What Type of Mac User Are You?

I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this, you’re a Mac user (or very close to becoming one). But what does “Mac user” really mean? The beauty of today’s powerful desktop and notebook computers lies in how they can be used for almost anything.

People are using Macs for designing, writing, producing and editing video, creating films, post-processing their photos, astronomy, controlling their home, running a web server, and even as a replacement to the slew of boxes that used to sit underneath their TV.

A Mac “user” could mean almost anything. So today I’m going to give you an insight into what this means for me personally, and ask that you also share your own story. How do you use your Mac, and what does it enable you to do every day?

It probably won’t surprise you that, as the editor of a Mac software website, I use my setup for all manner of different things. The actual basic hardware I own is fairly modest – a MacBook Pro connected to a 23″ Cinema Display. Nothing too fancy or over-specced!

Here are a few of the different tasks that I use my MacBook for, and the software that helps me get work done:


Unsurprisingly, I do quite a bit of writing and editing. Although I’d love to say that I use a fancy tool such as MarsEdit, that isn’t the case. The majority of the writing I do takes place either in the WordPress admin panel, or TextMate.

Writing in WordPress!

Writing in WordPress!

For anything slightly longer and more detailed (or requiring a degree of attractive presentation), I’m a huge fan of iWork and Pages. The days of cringing while clicking the icon for Microsoft Word are long behind me; I was very pleased to see the back of that spaghetti-esque mess of an application.

I also send quite a bit of email, which – in my book – counts very much as “writing”. I find a combination of Mail and Gmail to work perfectly for my needs, and I have a few filters set up at the Gmail end which make life easier. TextExpander saves me a few hours of typing every week, and was a fantastic investment.

Designing & Programming

In the time I spend outside of WordPress and Mail, I work on a few other web projects that involve quite a bit of designing and coding. I consider myself an intermediate level Photoshop user, though I’ve fallen in love with Pixelmator for simple tasks over the past year.

MAMP and TextMate in Perfect Harmony

MAMP and TextMate in Perfect Harmony

I have a slightly customized local installation of MAMP for testing out and developing web apps, and have recently switched over to TextMate from TextWrangler. The latter worked absolutely fine, but TextMate feels somehow more powerful and robust.

I’ve experimented with Querious quite a bit, but still find that the standard PHPMyAdmin tool is the easiest solution for basic MySQL tasks (sorry if this is getting a little technical!)


I really enjoy photography, and find that OS X is the perfect companion for my Canon SLR. I’m a big Aperture fan, though the frankly awful performance in the latest release is seriously pushing me to swap across to Lightroom. The prospect of moving tens of thousands of photos across is still a little too daunting at present…

The ever-sluggish Aperture

The ever-sluggish Aperture

Camera RAW and Photoshop make for a great post-processing package of tools, and I’ve been really impressed with the Flickr upload tool in Aperture for sharing my photos elsewhere.


There’s definitely something to be said for taking some time out, and my MacBook also acts as the “media centre” in our apartment. I don’t use any fancy software for this – just a simple combination of iTunes and BBC iPlayer.

I use a Drobo to store my (slightly ridiculous) 800GB iTunes library, and have nothing but good things to say about it. I love knowing that my media is safely backed up across two drives, and expanding for greater storage space is incredibly simple.



VLC is a brilliant solution for any video that isn’t in an iTunes compatible format.

A Paper-Free Office

Last but not least is the system I have in place for my paper-free office. This is something that I absolutely love, on account of my distain for clutter of any kind…

It consists of an absolutely fantastic ScanSnap S300M scanner, and a copy of DevonThink Pro Office (the version with OCR built in).

DevonThink Pro Office

DevonThink Pro Office

It means that I can quickly scan documents, have them recognised as searchable PDFs and organised in DevonThink, then shred the originals in the peace of mind that the file is stored on my MacBook hard drive, Drobo, and Dropbox. Backed-up paper-free bliss!

So How Do You Use Yours?

So that’s me! There are a few other apps that I use quite regularly, but to go through absolutely everything here would probably take all day…

I’d really love to hear what type of Mac user you are. Is is a tool purely for work? For entertainment? Or for something completely amazing that I’ve never heard of?

Either way, let me know in the comments – and be sure to share the apps that you use to get the job done. I’m hoping to pick a few of the most interesting respondents to interview over the next few weeks!


Add Yours
  • Writing: Check
    Design & Programming: Check
    Photography: Check
    Entertainment: Check
    Paper-Free Office: Check

    Installing countless Mac apps that I’ll never use simply to feed my addiction: double check.

