- Macintosh, Productivity
- apple, apps, laptop, mac
- 5:33pm on Monday 25th April, 2011
It is gospel in the web development biz that a new job means a new laptop, and I spent a happy hour or two downloading and configuring software on my shiny new MacBook Pro this week. Part-way through the process, I realised just how heavily skewed towards productivity my choices have become.
There are some apps I need to work
Of course there is a bare minimum of necessary software that I can’t work without; as a web designer, that means somewhere to code web pages and browsers to look at them.
- Aptana Studio: I started using Aptana when it was first released, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. The Eclipse-based plugin architecture was useful when I was writing PHP, and I still find its Project Explorer, colour coding and validation extremely helpful.
- Firefox, Chrome: With Safari already installed, all I need to install is Firefox (and Firebug) and Chrome. I hardly ever test in Opera any more (a combination of lack of users, and confidence in its rendering engine generally getting things right).
- Adium: For intra-team/office communication over Jabber.
- MacFusion: We develop on remote servers, so I need a means to mount those drives as local for working on.
- MS Office: Bloated and horrible but necessary in a modern office. I tried relying on NeoOffice for a while, but it occasionally does funny things to people’s CVs so I switched back to Microsoft.
- Remote Desktop Connection: No Parallels, so IE testing is performed via remote desktop. RDC now comes bundled with Office 11.
There are some apps I need to help me work
So that is what I need to actually get work done, but there are many little apps to truly make me productive.
- Alfred: I loved QuickSilver, but it occasionally didn’t do what I expected and was much more complex than I had need of. So when an old friend launched her first app, I happily switched over and have been very happy with how Alfred performs.
- Caffeine: Saving countless hours of nudging the mouse when the screen goes off during meetings…
- Dropbox: I mostly find the cloud-sharing app Dropbox useful for throwing files in that I need to access from home or mobile, but it also came in handy when migrating between laptops; all my bookmarks, useful settings, bash profiles and the like made their way over to the new machine via the magic of Dropbox.
- Fluid: I run my daily task app and system monitoring tools as standalone apps in Fluid.
- Jumpcut: Being able to recall the last forty pieces of text from my copy+paste clipboard has had an enormous effect on my work speed, more than you might expect; Jumpcut was the first clipboard management app I found and I’ve been happy with it for years.
- Visor: It’s not to everyone’s taste (especially anyone trying to work on my machine) but I much prefer to have Terminal accessible from any app or any Space on my Mac; this handy little app turns it into a pop-down console window akin to FPS game interfaces.
- Wunderlist: It’s not perfect, but Wunderlist with its free native Mac, iPad and iPhone app versions is performing pretty well as my GTD/task management setup for the time being.
And there are some apps that make work bearable
For me, no clean install would be complete without some music-related bits and pieces, and of course a drip-feed from the social network du jour.
- Last.fm: Online radio and iTunes scrobbling to my Last.fm profile.
- Spotify: Free (although soon to be heavily restricted) music; there’s not much they don’t have.
- Twitterific: I managed to kill Twitterific a few months ago on the old laptop, so it’s nice to have it back again. I tried the new Twitter app and couldn’t get on with it, and I’m still not sure I completely like the new version of Twitterific either since I can’t work out how to make it appear each time a new tweet is posted, but for now it will do.
One last tweak was necessary to finalise the new machine setup: replacing the default Mail.app icon with a UK version of the iconic stamp! I’m about as far from a royalist as you can get, but there’s something altogether wrong about a postage stamp without Her Maj on.
And that’s about it. You might have noticed that I’m missing a graphical app; I’ve always used Photoshop, but I’m debating whether to take this opportunity to switch to Fireworks. And no doubt I’ll end up with a few dozen scarcely used programs over the coming years, but for now these are my ‘clean machine’ go-to applications. If you have any suggestions or want to point out a glaring omission, comments are open.