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.
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.
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…
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 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!