Best apps for minimalists that increase productivity

4 min read

There are two groups of Mac users: those who are quite happy to have dozens of files on their desktop, a mail inbox full of unread messages, and the Documents folder as untidy as it is disorganized, and those for whom only a clear desktop and an organized to-do list will do.

While an obsession with being neat and tidy might seem over the top, there are some very good reasons for a minimalist approach to using your Mac. For example, cluttering your desktop with files actually slows your Mac down. And a menu bar full of icons makes it difficult to find the tool you want to use. It’s time for a clean-up!

Keep your Mac tidy with best minimalist apps

Fortunately, there are plenty of apps to help you maintain a healthy, happy, and organized working environment. And they’ll boost your Mac’s performance too! Here is our list of the best minimalist apps.

Clean menu bar with Bartender

IIt seems that more and more apps these days insist on putting icons in the Finder’s menu bar. Whether it’s cloud storage, password managers, or backup tools, our menu bars are becoming ever more cluttered. Bartender solves that problem at a stroke by keeping your menu bar well-arranged.

Bartender allows you to take full control. You can choose which apps to display in the menu bar and which to hide behind Bartender’s icon. Or you can choose to display items for a period of time after they update. It also allows you to reorder menu bar items, search for them, and navigate with a keyboard rather than a mouse or trackpad. For the complete minimalist look, you can even hide the Bartender menu bar item itself!

bartender hide menubar items

Organize desktop automatically with Spotless

Spotless is one of those apps you never knew you needed until you start using it. Then you wonder how you lived without it! In fact, daily use apps don’t come any more useful than this. Spotless makes clearing your desktop and keeping it clear so easy, yet doesn’t just dump files in a folder you’ll need to sort out later — it files them away exactly where you want them to go. All you have to do is drag files onto its menu bar item.

Before you start, you’ll need to teach Spotless where to put files, of course. You do that by creating tasks and adding rules to them. Don’t worry, though. It’s very simple to do. Creating tasks is just like creating a custom search in the Finder. You create a new Task and then fill in the blank boxes to tell Spotless what kind of files you want to act on (for example, those that have the word “work” in their name) and where you want them to be filed. There’s no excuse now to have files lurking on your desktop.

spotless tidy up desktop

Forget switching between messengers with IM+

A cluttered dock and tens of open tabs in a browser not only bring a Mac to knees, but also ruin your minimalist style. IM+ is an aggregator that collects the messaging apps you use in one place. From Slack to Telegram to Instagram, you build your custom all-in-one messaging platform that has it all. Whenever you need to go through notifications or reply to messages, there’s only one app to launch. IM+ also allows you to be a bit of a perfectionist: you can use color tags to keep the apps in order, hotkey for convenience, and fine-tune push notifications.

im plus minimalists app

Filter online distractions to get more done with Focus

One of the best things about Focus is that you’ll barely know it’s there, but it will help you work and get much more done. It’s designed to filter out distractions for a set period, so you won’t be able to check Twitter or post to Facebook (for example) while you’re supposed to be finishing that essay or presentation. You choose which apps or websites to block and either switch it on and off manually, or schedule it for preset periods.

focus app unfocus

Focus keeps track of how much time you spend working and displays it in graphs, so you can challenge yourself to keep improving. What happens when you try to go to a website or open an app that’s blocked? It shows you a motivational quote from its huge library of wisdom. Now back to work!

Monitor your Mac with iStat Menus

Perhaps, the most useful app you could have on your Mac, iStat Menus takes up almost no room at all, making it perfect for minimalists. The idea is simple, iStat Menus monitors your Mac’s battery, processor, RAM, temperature, and a host of other metrics, and allows you to check them at the click of a menu bar item. You can keep an eye on how your Mac is performing or work out why it’s running slowly, without cluttering up your screen.

istat heavy pros overheating

Free up space with CleanMyMac, the best one-button Mac cleaner

CleanMyMac is a must for minimalists. It’s the perfect way to keep your Mac free from junk files or applications you no longer need. Not only will it save storage space and keep your Mac well organized, it can help it run faster too.

CleanMyMac X Menu app

CleanMyMac scans your Mac for files that can be deleted safely. These might be old system files that are no longer needed, mail attachments, or things in iTunes and Photos that aren’t necessary. Its app uninstaller completely removes all traces of an app from your Mac and its Malware Protection keeps you safe. And it’s easy to use, too. Just a few clicks and your Mac is free from junk.

CleanMyMac X Smart Scan

Write better with Focused, the non-distractive writing app

When it comes to writing, there’s no shortage of beautiful minimalist writing tools on the Mac. But Focused is the one worth trying out. Not only does it look gorgeous, it has full support for Markdown, a Zen-mode that fills the screen with paper and plays relaxing music to help you concentrate, and a custom focus mode that highlights only the sentence or paragraph you’re working on.

Focused app

As you can see, the minimalist ethic Apple brings to its hardware is alive and well-supported by macOS software. There are lots of apps for minimalists to help you clear the clutter, focus, and be more productive, no matter what you’re working on. Best of all, all these apps are available for a free 7-day trial with Setapp, so download them now and enjoy a serene experience.

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