    • That last thing… Wow! I agree absolutely with that

    • All of them plus Music via Logic.
      It was audioediting that brought me to the Mac in the first place.
      Now i use it for everything.

      • I’m constantly downloading new apps and telling friends “Hey guys! I just found this app that…!” And now people ask me what new apps are out… anyone else?

    • Bundles are my addiction.. So many great mac application and design bundles come out every year… Just cant pass them up.

    • same on the last thing.
      between music and apps..im going crazy

  • Writing
    Design (Industrial Design)
    Web Server? ( possibly soon)/

  • Photo management: iPhoto
    Music: iTunes
    Movies: VLC
    Designing: Photoshop and Pixelmator
    Coding: TextMate (exclusively, I love this thing, so powerful!)
    Video editing: iMovie
    Writing: Pages
    Presentations: Keynote
    Mail: Gmail
    ToDo and Scheduling: iCal + Anxiety
    Invoicing: Billings
    Backup: TimeMachine

    Other: Tweetie, Adium, Cinch, 1Password, Droplr, FrontRow (when connected to TV), MAMP, Quicksilver (although I’m on my way to switch to Spotlight).

    • Wow. That’s nearly identical to my setup. Except that I use Adobe Bridge for photo organization and Lightroom to edit them.

  • “I’ve experimented with Querious quite a bit…”

    Ha he.

  • I think I speak for a lot of us when I say D) All of the above.

  • All of the above?

  • D) all of the above

    Logic Studio – check
    Things – check
    MacJournal – check
    AppZapper – check (to clean up all those useless apps I install to feed the addiction) ;)

  • Design & programming all the way!

    • – Photoshop
      – Illustrator
      – MAMP (an absolute ‘must’)
      – Flash (if needed)
      – Billings (to track project time/invoicing)
      – Dreamweaver (just for code editor, no plug-n-play design features used)
      – iTunes (to keep me sane while working)

      • You should embrace TextMate and Transmit. They’ll change your life.

        – Photoshop
        – Bridge
        – Illustrator
        – Flash
        – InDesign
        – TextMate
        – Transmit
        – Font Case (Font Management)
        – Airfoil (Coupled with Pandora One for over the air Tunes)
        – Final Cut Studio
        – FireFox
        – Adium
        – Twitterrific
        – DropBox

    • Eclipse for programming is the best thing to happen to the world.

  • I used to use my Mac for school purposes mainly while I finishing up college. Mellel for my theses writing and Bookends for reference management where my saviors at that time.

    I too am an avid Photoshop user, but like you, David, I have come to cherish the simplicity and speed of Pixelmator for tasks that don’t require a mighty tool like PS. For photo management I rely solely on Lightroom (performance!) for my DSLR photos and iPhoto for the snap shots.

    I have managed to persuade my bosses to get me a Mac and the necessary software for my line of work, so now I am enjoying the power of Espresso, the complete Adobe CS5 suite, Forklift, Fontcase, Timeline 3D, 1Password and Blast on my work space as well.

    And to my surprise many of my colleagues have stopped by and – despite themselves – admired the iMac and you could see the longing peek out from under their pretense not to like Apple products (they are hard core linux and windows users). I will convert them eventually of course :)

  • Mainly web / graphic design, but also many other things with neat apps in Mac OS X environment:

    Web- / graphic design, photo editing: Coda, Photoshop, MAMP, ImageOptim
    FTP: Transmit
    Social: Echofon, Tweetie, Socialite
    Mail: Postbox
    Task management: Things
    Music: iTunes, Bowtie
    Audio editing: Audacity, Switch
    Movies: VLC, for editing iMovie
    Maintenance: OnyX, CleanMyMac, iDefrag, AppZapper, TinkerTool
    Theming: ThemePark, CandyBar, Hobiconer
    Other: Quicksilver, Watts

    …and more.

  • I pretty much use my Macbook Pro for work purposes using a combination of the Adobe Suite and then Espresso, Querious (for MySQL), MAMP, and TextMate.

    I use TextExpander for quick programming snips and other frequently used things like jQuery hosted by Google.

    Otherwise this laptop goes for my normal web browsing and chat. Very rarely used for media as all of my music and videos are on my PC or played through my entertainment system via my PS3.

  • All of them! And also as a media server for the others in the house…. although it would make more sense to use someone iMac over my MacBook which is out the house as often as it is in.

    • Dock contents:
      Address Book
      Tweetie (@danielsgroves)
      On The Job
      Preview (it annoys me when it doesn’t close completely as is left at the end of my dock)
      Pear Note (Love it for lectures)
      System Preferences

      I also use the following lots:
      Disk Utility
      iStat Menus
      Delibar2DoSync helper

  • Universal Domination…
    and all that other stuff too. :)

    Great post. It would make a great elevator speech for converting “the others” to a Mac.

    Check out Roger Dooley’s article on how Steve Job’s creates a Us v. Them environment for us Fanboys.


  • Movies/TV: VLC + Hulu
    Music: iTunes
    Graphics: Photoshop + Pixelmator
    Web Development: Coda + Transmit
    Testing Environment: MAMP + Parallels
    Photo Management: Lightroom
    Social: Hootsuite + Skype + Gabble
    Quick Sharing: Droplr
    Email: Notify + Gmail

    Pretty much everything else, web apps! :D

  • Nothing amazing. I’m a web designer and I use the Mac for work and also for fun. I quit using Adobe Creative Suite when I switched to Mac and right now I’m using and loving Pixelmator, Espresso, etc. Cyberduck is the cutest icon I’ve ever seen and a very complete FTP client, although I prefer to upload files directly from Espresso.

    I’m interested in productivity and there many useful built in productivity features in Mac OS. I use everyday apps like The Hit List, TextExpander (for answering business emails), Dateline and I found iCal very powerful. I’m quite organized and keep track of my money with Squirrel.

    I hated spreadsheets, but thanks to Numbers, I’m getting into them. I considered buying a minimalistic writing app, but Pages at full screen is fine.

    For fun I play Starcraft and I’m getting quite addict to McSolitaire. I tweet with Echofon and when I can’t find anything on TV, I use Front Row to watch video podcasts.

  • I’m using Chrome and Tweetie for browsing and Twitter, MarsEdit to write blog posts and Tumblr dashboard for the small tumblr posts. Pear Note is my trusted companion that I use to take notes during classes. Plex as a media center organizer, and Things as GTD.
    Take I look at my tumblelg, in wich I post multiple Mac customization resources (I also have an actual WordPress website, linked in the tumblelog), I’d be happy to hear your opinion!

  • I am a web developer, currently writing this response on my 24″ imac, and on the same desk is my 15″ macbook pro that I use for all of my professional correspondence, and work documentation. I use skype to call my clients, google apps for sharing ideas with my fellow employees, TextMate for coding, and Terminal for almost everything else!

    The main reason I use Macs for everything is because they have the most beautiful and useable operating system that sits neatly on top of a Unix underbelly. I am a die-hard unix fan, and I couldn’t live without all of the built in utilities the mac comes with like Ruby, Python, Perl, C/C++, Java, Apache, and MySQL.

    I use Sequel Pro as my open source database utility, Apache as my web server, and Safari 5 as my browser of choice.

    I won’t even get started on all the apps I just use for fun!

    • You said “Terminal for almost everything else!”… What exactly do you use it for? Other than some random commands now and then.

  • Design and art (period)

    Use it mainly for work. Me and my faithful iMac have done a lot of work. I’m a multimedia designer. I use it for:

    – Graphic Design
    – Print Layout
    – Website Design and Development
    – Video Editing (done a couple short films and music videos in none other than Apple’s FCP)
    – (and because good designers should take breaks… I watch movies in Front Row)

    With some of the more complex artwork I’ve done, I can say I’ve pushed my iMac pretty hard to push out some creative work and it’s taken good care of me. That’s why I am a MAC to the very end!

  • I’m a film student and here’s my setup:

    Early 2008 MacBook Pro 15″ 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo w/ 4GB RAM
    LaCie 1TB 7200rpm USB/FW 800/eSATA drive
    OWC eSATA to ExpressCard34 adapter for using the LaCie drive

    Editing: Final Cut Studio 3, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects CS4
    Post Production: MPEG Streamclip, 5DtoRGB
    Script work: Celtx
    Schoolwork: iWork ’09 (never going back to Office)
    Photos: iPhoto
    Mail: Mail
    To Do: iCal syncing with Appigo Sync to ToDo on my iPod touch
    Calendars: iCal
    Project management: Process
    Music: iTunes
    RSS/Twitter: Socialite
    Chat: Adium (including FB chat)
    Browsing: Safari
    Misc: 1Password, Xcode, Handbrake, RipIt, Tiny Grab, BetterTouchTool (essential for mapping out gestures on a MacBook trackpad)

  • I don’t frequently do any serious work on my Mac, the things below are all mainly “hobbies”.

    Internet & Communications: Safari, Adium, Mail, Tweetie (the usual suspects)
    Music: iTunes, GarageBand
    Photography: iPhoto (for archiving), Lightroom (for editing)
    App development (for Mac): Xcode + its companion apps
    Graphical design & UI stuff: Photoshop, Pixelmator, Keynote (for mockups)

    + Bunch of other tasks I do less frequently. I love how the Mac can adapt to almost anything I want to do, that’s one of the reasons I use it.

  • I use my macbook pro more for design and programing but it is my only computer so I use them also for web, facebook, check emails, work on other things, etc.

  • I’ve always used a mac as my main work machine and probably twice a month I spend some time to improve the tools I need the most, my work involves photography and web development (python, php, etc…). Most of the apps mentioned here I’ve used them in the past, TextMate, Omnifocus, Scrivener, Transmit have been favorites but somehow I ended up using mostly cli software on my mac… Using them I have more flexibility over my tools and data plus I get my work done faster.

    Development: MacVim
    Notes/Todo/Outliner/Calendar: Emacs org-mode
    Browser: Firefox + Vimperator
    iTerm + GNU Screen/tmux
    IM: irssi + bitlbee + Growl
    Email: Sup
    Photography: Bridge, Photoshop
    Music: mpd + ncmpcpp

    And I think it’s worth mentioning that I have access to all of these with just one iPhone app (Touchterm Pro) from anywhere with network coverage, although I do use separate apps for mpd and org-mode.

  • Motion Graphics Design, Visual Effects Design and in my sparetime Osx Design (which means modify every bit of the OS: docks, icons, finder, bars, buttons, sliders… people don’t recognize it as osx :)

  • I use my Mac for everything.

    Abobe for design stuff.
    iWork- for office-y type stuff. (blech- Office)
    iPhoto- for album management.
    iTunes- music/podcast management.
    Preview and Vienna for reading PDFs or RSS.
    Yojimbo for project management.
    iCal, Address book, Mail for that stuff you use it for.
    YoruFukurou for Twitter.
    Caffeine for helping with video playback.
    Growl for updates.
    Dropbox for file sharing.
    Cocktail or OnyX for system tidying.
    and I bounce between browsers, usually Firefox/Chrome for research and Flock for social apps.
    also i would add the brilliance of Sync, Mobile Me and TimeMachine for keeping my stuff safe.

  • At a glance:

    Writing: Pagehand (Shareware. Instead of Word), TextEdit for quickes.
    Design: Adobe CS5: PS, AE, AI | Motion, Flux (for quick web designs, instead of DW), Vector Magic.
    Code: SkEdit, Smultron, CSSEdit
    Net: All known browsers (including Lynx and Win/*-nix browser via VMWare), Tweetie (still), Transmit.
    Photography: Adobe Bridge CS5. Adobe Lightroom. Graphic Converter.
    Entertainment: Games (mostly FPS), Movist, VLC, Mplayer, Plex, Spotify
    Paper-Free Office: PDFpenPRO, Economacs (iOrdning), Leap 2.x
    System: TotalFinder (brings tabs to the Finder), QuickSilver.

  • I have a MAC, 5 months and for me MAC it’s a best combination off WINDOWS, with microsoft and adobe programs and LINUX-BSD with all programs I need from command line, “midnight commander”, perl, php, MYSQL, POSTGRESQL, APACHE, ASTERISK.

    I have replaced all my 5 notebooks with only my notebook 13″.

    It’s very stable the system, it’s not perfect in fact, but it’s the best of the world’s to my current usage. NETWORKING, WEB PROGRAMMER, B.I., Communication world, etc.

  • I’m a web designer/front-end developer, and I rely on my computers (Mac/iPhone/netbook) a lot.

    For work I design using Photoshop and Illustrator. I code in Espresso at work, Textmate and CSSEdit at home. There’s also Transmit, Versions, Pixelmator and Fontcase.

    Most of my photos are managed and editing in Lightroom 3. Photoshop for doing more than just adjustments. Pixelmator for quickly editing JPEGs. I’m thinking of using iPhoto or Picasa for managing photos taken from my iPhone and compact camera.

    For entertainment: iTunes for music, Quicktime for videos, Firefox for web content and video games on iPhone, Xbox 360 and the other gaming consoles I have.

    As far as a paperless office goes, I try to keep as much stuff digital as I can. It’s also important that it’s also accesable by my iPhone, and via the web.
    I use Mail.app and GMail for emails, Taskpaper for notes and lists, Wallet for passwords and other private info, TeuxDeux for daily tasks, OnTheJob for tracking time and Dropbox for keeping them all backed up and synced.

    I’m sure there’s more that I’ve missed, but this is what I use on a day to day basis.

  • I use my Macbook pro for everything. I am a landscape architect, architectural designer, blogger, so on and so forth.

    My Main Apps
    Firefox occasionally
    Busycal (so I can sync with my wife’s calendar on her Macbook)
    Iworks suite (mostly use pages and numbers, keynote on occasion)
    Time Machine
    Adobe (Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, Indesign)
    You Send It
    Open Project
    Parallels to run Windows 7
    (Windows 7 apps, Auto cad 10, Quickbooks, Quicken, Nitro PDF)

    and a slew of others that I use occasionally

  • Writing: MS Office (sorry) and for html: Taco HTML Edit
    Design/Photography: Photoshop/ iPhoto (and AutoCAD when it comes out for Mac)
    Entertainment: iTunes (and iWow) and Miro
    Paper-free: Dropbox, Time Machine
    I’m also a big fan of: Evernote, CleanMyMac, and SizeUp

  • For me as a internet generation born guy, the mac is a savior of a lot of trouble. I have been dealing with Windows and linux systems from birth, but then I opened my eyes for the mac and I have never been so happy with a computer.

    I do design of all types, both on and off the web. I listen and manage my music and movies. I play games (tho more often on my Atari 2600 and NES). I communicate with people. I discuss politics. I manage my mail and RSS-feeds. I tweet. I shop. I experiment.

    I do everything on my mac.

  • Photo management: iPhoto
    Music: iTunes
    Movies: VLC
    Designing: Photoshop, Illustrator, SketchBookPro, ArchiCAD (and i’d love to have 3Ds Max for Mac!!!)
    Coding: Coda, CSSEdit (love it!!!)
    Video editing: Final Cut Pro
    Writing: TextEdit, Microsoft Word
    Mail: Gmail
    ToDo and Scheduling: iCal, Things
    Internet: FireFox, uTorrent, Tweetie, Adium, Speed Download, Skype

    Other: iBank, Skitch, Droplr, Soulver

  • I work at a university coordinating international partnerships, and I’m also a fairly new mom. The mac is my 2nd computer at work and my primary computer at home, and it’s used for:

    – organizing my life and schedule: Dejumble, gCal synced with iCal, Together and Evernote
    – organizing photos and vids of our family: Picasa, iMovie, Poladroid
    – writing for work and blogs: JustNotes, Ommwriter
    – reading lots of magazines and books: Stanza
    – organizing and viewing all our media: iTunes, HandBrake, Plex, VLC
    – productivity: Fluid, Alfred, RightZoom, Think

    I really liked using the PC at work (still LOVE MS OneNote) but switched a few years ago to mac and can never go back.

  • F: All of the above plus Video Editing (yes, the PRO style!)

  • only 1 thing i’ve to say “i appreciate”.

  • Lets see…

    Music: iTunes
    Movies: VLC
    Designing: Photoshop/Illustrator
    Music Production: Ableton Live 8
    Writing: Office ’08/Writeroom
    School: Evernote

    Pretty basic, then theres Transmission and other must haves.

  • Photography
    A bit of gaming (Portal FTW)

  • I bought my iMac primarily for music recording and production…I’ve since given my PC away and now use it for everything.

    It’s ACE.

  • art & design – photoshop, illustrator, painter
    writing : ommwriter, writeroom, ms word

  • Design and Programming (aka Work/Job/etc) with the occasional audio production.

    I use these pretty much on a daily basis for work:
    Creative Suit 5, Coda, Transmit, MAMP, Sequel Pro, Dropbox, Cloud, Mindnode, Things, iPhoneSimulator, iCal, Mail, The Big 4 (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera)

    Audio Production:
    Ableton Live and Reason

    Adium, Skype, Tweetie, iTunes, Spotify, MS Office 2008, QuickSilver, Hazel, ScreenSharing (and ScreenSharingMenulet), FaceTime (I know it has just came out but I can see it fitting into my work and personal life already)

    I have a Windows desktop, both at the work office and home so I don’t bother with VM Software or Bootcamp (the only thing I use it for anyway is checking designs, etc in IE and occasional gaming).