Setting Up a New Mac

3 minute read

My Essentials For a New Macbook to Maximize Productivity and Efficiency

I generally only pay for apps that I think truly deserve my money, so for the most part everything here is free and open source. I have all of these linked on my macos-workflow GitHub repo but some people have asked me for a more thorough explanation. This post is a work in progress, more info coming soon.

Alfred

Used to do everything from the keyboard. The free version is powerful but the paid version is life-changing. On average I use Alfred 30 times a day, so the $35 pays for itself in time saved. Saving a few seconds per task here and there may seem trivial but if you’re working from the computer all day like I am those extra seconds really add up in a meaningful way. (This goes hand in hand with having a fast typing speed so you can execute commands faster - mine is about 100 WPM.)

Features I use a lot:

File search - much faster and more powerful than Spotlight

Navigation - lets you fly around your computer from the keyboard and launch applications and scripts with ease

Snippet expansion - useful for shortening what you have to type for frequently used snippets or simplifying hard to type sequences. For example, I have !sid mapped to my 10-digit student ID and :lenny mapped to ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

Bookmarks - you can open bookmarked pages from anywhere without needing your browser to be open

Clipboard history - copy and paste multiple items at once, restore previous clipboards, go back in time if you need something you copied and deleted, etc.

Dictionary - spellcheck and define words super fast

These are just a handful of the many useful features of Alfred. Click here if you want to learn more about what Alfred can do.

Workflows

The real power of Alfred comes from the ability to download and create powerful custom workflows. Workflows are only limited by your imagination, and any repetetive task can be automated. Click here to see some examples.

My downloaded workflows:

Workflows I created:

  • New Chrome Window
  • New Finder Window
  • Toggle Dock - easily show/hide the dock
  • Toggle menu bar - easily show/hide the menu bar
  • fn Toggle - toggle the fn key to either reveal F1-F12 on the touch bar, or expand the control strip

Window Management

  • Rectangle - window arrangement, tiling, snapping, etc. (basically a free, open source, better version of Magnet)
  • AltTab - Windows style alt-tab on macOS with a fully customizable appearance
  • Itsycal - menubar calendar (when you click on the date in menubar, a calendar appears - use E, MMM d h:mm:ss a under Appearance settings to copy mine)
  • Dozer - toggle show/hide of chosen menu bar icons

Terminal

Productivity

  • SelfControl - prevent access to distracting websites when you need to focus
  • RescueTime - track how you spend your screen time

Network Tools

  • Radio Silence - monitor incoming and outgoing network connections and selectively block specific apps

Updated: