An Explanation Of Apple Mac Software Types

Freeware - Shareware - Public Domain - Open Source - Version Numbers

On this page you will find links to a variety of highly recommended Essential Softwares and Applications that are either Free-To-Download & Free-To-Use, Free-To-Download & Free-To-Try or just plain Buys (Pay-For). Many of the softwares and applications listed below will be needed as part of your overall apple mac system such as Anti-Virus, CD/DVD Burner and Office.

Free-To-Download - Free-To-Download means you are free to visit a website in order to download the Free-To-Use and/or Free-To-Try software/application on it. It does not mean that website is paying your Internet (Telephone) Charges during that download.

Free-To-Use - Free-To-Use softwares/applications are normally free to use forever or at least until the company stops its production. Companies normally distribute a Free-To-Use version of their software/application in the hope you will like it and then upgrade to their Paid-For version of the same software/application. The Paid-For version is normally better in performance and/or has extra features.

Sometimes a company, like Microsoft, might distribute a Free-To-Use version of their software package (i.e. Microsoft Office) for Test purposes, known as: Beta (Test) Software, in order for people to test it for bugs (errors). The testers, known as Beta Testers, have a certain period of time to test the software before its major features begin to expire.

Software made for testing should have the word Beta, or Release Candidate (i.e. RC1 or RC2), attached to its name to denote it is currently in test-mode (Beta) or is almost ready for public use (RC). The benefits for the Beta Tester and RC User is that they get to road test software before it's officially released, which in the case of Educational Software is good for Programmers and Teachers for example but not good for the general public - This is because Beta software in general can crash/break OS X (Sierra) at its worst due to the amount of bugs (errors) each piece of beta software can contain. So be careful before deciding whether or not to download and use/test Beta software. When software reaches the RC stages it tends to be more robust.

Free-To-Try - Free-To-Try softwares/applications are normally the Paid-For versions with one or more tiny limitations. A software/application might have an Expiry Date (Trial Period) limiting it whereby it runs as the full version for 30 Days for example before switching back to its Free-To-Use (feature limited) version. Or the Free-To-Try software/application just expires after its Trial Period without switching back to a Free-To-Use version.

Version Numbers. If you have ever wondered about the numbers next to a software title, such as BitDefender 1.14.0fc2206, they are the Version Number and Revision Number. The version number is normally split into the Major Number (i.e. 1) and the Minor number (i.e. 14). The major number stays the same until the software is re-released as a Major update (i.e. BitDefender 2). A major update usually means the software has had many of its problems fixed and/or had new features added to it whereas the minor number normally only changes when the software is re-released with Minor problems fixed, but no new features added.

The Revision number (i.e. 0fc2206) is normally changed when, after a re-release, the author(s) spots a problem/mistake in the software, quickly corrects it and then re-releases the software. So if you want to keep up-to-date with a certain piece of software it's wise to check that software's website occasionally so you can download and then upgrade to the latest version. Remember, you may need to uninstall the current software first before upgrading - See the Installing Software section for more information.

Open Source. Open-Source, known as: Open Source Software, means you are permitted to use the software and to modify/improve its source code as well as redistribute the software in a modified or unmodified form. Another term for Open Source is the older name of Public Domain (I won't go into its history/differences here!).

Freeware. Software known as Freeware means it's Free-To-Use at no cost, although these days some authors introduce their software as Freeware but then charge a small fee. Years ago Freeware meant Absolutely Free. Depending on the conditions of the Freeware author(s), the Freeware software might or might not include the source code, and might or might not be re-distributable - You might only be able to get it from certain software vendors. Freeware can be classed as Free-To-Use (above).

Shareware. Software known as Shareware usually means it is Free-To-Use for a trial period only. During the trial period, of 30 Days for example, some of the software's functionality might be crippled/disabled or it might be fully functioning software until the trial period has passed. Either way, when the trial period has passed the software either no longer works (expires) or some, more, of its functionality crippled/disabled. Paying a Shareware Fee will reactivate the software, making it completely functional again....for a another trial period, of 1 Year for example, or forever. Shareware can be classed as Free-To-Try (above).


Adobe Flash Player

Although FLASH is being abandoned by Adobe and the fact their Flash Player is not really used these days, there may be website out there that you stumble upon whereby they do require Adobe Flash Player; in which case you may need to download and install Adobe Flash Player.

Adobe Reader  2018.011.20035

Adobe Reader is a Free-To-Use document reader (viewer) for the PDF file format. A PDF file stores its information in such a way that its contents (i.e. Text and Pictures) can be Enlarged or Shrunk when viewed with acrobat reader or similar applications. And the way media and images are embedded makes this experience more enjoyable. For example: If you were to look at a Car Manual (Engineers Book) and look at a PDF Car Manual file they would look the same because of the way pictures and text are embedded. Adobe Reader has plenty of features, including Speech, to make reading a PDF file less boring. Adobe Acrobat is the software that allows you to create a PDF (Manual/Guide) file.

With many commercial companies writing their Software Manuals and so on in the PDF file format, and including Adobe Reader on their Installation CDs/DVDs as standard, it makes sense to have Adobe Reader installed on your apple mac computer.

Burn  2.5.1  (CD/DVD Recorder)

Burn is a CD/DVD Recorder application that can create a Data (Folders and Files) Disc, Audio (Music) Disc or Video (Movie) Disc for you. You can burn (record) a data disc using OS X (Sierra) for example but it lacks the extra features/options built-in to Burn as standard.

NOTE WELL: Burn hasn't been updated since 2011 so I wouldn't really recommend it for Sierra and future versions of OS X in case of problems (i.e. Crashes).


Flip4Mac from Microsoft allows QuickTime Player and Web Browsers on your apple mac computer to play Windows Media files (.WMA and .WMV files). It's basically an add-on (plug-in / extension) called Windows Media Components.

Java Runtime Enviroment 6

Java Runtime Environment, which is nothing to do with the programming language called JavaScript, is basically a programming/scripting language (engine) that aids and adds functionality to many types of hardware device, software applications and website features. It is used with Mobile Phone and Synchronization Apps, on 'Feature-Rich' websites and Language websites (i.e. Chinese) in order to run their code. Libre Office also uses it. So if you are trying to get an internet (online) game, language website, Libre Office functions or mobile phone synchronization working for example, it may need Java SE Runtime Environment installed first.

Many people believe Java to be bad news because of previous malware attacks whereby java had let the intruder into the computer, which to a very tiny degree is a valid reason not to use Java, but to put this into perspective ORACLE are actually very good at fixing flaws; hence why you often see the 'Java Update' notification (message window) appear on your computer.

Many people also believe that even if Java is updated it is then only a matter of time before Java is abused again, but this is true of Security Software too - If it's out-of-date for one hour your computer will be vulnerable to attack within that one hour. Java overall is needed for certain functionality of certain devices and softwares, as stated above, and therefore you might need Java if you like it or not; but I would not put too much worry into whether or not Java is safe and whether or not to install it - Use it if it's needed/required and then update it when asked is the golden rule.

Libre Office

Libre Office is a free, open-source, office suite that includes a Word Processor, Accounting, Database and Slideshow Presentation application. What makes it so popular is the fact that it can read and write (create) Microsoft Word documents (.doc files) and it also works on the Linux and Windows operating systems. This makes it ideal for those who want/need a free office suite that will work on both their Windows 10 computer and OS X (Sierra) computer.

Microsoft Silverlight 5

Microsoft Silverlight is basically a Flash plug-in that enables interactive internet features for web browsers and applications. It is seen as the next best thing since Adobe Flash and works on Windows, OS X and Linux with all of their major web browsers (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari). If you want a better video and internet experience you might as well download Silverlight; it's free-to-use.

Mozilla Thunderbird  (E-mail Client)

Although the e-mail client (e-mail application) built-in to OS X (Sierra), called MAIL, is a great all-round e-mail application with icloud/synchronisation e-mail features, it sometimes screws up (as do all e-mail clients every now and then). So with this in mind, it is sometimes better to have a second e-mail client installed. Not necessarily for its, extra, features but more for its diagnostic value. Having a second e-mail client installed, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, means you can use it to check whether or not your e-mail can be sent and received when MAIL fails to do so.


TeamViewer is an application that allows you to remotely see and operate the desktop of another Apple Mac computer or Windows computer from your own Apple Mac computer. This means you could remotely help a friend, for example, with their apple mac computer problems by taking control of their apple mac computer. TeamViewer is free for all non-commercial users, but businesses must pay a license fee to use it. A business license gives a business plenty more professional features and support than those found in the non-commercial license.


TinkerTool is the equivalent of TweakUI for Windows. It allows you to set or reset certain, shown and hidden, system preferences (settings) for the OS X (Sierra) operating system. It can tweak Finder and Dock settings, disable animation effects, show hidden folders and files as well as Tweak General Application Settings.

The Unarchiver  (File Decompressor)

The Unarchiver is an application that extracts/expands/unzips/decompresses the contents of one archived (zipped/crunched/compressed) file. Or put another way: If you have a folder containing ten 1MB files that have been zipped/compressed/archived into one main file, The Unarchiver can unzip/decompress/unarchive/expand that folder whereby you can then view and use the contents of that folder. You can then view and use its ten 1mb files. The Unarchiver is similar to 7-Zip, WinZip or WinRAR on Windows 10. It supports many of the common file formats and also has a Browser app ($3.99) that allows you to browse and so on through an archived file.

