Essentials of my OSX Setup November 2010

Since I wrote the first installment of this post I purchased a new MacBook Pro. Of course I just used my own post to grab all the software I needed and found that we needed some revisions.

I’ve still got some holes, specifically around virtualization and testing stuff in Windows. I’ve typically used Virtual Box on my PC’s. In the past I’ve used Parallels but wasn’t terribly impressed. Anyone have other solutions?

Applications

Web Development

<ul>
    <li>
        <strong><a href="http://www.cocoatech.com/" title="Pathfinder, Finder reinvented">Pathfinder</a></strong>
        The Finder in OSX is sorely lacking lets face it. It should have been updated with Leopard and now we're on Snow Leopard with the same sucky finder. Well Pathfinder does everything that Finder should. Dual pain file browsing, access terminal, a drop box to collect files in from around your system for an operation. Don't try it if you don't want to buy it. Once the trial runs out you won't be able to go without it so you'll buy it.
    </li>
    <li>
        <strong><a href="http://macromates.com/" title="Textmate, the missing editor">Textmate</a></strong>
        Sure Textmate has been around for a long time and hasn't been updated but when something works it works. If it doesn't do something you need (like SASS highlighting) then just search for a bundle and 99% of the time you'll find exactly what you were in need of. I currently add <a href="http://peepcode.com/products/peepopen" title="PeepOpen">PeepOpen</a> to my TextMate install. It's a smarter CMD-T and works in more than just TextMate.
    </li>
    <li>
        <strike><strong><a href="http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/" title="Textwrangler text editor">Textwrangler</a></strong>
        Yeah that's two text editors I must have on a system. While I love Textmate sometimes I just want to open one file and close it and Textwrangler is a bit lighter and offers a simple interface. I even write almost any blog post in Textwrangler because it doesn't have code completion to get in the way.</p></strike>

Lately I’ve just found that TextMate fills all my needs so I’ve skipped Textwrangler even though it’s an awesome piece of software.

  • Transmit
    Sure there are lots of free FTP clients but nothing compares to Transmit for beauty and functionality. One new awesome feature in Transmit 4 is the ability to mount any location as a local drive in Finder. Don’t even have to open Transmit but it will be accessed to send your files.
  • RVM
    If you’re doing any type of Rails development and you’re not using RVM then stop now and go read about it. RVM lets you easily test multiple rubies side by side in different terminal windows. If you bork your ruby install just kill the .rvm directory and you’re clean. This is a game changer for coding Ruby projects
  • Git
    If you’re coding anything and aren’t using version control give your head a shake and do your job right. Git is my version control of choice.
  • GitX
    While I am a strong advocate of using Terminal for Git sometimes you’ve made a file change and don’t remember what it is, that’s where GitX comes into play.
  • MAMP
    MAMP is the way to run a web server locally.
  • General OSX

    • MainMenu
      If you need to repair disk permissions, clean system caches, or clear your log files MainMenu has your back. MainMenu even performs these tasks on schedule. Just a great app to help keep your Mac in tip top shape.
    • RipIt
      RipIt makes it really easy to get your DVD’s into digital form. Depending on how you’re storing/viewing your movies you may not even have to convert them after.
    • HandBrake
      While I use RipIt to get the information of the DVD I use this to convert it into playable content for iTunes and my iPod. Sure HandBrake does rip the DVD’s to but RipIt as a first step makes this process way faster. Rip a bunch of DVD’s to digital files then use HandBrake to convert them.
    • NetNewsWire
      This is my OSX feed reader of choice. Pretty dang clean and easy to use. I wish that you could set the preferences so that nothing was marked as unread unless you marked it that way.
    • Clean My Mac
      While OSX is pretty awesome it comes preloaded with a bunch of stuff you just don’t need. I only speak English so Clean My Mac will kill all the extra languages among lots of other things. Sure lots of other apps can clean the languages out but Clean My Mac does lots of other things that help keep your Mac in tip top shape over the long term.
    • Watts
      I want to keep my battery good as long as possible since they’re no longer easily replaced that’s why Watts is now part of my OSX setup. The first calibration process takes a while, especially with the 7 hour battery life on the new machines, but I’m hoping it will be worth it with great battery health long term.
    • MarsEdit
      I do all my blogging in MarEdit now not TextMate. I wrote a fairly long blog post on the what/why about it so head over there to read up.
    • LaunchBar
      So the out of the box LB set up is pretty good but there are a few items I add for AppleScript currently. One thing that LB is missing is the ability to rate iTunes songs without switching applications. I install a Applescript that lets you do this. I also install a script for my current task manager EasyTask that lets me add a new task from LB. Read my review of EasyTask
      Get the scripts on Github
    • AppZapper
      I try lots of applications but hate having clutter so I remove them if they don’t cut the mustard and make it into my normal workflow. That is where AppZapper comes in. It removes all traces of an installed application not just the icon from your Applications folder. Invaluable to pretty much anyone that needs to uninstall stuff on their machine.
    • Adium
      The only Mac IM application I’ve ever found of any worth. Adium is simple and easy to use and pretty. Oh yeah the Tokyo subway sound scheme is also awesome.
    • Calibre
      I’ve ended up with tons of PDF books over the years and Calibre is the way that I organize them. Sure it means I have to fire up an application to see my PDF books but with the search built in and the extensive keyboard shortcuts it’s barely any time wasted.

    • Caffeine

      Ever on a Skype call or using a book for reference and not touching your Mac and it falls asleep? Caffeine is the solution to this little annoyance.

    • iDocument
      I got iDocument in some bundle at some point and decided to give it a shot. At some point I’ll write a proper review of iDocument. For now let’s just say that it keeps my documents organized and looks pretty dang sweet.
    • 1Password
      1Password took the place of LastPass for me recently. Not only does it deal with all my passwords, it takes care of my software licenses, and FTP/server accounts. Using one piece of software is way better than two. 1Password is also now available for Windows and syncs through Dropbox so it’s really a solution that requires no thought. I still use LastPass for my wife who doesn’t have the concerns about software and other accounts.
    • Delicious Library 2
      Who hasn’t lost DVD’s or books to well meaning friends that just forgot to return it and you forgot who had it? Delicious Library lets you catalogue all of your media and even lets you check it out to friends so you know who has it. No more ‘lost’ DVD’s.
    • DropbBox
      If you haven’t heard of Dropbox get your head out of the sand. Dropbox is a folder syncing application that is cross-platform. I put all of my Photoshop brushes, custom shapes…here and then place a link in Photoshop to the folder. I can now have PS on multiple machines with the same set of brushes. If I update it in one spot it’s updated everywhere. All of my current client files live here too. On save it’s synced offsite so I have an instant backup that is on all of my machines.
    • Scrivener
      While I write most of my articles in Textwrangler, as soon as something needs any associated material of any sort it goes into Scrivener. Scrivener is an awesome writing tool that lets you organize all your research and write the way you want to write. The feature list of Scrivener is way too big to go into in detail so head over to the site and take a tour.
    • FireFox
      Sure OSX comes with Safari which is a fine web browser but if you’re doing web development it really doesn’t cut the mustard. The extensions are the big thing that Firefox has going for it so here’s my list of extensions

    • Other Web browsers
      Like I said I’m a web developer so I also install:

    • iStat Menus
      Want to see what your system is doing, well iStat Menus has it. This also lets me kill some of the stock OSX menu icons and replace them with the smaller iStat versions.
    • KeePassX
      Sure I said I use LastPass for my passwords but I get numerous client passwords each month and I don’t want everything in there so I use KeePassx (Keepass cross-platform) and place the database in Dropbox to sync it amongst machines.

    • Linkinus

      No IRC isn’t dead. In fact the more you get into web development the more you’ll find that IRC is alive and kicking in most communities. Linkinus is a paid IRC client but it rocks. Want inline previews of links in IRC yeah it has it. Full keyboard navigation, yeah it’s there. If you don’t want to pay for it then don’t try it or you’ll have no choice.

    • RuckSack
      Sure almost everyone uses Stuffit but why? Rucksack does it all, is pretty dang cheap and is way more beautiful and easy to use than Stuffit.
    • Time Machine Editor
      While Time Machine rocks it’s lacking in features for power users. I don’t want it to backup every hour because it slows down any machine. Time Machine Editor lets you set the interval on which Time Machine will backup.
    • Tinker Tool
      Want to change where your arrows are on scroll bars? How about excluding dictionary entries from Spotlight? Tired of Time Machine asking about backup discs when you connect a new Hard Drive? Tinker Tool gives you access to a bunch of system preferences that Apple hasn’t let you touch.
    • Transmission
      Bit Torrent is a fast way to download files. I got the latest Ubuntu (10.04) in 10 minutes on the day it came out. The direct download takes at least 40 minutes. Transmission is simple and works.
    • Tweetie
      We’re all on twitter for portions of the day. While Tweetdeck used to be my go to client I’ve ended up finding it’s huge and I get lost in it. Tweetie has full keyboard navigation, a system wide shortcut is simple and just works.
    • VLC
      Sure OSX plays lots but sometimes QuickTime just sucks. Step in VLC. It’s quick, plays pretty much anything even live streams online.
    • Wire Tap Studio
      Need to record any sound in your Mac? If you can hear it WireTap can record it.
    • Audacity
      Don’t bother buying an audio editing application because Audacity has you’re back. it covers anything you need to do for editing audio and does it fast.
    • Woopra
      sure I use Google Anayltics but it’re pretty dang awesome to tweet about your site and see people come to it live. If you’re using it with WordPress you can even see people by name if they make a comment.
    • SynergyKM
      I have my keyboard and mouse plugged into my Windows 7 machine but I want to use both my PC and Hacintosh at the same time so I use SynergyKM to share the keyboard and mouse over the network. If you’ve never seen it then you should take a look. It shares clipboards between OS’s and lets you just move your mouse through the screen onto the other machine with no issues. It can be a bit finicky the first time you set it up but you can’t ask for something better. Still an awesome solution but I’m moving to one machine only so this won’t be part of my setup in the future.

    Design

    <strike>Yeah you don't see CS4 (or 5) here. My current Mac is a hackintosh netbook so while it works it's slow to use for anything put emergencies and thus I skip it. When I purchase a proper Mac it'll get on the list.</p></strike>
    

    The new machine is a proper Mac so CS4 is part of the setup now

    • CS4 (or whatever)
      We all know about Adobe and though I wish there was another option for design that let you work with other designers. Unfortunately there isn’t so we’re stuck with a huge piece of software and a company that really doesn’t seem to care about it’s users (ever try to download an older version of software you own?).
    • Acorn
      While I don’t install CSwhatever I do need soemthing to edit photo’s from time to time. Even just cropping things for blog posts, that’s where Acorn comes in. It’s a lightweight image editor. It’s runs quick on my Hackintosh and does it’s job so it’s on my list.

    • LittleSnapper

      As a designer I like to collect things that are pretty and I need some way to snap them online. LittleSnapper lets my snap things on my desktop and organize them.

    • Lightroom 2.x
      What??? I don’t install CSwhatever but Lightroom is okay? Well I end up out in the bush kayaking often and a picture isn’t safe till it’s in two places (really 3 is what I go for) so I carry the netbook and import pictures off my DSLR. This even lets me get a jump on keywording and deleting the ones that suck. I don’t store them here long term but it lets me having something to do on the long ferry rides back from creeking on Vancouver Island.

    Business

    <ul>
        <li>
            <strong><a title="Professional Time billing" href="http://www.marketcircle.com/billings/">Billings</a></strong>
            As a freelancer I need to track all of the time I spend on client project. I've tried numerous web services but always got stuck on monthly fees and not having access while working away from an internet connection. Billings recently jumped in to save the day. Billings has multiple currencies, an iPod/iPhone app and is really just beautiful. Add to that the one time purchase thus saving money over monthly fees and it's a solid winner.
        </li>
        <li>
            <strike><strong><a href="http://www.openoffice.org/" title="free and open source productivity suite">Open Office</a></strong>
            As I've mentioned a few times, I work cross-platform, so that means if I want to avoid Microsoft's Office I really only have one choice, Open Office. I've been an Open Office user for years and think it's pretty great. It sucks that it needs X11 under OSX but what can you do. The tool works.</p></strike>
        </li>
        <li>
            <strong><a href="http://www.apple.com/iwork/" title="Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, The Apple Way">iWork</a></strong>
            <p>Yeah like I said I need to work cross-platform so Open Office is a must have but honestly iWork rocks so when I can I'll use Pages or Numbers. They're way easier and more elegant.
        </li>
        <li>
            <strong><a href="http://postbox-inc.com/ref.php?r=R8RFPKC" title="First Class Email">PostBox</a></strong>
            Sure OSX comes with mail but honestly it's only okay. In particular I have to access an IMAP server on an odd port and Mail.app just never made it easy to add a permanent exception. PostBox is based on ThunderBird but is way more refined. I was a ThunderBird user but never found it to work just as I wanted. PostBox imported all my my setting from Mail (and ThunderBird on Windows7) with no hassle. I pay for a pain free experience.
        </li>
        <li><a href="http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/home" title="Talk to the World for Free">Skype</a> &amp; <a href="http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/" title="Skype recording that just works">Skype Call Recorder</a></li>
        I use Skype to call my clients for free if they have Skype. Even if I'm calling a land line Skype credits are cheap and the sound quality is good.
        Skype call recorder is the easiest way to record Skype calls for Your Workflow.
    </ul>
    

    Configuration

    Here are some of the things I do to set up the general system as well.

    • Terminal alias’s
      I’m a devoted command line user. It’s faster to do so many things and GUI’s for command line functions never have the same options. Really who wants to repeat their typing all the time though? That is where alias’s come in. I set up an alias for things like changing to my htdocs folder for my local dev environment, SSHing into my servers. I also set up alias’s to hit certain directories on my servers that I am in regularly. Save your self some time and learn how to set up alias’s.
    • Mouse
      The native setup of a mouse on OSX is way to slow so the first thing I do is to crank the mouse tracking right to the maximum setting. Even then I still find it slower than either Windows or Linux but at least it’s now tolerable.
    • Flip4Mac
      This lets me play windows media files on my mac with no issues. Just something you need if you’re going to use your machine.
    • Dang Spotlight Icon
      Going hand in hand with adding iStat Menus and Launchbar is the removal of that dang spotlight icon. I don’t use spotlight so I don’t want it taking up space. It’s a terminal line so it’s not very hard.

    That’s it, you could now setup your Mac like mine. Am I missing any applications that I should have? Found a better version of something that I need? Leave a comment and let me know.

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