Leo Babauta’s Sweet Mac Setup

Who are you, what do you do, and etc…?

I’m Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, mnmlist.com, and The Power of Less. I write about simplicity.

What is your current setup?

Leo Babauta's Desk

For a couple years, I’ve been using a combination of a 20″ iMac and a first-generation MacBook Air (yes, the ones with heat problems). Since our move to S.F. last month, I’ve been going with just the MacBook Air — I gave the iMac to my wife Eva.

I love using the MacBook Air as my full-time machine — it’s light, simple, and meets all my needs.

I don’t have an iPhone or an iPad, though both are drool-worthy.

Why this rig?

I’m a bit of a minimalist. I like to keep things as simple as possible, without sacrificing the essential functions.

I’m a writer, and all I really need is a browser and a text editor. The MacBook Air does those two things perfectly.

I don’t need a big monitor, as cool as they are. I don’t need a powerful CPU. I like lightness and simplicity and portability and focus.

What software do you use and for what do you use it?

I’m currently using Chrome and Notational Velocity, but sometimes I switch to TextMate or TextEdit or Omm Writer, depending on my mood or need.

Notational Velocity is lightweight, simple, fast. I’ve been doing all my writing in it — from todo lists to notes to full articles and blog posts. This way everything I have is instantly findable, it’s all stored in text (simple and accessible), and backed up via DropBox.

Chrome is lightning fast with a minimalist interface. I’ve tried all the other browsers but they just seem slow and clunky next to Chrome.

Other things I use regularly: LaunchBar for everything, 1Password, Transmit for FTP. Sometimes I also use WriteRoom, Scrivener, and MarsEdit for different writing needs.

How does this setup help you do your best creative work?

I like focus — simple software that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles helps me find that focus. I like things that do very little, very well. I try to cut out distractions — Tweetdeck or Tweetie, iChat or Skype, these things distract me.

Notational Velocity is the perfect writing app. All it does is write text, and it stores everything in text files, and you can find them instantly. You don’t need to file, and you don’t need to look for things.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I’m content with what I have. I love the simplicity of the MacBook Air — when I have to use someone else’s MacBook Pro, it feels heavy and clunky. Don’t get me started on how it feels to use someone else’s Window machine. It would be nice if my Air lasted for 20 years.

My only improvement would be to have the perfection of Mac OS combined with the openness of Linux.

More Sweet Setups

Leo’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.

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