Best apps for minimalists that increase productivity

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

What are the best minimalist apps?

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 one you want to use.

Fortunately, there are plenty of apps to help you maintain a healthy, happy and minimalist working environment. And they’ll help your Mac perform better too! Here are the best minimalist apps.

Bartender: Tighten up the creep of Menubar items

It 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 clear of clutter.

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

Spotless to keep your desktop tidy

Spotless is one of those tools you never knew you needed until you start using it. Then you wonder how you lived without it! Daily use apps don’t come any more useful than this. It 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 it 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.

Focus: filter distractions

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 set periods.

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 and app that’s blocked? It shows you a motivational quote from its huge library of sayings. Neat!

iStat Menus monitors

One of the most useful apps you could have on your Mac, iStat Menus takes up almost no room at all, making it perfect for minimalists. The idea is simple, iStatMenus 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.

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 it thinks can be deleted safely. These can be old system files that are no longer needed, Mail attachments, or files in iTunes and Photos that aren’t necessary. Its app uninstaller completely removes all traces of an app from your Mac. It’s easy to use, too. Just a few clicks and your Mac is free from junk.

CleanMyMac X Smart Scan

Boxy: A minimal email client

If you’re serious about being a minimalist Mac user, you’ll need an email client that’s less cluttered than Mail or Outlook. Boxy is perfect for the job. It’s designed for Inbox by Gmail and supports all of the features of Google’s service including Trips, Highlights, Snooze, and Quick Replies. Best of all though is that it’s interface is clean and modern. There’s a choice of several different themes too, so you can make it look just how you want it. Reader mode makes reading emails a joy, and Markdown support makes writing a formatting beautiful messages very easy.

Focused: The app for non-distractive writing

When it comes to writing, there’s no shortage of beautiful minimalist writing tools on the Mac. But Focused is one of the best. Not only does it look beautiful, it has 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.

As you can see, the minimalist ethic Apple brings to its hardware is alive and well in macOS software. There are lots of apps to help you clear the clutter, focus and be more productive, no matter what you’re working on. Download a free trial of Setapp and try some of these great apps today.

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