First week on macOS

With the exception of an original iMac I worked on for a couple years after graduation, my personal computers have always been, well, PCs.

I've also had a progression of Android smartphones and tablets, plus a mostly abandoned Ubuntu laptop, but 99% of the time I'm sitting down to a machine with a keyboard, it's had a Windows OS.

Until last week—when I unpacked the refurbished MacBook Pro I'm using to type up this blog post.

I changed jobs in May and, with that, came a change of operating systems to stay in sync with my team. While I was given the option of sticking with a Windows machine, it would have been a painful choice to be the lone Windows box among a Rails team—just as it would have been to be the only dev on a Mac at my previous gig at a mainly .NET shop.

The switch has been mostly easy, and it seems it will be the little things that continue to confound me. How long will it take, for example, for me to stop moving my mouse to the upper right of a window to close it? Definitely longer than a week, it seems. Keyboard commands are still a bit foreign, and I definitely notice myself going for the mouse or touchpad to do things I knew almost instinctively at this point how to do via keyboard.

Speaking of using the mouse, one of the first things I added to my system was an app called Magnet because it was disappointing to lose the windows management options built into the latest Windows OS.

I also polled the hive mind and got recommendations for other apps and settings friends, especially other developers, found beneficial. From there, I discovered Setapp (affiliate link, btw), which has been useful for cutting down on the cruft of the app store and gives a chance to test out some apps I might otherwise ignore.

Other things I've installed and am enjoying:

  • Bear—While I've been an avid user of Evernote for years, I liked the idea of keeping my work-related notes truly separate and also wanted to take the opportunity to try something new. I enjoy the baked-in Markdown of this app, and it's clean look and feel. While the app doesn't include the sharing features found in Evernote, it was a pretty trivial task to export my notes on Elm and add them to Gist to share with my team. (Also kinda think this is a thing I could possibly automate, but didn't need to go down that rabbit hole at exactly that moment. More on automating things on my Mac in a later post. Hopefully not in 2019.)
  • itsycal—I appreciate having an at-a-glance calendar to easily coordinate meetings or suss out my after-work plans.
  • LaunchBar—Admittedly, I didn't do a detailed comparison of this versus Alfred or other launchers. Like Bear, time will tell if this is a choice I stick with.
  • Vanilla—While friends recommended Bartender, I couldn't wrap my head around paying $15 for something, again, that I was used to being default Windows functionality. I'm currently giving this smaller (and, yes, less pricey) app a whirl to see if it serves well enough.

Two apps that migrated with me from my Windows days:

  • Flux—I always notice when I'm using a machine sans Flux. After installing, I learned macOS has some eyestrain-reducing features baked in, but I haven't done a comparison, so flux is still there, running and being lovely
  • Visual Studio Code—I may be the only dev on my team using this code editor, but I have really grown to love it. I find it to be zippy and the Git integration to be awesome. 👍

One week in, my only current major pain point is my Razer keyboard; the Razer software seems to hate macOS (my custom settings occasionally delete/reset themselves?). I'm trying, at this point, to avoid going down the rabbit hole of researching new Mac-friendly mechanical keyboards.

I'll make an attempt to update this one month in (Will I still be attempting to close windows the Windows way? Tune in!). While there seem to be many blog posts about and for Mac power users, there is not as much discussion around folks making the switch to Mac (for the reverse, devs transitioning to Windows, check out the #davegoeswindows series by one of the ShopTalk guys). So, hopefully this can be a good resource for other old dogs learning new tricks.


As always, feel free to send comments to me via Twitter. Let me know what Mac apps you love or what customizations/settings make your life easier.