Puzzle games are one of the best ways to relax and still stimulate the mind with something useful. They are mostly light-hearted, 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 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 making a list of our favorite ones.
2048 is a simple math-based puzzle game that first popped up in 2014. At first glance, it looks similar to Sudoku, but the rules of 2048 are pretty different. To solve the 2048 puzzle, you must move the tiles on the board by adding similar numbers until you get the number 2048 as a tile. You can choose to end the game when you win or keep playing to reach new high scores.
While 2048 is a math-based game, it’s not the best to improve your math skills. Instead, we have a list of the best iPhone apps for improving at math.
The interface is beautifully simple, with only one button in the corner for a new game and two boxes for your score. On other touchscreen-based OSs, you might have to swipe to move the tiles across the board, but here you just have to 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 Sort
A challenging puzzle game that builds from a straightforward premise, Water Color Sort is all about matching the colors in the tube, so all the colors are sorted into separate tubes. This game takes you level by level; as you defeat each stage and progress to the next one, it gets even more difficult and complex.
This is an iPad game you can play on a Mac, and its vertical orientation reflects that. There’s no way to expand it out horizontally. Unfortunately, games like this only work on Macs with Apple silicon (M1 and M2) processors. Here’s how to find out what processor your Mac uses.
However, most of the issues with crashing and freezing that might 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. Firstly, there are ads after every level you pass—and you can pay to remove these ads. Secondly, there is an in-game currency that you can use to buy hints.
You can also watch ads or pay a small fee to unlock themes and skin for your tubes. Alternatively, you can pay $4.99 weekly to access the premium version.
Download: Water Color Sort (Free, subscription available)
3. Homescapes, Gardenscapes, and Fishdom
Playrix has brought their three best match-three puzzle games to macOS. Homescapes, Gardenscapes, and Fishdom are large, gorgeously animated simulation and puzzle games built around a matching game.
These games allow you to earn currency in puzzle mini-games, and you can exchange it to progress through the main story. Homescapes is based on refurbishing an old abandoned home, Gardenscapes is based on building an abandoned garden, and Fishdom simulates an aquarium where you can buy fish and decorative pieces.
However, if you’d rather play a simulation game with more realistic features, you can look at our list of simulation games with real-life applications.
All three games have no ads and only generate funds from buying currency which you can use to purchase tries at the matching game.
Because they are built specifically for macOS, these apps are well-optimized for a computer. You don’t have to use your pointer to simulate touching on an iPad or touchscreen device. The games are also constantly updated, and there is a large community of players you can 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 Pics 1 Word
4 Pics 1 Word is a word puzzle game where you guess what 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 Pics 1 Word is an educative and interesting way to burn time. The levels are scattered in terms of difficulty, and there are daily puzzles for you to 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 pop up after every few levels. You can also choose to earn coins by watching ads. But if you don’t want to see them, you can remove ads for a fee.
Download: 4 Pics 1 Word (Free, premium version available)
5. Jigsaw Puzzles Epic
Jigsaw Puzzles Epic is the best jigsaw puzzle on the Mac App Store. It has various categories of quality photos you can piece together as jigsaw pieces, ranging from landscapes to animals to planes and even stained glass—all for 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 picture every day on the free plan. You can also change your background and tweak 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, more pictures for puzzles, and you can upload your own pictures and turn them into fun puzzles.
Download: Jigsaw Puzzles Epic (Free, premium version available)
The objective in Bind is to connect the colored dots without crossing any lines you’ve drawn. However, you must ensure that your lines cover every cell on the grid. You earn stars and points based on how efficiently you connect the dots.
Bind has no ads, but it has very limited levels till you buy its premium version for a one-time fee. Paying for premium also gives you access to solutions. Without premium, there’s no way to pass a level without first solving it.
Download: Bind (Free, premium version available)
7. Word Search Go
Do you miss large word search books that you could just sit at for hours and hours solving? You can digitally relive this part of your life 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, pausing until you use your cursor to find a word.
This puzzle game also has an in-game currency that you earn from playing. You can spend the coins you get on power-ups to help you find words if you’re 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 pass the free time with something engaging and educative.
Don’t let the fact that you’re on a Mac stop you from enjoying puzzle games whenever you want. At least one of our selection of puzzle games should hook you and help you relax.