Mac OS X Development Setup — The Basics


System Preferences > Dock
  • Move it to the right. It’s least intrusive there. On the left, it interferes with the sidebars of editors and IDEs, and at the bottom, it pops up whenever you try to select some text at the bottom of the page.
  • Make the icons smaller. Not too small, but small enough that they do not occupy too much space on the screen even when the dock is visible.
  • Remove all the pinned applications. This setting will allow you to see all the open applications with a quick glance at the dock. And if you’re going to use the Spotlight to open applications anyway, there’s no point keeping apps in the dock when they’re not open.


System Preferences > Keyboard
  • Set ‘Delay Until Repeat’ to ‘Short’
  • Control, on the other hand, is somewhat tricky to find with your left pinky, which is why probably you tend not to use many keyboard shortcuts that involve Control.
  • If you’re a vim user, you can now use ‘Caps Lock+ [’ to quit the insert mode, which is somewhat easier that pressing ‘Esc’.
System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys


This is where it starts to get interesting. The MacBook has an amazing trackpad and an incredible set of gestures that have become an indispensable part of my workflow. Here’s how I configure the trackpad :

System Preferences > Trackpad
  • Enable ‘tap to click’. As much as I love the trackpad, I hate clicking. Why put all that pressure on a finger to press a hardware button when a soft touch will do the job in half the time? This setting also lets you perform clicks with your thumb, because you don’t need to reach out all the way to the bottom of the trackpad.
  • ‘Two finger tap’ for secondary click. It’s faster, softer on the fingers, and lets you perform the action on any part of the trackpad.
  • ‘Three finger tap’ for ‘Look up’. Not very useful for software development, but it’s handy for quickly looking up words in the dictionary or entries on Wikipedia.
  • ‘Swipe up with four fingers’ for Mission Control. This is one gesture I use very frequently. I have 4–5 desktops, one or two for each project I’m working on, with 3–4 related windows per desktop. I use this gesture to switch between applications and desktops, and to move applications from one desktop to another.
System Preferences > Accessibility > Mouse and Trackpad > Trackpad Options
System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom

Bonus - Window Management

As a programmer, you’ll often need to look at multiple windows at once. For example, the following screenshot shows an arrangement of windows I end up using very frequently for web development:

A browser, an editor and a terminal
Moom in action


While the settings covered in this articles may seem like minor changes, they have become a very important part of my workflow. I hope you find some of them useful.



Founder, Jovian

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