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Setting up a Mac

First thing I do is some login screen gardening: Displaying my best self-portrait and adding contact information. This way, I don’t have to remember taking my MacBook with me when leaving the coffee shop.

Login screen with white avatar, name and phone number

The first app I install is 1Password. It allows me to log into Github to download my .zshrc, .gitconfig and other preference files. Like the cool kids, I started out with a setup script. However, I always forgot to maintain it and ended up with outdated preferences. Now, I just push the system and application preferences I care about (e.g. com.apple.dock.plist) to Github right before setting up a new machine.

At some point I realize I have to install the Xcode Command Line Tools for Git to work. Depending on whether I update macOS sometime in between, I’m doing this multiple times as Apple pretends to lose them with every new version. Note to self: xcode-select --reset will usually be a quicker solution than the often recommended deleting an re-installing.

The second app I can’t live without is Alfred. Highly recommended by Batman, Alfred not only helps me launching applications, but also remembering my clipboard history, showing my current IP or finding processes to kill. A typical workflow while writing frontend code:

  1. Opening the docs for a specific feature in Dash:

    Dash integration in Alfred
  2. Checking its browser support:

    Can i use integration in Alfred
  3. Finding a polyfill on npm:

    npm package search in Alfred

The third one is Rectangle. It is used by fellow CEOs and allows me to move around windows via keyboard (or mouse). When working on a widescreen display, I usually want to have two windows next to eachother. So whenever I open an app, I press ^⌥← or ^⌥→ to use one or the other screen half. Another important use-case is catching up with SNL in an efficient way:

Four windows displaying the SNL YouTube channel

Moving on to the menu bar, I use Dato to display the current week number and have immediate access to the calendar. As you can see, I’m very good at calendaring:

Screenshot of expanded calendar view in Dato

The other menu bar app I approve of is Lungo. Why should your Mac be able to sleep when you can’t?

After having installed Docker, Homebrew and nvm, it’s time for some atypically large electrons: VS Code, Slack and Notion are the applications I spend most of my screen time in. I very much enjoy the fact that they are written in JavaScript. While, like any reasonable Swiss citizen, I have mixed feelings about some of them being developed in Zürich.

Last thing to do is setting up Arq to back up my files into a glacier, and installing Dropbox to gain access to everything not living in a Git repository.