda, but its the payoff of doing more and being 100% cross plataform.

    enjoy life