With a Setapp subscription, you'll gain instant access to dozens of premium Mac apps.
Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored review. All opinions and thoughts expressed within this review had no bias or outside influence. We may earn a commission on referred sales, but content integrity is our top priority.
MacPaw's been a leading developer of third-party Mac applications with an emphasis on optimization and cleaning.
However, their recent venture into a subscription-based service that functions as the “Netflix” of Mac apps is quite a change from their typical business model.
As a user of Setapp for the last 6 months, I can vouch for the service and believe its the real deal. However, it will all depend on your app needs and desires.
For most users, you'll only need to find 3-4 supported apps that you'll regularly use to justify the cost of the monthly subscription (which isn't hard with the full version of CleanMyMac X and Gemini 2 included).
A Great Buy
The Ideal Buyer
We believe many consumers who may own a Mac computer could benefit from a Setapp subscription given that it offers so many apps for one low monthly cost across all different categories. Your best bet is to browse the current Setapp app library on their website or download the free 7-day trial (no CC required) to see if there are enough apps that you would use to justify the monthly fee.
With Apple's line of Mac computers being a popular device with consumers especially among the business and educational crowd, it makes sense for developers to put a focus on creating dedicated Mac apps which provide value to the user in some way.
In most cases, the value of these apps warrant a price tag ranging from a few dollars and can range over $50 per app depending on the situation. Choosing which apps to invest in to make your Mac computing life better isn't always the most straightforward and easy task.
Fortunately, MacPaw has created an excellent solution to this dilemma with the release of their Setapp subscription, geared toward Mac users who want to get access to dozens of premium apps for one low monthly cost. Think of it as the “Netflix” for Mac apps.
MacPaw provided us with access to Setapp for evaluation purposes, and the following review is based entirely on our personal use of the Setapp subscription the last 6 months. Keep in mind, this is NOT a paid sponsorship from MacPaw or Setapp and all opinions expressed are of our own nature.
What Is Setapp?
As stated earlier, Setapp is a subscription-based service from MacPaw (the creators of popular Mac optimization software CleanMyMac X and duplicate finder Gemini 2). It aims to act as the “Netflix of Mac apps” offering access to dozens of premium applications all for one low monthly price.
They achieve this by setting up a licensing deal with these app developers who are paid royalties based on user downloads/usage. The service is entirely legal and puts you as a consumer in the driver's seat allowing you to achieve as much (or as little) value on your monthly subscription as you so desire.
Setapp officially launched in its first stable release in January of 2017 and has been a big hit with consumers amassing over tens of thousands of subscribers and boasting trial subscriptions as high as 200,000 likely due to their no CC required 7-day free trial offer.
Licensing & Pricing Options
When Setapp first launched, they were offering yearly subscriptions for as low as $69 per year, however, this was merely an introductory price. The current Setapp pricing is as follows:
- Free 7-day trial period (no credit card required for sign-up)
- Monthly subscription fee of $9.99 (no-commitment)
- Annual subscription of $107.88 ($8.99/month)
- 50% discount for students who prove eligibility ($4.99/month)
- VAT is charged those countries who abide by this tax (does not apply to US customers)
- All subscription pricing includes access to use on two Macs (educational plans only include support for one Mac)
- Additional Macs can be added to one account for $4.99/month (+VAT) each for up to 3 additional Apple computers
According to the Setapp website, there is a business plan in the works although the details are not made public at this time. You'll have to contact them for more information on pricing, availability, etc.
The benefit of a business plan over a consumer plan is unlimited access to all apps for your entire team with group billing, management controls, and usage statistics.
How Does The Setapp Free Trial Work?
As stated, there is a free 7-day trial offered by MacPaw on their Setapp subscription for any prospective users. The best part of this free trial is that it doesn't require you to put in your credit card.
This means that you won't face the possibility of forgetting to cancel your trial offer and being met with an unexpected automatic re-bill.
Beyond the lack of a credit card requirement, the Setapp trial is unlimited and unrestricted use of the entire subscription within the 7 days. There are no hard limitations set on any of the software like there is with free trial of CleanMyMac X.
Justifying The Cost Of A Setapp Subscription
While $9.99/month isn't a huge price to pay for a monthly service cost (just 33 cents per day), some people need further explanation as to where the value comes from.
Given that there are literally dozens of applications offered within the subscription (and more are added each month), we can't go through every application and tell you how much it costs.
However, what we can do is go through five premium software components of MacPaw's optimization software for Mac that are included in this subscription and show you how valuable this subscription really can be:
- CleanMyMac X – $39.99/yr
- Gemini 2 – $19.99/yr
- Disk Drill – $39.99
- Coderunner 3 – $19.99
- iThoughtsX – $49.99
User Interface & Layout
When it comes to the user experience, MacPaw has been masters at making their interfaces visually appealing, easy to navigate and well organized. In the case of the native Setapp control panel, this follows suit.
I wouldn't consider the control panel as aesthetically pleasing as CleanMyMac X mainly due to the bland color scheme, but the ease of use and organization make it a breeze to use.
