When my iBook died a few days ago, I got a loner laptop from work to use until I have enough money to buy one for myself again. Getting a loner laptop that you know you are only going to use for a few months is like getting a sublet. When I moved into my sublet apartment on January 1, I knew I was only going to be staying there until the end of March. Knowing that I would have to move all my stuff twice, I sold everything I possibly could on Craiglist and donated or threw out anything else I didn’t absolutely need. My roommate did the same, and we were able to move all of our essentials (minus two or three small boxes we stored at a friend’s place) in a Hyundai Elentra.

I’m setting up the new laptop with the minimum number of installs I need to use this laptop for programming (ruby, php, mysql), using the internet, and doing my day to day stuff like blogging and watching/listening-to/recording video and audio. Here are my essentials:

Essential OS X apps

  1. iLife - comes bundled with OS X
  2. textmate for writing code, posts, or just about anything
  3. quicksilver for launching things quickly
  4. firefox: do the essential firefox setup
  5. JungleDisk for backups on Amazon S3
  6. growl
  7. stuffit -- get it from version tracker so you don't have to enter your email
  8. svn for file synchronization
  9. the backpack widget for todos and reminders on backpack
  10. What about ftp? I use svn, scp, and torrents for all my file transfers now. If I used ftp, it would be either transmit or cyberduck.
  11. tomato torrent, a simple bit torrent app
  12. flip4mac wmv player

Some personal tweaks I like to setup:

  1. Enable full keyboard access: System Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts > Full Keyboard Access > All Controls
  2. open terminal: set your color preference and under emulation, set _Option click to position cursor_
  3. Right click on the desktop, Show view options. Icon size: 28x28, Text size: 10pt, Label position: right, Show item info, Show icon preview, Keep arranged by: name. This will keep your desktop nice and clean.
  4. Set mouse sensitivity in System Preferences > Keyboard and Mouse > Trackpad (or mouse)
  5. edit bash profile ( ~/.bash_profile ):
    alias ls='ls -G'
    alias e='mate'
    export PATH="/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/mysql/bin:$PATH"
  6. from home directory in terminal:
    $ touch todo.txt
    $ ln -s ~/todo.txt ~/Desktop/todo
    This is going to be used for plaintext todos stored on the local machine as described in this lifehacker article. I use plaintext todos when I'm offline or don't feel like posting to my BackPack. The second line I do is if you also want a desktop shortcut. (you will have to relaunch Finder to see the shortcut appear.)

Essentials for Web Development

  1. Xcode
  2. Hivelogic's Ruby, Rails, and Mysql install tutorial

Very Useful (but not essential) Apps

  1. the missing sync, to sync my blackjack with my mac
  2. Microsoft Office or Open Office. I prefer MS Office.
  3. Adobe Photoshop or the GIMP and Adobe Illustrator
  4. wget

What are your essential apps / tweaks?