The 15 Best macOS Apps for Productivity When Working from Home in 2020


Working from home (WFH, also called telecommuting or telework) is becoming an increasingly common practice. In 2020, the necessity to effectively work remotely is crucial to productivity more than ever. Here at Parallels, we refuse to pretend as if remote work is a new trend. In 2019, the Business Harvard Review proved that remote employees are found to be more productive, have a lower chance of turnover, and are healthier in both their mental and physical well-being. 

However, there is a delicate balance between working from home and effectively working from home. 

This delicate balance boils down to the applications an individual could use to stay productive. 

For macOS users, there is a nearly never-ending list of native features and apps to help stay on task. The team here at Parallels has researched far and wide to narrow down the most useful macOS apps for everyone who is working remotely. 

Here are the best macOS applications to help stay productive when working from home in 2020:

Utilities:

Project Management:

Knowledge Workers:

Communication:

Mood-Boosting:

Breaking down our list into categories makes it a bit easier to find the app you’re looking for considering the vast landscape of available macOS apps. Now, let’s deep dive into how these macOS apps can make your work from home experience more productive. 

Utilities Must-Haves for macOS: 

Parallels Toolbox

Parallels Toolbox is a suite available of macOS of one-click tools that make everything easier. We do mean everything. While there are dozens of tools within Parallels Toolbox, I want to outline the specific tools used to help make my work from home life more productive. The tools Alarm, Stopwatch, and Timer are all fantastic for time management. During meetings, the Alarm Tool has found to be wildly helpful to stay on task – individually, and I can present without continually looking at the clock and becoming distracted. The Stopwatch tool in Parallels Toolbox is excellent when managing a large meeting. This tool gives each presenter the same amount of time, making it helpful to be respectful of everyone’s time and collective voice. The Timer tool has become necessary when it comes to time management because I give myself an allocated time for a task before moving to the next item on my to-do list. 

There are a few more tools hidden in Parallels Toolbox that makes working from home a breeze. The tool, Energy Saver, can be used automatically when disconnected from the charger or when you enable it manually. Energy Saver consists of several different options to prolong a computer’s battery life by optimizing resource consumption such as pausing non-essential processes such as Spotlight indexing, AppStore updates check, and macOS updates check. Additionally, Energy Saver is intelligent enough to eject external devices, pause Time Machine backups, and hide non-active (idle) apps. It makes the hidden applications go to the built-in macOS App Nap mode, where they consume very little energy.

Pro tip: Parallels Toolbox tools Hide Desktop or Presentation Mode are game-changers during presentations. The Hide Desktop tool hides all the files, folders, and other icons on your desktop when you’re doing a presentation, sharing or recording your screen, or taking screenshots with one click. If you’re worried about push notifications that you may have enabled, your Mac going to sleep, or distractions from bouncing icons in your macOS Dock, check out the Parallels Toolbox user favorite, Presentation Mode. This endlessly helpful tool disables distractions for a better presentation experience. The Presentation Mode tool can automatically detect external displays and turn them on, too. Also available for Windows 10, but more Parallels Toolbox tools are available on macOS.

Alfred

Alfred for macOS is an award-winning app that can seriously boost productivity with efficient hotkeys, keyword shortcuts, quick text expansion, and so more, based on your needs. Similar to macOS Spotlight, Alfred enables an intelligent search through macOS and the web and encourages users to be more productive with custom actions to extend and automate the efficiency of your work on your Mac. 

macos productivity work from home

The team at Alfred also offers an additional add-on, the Alfred Powerpack. You can instantly enable more profound control your Mac with the Powerpack’s third-party app integration such as iTunes, 1Password, Shell. Plus, endless workflows and themes that make staring at your computer screen for 8-hours a day more enjoyable.

Google Chrome

Readers may laugh at a suggestion of a web browser to help boost productivity. Still, there’s a lot of power in Google Chrome that some primary users may not know about or be utilizing. While I was researching the best extensions for Google Chrome, I came across a supremely helpful article from Kyle Pearce over at DIYGenius. Kyle has an extensive list of useful Google Chrome extensions to stay productive, and I urge you to check it out ASAP.

macos productivity work from home

My absolute favorite extension to Google Chrome was UBlock Origin, a free and open-source, cross-platform browser extension for content-filtering such as ad-blocking. However, the ad-blocker Kyle mentioned Ghostery is next-level and I believe performs better on Google Chrome than UBlock. I’ve already made the switch, and I suggest you do, too!

