Setting Up a New Mac

4 minute read

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 “Powerpack” has paid 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:

  • Caffeinate Control - prevent computer from sleeping for a specified time period
  • Convert - fast unit converter. Ex: conv 3m ft converts 3 meters to feet in seconds
  • DarkOrLight - easily switch between system light/dark mode
  • Emoji search - search and copy emojis to clipboard with emoji <description of emoji>. Uses NLP to figure out what emoji you’re looking for, i.e. emoji mind or emoji blown brings up the exploding-head emoji because you use it when you want to say mind blown.
  • GitHub Repos - search and open your repos on GitHub fast. For example, instead of going to github.com, then searching for my macos-workflow repo, I can just type gh mac and hit enter.
  • IP Address - instead of going to the command line or Googling what is my IP, just type ip into Alfred to see your local and external ipv4 and ipv6 instantly.
  • Zoom Meetings - makes using Zoom so much better, you can generate your own meeting and copy its invite to clipboard with zm or join a meeting without the annoying popup with zm <url>
  • New File - create new files from the keyboard instantly in any finder window with nf filename.extension
  • Play Song - intuitively and quickly access Music from Alfred. For example, instead of going into the Music app and looking for a song, just type playsong <songname>
  • Search Reddit - instantly jump to a subreddit in a new browser tab by typing r/<subreddit_name>
  • Simple Timer - set notification reminders. For example by typing timer 30m do laundry! I get a push notification in 30min that says do laundry!
  • Stopwatch - instantly open a stopwatch widget
  • TemporaryEmail - generates a temporary email address, copies it to clipboard, and open its inbox with tmpmail
  • Terminal Finder - open current terminal directory in finder or vice versa just by typing ft or tf
  • Time Zones - view chosen time zones and convert times between time zones with tz
  • Weather - get weather, precipitation %, and sunset time by the day with wtd or get temps and precipitation by the hour with wth

Workflows I created:

  • New Chrome Window with ng
  • New Finder Window with nn
  • 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. from the keyboard (basically a free, open source, better version of Magnet)
  • AltTab - Windows style alt-tab on macOS with a customizable appearance and functionality
  • 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 mimic the native look)
  • Dozer - toggle show/hide of chosen menu bar icons

Terminal

Productivity

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

Network Tools

  • Radio Silence - monitor incoming and outgoing network connections and selectively block specific apps. I paid $9 and use it to get infinite free trials on some apps that cost a lot more than $9.

Updated: