In celebration of my business partner’s switch to a Mac (finally!), I’ve put together some of my thoughts on setting up a new Mac.
All of these tips are for Mountain Lion, and are current as of 2013-03. I’ll probably update this next time I get a new Mac :)
System Preferences: Trackpad. Familiarize yourself with the trackpad multitouch gestures, and enable most of them.
System Preferences: Keyboard. Under the keyboard shortcuts section, flip the radio button to “All controls”. When you’re presented with a dialog box in OS X you’ll usually see a button that’s blue, and a button that’s highlighted with a blue glow. Now that we’ve enabled “all controls”, you can save time with your keyboard:
- Pressing the spacebar will click the blue outlined action.
- Hitting enter will click the blue button.
- Pressing tab will move the blue outline to the next action.
System Preferences: Keyboard. Still in the “keyboard shortcuts” tab of the keyboard preference pane, click the “Keyboard & Text Input” item on the left pane. Find the “Move focus to the menu bar” and enable it. I use ⌥⌘Space. Set this up and try it. Once you hit the shortcut you’ll see the apple in the top left highlight, and from there, start typing. Try hitting an “f” and you’ll probably see “File” highlighted. Then hit enter to expand that menu, and type again. It’s a big time saver.
System Preferences: Keyboard. Still in the “keyboard shortcuts” tab of the keyboard preference pane, notice the “Application Shortcuts” in the left pane. This is a neat bit of functionality that allows you to create your own keyboard shortcuts on an application-specific basis. For example, I have some set up for Mail.app:
System Preferences: Keyboard. Still in the “keyboard shortcuts” tab of the keyboard preference pane, familiarize yourself with the “Screenshots” shortcuts, because handy.
System Preferences: While you’re in there, click through every preference and familiarize yourself with all the possible options. It’s a matter of preference, but I stick my Dock to the left and have it auto-hide, because screen real estate is too precious to waste on icons I almost never actually need.
I think that’s all the system config stuff you’ve got to do. Now on to the apps! All of the following are, imo, indispensable.
Alfred App. It’s worth the price (well, there’s a free version, but get the power pack) for the clipboard history alone. In addition to making tons of stuff just stupidly fast, I use Alfred for system-wide app switching keyboard. (Download my workflow to save yourself the time of creating it yourself.)
So with these keyboard shortcuts, I’ve set all the F keys (at the very top of the keyboard) up as “standard function keys” (a setting in the Keyboard preference pane). Then I’ve got F1 to switch to Chrome, command+F1 for Mail.app, etc. Fwiw, I skip F2 because Sublime Text uses that for “bookmarking”, and I skip F12 because that’s used to open Firebug in Firefox.
Sublime Text. There are other text editors, but all the cool kids are using ST, and for good reason. Once you get used to it, it’s kind of magical. Get it, and learn the keyboard shortcuts for all the selecting and multiple cursor possibilities.
Text Expander. Ridiculous time saver.
Optimal Layout. This isn’t as much a “you must get this”, but it is super handy. It allows you to move windows around based on keyboard shortcuts, which keeps things nice and clean, especially if you’re working without multiple monitors.
FluidApp. Nice way to create a single-site browser “app”. I have one for Freckle and one for Rhapsody. This allows me to switch right to my time tracking with a quick press of F8, and music with a command+F8.
Some other apps…
- Propane. Dedicated client for Campfire. A Fluid app would probably work, but considering how much time I spend in FoxyCart’s Campfire chatroom, this is easily worth the money. (F10 to switch to Propane! Hooray Alfred :)
- Dropbox. Duh.
- Chrome, because duh.
- 1password. Also, duh.
- Skitch. Or Jing, though I prefer Skitch unless I need to record a video screencast.
- Transmit, for SFTP and other file transferring. It ties into Sublime Text really nicely. CyberDuck might work, but I’ve tried probably every file transfer app over the years, and Transmit seems to be the best choice right now. I used to like Interarchy (years ago), but eventually … the newer versions weren’t really working well for me, and the old version I loved was getting unstable.
- The built-in Mail.app is actually really solid, imo. Nice keyboard shortcuts, fast, search (finally) works well.
So, there you go. Did I miss anything?