Setapp - worth it? Initial thoughts.

Setapp, according to their website:

The frontier platform that packs 140+ Mac apps into one.

Setapp is essentially a cross between the App Store and Netflix. For one fairly low monthly (or yearly) cost, you gain access to the contents of the entire store.

Setapp has been around for a couple of years now, but I haven’t tried it until recently. Frankly, I wasn’t convinced it was worth the cost: I tend to be a pretty frugal person, and it takes a lot to convince me to sign up for something that charges me monthly. Heck, I don’t even subscribe to the aforementioned Netflix, because I’d only use it a couple times a month (if that).

That said, after one month of using Setapp, I’m already wondering how I used to manage my Mac without it. I already have two dozen apps installed from Setapp, and I use probably 6-10 of them every day. Initial impressions are certainly good, and I think most of these apps will stick with me as time goes on. Here are a few highlights from my first month with Setapp:

CleanMyMac: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ($35) #

CleanMyMac is one of those apps that I’ve known about for a long time, and I’ve even used their free trial, but I never could convince myself to buy. I thought that it was primarily for removing viruses from your computer, and as a techie who uses a Mac and doesn’t frequent suspicious sites, I didn’t think viruses were my biggest concern.

And it’s true, CleanMyMac didn’t find any viruses on my machine. But it did clear up 40GB of hard drive space on first run, without me having to lift a finger. My laptop has a fairly small hard drive, and I like to keep it neat and tidy, so that was a huge win for me. I’ve also found that CleanMyMac continues to help me keep things tidy while running in the background, so it’s definitely going to stay in my menu for a while.

iStat Menus: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ($12) #

I’m a little bit torn about iStat Menus. It’s very nice to have the status of your Mac available to you at any point and time, but it’s also made me a little bit paranoid about cooling. As any hardware guy can tell you, Macs are not the best at cooling themselves. In fact, often times the performance of a Mac will suffer because it overheats.

iStat can help you with this. You can actually manually adjust the speed of your fans, and therefore cool your Mac more effectively. By toggling my fans to “medium” speed, I’ve seen my laptop temps go from 140° to 120° in a matter of seconds.

It’s nice to have that level of control and awareness, but honestly I find my attention drawn to my laptop stats more often than I would like, and I tend to micro-manage the status of my machine. That could be a good thing, but I’m worried my productivity will take a hit due to having too much information on hand. Perhaps the status of my machine is best left to the machine. I’ll continue to experiment, but iStat may not end up sticking around.

HazeOver: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ($10) #

File this under “features that Mac should support natively”.

HazeOver is a brilliantly simple app that helps my brain focus better. It’s totally worth the $10 cost to buy it directly, but I never would have known that without Setapp. My computer doesn’t feel right without HazeOver anymore, it fits seamlessly with my workflow, and makes me better at what I do. Must have app.

Mosaic: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ($13) #

Like most programmers, I have tried many many different window managers in my time. Mosaic is the latest, and definitely not the worst, but I’m not really on the best terms with it yet.

I haven’t spent enough time customizing Mosaic yet in order to really give a thorough review. I’ve spent maybe 15 minutes working on it, and it has saved me probably that same amount of time in the last month. Not huge, but it’s a start.

Once I spend a little more time making it mine, I am willing to bet my rating will go up. But for now, it does 60% of what I need it to do, so I give it three stars. More to come.

Sip: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ($10) #

Little secret: I’ve been using the old (free) version of Sip for years. It’s a great app, it saves me tons of time, and I recommend it to all web developers and designers. It’s a great little app to have in your toolbar.

Turns out, the premium version has more bells and whistles, but I haven’t really tried any of them yet. It already gets five stars for sheer usefulness and speed, and I’m sure the extra features would be useful to designers who do more with color than I do.

TextSoap: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ($45) #

Oh man: I don’t know how I missed the boat on TextSoap. When building HTML emails, this little utility is indispensable. It has already saved me at least 5 hours in the last month, and it will save me many more in the future.

TextSoap essentially allows you to automate any sort of text conversion. So in my case, I build a lot of HTML emails for one of my clients. They give me a word doc, I give them an HTML email. In the past, I would copy/paste every line out of that word doc, and paste it into an HTML template that I built. Now, with TextSoap, I can copy the whole word doc, press a button, and TextSoap converts it into an email. It’s fantastic, and makes my job much easier. I’m sure I will find more uses for TextSoap in the future, but for now, this alone pays for my Setapp subscription.

Bartender: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ($45) #

If you haven’t noticed, many of the above apps have menu utilities. Menu utilities are nice, until you end up with 20 of them, and you can never find the one you want.

This is where Bartender comes in. Super simple app, with only one purpose: to make the menu better when you have lots of menu utilities.

And it does this job well. You can hide icons, and can search for icons, you can navigate them with your keyboard. If you have lots of menu utilities that you use, Bartender solves a very real problem for you.

Lighting round #

I use a lot of other apps, but haven’t used them enough for a full review yet. Here are my initial impressions for my remaining apps:

  • Cappuccino: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Diarly: ★ ★ ★ ★  ☆
  • Dropzone: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Endurance: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Focus: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Forklift: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • Gemini: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
  • MindNode: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Nozio: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • Permute: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
  • Photolemur: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • Squash: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • ToothFairy: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
  • Ulysses: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary #

Setapp is definitely worth it for me. Taking my favorite apps into account, I would already spend more than $10 per month if I bought them on their own. Plus there’s a lot of value to having a “free” App Store full of premium apps: they tend to be much higher quality than your typical free apps, and you get them in addition to the super high quality apps that you use every day.

It looks like Setapp will continue to be a yearly purchase for me for the foreseeable future, but time will tell.

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