Mac OS X Development Setup — The Basics

Dock

System Preferences > Dock
  • Enable auto-hide. Why would you not, if you’re hardly ever going to use the dock? Free up some precious space on your screen!
  • 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.

Keyboard

System Preferences > Keyboard
  • Set ‘Key Repeat’ to ‘Fast’.
  • Set ‘Delay Until Repeat’ to ‘Short’
  • Caps Lock is probably the most easily accessible key after the Space bar and Return, but you hardly ever use it.
  • 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

Trackpad

System Preferences > Trackpad
  • Increase the tracking speed. One or two ticks below the maximum works really well. It lets you move the pointer around the screen quickly and cover large parts of the screen using small movements. If you touch type, you can now use your thumb to move the pointer around the screen. Very convenient!
  • 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.
  • ‘Swipe with four fingers’ to switch between desktops and fullscreen apps. This is another gesture that fits in really well with my development workflow. For instance, when I’m working on a website, I open an editor and a terminal window in one desktop, and a web browser in an adjacent desktop. I use this gesture to quickly switch back and forth during development.
  • Three finger drag. This one is a bit tricky to enable, but once you’ve enabled it, you’ll never need to use the hardware click button again. It is located under “System Preferences” : “Accessibility” : “Mouse and Trackpad” : “Trackpad Options” : “Enable dragging (three finger drag)”. Once enabled, you can swipe with three fingers to select text and drag-n-drop items. It’s really smooth. Give it a shot!
System Preferences > Accessibility > Mouse and Trackpad > Trackpad Options
  • Zoom screen using Control + scroll gesture. This is really handy when you want to take a closer look at a specific part of the screen. Just hold Control (or Caps Lock if you’ve remapped it to Control), and scroll to zoom in. It is located under “System Preferences” : “Accessibility” : “Zoom” : “Use Scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom”.
System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom

Bonus - Window Management

A browser, an editor and a terminal
Moom in action

Conclusion

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Founder, Jovian

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Aakash N S

Aakash N S

Founder, Jovian

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