Apple's line of Mac computers is very popular with consumers, especially for the business and educational crowd. This attention on the platform makes sense for developers to put a focus on creating dedicated Mac apps that provide value to the user.
In most cases, these apps warrant a price tag ranging from a few dollars and to $100 per app. Choosing which Mac apps to invest in to make your computing life more manageable isn't always the most straightforward task.
MacPaw has created an excellent solution to this dilemma. Their Setapp subscription is geared for Mac users who want to use dozens of premium apps for one low monthly cost. Think of it as the “Netflix” for Mac apps.
We were provided a Setapp subscription for evaluation purposes. The following review is based on our personal use of the Setapp subscription for 6 months. Keep in mind, this is NOT a paid sponsorship from MacPaw or Setapp. All opinions expressed within this review are of our own experience.
What Is Setapp?
Setapp is a subscription-based service from MacPaw. This company is the creator of the popular Mac optimization software, CleanMyMac X. The subscription offers access to dozens of premium applications for one low monthly price.
MacPaw achieves this by setting up a licensing deal with these app developers who are paid royalties based on user downloads/usage. Setapp is legal and puts you as a consumer in the driver's seat, allowing you to receive as much (or as little) value on your monthly subscription.
Setapp launched in its first stable release in January of 2017. The subscription model has been a big hit with consumers amassing over tens of thousands of subscribers. Setapp has received trial participation as high as 200,000 users likely due to their 7-day free trial offer with no CC required.
Licensing & Pricing Options
When Setapp first launched, they offered an introductory promotion for an annual subscription as low as $69 per year. The current Setapp pricing is:
- 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 usage 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 Setapp's website, there is a business plan in the works although the details have not been made public. You'll have to contact them for more information on pricing, availability, etc.
The benefit of a Setapp's business plan over a consumer plan is unlimited access to all apps for your entire team. This includes group billing, management controls, and usage statistics. We did not have the ability to test Setapp's business plan so we can't provide any insights on that.
How Does The Free Trial Work?
As stated, there is a free 7-day trial offered by MacPaw on their Setapp subscription. The best part of this free trial is that it doesn't require you to put in credit card information.
This means that you won't face the possibility of forgetting to cancel your trial offer and facing an unexpected automatic re-bill.
Setapp's trial offers unlimited and unrestricted use of the entire library of apps within the 7 day period. There are no hard limitations set like there is with the free trial of CleanMyMac X.
Justifying The Cost Of The Subscription
It is true that $9.99/month isn't a huge price to pay for a monthly service cost (think of it as 33 cents per day). Some people need a further explanation of Setapp's value.
Given that there are dozens of apps offered within the service (with more added each month), we can't go through every application and tell you how much it costs.
Instead, we will go through five premium software components for Mac, which are included in Setapp and show you how valuable this service can be:
- CleanMyMac X – $39.99/yr
- Gemini 2 – $19.99/yr
- Disk Drill – $39.99
- Coderunner 3 – $19.99
- iThoughtsX – $49.99
Total costs of the five popular apps via the Mac App Store: $169.95
Total costs of 12-months of Setapp membership: $119.88
Now those calculations were based on only five Mac apps out of dozens offered through Setapp. Keep in mind, some apps like CleanMyMac X often require charge upgrade fees when moving from one version to a newer one. Setapp subscribers get to use the latest versions of available software without any hidden costs.
To get a better idea of whether you'd find enough value in the included apps, you can check out the ‘apps' page on their website or test the Setapp via the free 7-day trial.
User Interface & Layout
When it comes to the user experience, MacPaw has mastered making their interfaces appealing and well organized. In the case of the Setapp interface, this follows suit.
I wouldn't consider the Setapp interface control panel as pleasing as CleanMyMac X due to the bland color scheme. Regardless, the ease of use and organization make it a breeze to use.
Within the UI you can browse the dashboard which offers app recommendations based on your usage as well as new arrivals to the Setapp platform.
From there you can check out any favorited apps, view the Setapp apps currently installed on your Mac and browse the entire library (as one list or in sub-sections).
Setapp App Library & Selection
There are too many apps on the Setapp platform for me to keep mention in this article. I'll give you some insight into the categories of apps that you'll find within the Setapp and which apps I rely on most 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 software such as 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 Mac Apps That I Use Most Frequently
While Setapp has dozens of apps across the board, it doesn't mean that all will be useful or relevant to you. Using the Netflix example, there are thousands of TV and movie titles available on the platform yet you most likely only consume a few per month.
In my case, here are some of the most frequently used apps that I have installed through my Setapp review:
- 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 (WiFi Explorer is another software that is available via a Setapp download)
- Wallpaper Wizard – I rarely take the time to change my desktop wallpaper, so this Mac 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
This is usually the most important part of a review, but there isn't much that I can talk about the performance of Setapp. This is because the performance varies more on the apps included 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 several other apps. I've 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 (we reviewed it years ago). When MacPaw released CleanMyMac X, they wanted a renewal 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 released. This is an important element that has been overlooked in other Setapp reviews.
Is It Easy Is It To Add & Remove An App?
Some prospective Setapp subscribers may be held back by ease of use concerns. However, MacPaw made it 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'
Setapp Review Verdict
If you are a Mac user who utilizes third-party apps for various creative, maintenance, productivity or developer tasks, then a Setapp subscription likely is a no-brainer investment.
Setapp 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, it only takes a few apps per month to receive enough value to outweigh the monthly cost.
For those that don't have any desire to use third-party apps on your Mac, then Setapp likely isn't the best service for your needs. If you are still on the fence after reading my thoughts, you can check out the full list of apps supported by Setapp or sign-up for their free 7-day trial.
We hope you enjoyed our Setapp review!