Snag-it 

I first stumbled upon Snag-it back in 2018 when a coworker here at Parallels suggested it to me for a presentation. It felt like just another tool to create a screenshot. Wow, I was SO wrong. In 2020, Snag-it is outperforming any other screenshot tool I’ve tried and has the smoothest user experience I’ve felt in a long while. 

macos productivity work from home

To summarize, Snagit lets you quickly capture a process, add your explanation, and create visual instructions without any frustration. Truly, I cannot emphasize how excellent Snag-it is at transforming your communication. You can save hours of your time to help visualize your ideas in ways other people can easily understand. Not to mention, my favorite feature of Snag-it is the panoramic capture. Capture wide, horizontal scrolls, scrolling webpages, and everything in-between. 

Project Management That is Easy to Use: 

Task Paper

TaskPaper is a plain-text to-do list that’s surprisingly adept and thoroughly modernized. Since 2006, TaskPaper has delivered an excellent and easy to use to-do interface. This tool makes keeping your lists, searching with palettes to filter your never-ending lists, scheduling future dates/events easier than ever. 

macos productivity work from home

Not to mention, the clean UX makes for a distraction-less experience. While the minimalistic UX makes Task Paper look a bit bare-bones, this intelligent to-do list is packed with much more than just a simple interface.

Todoist

Todoist is used by over 20 million users to organize, plan, and collaborate on projects, both big and small, since 2007. While Todoist isn’t exclusive to macOS due to support via a mobile and web interface, it’s been a favorite of mine for years now. Why? Well, they also have a Google 

Chrome plug-in that has enabled next-level multitasking habits. 

macos productivity work from home

With extensive access to over 60 integrations with some big hitters like Google Drive, Dropbox, Zapier, Evernote, and Slack – Todoist will quickly become your hub for getting work and life organized. Plus, their Wunderlist importer can help you switch tools and get started in just a few minutes if you’re looking for a change. If you’re working across multiple Macs or devices, Todoist makes it easy to pick up and continue crossing your tasks off your plate!

Asana

Asana is a widely adopted project management system that allows project managers or individuals to map out each step and organize all the details of your work in one place. Many small, medium or large enterprise companies utilize Asana, Parallels included. Here at Parallels, we love Asana! With the ability to create tasks that are dependent on other tasks, it makes coordinating with your team a breeze. 

macos productivity work from home

Truly, Asana has quickly become one of my favorite collaboration tools. Simply because of the ability to visualize multiple stages of projects quickly, easily, and the beauty of the UX makes this for a refreshing project management system. Simplifying workflows means reduced errors, and ultimately, saving time for solving more essential problems means I can get to work quicker. Every day, I log in, see my projects, and act accordingly. Asana has vast integration across many systems such as JIRASalesforcePowerBISlackTableauAdobe Creative Cloud, and they’re adding new features often. 

Knowledge Workers Need the Following:

Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop for macOS has been used by millions globally to run Windows, Linux, or other popular OSes on Mac without rebooting. Virtualization serves healthcare to accounting, IT, CAD, creativity, and every industry in between. Parallels Desktop supports users to utilize the software they need on the hardware they already have to ensure you can get your job done faster without buying a second or third computer. 

macos productivity work from home

Since 2006, macOS users get the best of both the Mac and PC worlds on one device while you’re working remotely with virtualization. The best part? Parallels Desktop has thousands of supported applications within Microsoft Windows so that every industry can be supported. Plus, a free 14-day trial makes it easy to see if your specific needs are served with a virtual machine in Parallels Desktop. Not to mention, 24/7 support and our 30-day money-back guarantee. 

BBEdit

BBEdit has one of the best marketing slogans, “It doesn’t suck.” And the reason why it’s one of the best slogans is that the product rings true and serves a consistent level of quality that is hard to match. While this specific suggestion is more particular to those who need HTML or plain-text editors for macOS, it is powerful because of everything else it can do for you.

macos productivity work from home

BBedit has been crafted to serve the specific needs of writers, devs, and provides endless features for editing. For a power user, the advanced search, manipulation of prose, source code, managing bash data, and textual data is all wrapped up in BBedit. To be clear, BBEdit is not a word processor. However, it can replace several apps on your Mac to become one of the most invaluable macOS apps in your arsenal. 

