After around 8 years working primarily on macOS (formerly known as OS X), 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.

Set Up 1

This is a pretty standard but great set up that I use often. A lot of it is derived from the default Apple implementations, First off, here’s an obligatory picture of my desktop at different times of the day.

homescreen day

homescreen night

As you can see, its a pretty clean setup. I have a 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. This is one of the set ups that I use often.

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.

extendedmenu

Because I barely use the menu bar unless its for getting certain information, I left only a few icons. The first ones (from left to right) are the wifi, then volume. Then, I have the battery icon. I choose not to show the percentages because I typically always am plugged in, or have a charger on me. Lastly, I have the date and time. I found that this combination is the best for me to get the information I need without feeling too cluttered (for example, by having the blinking seperator, or fully typed out date. Like why? I know what year it is).

Set Up 2

Another set up that I use involves uBar, which I mentioned in my list of favorite mac apps to use.

finder

Here, I replace the menu bar and dock with the uBar, which has all the information I need and offers a clean dark set up to use. This is a highly functional set up which also makes it easy for me to monitor tasks of other applications (when photo editing or video exporting). I hide the dock by placing it to the right side, and hide it. I also use Dockey to set the settings of having an extremely slow response time, so that even if I hover my mouse of the area in which the dock is supposed to come out, it won’t do so unless I’m there for around 2 seconds.

The background is from one of my favorite wallpaper collections from Jean-Marc Denis, part of his BLACK series.

General Settings

Hiding Desktop Files

finder

I have a folder Development in my Desktop, but there are no icons showing 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). For my Finder windows, I found it really cluttered to have folders in the sidebar which I never used; for example, I would never use “Connected servers,” but no matter what it was always there. Believe it or not, I only recently figured out how to remove it. Here are my sidebar settings (accessed by Finder > Preferences > Sidebar).

Finder Sidebar

sidebar

This eliminates all the unecesarry folders that I never access anyways, thereby making it a cleaner environment for me to work in. You may notice that I don’t have a Downloads folder. That’s because that is in my dock (next to the trash can). I always like to keep that clean, and use it as a temporary folder for moving files around. Hence, I prefer to keep it on the dock but not in the sidebar.

File Sorting

Another thing for Finder is customizing how the files are sorted, and how search works.

finderpreferences

In the Advanced Settings portion of Finder, you can see that I selected all folders to stay at the top of the directory. This helps because sometimes I know that I need to go a few levels deeper 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. This way, the folder is always on the top, making it much quicker for me to navigate.

The other setting I changed here is the search directory. Surprisingly, ‘the current folder’ is not the default option when searching in the Finder window. This makes the search much quicker and more accurate when looking for a specific file.

Hot Corners

The last thing I’ll talk about in this post is my hot corners. This is something I use a lot because I find them really convenient.

hotcorners

For the top left, I use it to hide all windows and look at my desktop. Notably, I do this when trying to hide a screen, or I want to open a Finder window without a lot of windows behind it, but not close any. The top right corner is for my notifications, so I can quickly look at the messages I’m getting (or my “Today”). I chose this corner because it is the same as the actual menu icon, but this way you don’t have to click the icon.

The bottom left is to put my display to sleep, so when I am going to leave the computer for a long time but I don’t want to close my laptop / am plugged into my main display. The bottom right is to show the screensaver, so I use this when I am going to be back soon. I find myself using this a lot in coffee shops to show that the screen is still active, while still locking the actual contents of the computer.

That’s pretty much the most of it for the majority of my Mac setup. I’ll talk about some of the apps that I use in another post.