After around 8 years working primarily on MacOS, I still switch up how I organize my digital workspace and life. This post will be a small curation of little tips and tricks that I use when working within Apple’s ecosystem.
This is a pretty standard but great setup that I use often. A lot of it is derived from the default Apple preferences. First off, here’s an obligatory picture of my desktop.
As you can see, its super basic desktop, but pretty clean. I have a hidden dock with the apps I use most primarily, a menu bar with very few icons, and a nice color scheme that automatically switches from light to dark based on the time of the day. I can’t really ask more for aesthetics.
One more thing you can see in the desktop screenshot is the menu bar. Normally, there’s a lot more that is shown in the menu bar. By default, you can reorder it, but you can’t hide it. I found a really nice app called Vanilla that lets you hide the certain apps. You can then re-expand it by clicking the arrow.
Because I barely use the menu bar unless it’s for getting certain information, I only leave a few icons visible at all time. This helps decrease the clutter from all the menu icons of the apps that are running in the background, that I don’t care about.
Sometimes, I’ll switch my setup to always encompass a dark mode no matter what. This means setting the mac theme to dark mode, setting all the highlight colors to graphite, and changing the wallpapers to black. My favorite dark wallpaper collection is from Jean-Marc Denis, part of his BLACK series.
Hiding Desktop Files
Even with files in my
Desktop folder, no icons show up on my desktop. I did this by running the command
$ defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false; killall Finder
in terminal. This basically hides any icon from showing on the desktop (until you re-enable it). This keeps the “home page” of your laptop always clean, and the
Desktop folder still a usable directory to store any files.
I like to make my trackpad and mouse speed fast, so that I have to move my fingers less (I’m lazy). This takes a while to get used to, but really helps when trying to navigate around quickly. Namely, I don’t have to lift my finger up again after it’s fully extended.
One of the most convenient features of the mac trackpad is the ability to highlight with 3 fingers. By setting all the default gestures to 4 fingers, you can enable this feature.
System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Trackpad Options, there is a checkbox to enable this feature.
I tend to delete a lot of the code I write by pressing and holding the delete key. However, the default setting for Apple makes this take a long time, as it happens very slowly. In addition, there is a long delay from holding down the button to when it actually begins to start deleting. I fixed both of these issues in System Preferences to reduce the lag.
For my Finder windows, I found it really cluttered to have folders in the sidebar which I never used, such as “Connected servers.” If I’m never using them, why should it always be there?
I removed any folder that I didn’t use regularly from my sidebar, accessed by
Finder > Preferences > Sidebar.
This eliminates all the unnecessary folders that I never access anyways, thereby making it a cleaner environment for me to work in.
Another tweak I’ve made for Finder is changing the behavior of file sorting, and the scope of the search works.
Finder > Preferences > Advanced, I selected all folders to stay at the top of the directory. This helps because sometimes I know that I need to go through a few more directories to get a to a specific location, and I don’t want to have to scroll through the current directory to look for the folder that I have to enter. This way, the folder is always on the top, making it much quicker for me to navigate.
The other change here is the search directory. Surprisingly, ‘the current folder’ is not the default option when searching in the Finder window, which can be extremely frustrating. Changing it This makes the search much quicker for a specific file which you think is somewhere close.
Hot corners can be super annoying if accidentally triggered. However, they have become an integral part of my workflow, and I find them really convenient.
Top Left: I use the desktop shortcut to hide all windows and look at my desktop. I do this when trying to open a Finder window without a lot of windows behind it.
Top Right: I use this corner for my notifications, so I can quickly look at the messages I’m getting. I chose this corner because it is the same as the actual notification menu, but using a hotcorner, I don’t have to actually click the icon.
Bottom Left: I use this corner to put my display to sleep quickly. This is convenient when I need to get up to quickly grab water, but I don’t want to close my laptop.
Bottom Right: This corner activates the screensaver, so I use this when I am going to be away a while. I also find myself using this a lot in coffee shops to show that the screen is still active, while still locking the computer.
Screenshots are an invisible part of my workflow - I don’t want them cluttering my desktop, or random files popping up months later. That’s why I downloaded Xnip, because it allows me to copy the file directly. However, if you prefer the macOS screenshot system, you can actually have the file copied to your clipboard and not saved. This saves a lot of time when you only need to quickly send it to somebody.