The Sweet Mac Setup of @AppleSpotlight

Who are you, what do you do, etc…?

I’m Rob, but I’m better known as the guy behind the Twitter account @AppleSpotlight, where I write and link to stuff that I find useful or interesting.

What is your current setup?

Rob's Sweet Mac Setup

For my Mac setup, I use a 27″ iMac at my desk and an 11″ MacBook Air on the go. I can’t type that well, but I can touch type on a number pad. Therefore, I opt to use the Apple keyboard with numeric keypad. I use a Magic Mouse in one hand and a Magic Trackpad in the other for double the magic.

My iMac sits on a huge 3ft by 6ft desk from Design Within Reach, and I sit on a Herman Miller chair. I listen to JBL Creature speakers, which look super cool and sound just okay. My MacBook Air travels in a Tom Bihn bag and usually sits on a coffeehouse table.

As for iOS, I have the iPhone 5 and 3rd-generation iPad. I prefer my iPhone naked and currently use a sleeve by Richshaw for my iPad.

The iMac (and I suppose the cloud) is the hub of my setup. I treat everything else as a satellite device.

That said, this is how I spend my time by device (most to least): iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook Air.

Why this rig?

I was a little too early to the desktop-plus-laptop setup. In the early 2000s, I was using a Power Mac G4 Cube and a PowerBook G4. I wanted the power, storage, and larger screen of a desktop while in my office and the portability of the laptop while away. The experience of keeping things in sync, however, wasn’t ideal. Remember, this was before the days of iCloud, Dropbox, et al. So as a compromise I switched to a laptop-plus-display setup — a series of Powerbooks and MacBook Pros with a Cinema Display.

My current rig, along with the right software services, finally delivers on what I was hoping to achieve in the early 2000s.

There is no other tool in my life that I use more than iPhone, so I typically upgrade with each new version. Although upgrading gets expensive, all the improvements in each new model really add up when reaching for my iPhone several dozens times each day.

I love the feel of the iPad mini in my hands, but for now I prefer the larger, retina display and the larger keyboard.

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

There are so many great apps, but here are a selection of the ones I find particularly useful:

  • Tweetbot is my primary Twitter client.
  • Dropbox keeps my world in sync.
  • 1Password makes the hell that is passwords a little more tolerable.
  • Things is the task manager that helps me get things done.
  • Focus Time is a nice little iOS app to use with the Pomodoro Technique (if you haven’t hear of the Pomodoro Technique, it’s worth checking out).
  • Reminders is the place for my simple lists, like books I want to read, and shared lists, like the Whole Foods Market list that I share with my wife.
  • Simplenote makes it easy for me to take and find all of my notes.
  • Evernote is for those things that don’t fit in Simplenote, such as notes with photos. Although I’m not a fan of the interface.
  • Instapaper is the black hole where I store things that I rarely have time to read. I’m starting to play around with Pocket, however, and I really like what I see.
  • TripIt is awesome for organizing trip details. Don’t leave home without it.
  • Pixelmator on OS X is what I use to remind myself that I don’t know much about image editing.
  • SuperDuper is what I use for full backups.
  • CrashPlan is what I use for cloud backups.

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

This setup is not only about having the best tool for the job but also about having the best tool for where I am. It is also about having access to nearly all of my data and apps, regardless of where or what device I’m using. Apple and the strong Apple development community have made all of this simple and a joy to use.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I think my current setup is near ideal, but I have a feeling Apple may have something else in mind for me.

More Setups

Rob’s is one in a series of sweet Mac setups.

The Sweet Mac Setup of @AppleSpotlight