The Focused MacBook Air

Knowing that the hard drive in my MacBook Pro will go at moment, I picked up a MacBook Air this week (13″, 1.8GHz, 256MB, 4GB).

In the process of setting it up – I’ve decided to make this new machine a focused, minimal, work, machine. Despite Migration Assistant – I want to start some new habits, not repeat old, bad ones.

So far this means:

  • Changing ‘Desktop’ color to ‘Sold Gray Medium’ (something I’ve done since 1997)
  • Changing ‘Appearance’ from ‘Blue’ to ‘Graphite’
  • Removing everything possible from the top menu bar (so far, only Spotlight & Flux remain – they won’t be removed)
  • Leaving only the Spotlight search and ‘arrange’ icons in the Finder window toolbar
  • Removing any casual app (iMovie, FaceTime, etc) from the dock
  • Auto hiding the dock
  • Installing (does a great job of discouraging writing too late into the night)
  • Installing Quicksilver (Macs w/o Quicksilver are unusable – try it)
  • Installing (on by default, hide other applications by default)
  • Installing to make the menu bar much less prominent.
  • Not setting up email, IM, Skype, or any sort of communications app. Nothing. This is a creation machine – not a communication machine.
  • Not migrating over bookmarks or browser histories.

13 comments for “The Focused MacBook Air

  1. August 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Someday I’ll convince you to drop Quicksilver for the subtle power of Launchbar.

    Had never heard of MenuBarFilter before.

  2. August 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Almost forgot, congrats on the new machine. I love my 11″ Air. Delight to use.

  3. August 23, 2011 at 4:17 am

    Alfred > Quicksilver

    Hands down.

    I’d be willing to do almost all of this, except my MBP is the only machine I have (without the financial resources to acquire another). It can’t just be a “creation machine” (and is in use by my wife as well from time to time). For those of us who might like to trim down our current set of apps/resources on our machines, what might you recommend?

    • Tony
      August 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      As a long-time Quicksilver user and evangelist, who recently gave Alfred a try, I have to say that I agree. Alfred has been faster (and more stable) than Quicksilver. I’m converted…

    • August 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm


      You should just create multiple logins. You could even have a login for yourself that is all jazzy, and another that is all minimalist. You definitely should have another login for your wife.

  4. Mat
    August 23, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Eric, I’d recommend two logins. Two different accounts. One with all your software, and one with a “creative” set only.

  5. August 23, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Enjoyed the post Garrick, Flux was new to me and I’m downloading it out right now. Pretty useful!

  6. Jeremy
    August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Sounds like a great bunch of tweaks that I will definitely have to check out!

    Except for F.lux, that is, which has a nasty habit of chewing up CPU time even when it has nothing to do. My MBA was more than happy to demonstrate that fact to me via notably-reduced battery life whenever F.lux was running, confirmed nicely by Activity Monitor CPU time totals for F.lux. 🙁

  7. Eric
    August 23, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Give full-screen apps a good try, it automatically hides the menu bar. Makes any compatible app feel like one of those fancy full-screen word processors.

    • August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Eric – I have been. At this point only 1 of my regular use apps goes full screen.

  8. August 24, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Good move Garrick, this was exactly the same thinking I was doing after I opened up my Mac Book Air 11″ for the first time.

    Depending on the type of work that you do, keeping your productivity software controlled will help as well.

    Find that one app you need to do 90% of your work and just put that on there. Not a half dozen editors, or software that you ‘might use one day’. Good luck!

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