Today we’re going to take a look at five sites that are completely dedicated to showcasing and reviewing free Mac software. They may not be the biggest and best app sites out there, but they definitely make it easy to find lots of quality software that you don’t have to spend a cent to use.
Just to be thorough, we’ve also thrown in a few sites that don’t focus solely on free software but still have plenty of excellent free apps on display.
Odds are, if you’re an AppStorm reader, you suffer from the same condition as all of the writers here, including myself: complete and utter app addiction.
We simply love Mac applications. The world is full of amazingly talented developers constantly dishing out great pieces of software and we spend hours searching for, reading about, downloading and trying them.
Unless you’re an avid software pirate or a millionaire trust fund brat, app addiction can leave you penniless in no time. Fortunately, for every developer out there who puts out a $50 app, there’s at least one (often more) willing to create a free alternative. Granted, the quality tends to be a lot higher among paid apps, but with apps like Evernote, Quicksilver, and Cloud out there, it’s hard to complain about the mountain of Mac software that’s available free to anyone who wants it.
The Problem with App Sites
Since it can be a little tricky to find quality sources for free Mac software, we decided to help you out by scouring the web for websites dedicated to compiling and/or distributing free applications. This turned out to be no easy task.
Though there are tons of great websites out there for downloading Mac applications of all kinds, there are very few sites dedicated 100% to free apps. Many of those that do exist seem to be outdated, ugly, abandoned, completely choked with ads, or all of the above.
Fortunately there are definitely a few gems in the mix. Let’s take a look at a few sites that, regardless of aesthetics, seem to provide a particularly great collection of free software.
We’ll start with the best one I could find. I like to think of App Donkey as the Craigslist of free Mac software. It’s definitely not the prettiest site of its kind, but it’s by far the most resourceful and efficient.
The home page of the site doesn’t waste time and space with lengthy introductions or fancy graphics, it goes straight into the huge list of free apps. Each app is shown as an icon with a brief description arranged in a grid. There’s a list of categories on the left and links for browsing the pages on both the top and bottom of the app grid.
When you click on an app you are taken to a page with a longer description, a screenshot, and various helpful items such as ratings, file size, and a link to the developer site.
App Donkey allows you to quickly add apps that you like to a download queue so when you’re done browsing you can simply hit a button to download everything at once.
Overall, App Donkey is an amazing site. There are plenty of apps listed that are no longer free or out of development, but for the most part you won’t have any trouble loading up on more free apps than your hard drive can hold.
FreeMacWare definitely isn’t the most visually pleasing place to find free Mac software, and it’s not as easy to use as App Donkey, but it does have a ton of free software.
FreeMacWare features a daily free Mac download. Each app’s icon is shown along with a description and links to download or visit the developer’s site. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to post app screenshots so it’s difficult to tell if you’ll like a given app.
Their archives date back to 2005 and each app is neatly categorized so there are tons of apps to browse through and download. Though the site is helpful, it is in desperate need of a design overhaul. The blinking download links and cluttered page styles make for a dizzying experience. Still, if you’re looking for free Mac apps, it’s a great resource.
FreeMacApps has a much more limited collection that the previous two sites, but actually fares pretty decent in the graphics category. The site conveniently lists all the apps on a single page divided into categories.
Each app is shown as a simple icon and is essentially just a link to the developer website so there aren’t any descriptions, screenshots or any information of any kind beyond the name of the app. However, the site is directly related to TwistedMac, a blog review apps in much more depth.
FreeMacApps is great if you’re already familiar with a lot of Mac applications and what their icons look like so you can quickly scroll through the page and spot apps that you don’t recognize and want to learn more about.
ThriftMac is not so much a free app gallery as it is a blog about Mac freeware. Every few days they take a look at a new piece of free Mac software.
The post structure and length varies considerably from one to the next. There is almost always a very brief description of the app and a link to the developer website. Frequently, this is all you get. However, they do occasionally post more in-depth reviews and screenshots.
Along the top of the site there is a horizontal list of categories so you can easily find the types of apps you’re looking for. Clicking on a category brings up an alphabetical list of every app in that category. This feature really helps the browsing experience by adding a gallery-like experience to a blog format.
Free Mac App a Day is a cleverly themed blog that had an original aim of posting a new free Mac application every single day. Unfortunately, this proved to be a little ambitious and the author eventually slacked off a bit. The site is still progressing though, a recent post suggests a lot of changes coming in the near future.
Regardless of where the direction of the site will go in the future, it’s currently still a great place to find free Mac applications (though many are quite dated). As with ThriftMac, the apps are broken up into categories and each application is given a thoughtful mini-review with a download link.
Other Places to Find Free Apps
The sites above represent the best I could that were solely dedicated to pointing out free applications. This is convenient for anyone who doesn’t want to sort through tons of apps that they can’t afford to find the free downloads.
However, most of the best Mac application sites on the web feature both free and premium apps. So after giving each of the sites above a shot, you should definitely stop by the following pages as well.
Basically, all the sites below are simply huge depositories of Mac software. For me, the most notable site here is i use this. I simply love this site and drop by weekly to keep up on the latest and greatest software available for Mac.
Of course, there’s also the official Apple downloads section. Though they’ve removed the direct link from their homepage, the downloads section definitely still exists and is overflowing with great software (free and otherwise).
Where Do You Find Free Mac Apps?
The sites above represent some of the best sites we could find, if we’ve missed your favorite source leave a comment with a link below along with the main reason you think it’s so great.
Also be sure to check out our roundup of 100 Incredibly Useful Free Mac Apps where you’ll find our picks for the best free Mac software in existence.