Why I Don’t Use Setapp But Maybe You Should


Why I Don’t Use Setapp But Maybe You Should

I do keep checking but so far, no

Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash

Setapp is a popular app bundling subscription that offers a few hundred Mac and IOS/iPadOS apps for one monthly or yearly payment. If you scour the internet for reviews, it’s hard to find much negativity; many people see it as a tremendous bargain and it might be for them and possibly for you.

I’ve been tempted by it many times myself, but have yet to find that it would save me money. I suspect that’s also true for some who have bought it, though they may not realize it.

So let’s think about some reasons you might want or not not want Setapp.

Hundreds of apps

This something Setapp and its users highlight to justify the purchase, but it’s a bit misleading. Many of the apps are not well known, have wide use cases, or are not of great quality. There are popular and very good apps, but they aren’t the majority at all. Take a look for yourself; you may never have heard of most of these. That does not mean that you might not find enough apps to justify the subscription.

There’s also the matter of overlap. How many text editors are offered vs. how many you’ll ever need? How many calendar apps, how many spreadsheets? Sure, if the ones you want are included, Setapp will save you money. In my case, I use Apple apps almost exclusively because they meet my simple needs. I’ve tried replacement apps, but seldom stay with them for long. Apple apps have limitations, but so do third party apps. If you buy Setapp to get a pile of apps you end up not using, did you gain or lose?

Existing licenses

More and more apps have turned to monthly subscriptions rather than one time purchase licensing. That makes sense and you should welcome that if you expect developers to keep up with security patches and new features. It’s usually (but not always) easy to convert subscriptions to Setapp. If you use more than a few of the apps Setapp offers (they definitely do not offer everything), you should at least check it out. But you wouldn’t want to stop using a grandfathered lifetime license and of course you wouldn’t count its current subscription cost as savings.

Mac Centric

Here’s the big one for me. I have a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad and more, but I do almost all my work on the iPad. The Mac is something I use only when I cannot use my iPad. Therefore I do not use many Mac apps.

Setapp is Mac oriented and if you want Setapp, you’ll be paying for Mac subscriptions whether you want any or not. Adding IOS requires more monthly cost and you cannot get IOS without Mac.

In my case it happens that I do use a few Mac apps that Setapp offers, but not enough to justify the cause. If I were more of a Mac user, or used a lot of Setapp licensed iPad apps, things might be different.

Per machine licensing

Unlike many apps today, perhaps even most, Setapp is licensed per machine. That can affect the value of Setapp if you have more than one Mac, though the cost to add Macs isn’t much, and they do have Team pricing for larger companies.

All in all, Setapp is definitely worth looking at, but you shouldn’t assume that it will save money. If I started using my Mac more than my iPad, I might be a customer. Right now, I’d have to be using a lot of third party iPad apps to make Setapp work for me and even heavy Mac users might not find the value that Setapp implies.

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