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New MacBook Setup for Developers

therealdanvega profile image Dan Vega Updated on ・12 min read

MacBook Setup

I thought I would take some time and document what I do when I get a new machine. This is going to walk through some preferences I configure, the applications I install and the settings I use for different programs. I am always curious to see how other software developers are setting up their development machines so I figured it would be a good opportunity to share mine.

I am a Software Developer so most of my configuration will be around programming. My current MacBook configuration is as follows:

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports)
  • Processor: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Startup Disk: Macintosh HD
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 1536 MB
  • Storage: 500 GB

When you power on your MacBook you are going to run through the setup. I usually configure anything I can here like Wi-fi & Apple ID. The rest of the instructions will assume you made it through the setup and are on the desktop.

If you don't want to have to wait for disk encryption (error in macOS updates section) don't select that during setup and perform that at a later time

macOS Updates

The first thing I do is run any updates that are available. In my case the laptop came preloaded with macOS Sierra and macOS Mojave has been released.

So my first step is going to be to update to macOS Mojave. You can download this and run this from the App Store.

Error: You may not install to this volume because it is currently being encrypted

If you get the error above then you chose the option of encrypting your hard drive during setup. Make sure you have the power plugged in and go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > File Vault. From there you can see the progress of encryption and when it's complete you can launch the macOS Mojave installer.

App Store

If you have signed in with your Apple Id you will be taken directly to the Apple Store. This is a good time to run any updates that are available.

You might run into issues here because the apple id that downloaded them is not you. In this case, I just removed those apps I am not using (GarageBand, Numbers, Pages,iMovie...)

To remove applications I like installing AppCleaner. This will make sure that the application and any related files will be removed.

Another application I really love for this and so many other things is Clean My Mac

Garage Band

Unfortunately, AppCleaner only works for 3rd party installed applications and won't remove GarageBand. You need to remove this manually and while there are a few more locations these are the main 3 you should remove. If you're going to use apple sound effects in other programs please read up on this before deleting.

  • /Applications/GarageBand.app
  • /Library/Application Support/GarageBand/
  • /Library/Audio/Apple Loops/Apple/

Empty Trash

Getting Started

Anything I can install using HomeBrew I will. Before you install HomeBrew though you need to install the Xcode command line utilities. Open up a new terminal and type the following command. Even if you plan on installing Xcode I believe you still need to install these now as they moved them out of the standard installation.

xcode-select --install

The Command Line Tools Package is a small self-contained package available for download separately from Xcode and that allows you to do command line development in OS X. It consists of two components: OS X SDK and command-line tools such as Clang, which are installed in /usr/bin.

HomeBrew

As I said earlier I use HomeBrew to install anything that it can install. I recently found out about cask which makes my life so much easier. If you normally use brew to install something like google-chrome you know that you have to then drag it into the applications folder. If you use cask it will not only download the package but also move it into the applications folder.

HomeBrew Website

Installation:
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

Post Installation

  • If you need help with brew you can run brew help.
  • brew update - You shouldn't have anything to update but its good to check.
  • brew search 'term' to search for brews

Terminal / Bash / iTerm

Now that we have HomeBrew installed it's time to start installing some software. The default version of bash is v3.2 and I want to go ahead and upgrade this to 4.x. There is a really good guide here that you can follow to upgrade bash.

  • bash -v (bash-3.2)
  • brew install bash
  • if you close the terminal or open a new tab it will show 4.4 but this still isn't the default version.
  • which bash will show you what bash you're using.

Now that we have bash updated we need to make that our default shell. To do so you need to edit /etc/shells

sudo vi /etc/shells
add the path /usr/local/bin/bash
comment out the others

Change to the new shell
chsh -s /usr/local/bin/bash 

Bash Profile

Now that we have bash updated I need to customize my shell. Look in your home directory and see if you have a .bash_profile and if you don't you can create one using the following command.

touch .bash_profile

This is where you can add all kinds of customization's to bash. I have included my .bash_profile in this repository if you want to check it out. As always if you have questions about what's in there please let me know.

iTerm2

For the longest time I used the terminal and even had a couple of people call me out on it 😂

I am now using iTerm2 full time and I absolutely love it. If you want to find out about some of the features & configurations it gives you please check out their website.

brew cask install iterm2

One thing I like to do is customize the colors and a great resource for that is https://iterm2colorschemes.com/

This is a list of my favorite color schemes.

