The best free open source Mac apps

A while back I came across InfoWorld’s list of the best open source Windows software. I thought I’d redress the balance by listing the best open source apps for the Mac!

These are apps that I’ve used myself and consider to be among the best. What do you think? Are there any other open source Mac apps that deserve to be added to the list?

Internet Apps


One of the best Web browsers out there, with all sorts of useful plugins.


Very capable email app along the lines of


Nice, easy-to-use FTP software. Just drag and drop files and folders between Cyberduck and the Finder.


Decent WYSIWYG Web page editor. A bit rough around the edges but does a good enough job, and doesn’t screw up your HTML as much as some editors do!


Instant messaging client that supports MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, Facebook, Twitter and more. Looks great and is very customisable.


Nice-looking Twitter client with a cool transparent background. Easy to use (but then again, it’s hard to make a difficult-to-use Twitter app!).


Fully-fledged office app, featuring word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing tool, and database.


Accounting software for tracking your finances. Uses proper double-entry bookkeeping. Perfect for individuals and small businesses alike. Finally it has an easy-to-install Mac version!

Graphics and Media


Comprehensive image editor along the lines of Photoshop. The interface is a bit quirky, and it requires X11 to work, but it’s fine for most photo editing purposes.


A simplified, easy-to-use version of GIMP designed for the Mac. (No X11 required.)


A powerful photo panorama maker. Bit of a learning curve, but it produces great results.


Movie player that can play virtually any video and audio format under the sun, including AVI, WMV, OGG, Real, FLV (Flash), DVDs, and lots more.


A movie player that’s designed for watching Internet TV. You can subscribe to a feed then download episodes to watch at your leisure. Looks great and is easy to use.


Not an app, but a QuickTime component that lets your Mac (QuickTime, Quick Look, Front Row etc) play practically all popular video formats.


Very easy-to-use DVD ripper that can convert DVDs to a variety of formats. Very handy for converting for iPhone.


Hugely impressive 3D modelling software along the lines of Maya and LightWave. The interface is challenging but it can do some very cool things!


Handy sound recording/editing app. Support multiple tracks, looping, trimming, and lots more.


Lets you create time-lapse movies using your iSight or external camera. Really easy to use and produces great results.



Fly around in space and explore stars, planets, space stations and more. Looks beautiful and the level of detail is amazing.


A planetarium app that shows you the night sky from any point on earth. It’s so good that it’s actually used in real planetaria!

electric-sheepElectric Sheep

Screen saver that collaborates with other computers to generate stunning hypnotic animations over time. Takes a while to get going but it looks simply amazing.


Lets you run other operating systems (such as Windows and Linux) at the same time as Mac OS X. Free, open-source equivalent to VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop.

bitnamiBitNami Stacks

These stacks are a really quick, easy way to get Web apps up and running on your Mac. You can install a basic Web server environment (e.g. Apache/PHP/MySQL) using their “infrastructure stacks”, or complete Web app stacks for running things like WordPress, Drupal or Trac.

More Free Mac Apps

Has this list whetted your appetite? Try the following:

Have fun!

Do you know of any other top-quality open source Mac apps? Please feel free to post them below!

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10 Responses to “The best free open source Mac apps”

  1. Brian Says:

    Really nice review, thanks. I learned a few new ones, agree with all your other choices.

  2. john Says:

    yes, exactly what the world needs another list of open source mac software with NOTHING NEW to add to the hundreds already out there. And to top it all you dont even have any google adverts on the page to gain any revenue from this blatant waste of time and effort.

  3. Jose Says:

    Good list. Hey how about Zipeg?

  4. Ange Says:

    Great list, gave me some new apps to check out.

    One suggestion, though– Mozilla also has a browser called Camino, designed specifically for OS X. I’ve found it is on par with Safari in terms of speed (which was my biggest problem with Firefox on my mac) while still retaining some much beloved Firefox features.

  5. Grant Says:

    John…take the happy pills…now John….NOW! You know what happens when you go off them…

  6. Matt Says:

    @Brian: Glad you liked it!

    @john: Sorry you didn’t! What kind of topics would you like to see instead?

    @Jose: Zipeg looks pretty neat – thanks for the suggestion.

    @Ange: Good call, thanks! I use Camino occasionally, and it is very nice. I like the way it integrates nicely with the OS. However as a web developer I find I use Firefox mainly due to all the useful add-ons available.

    @Grant: 🙂

  7. Mike M. Says:

    Is there a reason why Mac users seem to always leave out SeaMonkey? -It’s free open source.
    I have had the best online experience using this Mozilla product that functions as an e-mail
    client, web browser, address book, password manager and much more. Wake up and smell the coffee, Mac users! There’s other options

  8. Matt Says:

    @Mike: Thanks for your suggestion! I used to use Seamonkey on Debian a while back. Do you find it better than running Firefox/Thunderbird/ChatZilla as separate apps? I seem to remember the various components integrating quite nicely.

  9. eiwans Says:

    How about Quicksilver from black tree? that

  10. Matt Says:

    @eiwans: Good suggestion, thanks! To be honest I never got my head around Quicksilver (I played with it before it was open sourced) but I might give it another go. Here’s the link if anyone’s interested: