Setting up my new Mac
Posted December 29th, 2013
I recently started a new job as a Lead Developer and one of my first tasks was to set up my new Mac. I decided to take this opportunity to write about some of my favourite tools and apps I currently use and need to get the job done.
This is always the first thing I do when reformatting a computer or setting up a new one. Chrome is my primary browser, be it for dev or just browsing the web. The dev tools in chrome are hands down the best.
I have been working with Sublime Text for about 2 years now and it's by far my favorite editor. Instead of going on about how much I love Sublime, I'll save that for another post. And if you would like to hear about how to configure Sublime, I'll go over that in another post as well.
iTerm is a great app. It's basically the terminal app on steroids. It's super customizable and has a lot of features to make your life easier. I know for a fact I'm not using this to its full potential and I plan on teaching myself some more about it.
Alfred 2 is kind of like Mac's built in Spotlight app. It's a power-user type application that allows you to launch applications quickly, and execute scripts. There is a free version, but its true power lies in enabling the paid version. There are a lot of extensions developed by the community that you can add once you have the paid version. Simple things can be added, such as an extension that searches Stack Overflow without needing to open a browser.
This app does a better job of uninstalling apps by uninstalling all hidden files that would get left behind if you were to drag an app in the trash. There are probably quite a few of these out there, this just happens to be the one I use.
ClipMenu is a simple background application that records up to one hundred clipboard history states. It's something I use everyday. You can also use it to store snippets, but I tend to leave those in my text editor.
How many times have you taken a screen capture of something, brought it into Photoshop, and used the eyedropper just to get a hex value? ColorSnapper makes it so you can get a hex of anything on your screen at any point in time.
This application supplies you with offline documentation, which is great when you are traveling or have a weak wi-fi connection. You can also search all this documentation with the Alfred app above.
I do most of my FTP'ing within Sublime, but when I do use an FTP client, I use FileZilla. One of the things I like the most about it is that if a file ever fails, it would put them in a queue and I would be able to re-upload those files. It's not the prettiest FTP client, but it does the job.
This is my current go-to tool for image optimization. Saving for web in Photoshop reduces the size, but ImageOptim is able to shave it down even more. The app gives you a nice, simple drag and drop interface to do this.
MAMP is a local web server, but you knew that already. I've been using MAMP for a while now, and I plan on building a VM for local development so I can mirror the production server.
This is a simple markdown editor that allows you to see the output in a side by side view.
I've recently switched to Sequel Pro from Navicat because it's a free version and seems to do all the basic things that Navicat does. I don't have much experience with it yet, but it seems promising.
I use a few of the Omni group applications for planning. I use OmniOutliner, OmniPlan and OmniGraffle. The Omni group of apps are in my opinion, top of the line apps when it comes to planning projects. OmniOutliner allows you to collapse, nest and create columns for notes. OmniPlan allows you to create Gantt charts. OmniGraffle allows you to draw visual representations of application flow, for example.
SASS is a CSS pre-processing command line tool. I use it in conjunction with Compass, which helps with a lot of CSS3 browser prefixes and other helpful mixins.
Git is an open source version control system. It allows you to track changes on your code, and works as a safety net. If you're not familiar with Git, I highly recommend looking into it as it's almost an industry standard.
On top of Safari and Chrome, I like to get the current version of Firefox and Opera for when I'm doing cross-browser compatibility checking. I don't tend to use any browser other than Chrome, besides when testing.
This is a virtualization tool that allows me to install and run IE in a Windows environment on a Mac. Microsoft offers these VM's for free on their site. I use this so I can see how bad my sites break in IE, because we all know how fun that is.
This is an obvious one, but I thought I should have it in here anyways. I use this for slicing up my websites (just kidding of course).
Operating System Tweaks
Some of the things I like to do to a new Mac is show the hidden files so I can find all the dot files I need to work with. I also like to hide my dock, to have more screen real estate and less distractions. I also set up Spaces - because one desktop is never enough.
These are the main tools and apps I'm currently using to be more efficient and get the job done. This is not the list I would have made a year ago, as developers are constantly coming across new apps. If there's something that's not in the list that you regularly use, I'd love to hear about it. Or if you have any questions about why I use the apps I do, leave a comment below and I'd love to share.
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