My 2012 Mac Setup

My mac setup way back in 2012.

This page is out of date. See my most recent Mac Setup Here.

I switched to the Mac late in 2003. Prior to switching, I used BeOS and experimenting with linux in hopes of finding a stable and usable OS.

The Macintosh has always had more than it’s share of innovative and aesthetically pleasing software. In recent years, the number of carefully crafted applications has exploded. Whether you’re new to the Mac or a seasoned power user, I think you’ll find several new gems that’ll help you be more productive and possibly happier.

I’ve listed most of the hardware, software, menubar, widgets, and services I use. Take special note of the starred apps and services. I find them to be indispensable.

The Hardware

I work out of a recliner and at a large return desk totaling 21.83 square feet which provides plenty of space to lay a project out.

My current Machine is a 13” MBA. This Machine is the hands down best computer I’ve ever owned. My previous Macs were a 24” iMac and a 12” G4 PowerBook. The iMac now serves duty as a television, stereo, and file server. I also use an Airport Express to power my house’s big speakers. For reading and apps, I have a first generation iPad.

Tools that make me more productive

Notational Velocity ★ Notational Velocity is the fastest way to create and locate text-based notes on a computer. I use NV to record everything that isn’t a password or task.

Omnifocus ★ Everything I need to do goes into Omnifocus (Mac & iPad). Omnifocus keeps track of my life so I don’t have to.

1Password ★★ You use a unique password for all of your accounts, right? If you answered yes, there’s a good chance to use 1Password. If not, you should. There is no better way to securely sync and store your passwords across all of your devices.

SizeUp ★ SizeUp makes rapidly resizing and positioning windows easy via memorable keyboard shortcuts.

TotalFinder ★ Finder cries out for tabs. With TotalFinder you can fix this glaring deficiency.

Quicksilver Quicksilver is a powerful tool for launching and interacting with applications and scripts.

F.lux ★★ I was skeptical before trying F.lux and now I couldn’t work without it. F.lux adjusts the color of your display based on the time of day. F.lux is absolutely essential for correcting my computer’s colors as the sun goes down. This is the application I miss most of all on my iPad.

Tools for Text & Code

iA Writer ★ Wonderful, clean, welcoming. iCloud syncing. Note: This site current looks very much like iA Writer because I couldn’t stand to see this text formatted any other way.

Textmate 2 ★ It’s coming, really. Currently in beta for owners of the original Textmate.

Coda An excellent editor, browser preview, ftp client, and code reference. I’ve moved on to Sass and Haml for most of my projects, so I don’t use Coda as much as I use to.

Tools for protecting my data

Arq Arq is an online backup for the Mac using Amazon’s S3 storage which means you always own your data and you only pay for what you use. I am still new to Arq and only use it on the iMac at the moment (the license is limited to 1 computer), but I really like the idea. I anticipate starring this app soon.

SuperDuper I’ve used SuperDuper for years to make fully bootable backups of my hard drives. My backups were real handy when my iMac’s internal hard drive failed. I simply rebooted off of my external backup (hold Option key while rebooting) and I was back up and running like nothing happened.

Dropbox ★ Dropbox is a truly magical file syncing service and the first two gigs of storage are free. If you use more than one computer, Dropbox will almost certainly make your life better.

Tools for everyone

Pixelmator Pixelmator is a powerful image editor in the vein of Photoshop, but costs one twentieth as much. With the arrival of OS X Lion, I’ve switched back to for it’s fast, powerful searching, but on occasion I still use Mailplane to juggle multiple gmail accounts with gmail’s web interface. Sparrow is also useful for segmenting a few accounts that I don’t want cluttering up my primary inbox.

Twitter Twitter’s native client is sufficient for my lurking needs.

Billings Billings is a full featured time tracker and invoicing system. It’s not particularly exciting, but it gets the job done.

Adium Adium handles pretty much any IM system you throw at it. For video chatting, I use iChat, Facetime, and Skype (if i have to).

Grand Perspective With a 128 GB hard drive, I have to be careful to avoid filling up my drive. Grand Perspective helps me do that.

Growl ★ Growl is a notification system that allows applications to send you notifications. The notifications can be as obtrusive or inconspicuous as you like.

Transmit Transmit 4 makes ftp’ing files fun, err well at least pleasant. It’s a polished app and with support for Amazon’s S3, I’ll be using it for a long time.

Perian Out of the box, Macs support many video codecs. Perian is for those times when QuickTime needs a little help.

VLC I can’t remember the last time I needed to use VLC, but I keep it around for those times when QuickTime plus Perian doesn’t cut it.

VMware Fusion For those times when one must use Windows.

Tools for power users

Little Snitch ★ Useful for setting per app internet permissions.

TextExpander A Mac typing shortcut utility that’ll save you time. I should use this more, but haven’t integrated it into my workflow yet. This app should be starred and will be once I start consistently using it.

Sequel Pro A useful, free application for MySQL database management.


Secrets A database of hidden settings for Mac OS X

DigitalColor Meter An OS X utility for measuring and displaying the color values of pixels on the screen. Located in /Applications/Utilities.

Wesnoth ★ An open source, polished, and sophisticated turn based strategy game reminiscent of the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Isolator A utility for blocking out or blurring applications behind the active window. I used this application a lot when my 24” iMac was still my primary computer.

Software that lives in the Menubar

Icons from left to right: Little Snitch, Dropbox, TextExpander, F.lux, 1Password, Caffeine, Wi-Fi, Day-O, and Spotlight.

MenuBarFilter ★ I absolutely love this hack. MenuBarFilter darkens the menubar, making it easier for the eyes to ignore. There are a couple of visual glitches when moving between spaces or accessing Mission Control and every month or two, MenuBarFilter crashes hard and I have to reboot before it’ll run without scrambling the menubar. However, these are non-issues compared to the benefits of a dark menubar and they’ve never affected the stability of my system.

Caffine Caffine is a handy menubar app whose sole purpose is to keep your Mac from sleeping. I set my screen to sleep at one minute and then use Caffine to keep my screen from sleeping while working. I find the single click more convenient than constantly fooling with my energy saver preferences.

Day-O Day-O is a clock replacement with a built-in calendar.

Widgets for the Dashboard

Symbol Caddy A handy widget for copying symbols.

colourmod Colourmod is great for working with colors.

iStat Pro A handy widget for monitoring my Mac’s stats.

Useful and free services:

github ★ Github provides free public hosting of git repos (a version control system) and private hosting for a fee.

heroku ★ A free cloud application platform that makes it easy to deploy and scale applications.

ChoiceResponse ChoiceResponse is an interesting and free (for now at least) service that makes it easy to send multiple choice emails. The service only works with gmail’s web interface, but support is coming soon.

Have I overlooked your favorite app? I’m always interested in a polished app that addresses a specific need. You can contact me @aaron_stroud on twitter.

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