MacPaw unveils Setapp, the Netflix of high-quality Mac apps

By , Dec 6, 2016

Setapp for macOS Dock Mac screenshot 002

The way you get apps is about to change: Setapp from MacPaw is one of the best things to happen to third-party Mac development in years. Think of Setapp as the Netflix of quality software or an “unstore” alternative to Apple’s store. But unlike the Mac App Store which continues to disappoint with sandboxing requirements, lack of paid upgrades and other missing features, Setapp unlocks dozens of high-quality, cherry-picked Mac apps in exchange for a flat-fee monthly subscription of $9.99.

You won’t find subpar software in Setapp and all of the apps are fully functional and available without trials or In-App Purchases, including ones like Screens, Ulysses, RapidWeaver 7, Reveal and Eltima Player.

After testing Setapp for approximately two weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the best source of premium Mac apps that you can get for a fraction of their combined price, all at once.

Software distilled

To clear up any confusion in advance: your monthly subscription is the only thing you pay to have access to all the apps. There will be no additional charges, no paid updates and no dreaded In-App Purchases, just fully-working apps.

MacPaw’s pitch:

There’s no need to dig through hundreds of App Store listings, search for reviews and compare prices: with Setapp, you always have the best app for the job. It’s like getting all the apples, while someone else does the picking.

Setapp is easy to use—actually, a lot easier than the Mac App Store. It’s software distilled in a way that makes the apps available to you right away for as long as you’re paying a monthly subscription fee. And if you cancel your subscription, you’ll still be able to use the apps until the next billing period.

But first, check out this quick introductory video from our video editor Andrew.

What’s include in Setapp

At the time of this writing, the following must-have quality apps were offered as part of a Setapp subscription, with more to be added over time:

  • Alternote
  • Archiver
  • Base
  • Be Focused
  • Blogo
  • Capto
  • Chronicle
  • ChronoSync Express
  • CleanMyMac
  • CodeRunner
  • Downie
  • Elmedia Player
  • Findings
  • Focused
  • Folx
  • Gemini
  • Get Backup Pro
  • Gifox
  • GoodTask
  • HazeOver
  • Hype
  • Image2icon
  • iMazing
  • iStat Menus
  • iThoughtsX
  • Jump Desktop
  • Manuscripts
  • Marked
  • MoneyWiz
  • My Wonderful Days
  • Numi
  • Paste
  • PDF Squeezer
  • Permute
  • Pixa
  • RapidWeaver
  • Remote Mouse
  • Renamer
  • Screens
  • Simon
  • Sip
  • Squash
  • TaskPaper
  • Timing
  • Ulysses
  • WiFi Explorer
  • XMind
  • Yummy FTP Pro

Purchased separately, these apps would set you back a couple hundred bucks. Plus, as new apps are added to the Setapp lineup, you will receive a notification on your Mac.

Setapp for macOS installer screen

The regularly updated list of Setapp apps is available here.

How Setapp works

After installing Setapp, shortcuts to your apps will be created on your Mac’s drive. Simply click Setapp under the Favorites section of the Finder’s sidebar, or choose Open Setapp Folder in the menu bar item to browse your apps.

By default, shortcuts to all of the apps are created in the Setapp sub-folder inside your Applications folder. Setapp apps you have not yet downloaded and installed on your computer are distinguished from the installed apps with a downward-pointed arrow next to their name in Finder’s list view and on their icon.

Setapp for macOS Finder Mac screenshot 002
Starred Setapp apps in the Finder.

Setapp achieves this by using Apple’s Finder Sync extension point which lets developers cleanly and safely modify the Finder’s user interface to express file synchronization status and control. Cloud-storage apps like Dropbox and Microsoft’s One Drive, as well as Apple’s own iCloud Drive, use this feature to distinguish local files from their cloud counterparts.

Setapp for macOS folder icon fullsize
The Setapp folder features nice icon graphics.

When you want to actually install an app, just double click it like you normally would and up pops a handy sheet with information like the app/developer name, version number, release date, as well as a short description of the app accompanied by a few screenshots that you can click to enjoy in fullscreen mode.