Within the UI you can browse the dashboard which gives you app recommendations based on your use as well as new arrivals to the Setapp platform.
From there you can check out any favorited apps, view all the Setapp applications currently installed on your Mac and browse the entire library of apps as one big list or within each category subsection.
App Library & Selection
There are way too many apps on the Setapp platform for me to keep track of individually in this review. However, I'll give you a little insight into the categories of apps that you'll find within the subscription and the apps that I rely on using most often within it:
- Lifestyle – includes apps based on news, email, instant messaging, YouTube, etc.
- Creativity – includes apps based on screen recording, photo editing, Instagram uploading, etc.
- Developer Tools – strictly designed for the coding crowd, you'll find web editors, database managers, website builders, API tools and programming editors.
- Productivity – includes productivity timers, to-do lists, task managers, file managers, mind mapping, etc.
- Mac Hacks – useful tools and tweaks for the MacOS to improve productivity or declutter the UI.
- Writing & Blogging – apps that help writers and bloggers stay on task and simplify their creative process.
- Education & Research – practical applications for visual brainstorming, e-reading, math computation, etc.
- Maintenance – applications for improving the speed, optimization and overall lifespan of your Mac computer's performance.
- Task Management – overlaps some with the productivity section, includes applications for outlines, task managers, calendars and other management related functions.
- Personal Finance – a short, but sweet section consisting of software to help organize bills, invoices, inventory, personal finances or cryptocurrency investments.
The Setapp Applications That I Use Frequently
While Setapp has dozens of apps across the board, it doesn't mean that all of them will be useful or relevant to you. Again, using the Netflix example, there are thousands of TV and movie titles available on the platform yet you probably only consume a few of them per month.
In my case, here are some of the most frequently used applications that I have installed through Setapp:
- Archiver – used to compress or extract compressed file formats
- Bartender – allows full customization and control of my Mac menu bar icons
- CleanMyMac X – I use it for general Mac maintenance tasks especially RAM purging and system cache/logs deletion
- CodeRunner – a multi-language programming editor that I use for making manual edits to PHP, HTML, JS or CSS files
- Gemini 2 – the most advanced duplicate finder that I've ever tested, I run this from month to month to see if there is any space to be freed up by duplicate files or folders
- iStat Menus – a tech nerd like myself loves to have a heads-up display of their internal components allowing me to quickly diagnose performance issues or potential maintenance tasks that are overdue
- iThoughtsX – a convenient mind-mapping software that allows me to pre-outline projects, articles, guides or reviews
- MacPilot – allows me to tweak and customize the MacOS in greater detail without the need for any use of the terminal
- Netspot – my go-to application for configuring, improving or troubleshooting Wi-Fi connection issues
- Wallpaper Wizard – I rarely take the time to change my desktop wallpaper, so this app makes it easy and efficient
- Yummy FTP Pro – one of my favorite FTP applications that I use to access my web servers to upload, download or transfer various data
Performance & Function
There isn't a lot I can talk about in terms of performance of this service as the performance varies more on the applications within the subscription. However, I'll touch on my experience using Setapp for the last 6-months.
In terms of reliability, I've been running CleanMyMac through Setapp since I signed up as well as other apps and have had no issues with downtime, licensing or installation problems.
In fact, before I had a Setapp subscription, I had a paid lifetime license for CleanMyMac 3 for my MacBook Pro. When MacPaw released CleanMyMac X, they wanted me to pay an upgrade fee (50% of a standard license) to upgrade from CleanMyMac 3.
For Setapp users, CleanMyMac X was instantly available for download on launch day with no upgrade fees or hassles to jump through. You'll always have the latest versions with updates being done behind the scenes as they are pushed out.
Is It Easy Is It To Add & Remove An App?
Some prospective subscribers are held back by the ease of use concerns when it comes to the service, and I can understand that. However, MacPaw made this as easy as follows:
How To Install An App Through Setapp
- Open Setapp
- Navigate to the application that you are interested in
- Click on the ‘Install' button
- Wait for the installation to complete
- Use finder or browse your applications folder to open your application for unrestricted use
How To Remove An Installed App Through Setapp
- Navigate to the Setapp application that you want to uninstall through Setapp
- Click the dropdown menu under the ‘Open' button
- Click ‘Uninstall”
- Choose ‘Uninstall Completely' or ‘Remove Application'
If you are a Mac owner who utilizes third-party applications for various creative, maintenance, productivity or developer tasks, then a Setapp subscription is a no-brainer.
It provides full, unfiltered access to dozens of premium Mac applications for one low monthly fee with no long-term commitment. While the library has some apps that may not pertain to your specific needs, by using only a few apps per month, you'll receive enough value to outweigh the monthly fee.
For those that don't or aren't interested in utilizing third-party apps for any reason, then this likely isn't the best fit for your needs. If you are still on the fence, you can check out the full list of apps supported by Setapp or sign-up for their free 7-day trial.