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On leaving Mac apps (almost) altogether

September 20, 2020

It’s 2020, I’ve spent the last 15 years on various Apple laptops. Occasionally I work on a remote Linux machine, but I only have had personal laptops, and all but two were Macbook. Over the years I came to appreciate the quality of the software I used to rely on in my daily routine. Even if I favor plain text and markup languages, which usually remain portable across all OSs, there has always been some Mac app that I found wonderful with no equivalent on other platform. For instance, Marked or Deckset are well-crafted applications for working with Markdown (I know there are a lot of note taking app, like Bear, that are also quite good). I’m writing this because I just saw an interview on the Uses This series, where the authors says:

It’s software that makes me want to be Apple-only. The apps I rely on tend to be Mac/iOS-only. For email I use Spark, for calendar I use Fantastical, and for notes I just started using Bear which I love because it’s so fast and clean compared to things like OneNote or Notion. I also use Day One occasionally to (sort of) journal. I often use MS Word to write, but lately I’ve been gravitating toward a Markdown editor called Typora, again because it’s so clean and straightforward compared to the feature-stuffed clutter of Word. — Navneet Alang on Uses This

On a personal account, the past few months were a call for digital minimalism. I already deleted most of my social accounts two years ago and switched to an anonymous online presence on the www. I also reduced my digital consumption a lot: no more Twitter or RSS reading all day, batch processing of emails and the like, less web browsing, and so on. I don’t regret it since I have a lot more time to watch TV shows, movies or read some good books. But this quest for minimalism also means I need to reduce the pool of apps I installed on my Macbook over the years. Some of these apps are no longer in use actually as I don’t need much statistical software other than R in my new job (Stat Transfert, Mplus, Wizard, SAS University edition), others have simply faded with time (Fantastical, Reeder, Timing, Forklift; much like many of the apps I reviewed in the past). Also, my job position doesn’t require me to make extensive use of Word or Excel, which is great, nor of MS exchange or Windows-specific stuff (which is also great). Hence the natural selection process that gradually took place on my computer.

These days, I stick to kitty, Emacs or Neovim (for lightweight editing tasks), Arq, Transmit, Marked (occasionally) and Skim. This means that I only make use of 3 native Mac apps in 80% of my time (you know, the Pareto law trick). This does not include Amethyst which became my window manager of choice. I even uninstalled Moom which has long served me before I discovered Amethyst. I still have other apps installed like Deckset or Adobe Reader. I haven’t used Deckset in years, even if I upgraded to the latest version, and I once installed Adobe Reader to navigate Stata help, but apart from checking PDF forms that were hard to read using Preview only, I don’t really need it. Skim is all I need for PDF rendering and synctex.

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See Also

» Amethyst tiling window manager » Switching to Firefox » Apple 12-inch is not a good fit » Fresh MacBook » Before Catalina