Setapp for macOS app teaser Mac screenshot 002

Don’t worry, this teaser preview of the app doesn’t take much space on your Mac’s disk.

Only the apps that you decide to launch get downloaded on your Mac and the rest remain in teasers until you need them. And when you uninstall a Setapp app from your Mac, it gets revert back to the teaser state and remains on the list in your Setapp folder in case you need it again.

“This way you can have any app at any time—and still have plenty of disk space,” developers argue.

Setapp for macOS app teaser Mac screenshot 001
Clicking Open downloads the full app binary and installs it on your Mac.

It’s important to reiterate that Setapp won’t charge any extra for upgrades—you already own every upgrade. Every app you see on the service is yours—the whole app, not just the current version.

Using your Setapp subscription on another Mac

To use your Setapp subscription on another Mac, sign out of your account using Setapp’s menu bar item or a web browser to sign into your Setapp account on the web and disconnect the Mac you don’t need at the moment in your account settings.

Setapp for macOS menu bar screenshot 001

Now you can use another Mac to sign into Setapp.

Leveling playing field for developers

As a developer, MacPaw has clearly hit all the right notes with Setapp by addressing key shortfalls of the Mac App Store’s business model. For those unfamiliar with MacPaw, which has offices in the United States and Ukraine, they crafted such apps as CleanMyMac, CleanMyDrive, Encrypto and Gemini, to name a few, which combined have more than five million customers total.

Setapp for macOS Dock Mac screenshot 001
Your Setapp apps can be quickly accessed via the Dock, too.

Setapp frees participating developers from the pressure of releasing paid upgrades on a regular basis thanks to a steady revenue stream from subscribers which never dries up.

It’s an interesting new app distribution model that was clearly born out of frustration with the sad state of the Mac App Store. Hopefully it mounts a lot of pressure on Apple and gives it another reason to introduce paid upgrades and make the Mac App Store more useful and friendlier for customers and less depressing for developers.

Setapp for macOS splash screen

Setapp availability

If you want to use some of the best Mac apps that are available on the market without having to pay for them upfront, Setapp is for you. If you’re interested, fill out the signup form at setapp.com and follow the instructions to install the Mac client.

Setapp for macOS menu bar screenshot 002
Finding apps quickly with Setapp’s menu bar helper app.

Since Setapp is scheduled for full release early next year, they’re currently accepting early signups so priority admission will be granted on a rolling basis over the coming weeks.

You can of course cancel your subscription at any moment, free of charge. MacPaw has promised to keep the subscription pricing intact as they add more apps to Setapp over time.

Setapp for macOS Finder Mac screenshot 001

And with a free 30-day trial available, you have nothing to lose by giving Setapp a whirl to see if it works you. You can use all the apps on Setapp for free and without any limitations during the trial period.

To learn more about Setapp, read the FAQ or visit the official website.

50 Setapp invites for iDownloadBlog readers

Still with us?

Good, MacPaw has kindly provided us with 50 Setapp invites for our readers.

So what are you waiting for? Click this special iDownloadBlog link to get to the Setapp invite page and sign up for the service. When the quota exceeds, you will be simply added to the waiting list to try Setapp beta.

  • Share:
  • Follow:

  • Chris Wagers

    Getting beta link and sign in link. No invite page. Click on beta and they have you enter email and say they occasionally accept new beta members and will send email for invites.

  • CAIO MARIZ®

    Many of these apps are on the Mac App Store, I purchased them,
    Useless service

  • Luca

    Thank you very much for the invite, now I can enjoy all these apps for free until March 🙂

  • Aaron

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the best source of premium Mac apps that you can get for a fraction of their combined price, all at once.”
    Not really true though given that this is a subscription service – you’ll end up paying more in the (not too) long term.

    • Don’t bet on it. Those premium apps quickly add up. Especially with apps like Screens costing $30 a pop. Also, the value of the subscription will increase substantially as they add more apps over time without changing subscription price.

  • iByron

    If an app has a subscription, is that included? Blogo, for one, requires a subscription to fully take advantage of it.