Minimal macOS development setup for 2022
Every three years or so my work laptop gets renewed. Every time I have to set it up from strach. This year I took the opportunity to look at my current setup with the pareto's principle in mind. What are the 20% of the tools and configurations that I leverage or use 80% of the time? In other words, what are the minimum vital few things I should setup to stay productive as a professional software developer.
If you are starting from scratch like me, I recommend starting by installing all the latest OS level updates. The first step is to install and upgrade the xcode command line tools.
The package manager
One of the frist tools we need is a package manager. For macOS I recommend brew. You can install it with a simple command.
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install.sh)"
Finally, update brew and make sure everything is working fine with the following commands.
brew update brew doctor
Following the principle of shifting left security, lets first configure some sensible defaults to keep our Mac protected.
- Enable file encryption with FileVault.
- Enable the firewall.
- Setup a strong password for your OS user and enable touchid if required.
- Install your password manager of choise so we can login into services and apps going forward. I use and recommend 1Password.
- Install any pending security updates.
- Enable automatic updates for security patches and apps installed via the App Store.
Setting up automatic updates for brew packages
Brew has a feature to enable automatic updates called autoupdate. The tool will run brew update in the background once every 24 hours. You can customize the time interval.
# Set auto-updates every 7 days brew autoupdate start --upgrade 604800
As developers, we spend most of the time either in the IDE, the terminal or a browser. There are two important choices to make regarding our terminal setup: the shell and the terminal app you use. Over the years I defaulted to ZSH for the shell and Hyper for the app.
Setting up Zsh
The newest versions of macOS come with Zsh installed. On top of that, I manage my Zsh configuration with OhMyZsh.
sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/master/tools/install.sh)"
and I setup the following plugins and theme in
ZSH_THEME="gallois" plugins=( git autojump vagrant )
Setting up Hyper
brew install --cask hyper
Next step is to edit the configuration. I increase the font size and leave everything else as default.
vim ~/Library/Application Support/Hyper/.hyper.js
The code editor or IDE
The version control system
Git has become the standard for version control systems.
Setup your global Git config
This is how mine looks like
[user] name = "Pablo" email = "personal email" [alias] st = status lol = log --graph --pretty=format:'%Cred%h%Creset -%C(yellow)%d%Creset %s %Cgreen(%cr) %C(bold blue)<%an>%Creset' --abbrev-commit [core] excludesfile = ~/.gitignore_global [pull] rebase = false [includeIf "gitdir:~/Dev/work/"] path = ~/.gitconfig-work
I also configure a globa .gitignore.
# ~/.gitignore_global # OS generated files # ###################### .DS_Store .DS_Store? # IDEs # ###################### .idea
If you use your laptop for both personal and work projects, you can isolate your work config in a separate file. The statement
includeIf allows you to specific a different config file that will only apply in the directory & subdirectories set with
gitdir. This is an example of my separate file for work.
[user] name = "Pablo@work" email = "email@example.com" [core] sshCommand = "ssh -i ~/.ssh/work.ssh.key"
Create a ssh config to simplify how you connect to remote machines (and how you pull code from Github & co).
Include ssh_config_work Host github.com IdentityFile ~/.ssh/personal_private_key Host bitbucket.org IdentityFile ~/.ssh/personal_private_key
As we did for the Git config, you can isolate your work config into a separate file using
Include. This is how my work ssh config looks like.
#Work Host github.com-work HostName github.com AddKeysToAgent yes UseKeychain yes IdentityFile ~/.ssh/work_private_key Host work-machine.training User ec2-user
Runtime version manager
Dealing with multiple versions of language runtimes is painful. When you work on different projects, you will need to switch versions of the different runtimes: node, java, etc. Installing version managers for each runtime will make your life easier.
Node Version Manager or NVM is my preferred choice to manage active Node.js versions.
brew install nvm
After installing nvm we need to add the following piece of configuration in our ZSH config file.
# ~/.zshrc export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm" [ -s "/opt/homebrew/opt/nvm/nvm.sh" ] && \. "/opt/homebrew/opt/nvm/nvm.sh" # This loads nvm
Docker as container runtime
Since Docker Desktop change its licensing in mid 2021, several alternatives to run Docker in macOS popped up. My favourite so far is Colima.
With the following steps we can have a fully working Colima-based Docker setup in our Mac:
brew install colima brew install docker brew install docker-compose
Other apps that I use to stay productive.
|Flux||Screen eye protection|
|Notion||Knowledge base / digital garden|
|Slack||Communication and communities|
|AppCleaner||Managing MacOS apps not installed by brew|
If you are curious what are my default choices for building frontend, backend and data applications you can check my prefered tech stack.
This is my current minimal macOS developer setup. I will keep updating this post as I finish setting up my laptop. Stay tuned!