Everyone likes to ridicule some of the pre-installed software which comes standard with every macOS computer. Granted, some of it is bad (Stocks? Dashboard?) but there are also some which are amazingly good.

Even my wife (who is extremely anti-Apple in her views) had to grudgingly admit the other day that iMovie is an amazing piece of software. Talk about knocking me over with a feather.

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    iMac with a second screen

    So today I’d like to take a look at some of the pre-installed macOS software that Apple has done amazingly right with.


    iMovie project window

    Let’s start with iMovie because this has to be my favorite piece of Apple software ever. It is extremely easy to get a hang of, and although you will quickly see its limitations when you try to do something it isn’t capable of, it is still able nonetheless to bang out some amazing videos.

    When you start a new project, it gives you templates to work with or you can start with a clean slate and design everything yourself. 

    iMovie + button where you create a new movie or trailer

    Then it’s a case of importing all of your video footage and photos, dragging it to the bottom, and editing it all the way you want it.

    video in iMovie timeline

    You can right-click on a piece of the film to get options such as splitting the video at that point, adding fade-out effects, and “detaching the audio” which you can then use to ditch the audio entirely and replace it with something else, such as background music.

    Right-click menu in iMovie

    Really professional video editors will not be satisfied with iMovie as it does have limitations on what it can do. It also has some annoyances such as some really cheesy backgrounds and titles (and there’s no way to import any from the web). But for basic things, like family holiday videos, iMovie works a treat.


    Notes program main window

    The next one I really like a lot is Notes. I used to be a huge Evernote fanatic but then they raised their prices to a ridiculous level and the product quality began to suffer, especially with all of the unnecessary features. Notes is a free alternative for Mac users and the functionality has got seriously better with the last couple of MacOS versions.

    Notes syncs across all iOS and macOS platforms via iCloud and the changes are extremely fast. Images can be pasted into notes and you can “pin” important notes to the top for easier reference.

    Right-click menu with Pin Note selected

    You can also lock a note so anyone wishing to view it has to enter the password. This password can be set in the Notes options, but if you forget the password, you will never be able to view those locked notes again. So choose wisely.

    This note is locked alert window


    iPhones window

    It took a long time for me to like Photos as I generally look at my photos on my iPhone or iPad. The idea of looking at them on the Macbook just doesn’t appeal for some reason. But after playing around with Photos, I have to admit it is starting to change my mind.

    As with Notes, all of the photos get synced across all of your iOS and macOS devices. You can sort your photos into albums, as well as make edits to photos. If you have big fat fingers like I do, it is much easier to make these edits on the MacBook than on an iPhone.

    Edit menu in iPhotos

    You can also set images as your Mac desktop wallpaper directly from Photos and you can edit the metadata.

    Adjust date and time of selected photos window


    Black and white movie open in Quicktime

    Am I the only person who likes QuickTime? It certainly feels like it sometimes. Sure, VLC Player is also great but I seem to have a strange inexplicable attachment to QuickTime. Not only does it play media files really well (well, MP4 and MOV), but it also has a few other nifty features under the hood.

    After opening up Quicktime, clicking on the File menu brings up three features – New Movie Recording, New Audio Recording, & New Screen Recording.

    Quicktime file menu with New Movie Recording, New Audio Recording and New Screen Recording options

    If you connect your iDevice to your MacBook and run QuickTime, you can choose the iDevice –

    Choosing your iDevice in the Quicktime popup window

    And screencast your phone on your MacBook screen.

    iPhone being screencast on Mac desktop screen

    QuickTime is also capable of other handy tasks such as video cutting, combining videos together, rotating clips, and more. All in all, a very robust piece of software that is underappreciated and neglected.


    Lastly, I would be very remiss to not mention Siri. I will be writing an article soon comparing Siri to Google Now and Cortana, but I can say now with absolute certainty that Siri is the best of the three. She understands my Scottish accent perfectly, even if I cough, talk quietly, or stumble over my words. Now THAT’S an achievement.

    I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Siri as I already have two women in my life who hassle me. But Siri proves remarkably useful if you need to type an SMS, make a phone call, or be reminded about something, and you are just too weak to touch those phone keys……

    Siri task window

    And she can tell jokes too. Just not very good ones…..

    Siri's "tell me a joke" screen

    Siri has improved by leaps and bounds over the years and I like how she is completely plugged in to all of the other various Apple services. The day they put Siri on the MacBook, enabling you to dictate website addresses and software to be opened was when Siri truly became indispensable.

    The Ones I Missed Out….

    Before you email me, tweet me, send me a carrier pigeon, or whatever, telling me which amazing ones I missed, let me clarify a few.

    iTunes wasn’t mentioned because, even though I love it, with the next operating system – Catalina – iTunes is being retired in favor of two separate new apps. To say I am extremely hacked off would be putting it mildly.

    Everyone tells me that GarageBand is a great app – and I’m sure it is – but I personally don’t use it to be able to talk about it. The same goes for Pages, Numbers, and KeyNote. People love them – but I don’t use them.

    And I’m sure there is one lonely person out there who loves Stocks who isn’t talking to me anymore….