Garrett Murray’s Sweet Mac Setup

Who are you, what do you do, etc…?

I’m Garrett Murray. I’m the Founder and Creative Director of Karbon, where we design & build awesome, award-winning iOS applications. We’ve worked with Google, Yelp, Condé Nast and ING Direct, among others.

I’m also an actor and an award-winning filmmaker. You may remember me from Forever’s Not So Long or Maniacal Rage TV.

What is your current setup?

Garret Murray's Sweet Mac Setup

Garret Murray's Sweet Mac Setup

My primary machine is a 2011 Thunderbolt 27-inch iMac with 16GB of RAM and the SSD+HDD option (250GB/1TB respectively). It’s the best computer I’ve ever owned — it has only one cable, it’s beautiful, and most importantly, it’s amazingly, mind-blowingly fast. I use the standard peripheral fare (Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, Wireless Keyboard), and I play music at my desk through Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers. Everything rests on a Herman Miller Airia desk and I sit in a Herman Miller Mirra chair. When not at my desk, I use a 13-inch MacBook Air.

In the office I’ve got a nice comfortable couch (that folds down to double as sleeping room for guests), dimmable lighting via a floor lamp and a cube lamp (that also doubles as a table for the couch), as well as a book shelf with all my various testing iOS/other devices, a wireless printer, and my FW800 Drobo. My wife and I share this office space so we’ve also got her desk and Cinema Display, as well as a media center that holds a TV, video games, and a Mac Mini for TV and video streaming.

Why this rig?

I’ve struggled for years to decide whether I want a laptop or a desktop, and this year I finally came to the conclusion I need both. When I’m sitting at my desk, I want a fast, large-screened computer. The iMac is that and then some. But when I’m away from the office I want a light, capable machine. Thankfully, the MacBook Air suits those needs very well. These days I basically live off Dropbox, so sharing data between the two computers is trivial.

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

  • I design and build iOS applications using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Xcode, Unretiner and Hues
  • I edit photos and video using Adobe Lightroom 3 and Final Cut Pro X
  • I develop web stuff using TextMate, CSSEdit and Transmit
  • I manage Karbon with GitHub, Basecamp, Campfire, Billings, TestFlight, Fantastical and Dropbox
  • I do everything else with Safari, Sparrow, Reeder, iA Writer, Alfred, Skype, CloudApp and Twitter for Mac

I recently reinstalled OS X from scratch and it presented a great opportunity to re-think what I installed. I kept the number of applications far lower than in the past and now my computer is less cluttered and faster.

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

I spend most of my time these days designing interfaces, so it’s very important that my work space be clean, well-organized and functional. There’s nothing worse for me than trying to make a pixel-perfect UI with a mess in my peripheral vision. I’m a bit obsessive, so order helps me focus. Of course, comfort is also very important. I like to play music while I work, so good speakers are a must. And I tend to spend the last few hours of the day listening to NPR while catching up on email and project management. It’s nice to be able to dim the lights in the evening and relax while closing out the day or working late.

When we moved to LA, we decided to make the larger bedroom a shared office, so now my wife and I can work in the same space and interact more during the day. That in addition to Campfire chat with the Karbon guys makes working from home feel surprisingly social.

Being surrounded by vibrant colors, art and prints, comfortable furniture — it all helps fuel my creativity. Whenever I’m stuck, I can usually look around the office and find some color or design element that will inspire an idea.

And it doesn’t hurt that the iMac is a fantastic beast.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

Honestly, this is very close to my ideal setup and to how I imagine working for several years to come.

My pipe dream is an iMac with an external slot for an SSD drive and a MacBook Air with the same feature, so I could simply move one single drive between them easily. That would cut down on data duplication and make it effortless to work with either machine at any time. Thankfully, until that exists, there’s Dropbox and iCloud.

A 35-inch display might be nice, too. My eyes aren’t what they used to be.

More Sweet Setups

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

Garrett Murray’s Sweet Mac Setup