NOTE - This does not actually archive (compress/zip/compress) folders and files. OS X (Sierra) can be used for this purpose using its Archive application. It creates archived folders and files in the .ZIP file format, which is more or less the international file format for Windows based and OS X based folder and file archives these days.



BetterZip is an application that extracts/expands/unzips/decompresses the contents of one archived (zipped/crunched/compressed) file. Or put another way: If you have a folder containing ten 1MB files that have been zipped/compressed/archived into one main file, BetterZip can unzip/decompress/unarchive/expand that folder whereby you can then view and use the contents of that folder. You can then view and use its ten 1mb files. BetterZip is similar to 7-Zip, WinZip or WinRAR on Windows 10. It supports many of the common File Formats and also allows you to drag 'n' drop files into its mounted drive and view files without having to open the whole archived file. BetterZip is $24.95 to buy.

Bitdefender Anti-Virus

BitDefender Anti-Virus For Mac is a good all-round piece of security software that protects against malware (viruses, trojans, phishing sites, key loggers, spyware, etc), both offline and online, in real-time for Mac Malware and Windows malware. The Windows Malware protection feature means if you have a Windows file on a flash drive or have imported it onto your apple mac computer BitDefender will check it for viruses for example. You can download a Free Trial of BitDefender from their website. Purchase Price is £29.99 Per Year, Per License, Per Computer, but you can also order for 3 Computers whereby the overall price per license works out a little cheaper.

Other security software, which may have a free version and commercial version, include: F-Secure Anti-Virus (1 PC License - £19.95)  -   Panda Anti-Virus (Unlimited PCs - £26.24)  -   Trend Internet Security (1 PC License - $29.95)  -   Intego Mac Internet Security X9 (1 PC License - £39.99)   Avast Free Anti-Virus  -   Sophos Anti-Virus  and   Norton Anti-Virus. On the Windows platform there is plenty of free internet security software out there that can rival their commercial equivalents, mainly because that free software is sponsored. On the Apple Mac though you will find its internet security software market is geared towards promotion of commercial (paid-for) software, which means not much free software passes the high-quality marker.

Microsoft Office 2016  (Home & Student Edition)

Microsoft Office 2016 is more or less the equivalent of Microsoft Office for Windows 10 - Expect some differences between them simply because they are both catering for different operating systems of course. Personally I like the Windows 10 version, but once you get used to it the MacOS (Sierra) version isn't too bad! As an example: When you open a Word 2016 document with Word, Word might mess up some of the Word formatting/styling, but to be fair this does tends to happen only with more complex documents.

If you want to be fully compatiable with Microsoft Office on all computer platforms, you are better buying Microsoft Office 365 (the £59.99) yearly perscription version). But if you want a version of Microsoft Office that does not rely on a yearly perscription, one that stays on your computer for your computer's lifetime, you are better off buying Microsoft Office 2016 (£119.95).

Saying the above: If you can get used to Pages, Numbers and Keynotes whereby you like them you probably will not really need Microsoft Office; especially as Pages, etc synchronise between apple devices smoothly.

PST Bridge Pro

PST Bridge Pro is two applications in one - PST Viewer and PST Exporter. Together they allow you to view and convert (export) the content of a Microsoft Outlook .PST e-mail file into a Mac Mail .Mailbox e-mail folder/file set. You basically import (view) a .PST file and convert (export) it into a .Mailbox folder which you can then open (import) with Mac Mail. It can convert the e-mail message and keep its attachment(s). I have tested it out by buying it and it works - £19.90 to buy.

You can try out the demo version which allows you to convert 10 E-mails from each folder within your .PST file; so if you want to be a cheapskate you could always split your PST e-mails into folders containing 10 E-mails or less before using the demo version of PST Bridge Pro. Saying this; PST Bridge Pro is really ideal for those with large .PST files whereby it would be impossible to use the cheapskate method just mentioned. Not only that, it really is a piece of software worth buying.


Pixelmator is similar to Microsoft Paint in terms of its simplicity but offers more advanced features too; such as Magic Wand, Layers, Brushes, Gradients and other Special Effects. There are other paint packages out there but they are either ridiculously expensive, out-of-date (i.e. they crash MacOS (Sierra) or just plain worthless. Pixelmator, which is backed up with plenty of tutorials, is priced at $59.99 and well worth it.

One thing to bear in mind with the Apple Mac, and the paint packages catered for it, is that it uses Layers (layered images / images one on top of another / multiple canvases) instead of one image on one canvas. This is something you might have trouble understanding at first, but once you get used to it you should realise its advantages.