Puzzles are one of the best ways to relax and still stimulate the mind with something useful. They are mostly light, easy to play and reminiscent of the classic paper-based games we are all used to.
More importantly, there are a good number of them that you can get for free. The Mac App Store is a treasure trove of fun puzzle games if you know which ones to pick. But we did some digging and saved you some time by compiling a list of our favorites.
2048 is a simple math-based puzzle game that first appeared in 2014. At first glance, it looks similar to Sudoku, but the rules of 2048 are quite different. To solve the 2048 puzzle, you have to move the pieces on the board by adding similar numbers until you get the number 2048 as a piece. You can choose to end the game when you win or continue playing to achieve new high scores.
Although 2048 is a math based game, it is not the best for improving math skills. Instead, we have a list of the best iPhone apps for improving math.
The interface is beautifully simple, with just one button in the corner for a new game and two boxes for your score. On other touchscreen-based OSes, you might have to swipe to move the tiles across the board, but here you just use the arrow keys on your keyboard.
This game has no ads, no premium version and no accessories to unlock. It is completely free, fun to play and addictive.
download: 2048 (free)
2. Water color sorting
A challenging puzzle based on a simple premise, Water Color Sort is about matching the colors in the tube so that all the colors are sorted into separate tubes. This game takes you level by level; as you defeat each stage and advance to the next, it becomes even more difficult and complex.
This is an iPad game you can play on a Mac, and its vertical orientation reflects that. There is no way to expand it horizontally. Unfortunately, games like this only work on Macs with Apple silicon (M1 and M2) processors. How to find out which processor your Mac uses.
However, most of the crashing and freezing issues that can sometimes happen with iPad games on Mac don’t happen with this app.
While Water Color Sort is free, there are many features the developers have baked into it to generate money. First, there are ads after each level you pass – and you can pay to remove those ads. Second, there is an in-game currency that you can use to buy hints.
You can also view ads or pay a small fee to unlock themes and skins for your tubes. Alternatively, you can pay $4.99 weekly to access the premium version.
download: Water color sorting (free, subscription available)
3. Homescapes, Gardenscapes and Fishdom
Playrix has brought its top three match-three puzzle games to macOS. Homescapes, Gardenscapes and Fishdom are large, beautifully animated simulation and puzzle games built around a matching game.
These games allow you to earn currency in puzzle mini-games and you can trade it to progress through the main story. Homescapes is based on renovating an old abandoned home, Gardenscapes is based on building an abandoned garden, and Fishdom simulates an aquarium where you can buy fish and decorations.
But if you’d rather play a simulation game with more realistic features, check out our list of simulation games with real-world applications.
All three games have no ads and only generate funds from buying currency that you can use to buy attempts at the matching game.
Because they are built specifically for macOS, these apps are well optimized for a computer. You don’t need to use the pointer to simulate touch on an iPad or touchscreen device. The games are also constantly updated and there is a large community of players to learn from.
download: Homescapes (free, in-app purchases available)
download: Gardenscapes (free, in-app purchases available)
download: Fishdom (free, in-app purchases available)
4. 4 pictures 1 Word
4 Pics 1 Word is a word puzzle game where you guess which word the four pictures on the screen have in common. Once a popular game for the iPhone and iPad, it is now available for Apple silicon Macs via the App Store.
4 images 1 Word is an educational and interesting way to burn time. The levels are spread out in terms of difficulty and there are daily puzzles that you can complete and earn rewards. Completing each level earns you coins that you can use to buy hints. If you get stuck, the game will give you a one-letter hint for free after leaving it for a while.
This puzzle game has ads that appear after a few levels. You can also choose to earn coins by viewing ads. But if you don’t want to see them, you can remove ads for a fee.
download: 4 images 1 Word (free, premium version available)
5. Jigsaw Puzzles Epic
Jigsaw Puzzles Epic is the best puzzle game on the Mac App Store. It has different categories of quality photos that you can put together like a jigsaw, everything from landscapes to animals to airplanes and even stained glass windows – absolutely free!
What we like about this app is how generous they are with the free plan. You still get daily access to at least one premium version image every day on the free plan. You can also change your background and adjust the puzzle settings as much as you like. If you want, you can set it as a 16-piece, 36-piece or 64-piece puzzle for difficulty.
For a one-time fee, you can get the premium version. It has no ads, multiple images for puzzles, and you can upload your own images and turn them into fun puzzles.
download: Jigsaw Puzzles Epic (free, premium version available)
The goal in Bind is to connect the colored dots without crossing any lines you have drawn. However, you must ensure that your lines cover every cell of the grid. You earn stars and points based on how effectively you connect the dots.
Bind has no ads, but it has very limited levels until you buy the premium version for a one-time fee. Paying for premium also gives you access to solutions. Without premium there is no way to pass a level without solving it first.
download: Bind (free, premium version available)
7. Word Search Go
Do you miss big word search books that you can just sit at for hours and solve for hours? You can relive this part of your life digitally by downloading Word Search Go. It’s free and fun, with different levels for different types of words.
Word Search Go also helps people relax with its classical music soundtrack. The music is built into the game and stops until you use the cursor to find a word.
This puzzle game also has an in-game currency that you earn by playing. You can use the coins you get on power-ups to help you find words if you get stuck.
download: Word Search Go (free, in-app purchases available)
Stimulate your mind and pass the time
Puzzle games are always challenging and fun. They offer ways to relax and spend your free time doing something engaging and educational.
Don’t let the fact that you use a Mac stop you from enjoying puzzles whenever you want. At least one of our selection of puzzles should hook you and help you relax.