Above, Below, and Beyond Tech Talk

by Rahel Lüthy

December 10, 2011

The Setup

I started my new job at edorasware last week, with a new & shiny 15-inch MacBook Pro. A fresh computer with a blank OS is both, a blessing and a curse – it takes quite a while until it feels like home again. And even after a week, I still miss a few configuration settings or shortcuts here and there.

Setting up the new machine was certainly an opportunity to consolidate the apps and tools I like and need. Inspired by The Setup, here’s what I currently use to get things done:

As a Java developer, I spend most of my time in IntelliJ IDEA, the best IDE ever (weight this statement by the fact that I used Eclipse for 7+ years before). My second home is the command line. I use iTerm2, which has excellent search support, provides mouseless copying, and is more unixy than the official Terminal. I’m still learning to use Finder efficiently. The TotalFinder plug-in, with tab support and its Folders on Top mode, is my latest attempt at making friends.

A few crucial things help me organize & navigate my workspace: I use three virtual desktops (via Mission Control) which I access by keyboard shortcuts – 1 for Mail/Calendar, 2 for Browser, and 3 for IDEA. A launcher helps me kick-start applications. I switched from Quicksilver to Alfred – it provides the same features and is under active development. Divvy tames all window sizes & positions, clearly a missing feature in OSX.

Transitioning from Snow Leopard to Lion was more challenging than anticipated, mainly because of its different mouse usage paradigms. Most of the built-in gestures are easy to use, but some of them collide with my old habits (how the heck can I turn off horizontal scrolling in order to re-map the swipe gesture to back/forward navigation in IDEA?!). A while back I forced myself to exclusively use taps (rather than clicks) on the trackpad. Wow – the absence of the mechanical noise makes such a difference, everything suddenly feels very light and smooth!

These are pretty much the apps at the core. In addition, I like Chrome, 1Password, TextMate, Dropbox, Skype, Spotify, Acorn, Inkscape, Lightroom and OmniGraffle – just to name a few.

What are your favorite tools we should all know about?