macOS Configuration

macOS Configuration


Alfred is a launcher and more. It doesn't completely replace Spotlight, but it does a lot that Spotlight doesn't.

Bartender hides menu bar items.

Daisy Disk file size visualizer.

Keyboard Maestro. All my app launch shortcuts, plus a few more complicated macros to manage Sidecar and my VPN.

SetApp is a software subscription service that provides many of the apps listed here, as well as others. It has the UI and UX that one wishes Apple's App Store did.

Yoink provides a temporary system-wide drop wells for dragging between apps and screens. I'm not sure how one is supposed to use a Mac without this. (I've been using Macs since 1984.)

Software Development

Visual Studio Code. My first editors were vi (on the terminal), and then I used emacs for more then a decade (first on the terminal, and then in and various macOS versions). I also spent many years each with Sublime Text and Atom.

GitHub Desktop. I prefer this to the command line now that I don't use git every day, and for quick visual review of changes (although VSCode is catching up in this regard).

Kaleidoscope is a folder and file comparison app. It also does conflict resolution (only for files, not people).

iTerm2. is fine but iTerm is better.

Dash documentation browser. I've contributed a couple of shortcut Cheat Sheets to this.

Typora is a markdown editor with code and WYSIWYG modes. Visual Studio Code with markdown extensions keeps improving but I still occasionally use Typora.

Octotree browser extension for exploring code in GitHub online.

Screenshot Apps

I use a ridiculous number of screenshot apps, but they each have different strengths. These are useful for preparing instructional material and other documentation; also, the occasional bug report.



  • Leaves shots pinned to the the screen. This is useful for making a snapshot of one window or tab to use as a static reference while working in another window or tab. I also use it for working with multiple “sheet tabs” of a Google Sheet, as a lightweight alternative to placing two windows side by side.
  • Screenshots are shown with a file proxy icon that can be dragged anywhere that expects a file, including the File Open dialog or a the upload drop zone of a web page. This is the screenshot utility that makes it easiest to move a screenshot into a web app or desktop application that doesn't accept pasted graphics.
  • Includes a shots browser that I don't use.
  • From the author of Yoink.


  • Adjust the borders of the shot after capture.
  • Annotations, including pixelate and step-by-step callouts.
  • Scrolling capture.
  • Capture window or area. Capture windows with or without shading.


  • Screenshot or movie of a window or area.
  • Supports scrolling capture
  • Timer
  • Optionally hides desktop icons, replaces by solid color or wallpaper.
  • Supports annotation, but the UI is heavier-weight than Xnip.
  • Has a cloud feature that I don't use.
  • Its strengths for me are recordings: include audio and webcam, show mouse and keystroke, hide notifictions, save as movie or gif.
  • Includes a “pin to screen” feature. TODO: Evaluate this compared to the same feature of ScreenFloat.

Gifox – encode a GIF of a selected window or area. Can also encode other files. TODO: Evaluate whether I still need this alongside Cleanshot.

TextSniper – OCRs the selected screen area into the clipboard. This is a quick way to grab text from an image or PDF.

Screenflow records the screen, webcam, and audio into its own file format that can be used with its built-in editor during post-production (see below). It records keys and mouse movement and clicks.

Illustrations and Graphic Design

Sketch for vector graphics.

OmniGraffle for diagrams. There's substantial overlap between Sketch and OmniGraffle. I find Sketch best for general vector graphics; OmniGraffle best for diagrams.

Pixelmator Pro for photo editing. Someday I might suck it up and learn Photoshop.

Typeface is a font book. It organizes the fonts and includes sample text.

Video Production

Final Cut Pro is my workhorse general-purpose video editor. I prefer the Magnetic timeline, and of course its performance and crash-free experience, to Adobe Premier.

Screenflow for editing screencasts. It's simpler than Final Cut Pro, and has built-in support for adding keyboard and mouse annotations in post-production (so that you don't have to burn them in at recording time).

Permute for transcoding media files.

QuickTime Player for video playback, and for quick video editing (trimming and extracting clips) when it's not worth creating a Final Cut project.

Elmedia Player is an alternative to QuickTime Player, with better support for playhead positioning and subtitles.

Downie for downloading videos from web sites – generally to use as B roll or as backup during presentations.


Keycastr is an open-source keystroke visualizer.

Presentify – adds a menu bar (confusingly, called Annotate instead of Presentify) that lets you mark up the screen, similar to whiteboard mode in Zoom.

Visual Studio Code – see

for how to run with a special profile just for presenting, and the Screencast settings.

Productivity Apps

Fantastical – alternative to It has natural-language event entry, calendar sets, multiple-time event proposals, and conference call detection. It can hide events and ignore notifications from shared calendars.

Magnet – tiling window manager.

Spark – alternative to Has snooze, reminders, quick replies, and integration with Pocket, Things, etc.

Things – to do manager. I dump everything into this.

Sorted – another to do manager, with auto scheduling. For more focussed Pomodoro-type work.

Notion as a personal wiki. As an experiment, this subdomain (but not my other domains) use to publish from Notion.

AirTable for end-user databases (tables that include linked and calculated columns). It doesn't do as much as Notion, but what it does it does better.

Roam Research for (initially) unstructured notes.

Google Drive, Docs, and Sheets Killer feature: being able to include multiple tables and charts as separate entities on a single sheet, instead of mashing them all onto the same grid (or putting them on separate pages).

1Password password manager.