A friend of mine, who recently bought an M3 macbook 🤩, asked me for a list of software I use with my macbook.1 So I figured I will make it public and update it every so often. If you like my list and want to suggest ones I will like or chat more about them, shoot me an email!

The first thing to install is homebrew. I really like using command-line to install and update/upgrade apps.2 So I really recommend installing brew as one of the first things to do.

After that, I begin installing installing apps as brew casks. I have split them into two categories so that the list is still useful in case you do not use macos.

Software list

macOS-specific apps

Here is a list of apps I installed (generally in the same order). I would say that the first 6-10 apps are my critical apps.

  1. Stats: a brilliant system monitor for the status bar.
    I use it to get a quick view of CPU & GPU usage and temperature
  2. Aldente: a battery charging limiter.
    I generally work on a desk with a plug point, my battery is hardly used. To keep my battery healthy, I only charge my battery to a maximum of 80%.3 Additionally, I follow a 40% to 80% charging cycle - that is, once the battery is charged till 80%, I let it drop below 40% and only then charge it back it 80%. I use the Aldente free version to do this by manually changing the charging limits (see my logic flow below).4
  3. LuLu: a configurable firewall for macOS.
    I use this to block connectivity to apps that don’t really need it. Most apps use connectivity to update themselves, but since I upgrade apps using brew, this actually makes things convenient. So apart from a select few apps (browsers, cloud storage apps, etc), I do not give most apps internet access.
  4. Alfred: spotlight replacement for opening apps, searches etc.
    I like Alfred a lot as it has a lot of custom keywords to search files etc. I find this more powerful than spotlight and have mapped the spotlight shortcut to Alfred instead. I still use the Alfred free version - haven’t yet tried out Alfred pro (which is supposed to be much more powerful).
  5. Amethyst: window tiling manager for macOS.
    I used to use sway / i3wm during my archlinux days and really liked the idea of tiling window managers. Amethyst is my i3wm hookup in macOS 🤣
  6. MonitorControl: controlling brightness of monitors.
    This allows me to directly control the brightness of external monitors using the same brightness key for the laptop monitor. Very convenient!
  7. Hidden Bar: hides the non-essential menubar items.
    All the above apps come with menubar icons. I don’t use them often and I hide them using hidden bar so that I have a clean menubar.
  8. UTM: to run virtual machines.
    I first started using this because none of the standard VM apps supported the M series macbooks. UTM works well and I was able to install windows, ubuntu and debian virtual machines (they have good documentation and guides).
  9. Platypus: to make custom applications from shell scripts.
    A new find (less than a month). I used this to make custom applications for opening different thunderbird profiles.

Generic apps

  1. Firefox: my favorite browser.
    I also have a bunch of add-ons I use with it below.
  2. KeepassXC: my favorite password manager.
    It is an open source, offline password manager based out of Keepass. I like this because it allows me to keep my passwords offline and control the encryption level, keys etc.
  3. Bitwarden: my second favorite password manager.
    It is an end-to-end encrypted, open source, cloud based password manager. I use it for storing passwords linked to numerous non-critical websites and share passwords with the partner.
  4. ProtonVPN: my current favorite VPN.
    I started using the protonVPN about five years back and shifted to their pro plans about a year back. I quite like it.
  5. Maestral: open source dropbox client for macOS and Linux
    I find the official dropbox client to be bloated with unnecessary features. I really like Maestral, which is very light, and has a lot of customizable features. One feature I like a lot is the ability to add in ignore files, which allows me to add softlinks in Dropbox without syncing.
  6. Obsidian: my knowledge management app.
    I use it to store notes about projects, resources etc - essentially use it as my second-brain. I also use it to plan my day, week etc. and review my progress.
  7. Calibre: to handle my digital library.
    I think this is more or less a standard for ebook management. I use this to send ebooks to my devices. I use KOReader so I can use this to send ebooks wirelessly, which is super convenient.
  8. Zotero: to handle my scientific literature.
    I really like zotero for many reasons - easy folders and color tagging, addons that allow local, own cloud and webdav based sync, annotation extraction and notes, etc. I used to use mendeley but shifted to zotero about 5 years back and never looked back.
  9. ExifCleaner: metadata cleaner.
    I use this to clean up photos and other files before sending it, to erase identifying information.
  10. Visual Studio Code / VSCodium: open source code editor.
    I used to use VSCodium a lot as it is truly open source with no extra tracking code. Recently, I have been using VS Code more often because I use Github Copilot, which I find very useful.
  11. Thunderbird: my favorite email client.
    For the last 2 years, I used to use gmail and other emails on the browser. I really have been liking thunderbird - easy to filter messages, search and tag. I find it much more convenient than gmail.

Software tweaks

Firefox: addons

I use a lot of addons in firefox.5 That is one of the reason I love firefox - the vast number of addons available and a negligible hit on performance because of the addons.

Privacy - removes adds, trackers, cookies etc

  • uBlock Origin - ad blocker
  • CanvasBlocker - fingerprinting protection
  • Decentraleyes - tracking protection from content delivery servers.
  • Privacy Badger - removes invisible trackers.
  • Don’t track me Google - google tracking protection.
  • Facebook Container - isolates facebook activity tracking.
  • CleanURLs - removes tracking info from URLS
  • Cookie AutoDelete - automatically deletes cookies from websites.
  • Firefox Relay - for temporary emails.


  • Bitwarden - easy password entry
  • Auto Tab Discard - so that I can open a gazillion tabs and not worry about performance.
  • Tab Stash - store my gazillion open tabs and restore them later.
  • Tabliss - beautiful images when you open a new tab.
  • I don’t care about cookies - removes the annoying cookie warnings. Use it in conjunction with Cookie AutoDelete (if not you will be accepting all tracking cookies).
  • Flagfox - to see where the website server is located.
  • SingleFile - to store html files. Very convenient.

Better browsing

  • Dark Reader - so that all websites get a (forced) dark theme at night.
  • Firefox Multi-Account containers - to isolate different parts of my online life.
  • Enhance for YouTube - makes youtube more controllable.
  • Return YouTube Dislike - makes videos a bit better to evaluate.
  • PocketTube - to manage youtube subscripts.
  • Web Archives - to open archived version of websites.

Aldente: charging-discharging flowchart

The rule is to keep the charging cycle between 80% and 40% .3 This is how I change the charge limit in Aldente manually to keep the charging cycles between 80% and 40%:

flowchart TD  
	A[Start] --> B((Check battery charge))  
	B --> C{Is charge <= 40%?}  
	C -- Yes -->D((Set charging threshold to 80%))  
	D --> Z[End]  
	C -- No -->G{Is charge >= 80%?}  
	G -- Yes -->H((Set charging threshold to 40%))  
	G -- No -->Z  
	H --> Z  


I will keep updating this page. Here is a history of the updates:
2023-11-11: original post

  1. Yeah, I now use a macbook 😅 I used to use a lenovo thinkpad for the better part of a decade. I shifted to an M1 mac end of 2021, and very unexpectedly, have been loving it! 

  2. This is likely because I used archlinux for 2-3 years before I shifted to the mac and began to love the use of pacman/yay. 

  3. See here for how lithium ion batteries work and here for a reddit discussion on charge limiting.  2

  4. Thinkpads made this easy - you can simply set the lower and upper bound of the charging cycle and it handles this. There are some open-source software for this now which can potentially replace Aldente, but I felt they are not stable enough for daily use yet. I think Aldente pro also makes this automatic, so that might be an option. 

  5. This is a cumulative list of addons I acquired over a couple of years. So I don’t have a direct reference of why I chose these addons.