  • Dracula
  • FirefoxDev
  • Github
  • Grape
  • Grass
  • Hipster Green
  • Homebrew
  • Man Page
  • Material
  • MaterialDark
  • Novel
  • OceanicMaterial

Development Setup

Now that I have a nice looking command line full of features its time to start installing all of the different applications I will use. If you have any questions about any of these or why I install them please see the contact me section below.

  • brew install git
  • brew cask install google-chrome
  • brew cask install google-chrome-canary
  • brew cask install firefox
  • brew cask install firefox-developer-edition
  • brew cask install visual-studio-code
  • brew cask install visual-studio-code-insiders
  • brew cask install intellij-idea
  • brew cask install eclipse-java
  • brew cask install postman
  • brew cask install docker
  • brew cask install spectacle
  • brew install tree
  • https://github.com/sindresorhus/quick-look-plugins

Visual Studio Code

If you aren't using Visual Studio Code, what the heck are you waiting for? All jokes aside I am sure you have probably heard of code by now and here are a few ways that I customize it.

Extensions

I used to hate having to install Visual Studio Code on a new machine. The reason for that is I have grown to love the editor so much that I have an extension for everything. I use to install them one by one and when you have to do that 35 times it gets really old.

If you want to get a list of extensions currently installed on your machine you can use the following command.

code --list-extensions

The nice thing about that is you can install visual studio code extensions using the command line.

code --install-extension ${extension-name}

You can pipe the results of your list into a file or if you wish you can grab mine from this repository. Once you have that file you can run the following to install all of your extensions. if you're interested in what extensions I am using I have included my list of extensions.

cat extensions.txt | xargs -L1 code --install-extension

After I did this and tweeted about it a lot of people let me know about another extension called sync settings. This will sync all of your visual studio extensions, settings, key bindings, etc across machines.

https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=Shan.code-settings-sync

Fonts

I am a huge fan of the Dank Mono font. I install this and use it for most of my development. If I am writing documentation I will sometimes use a different font, it just depends.

Dank Mono

User Settings

I have included my user settings in case you want to see what I use. I don't have much here but will try and update these soon.

Node & NPM

If you're going to install Node I think the best way to do so is by using Node Version Manager (NVM). This to me has a few advantages over installing it from brew or even directly downloading it from their website.

  • You can install multiple versions of Node
    • You can set a default version
    • You can switch between these versions easily
  • Installs in your home directory
    • You don't need special privileges
    • No more sudo when installing packages globally

Once you have NVM you can install the latest stable release (v10.12.0 at the time of this writing) using the following command.

nvm install stable

Global Packages to Install

npm install -g tldr
npm install -g typescript
npm install -g @vue/cli
npm install -g vuepress
npm install -g @angular/cli
npm install -g eslint
npm install -g gitbook-cli
npm install -g lodash

Git Config

There is usually a default install of git but we used brew to install the latest earlier. Now that we are on the latest version of git we need to do a little configuration.

.gitconfig

  • git config --global user.email "dan@techelevator.com"
  • git config --global user.name "Dan Vega"
  • Aliases
    • git config --global alias.add-commit '!git add -A && git commit'

Databases

PostgreSQL

The easiest way to install PostgreSQL is by using HomeBrew.

brew install postgresql

When this is done installing you can have it start up automatically using the following command.

brew postgresql-upgrade-database

I don't need it that often so when I want to run it I can run the following command:

pg_ctl -D /usr/local/var/postgres start

Better yet I can add a few of aliases to my bash profile to make this even easier.

alias start_postgres="pg_ctl -D /usr/local/var/postgres start"
alias stop_postgres="pg_ctl -D /usr/local/var/postgres stop -s -m fast"
alias pgup="start_postgres"
alias pgdown="stop_postgres"

