How I Use my Mac

How I configure my Mac to fit my workflow

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I've been using MacOS since around 2011. Before that, I was using an old ASUS laptop running Linux Mint as both my personal and work computer. At the time, there were several pieces of software (thanks Cisco and VMware) I needed for work and study that, despite all of my efforts, I couldn't get to work and ultimately caved to my boss' idea that I get a Mac. Today, I have two M1 Macbooks Pro. One I bought in 2021 when they were released and one issued by work. MacOS recent releases feel like Apple is trying to push the system more in the iOS direction of simplification. It doesn't feel very "pro" anymore. For that and a number of other reasons, I prefer to use my desktop running Arch most of the time. But having the laptop form factor still keeps me reaching for the Mac often enough. So, here are a few tools and configuration tweaks I use to make it better fit my workflow.

I use a few apps to make the Mac behave more like my dwm configuration on Arch. To start, I have 10 "Desktops" setup. I use these in a similar way I use tags in dwm. I usually keep specific apps on specific desktops. In System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Mission Control I have Option ⌥ (which is where the super key would be) + 1 - 0 set to switch between the desktops. This way, muscle memory knows ⌥ + 1 is my browser, ⌥ + 2 is my terminal, ⌥ + 5 is Music and Overcast... you get the idea.

I also use a tiling window manager called Amethyst to arrange my windows. I've configured hotkeys for Option ⌥ + Shift ⇧ + 1 - 0 to move windows to a specific desktop and a few binds ⌥ + j or k to switch between windows in a stack, ⌥ + ⇧ + j or k to rotate stack, etc.

I use Better Touch Tool to create keybindings to launch apps like ⌥ + enter for my terminal or ⌥ + b for my browser. Finally, I use Alfred to do anything less common like launch programs I don't use every day, do web searches, copy passwords and so on.

With my browser, I use an extension called Vimium to allow me to use vim like keybindings to navigate around pages.

When I'm not in the browser, I'm most likely in the terminal. I use Alacritty with tmux on launch to keep tabs consistently open to the TUI programs I usually have open.

For file system navigation I use a combination of z which tracks your most commonly used directories and can cd to them with shorthand, lf as a file browser, and fzf configured with RipGrep for fuzzy searching.

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