Mac setup

I recently ran out of hard drive memory space and couldn't be bothered to track down and uninstall all the clutter that accumulated over two years of software development. Hence, I reset my MacBook. I used this occasion to create a step-by-step guide on how exactly I reset my mac. It can also be used as a migration guide from one mac to another or an explanation of how to set up a new mac.

Screenshot of my doc


  1. Do a Time Machine Backup, saving it on an external hard drive. It's always wise to do such a backup before trying to apply major changes to your mac. Should the external hard drive be encrypted, make sure that you haven't saved the password for it on your Mac only so that you can access it after your mac has been erased.
  2. Note what applications you want to keep. Get rid of those you don't need anymore. Do some research where you can download them from. See the table at the end of this post to see which ones I chose to keep.
  3. Configurations of macOS apps are usually saved in dotfiles, i.e. files starting with a dot, like .bash_profile. If you want to use those configurations for your new mac, use Mackup to save the dotfiles (it's well-documented) and make sure to keep them somewhere other than the hard drive you're about to erase. Once you have everything set up, this should be all you need to do:

    # Old mac
    $ mackup backup
  4. Export your network settings and save them somewhere extern if you want to keep your VPNs etc.


Reset your mac following these steps.

New Setup

  1. Install the newest macOS.
  2. Import and set your network settings.
  3. Set most important basic settings in your system preference app, either by using the UI or a file similar to my .MacOSX file:

    $ chmod +x .MacOSX
    $ sh .MacOSX

    The first command gives the file the necessary execution permission. The second command executes the script.

    After that, restart your Mac.

  4. Some default options I have yet to include in the .MacOSX file, they need manual steps:

    • Keyboard > Input Source > German + English (UK)
    • Language > Primary: UK
    • Trackpad
    • Point & Click

      • Tap to click
      • Click: firm
      • Tracking speed: one right to middle
    • More Gestures

      • App Expoé, three fingers down
    • Accessibility
    • Pointer Control

      • Trackpad options
      • Enable dragging → three-finger drag
    • Change location of where screenshots are saved (if not already done with the setup script):
    $ cd
    $ cd Documents
    $ mkdir Screenshots
    • Open > Options > Saved to ~/Documents/Screenshots
    • Finder > Settings
    • Settings > New windows show > Downloads
    • Sidebar > Untick iCloud and tags
    • Advanced Settings > When performing a search > Search current folder
    • Sidebar like this:

    My finder sidebar

    • Finder > cmd + shift + h > Set to column view > cmd + j > Always column view and browse in column view
    • Dock > Right click > Untick "Show recent applications in Dock"
    • Background: Download the photo below > Downloads > Right click > Set as desktop picture Background photo by joseph lee
    • Choose an exciting accent colour:)
  5. Set up a basic development environment

    # Create minimalist file/project organisation
    $ cd developer
    $ mkdir Projects Uni
    $ cd
    # Set up git
    $ git config --global "your_github_username"
    # Install CLT for Xcode
    $ xcode-select --install
    # Create zsh config file
    $ touch ~/.zshrc
    # Install Homebrew
    $ /bin/zsh -c "$(curl -fsSL"
    $ brew update
    # Install mackup
    $ brew install mackup
    # Clone dotfiles repository
    $ vim ~/.mackup.cfg
    # Set storage in mackup cfg file
    engine = file_system
    path = path/to/dotfiles
    directoy = Mackup
    $ mackup restore
    # Download & install oh-my-zsh
    sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"
    # Install node version manager
    $ curl -o- | zsh
    # Install node
    $ nvm install node
    $ nvm use node
    # Install yarn
    $ npm i -g yarn
    1. Install the applications you need. Don't open most of them just yet as Mackup will restore them. I usually go with this order:
    2. Chrome (to download other apps via the web)
    3. Raycast
    4. Rectangle
    5. The rest in alphabetical order.
    6. Restore app configurations with Mackup.
    7. brew install mackup
    8. mackup restore
    9. Set up Time Machine.

That's it.

Name Purpose Source Installation Notes
Adobe Lightroom CC Photo-editing Adobe Creative Cloud
Alfred OS Navigation + miscellaneous
Anki App for spaced-repition system
AppCleaner Delete mac apps the clean way
Calibre Book management for my Kindle
Dozer Tidy menu bar brew install --cask dozer cmd + shift + s to toggle
Google Chrome Daily web-browsing + web dev Sign into Chrome with your google account to automatically import your bookmarks and extensions

Extensions: UBlockOrigin, DuckDuckGo, Vimium
IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Java IDE JetBrains Toolbox Sync options from account
OneDrive Cloud Space Apple App Store
PyCharm Professional Python IDE JetBrains Toolbox Sync options from account
Quick Draft Quick menu bar notepad Apple App Store cmd + d
Rectangle Window resizing + positioning
Spark Email Apple App Store
Spotify Music streaming
Timer Pomodoro and timing stuff Github
Visual Studio Code All-purpose text-editor
Zoom Non-personal video calls