What’s on my Mac — 2020 edition

Since we are currently all spending a lot of time home, in front of our computers, I figured I should share at some point what are the apps I use on my own computer. Catching up on my reading list today — something the confinement should help me with — I found Carl MH Barenbrug’s blog post, describing his Workspace Setup, along with a picture of his beautiful minimal desk. In it, he writes:

For my desktop, it’s as clean as you can get. I actually use the dynamic gradient wallpaper that comes with macOS Catalina, which I think is really soothing on the eyes. My app dock is always hidden by default and only pops up on mouse hover. This not only helps me focus on the app in use, limiting distraction, but it also allows me to appreciate the desktop artwork so much more. The only files that visit the virtual desk are screenshots. And even then, I remove them immediately after they’ve served their purpose.

I shared this part of the post because I do the exact same: from the hidden dock to the dynamic wallpaper. I too use “Solar gradients” and indeed it is quite nice. My desktop is also very clean: I only use it as a temporary location for files before they either get deleted, or moved to a folder; just like on an actual desktop.

Recently, I’ve been giving a lot of thoughts about the apps I have installed on my Mac since I will get a new one in a few days. I’ve heard very good things about Migration Assistant, but since I only have seven apps on top of the default MacOS programs1 — and also because I love doing it — I will set up my new MacBook Air from scratch.

This is what I plan to install on it:

  1. 1Password: I simply could not do anything without it. Well, I have most of my passwords saved in Keychain too, but all my two-factor authentication codes are on 1Password, so this is not only a must-have app, it is also the first app I install on every new device.
  2. Tweetbot: The more you use Tweetbot, the less appealing the Twitter website experience becomes. It is fast, works very well, doesn’t display any ad and only shows the trending topics if you go look for them.
  3. Pastebot: From the same company that makes Tweetbot (Tapbots), this time a clipboard manager. It has various advanced functionalities but I use none of them: I just use it to access my previous 100 clippings, and I can access them simply by typing cmd alt V. Windows 10 have this kind of clipboard as a native feature, and I wish MacOS eventually gets it too: it is more useful that I imagined.
  4. DuckDuckGo Essentials: OK so technically not an app, but a Safari extension that not only blocks a lot of trackers, but it makes the browsing experience faster and better. I whitelisted a lot of sites I like and trust, and the extension also gives a score to the websites you visit: I get a B+!
  5. Drafts: No need to go too much into details here, I already explained in length why I use this app for writing. Short version: this is the perfect app for me.
  6. NetNewsWire: The only app in the list that is not available on the Mac App Store. It is a great RSS reader, and it recently got out of beta. If you use RSS, why don’t you give it a try? It is free and supports the open web.
  7. Dropbox: The newest app on this list. Last year I moved all my files to iCloud and even deleted my Dropbox account: I did not have a use for it anymore. I recently added it back to publish blog post on The Jolly Teapot using Blot. Dropbox is exclusively used for my website, and I disabled the Finder integration.

A few things I can add on top of this list: I am a big users of Hot Corners2, I recently made the most useful MacOS script work, I always hide the clock on the menu bar because I find it distracting, and I have never ever used the notifications / today panel. I may try to learn a little bit of Final Cut Pro since there is an [extended trial available][18] during the confinement, but this is pretty much it.

Oh, and you can see what my desktop looks like here.

Let me know on Twitter or via email what are the apps you have on your Mac and what makes your set-up really yours. Thanks for reading.

  1. I always give native / preinstalled apps a better chance, and in the case of Apple, they usually stick: the new Reminder is very very good, Mail has been more than decent, Notes works really well and iCloud Drive, Photos, and of course Safari have all been pretty much perfect for me.↩︎

  2. When I use someone else’s computer and I need to launch an app, I automatically move the mouse pointer to the bottom left corner of the screen to activate the Launcher: more than 10 years of muscle memory right there.↩︎