Grammarly

Grammarly is easily in my top five favorite apps of all time. Why? Simply because of the copious amount of time it has saved me during my writing process. 

macos productivity work from home

Grammarly is the best writing assistant available that goes much deeper than surface-level grammar to offer you comprehensive feedback on your writing. On the technical side, Grammarly is simply a digital writing tool that uses a combination of artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Read: it makes the writing process more comfortable and much less painful. 

Communication with Your Friends or Work Team:

Discord

Consider Discord to be my macOS guilty pleasure of choice. While it’s also available for Windows PC, the macOS app is clean. It allows me to connect with friends or coworkers without frustration. Creating my private server or linking to my friend’s server makes everything separate and easy. 

macos productivity work from home

Discord lacks the messy UX that most other chat services offer. Sharing your gaming, your work, or whatever you need to share on your screen, is also cleaner than most other communication apps. Not to mention, it’s cheeky copywriting within the app makes me smirk every time I launch the app, making it easy to want to continue to use it. 

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the professional-grade communication tool that my team wanted but didn’t know we needed until we had it. The ability to chat, meet, share, call, and collaborate from anywhere as a global team has increased our productivity ten-fold within the first couple of weeks we started utilizing MS Teams. 

macos productivity work from home

It’s not just a communication tool, either. Microsoft Teams is robust enough to support calls, workflows, and meets industry-specific compliances such as healthcare or education. With our world evolving to a fully global digital landscape, Microsoft Teams is here to save the day with endless productivity. Microsoft said it best, with Teams you can work remotely without feeling remote – and it rings true through my personal experience. 

Mood-Boosting to Keep Your Brain Productive While Working.

Note: While this blog post is explicitly surrounding the topic of productivity while working remotely, it’s imperative to mention the balance that goes behind productivity. Working your brain without breaks for fun is an expressway to burnout. Let’s avoid burnout by taking fun breaks with these following apps: 

Spotify

Spotify has always been my music-platform of choice due to release exclusives and social components, but Spotify is a secret weapon to a productive day for several reasons. Firstly, Spotify’s market share is massive, so that you can listen everywhere. From speakers to tv’s, cars, gaming, smartwatches, smart displays, and all the best personal assistants. Secondly, their licensing options are fantastic. Of course, Spotify comes free with ads. 

macos productivity work from home

However, if you’re looking to ditch the ads for a distraction-free listening experience, Spotify has several subscription options. Spotify Premium has several levels to the membership: Premium, Premium Family, and Premium Student. 

What are the differences in Spotify Premium memberships?

Spotify Premium: 

Premium Family:

Premium Student

Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds from Apple is an un-matched method to learn how to code. While it is available to both Mac and iPad, taking a break from your day to day to build with Swift Playgrounds adds a fun dimension to your overall productivity. It’s perfect for new-to-coding beginners and utilizes gamification to grasp the core basics of Swift – Apple’s powerful programming language. 

macos productivity work from home

The best thing about Apple is their curiosity for innovation and Swift Playgrounds continuously releases new integrations such as robotics, LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3, and even augmented reality (AR) to master our real 3D world. Apple is smart and understands as you learn, you’ll want more to play with. Because of this, Apple offers a variety of fun devices to shop

Yack

Yack hasn’t quite hit the market yet. However, if you sign up for the beta, it’s clear why Yack is a must-have for macOS Redditors. Without opening your web browser, you can explore your favorite Reddit communities from a single elegant desktop app with a unified user interface. 

macos productivity work from home

Also, if you spend the day scrolling through YouTube, Yack also allows you to browse YouTube using the same beautiful, intuitive UI you use to browse Reddit. It’s an excellent and refreshing way to take a short break and check in on what’s going on outside your remote working space. 


The remote workday is envisioned with multiple hurdles of obstacles without any allowance for sanity. macOS users need flexible apps that are easily managed, quickly absorbed, and serves the need of the moment. 

The best macOS apps for productivity during remote work should consistently serve the everchanging needs of the digital worker. It is not always easy to craft the best environment for productivity during working remotely. Still, I sincerely hope this list has helped you sort through the hundreds of thousands of macOS apps that are available. 

Please, let us know what you think or if you have any suggestions for our list of the best macOS apps for productivity when working from home. Reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

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