MacOS utilities I find useful

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 05/31/2018 - 12:20

After using a MacBook Pro for two years I thought it was time to share what utilities I found really useful to have. These are obviously weighted towards being a software developer, so your mileage might vary.


It is the missing package manager for MacOS, so as with NPM, Chocolatey, or Composer, where you can install what you need via the command line.

It may seem weird, like what is wrong with just download and install what you need?! The advantage is that you can write this stuff down so that if you need to reinstall it is easier (and also easier to share to help others get up and running).

A second advantage is updating, it takes one command to update all the tools I use.

More info


More than an IDE, this is my go-to tool for anything text; Editing config ✅taking notes ✅anything really.

Install with Brew: brew install homebrew/cask/visual-studio-code

An important tweak for VSCode is to make sure it is launching from the Terminal, thankfully it is really easy.

More info


The AppleTV has the best screensaver I've ever seen, and some smart person ported it to MacOS with the name Aerial.

A word of warning, these videos are massive and will destroy your bandwidth. One tip to solve that is that under the settings is a Cache section - make sure you have the Cache Aerials As They Play checked else this will destroy your bandwidth. If you are on uncapped, then there is also a download now option which is a must to use.

Screen shot of screensaver settings

Install with Brew: brew install caskroom/cask/aerial

More info


Bash is nice, Fish is nicer. It just feels like what you expect in a modern world.

Install with Brew: brew install fish

More info

Fish Node Manager

Part of my job has involved working with multiple projects, and that means multiple versions of Node, and that was a pain. Thankfully there is a Node Manager for Fish that lets you easily change what version of Node you are using.

Unfortunately, this isn't as easy to setup, as to install it you first need Fisherman, which is like Brew but for Fish; which leads to this 3 step process to install it and configure it.

  1. curl -Lo ~/.config/fish/functions/ --create-dirs <a href=";fisher">;fisher</a> fnm
  2. fnm use latest

More info


Amphetamine is a massively useful tool for MacOS, especially in a DevOps culture where you might get up in the night and just need your machine to behave the exact way you want it. Its core use is to not let your Mac go to sleep and you can control what triggers that, automatically or manually.

Get it from the Store

Status Clock

Another very useful tool is Status Clock which can show a second time on the menu which is exceptionally useful if you need to work across countries.

Get it from the Store

Settings Tweaks

Beyond useful tools, there are some useful tweaks to the standard MacOS settings:

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