8 new Mac apps to make you more creative

From drawing to typography, these new OS X apps will boost your productivity and improve your ability to create wonderful things.

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When it comes to apps, the world still seems obsessed with iOS, although Android is quickly making up ground, especially across Europe and Asia. But as creatives, many of us still spend most of our time on our Macs. So it's worth catching up on the latest OS X apps that can boost our creativity and make our work easier.

In this post we round up some of the big Mac app releases of the last 12 months, including both brand new apps and tools from other platforms launching as Mac apps for the first time.

There's a lot of creative software out there, though; so if you have a favourite Mac app we've missed, please tell us about it in the comments below!

01. Sketches Pro for Mac

Sketches Pro for Mac brings the art of drawing to OS X

Sketches has long been a popular drawing tool for creating art on the iPad, iPhone and Android tablets. So we were excited to see makers Tayasui extending its reach last month, with the release of Sketches Pro for Mac.

Taking on the likes of ArtRage in providing a realistic drawing experience on the Mac, Sketches Pro comes with built-in Stylus support, as well as full interconnectivity with its companion iOS and Android apps, enabling you to work on a drawing across all your different devices.

Available to download from the Mac App store, Sketches Pro comes with a range of preset canvas sizes, and you can also customise your own, with textures including Plain, Fine Grain, Small Grain, Watercolor, Le Grand Bloc, Torchon and Canvas.

Featured tools include pens, an eraser, a smart ruler, a colour eyedropper, cutter and smudge tools, and a range of dry and wet brushes. You can work with layers and there's infinite undoes. See Sketches Pro in action in this video.

02. RightFont

Create custom font lists and more with new Mac app RightFont

Do you have a ton of fonts scattered across your Mac and other devices? Do you waste a lot of your time sifting through long lists of fonts, trying to remember which ones you prefer for different uses? Then you might find this new Mac app will save you a lot of pain and frustration, by organising and visualising your fonts in a more practical, intuitive way.

RightFont is a lightweight font manager that helps you preview, sync, and organise fonts stored in any location without installing them. You can quickly browse through all installed fonts to see how they look at all available weights, filter fonts by classification (sans serif, serif, script), width or weight, as well as setting up custom font lists for particular tasks.

RightFont works as a standalone app, and can also integrate with Sketch and Adobe's Creative Cloud software. See RightFont in action in this video.

03. WordPress Mac app

The WordPress Mac app offers a speedy, clutter-free experience

WordPress, one of the world's biggest publishing platforms, has been around for some years now, but its makers Automattic have continued to work towards greater ease of use. And to that end, they've launched a brand new Mac app.

The new desktop app, which also comes in Linux and Windows flavours, was released last November to accompany a big revamp of WordPress.com, which now boasts a beautifully clean interface. The new Mac app is more or less that new website in a wrapper, or as Automattic put it, "a desktop app that gives WordPress a permanent home in your dock".

By bundling the entire site as a local copy, you basically get a faster, more streamlined experience, although some features do pull you back to the browser, for example to view your admin panel. But in general, if you spend a lot of time working on your WordPress sites on the Mac, this free app is a no brainer to download.

04. Quitter

Give distracting apps an auto-timeout with Marco Arment's Quitter

Marco Arment is the co-founder of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper and Overcast, so anything he works on is always worth a look. And this new Mac app from Arment, which offers a way to cut out distractions and focus on creativity, definitely fits into that category.

Quitter does one thing and does it well: it auto-quits your most distracting apps after a period of inactivity. For instance, if updates from your Twitter client tend to drag you away from productive work (and let's face it, whose doesn't?), you can ask Quitter to quit or hide the app after a specified length of time, which set to 10 minutes by default.

Of course, Quitter is not the first ever app to offer this kind of service. But it's free, easy to use, and from such a respected source that it's already been a big hit within the Mac-using community. See it in action in this video.

05. Lingo

Lingo can save you hours hunting for lost visual assets

Once you've got your fonts organised thanks to RightFont, maybe you'll want to address the mess of assets cluttering up your Mac? That's where new Mac app Lingo comes in, offering you an easy way to organise photos, illustrations, icons, colours and any other visual assets.

Lingo basically lets you drag and drop (or copy and paste) any asset from Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator or Slack directly into it, for saving and retrieving later. You can tag assets to enable easy keyword search, and it's easy to share assets with the rest of your team too.

Again, this is not the first Mac app to offer asset management. But it comes with a great pedigree, being a child of the icon aggregation website Noun Project, and it's had thumbs-up reviews from the teams at Airbnb, Dollar Shave Club and Snapchat, where it's quickly become part of their regular workflow. You can see Lingo in action in this video.

06. Sparkle 2.0

Website builder Sparkle 2.0 makes it easy to work with third-party fonts

The latest Mac app to enter the crowded website builder market, Sparkle 2.0 has had mixed reviews so far, and it still seems some way from challenging the more mature likes of Everweb or Rapidweaver.

That said, Sparkle is certainly a solid visual web design app. And one way it scores big is by making it easy for you to incorporate third-party fonts into your site. So if you need to build a quick website and typography is important to you, it's worth giving the free trial a go. See Sparkle in action in this video.

07. Adobe XD

The Creative Cloud is taking on sketch with wireframe and prototyping app Adobe XD

An all-in-one tool for UX designers, Adobe XD (short for experience design) has been making big waves since its release in March this year. The company's response to the rise of Sketch, Adobe XD is currently free to use for Creative Cloud customers, but doesn't actually feel much like a normal CC app.

Like its rival, XD has a very stripped down, minimal interface (its toolbar has just seven buttons), which makes it easy to pick up and run with. Far from the learning curve involved with the likes of Photoshop and Illustrator, then, you can start churning out wireframes and functional prototypes in minutes. You can see Adobe XD in action in this video.

08. Silver Flows

Coming soon… the Silver Flows plugin turns Sketch into a proper prototyping app

Adobe XD may have eclipsed Sketch for a while, but in the ultra-competitive app landscape no one stands still for long. And the latest kid on the block is Silver Flows, a plugin that brings real prototyping to Sketch users.

Silver Flows was recently acquired by InVision, the company behind the powerful Craft suite of tools for Sketch, which is currently developing the tool in private beta. The public beta is coming soon "very soon" and you can sign up for access here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.

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