Our students also use DBVisualizer so I like to have that installed as well.

brew cask install dbvisualizer

MongoDB

MySQL

To get started with MySQL run the following command:

brew install mysql

To have MySQL automatically run when you computer starts:

brew services start mysql

OR you can start / stop it manually

mysql.server start

To be consistent with our PostgreSQL we can create a few aliases.

alias start_mysql="mysql.server start"
alias stop_mysql="mysql.server stop"
alias mysqlup="start_mysql"
alias mysqldown="stop_mysql"

SDKMan

This is one of my favorite version managers because I use a lot of the Software Development Kits (SDKs) it manages. If you haven't heard of SDKMan check them out here. This is a list of SDKs I manage using SDKMan.

  • Java
  • Groovy
  • Grails
  • Gradle
  • Maven
  • Micronaut
  • Spring Boot
  • Kotlin

Here is a full list of SDKs https://sdkman.io/sdks

Installation: curl -s "https://get.sdkman.io" | bash

If you just type sdk install candidate it will install the latest stable version or you can install a specific version

sdk install java 8.0.191-oracle

If you need to get a list of versions you can ask for it:

sdk list java

Browser Configuration

Turn on sync and sign into chrome, this brings all of my bookmarks and extensions. If you have any questions about any of these or why I install them please see the contact me section below.

Extensions

  • LastPass
  • Grammarly
  • Color Picker
  • LiveReload
  • uBlock Origin
  • privacy badger
  • oneTab
  • JSONViewer
  • Vue devtools

System Preferences

I have a few things that I customize in preferences:

Trackpad:
System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom:
I uncheck scroll direction: Natural (It doesn’t feel natural for me)

Dock:
System Preferences > Dock
Change the size to small and turn on magnification
I also remove all icons from the dock that I don't use

Avatar:
System Preferences > Users & Groups > Edit Avatar

Theme:
macOS Mojave introduced light & dark themes. I still stick with the light theme even though I use dark themes in almost every editor or program that I use. If you want to change this later simply go to System Preferences > General > Appearance

Finder

I like to customize Finder so I can get to all of my most used places quickly.

Locations

  • Add Macintosh HD to locations so I can always get to the root hard drive
  • Home /Users/vega
  • screenshots (configure screenshot utility to save here)
    • open screenshot > options > other location

A few tips in finder

  • cmd+shift+h (takes you home)
  • cmd . (show hidden files and folders)

Work Setup

These are a list of applications and configuration I need for work. You may not need some of these tools but I thought I would share them here anyway.

Last Pass
Slack
Twitter (App Store)
Screenflow

Adobe Creative Suite

I am a huge fan of Adobe and all of their products!

  • Photoshop CC
  • Illustrator CC
  • Premiere Pro CC
  • After Effects CC
  • Premiere Rush CC
  • XD

Windows 10

At work I need to dual boot with macOS and Windows 10. We have a .NET track where the students use Windows (Visual Studio, SQL Server, etc...) and I need to be able to support them. The great thing about this is Apple has made this stupid simple using BootCamp Assistant. If you want to read more about this check out the document below.

Boot Camp Windows 10

This document is going to outline what you need to do to install Windows 10 on Mac OS. The first thing you should do is check out the official support documentation from Apple. This document outlines things you should know before you begin, where to get a Windows 10 ISO image and the steps you need to get everything working.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201468

Before we start

  • You will need enough free disk space to create a Boot Camp disk partition with a minimum size of 64GB. 128GB is recommended for the best experience.
  • Unplug any external devices such as keyboards, mouse and monitors.
  • Plug in your power source just in case you walk away from the computer. The last thing you want to happen is for the computer to die mid-install.

Steps

  • Download Windows 10 ISO
  • Run Boot Camp Assistant
  • Select Partition (128GB Recommended)
  • Install Windows

*If you go through ISO download wizard and it says "Windows 10 Education English" don't worry about that. When we install Windows we can select the version (Education/Home/Professional) that we want.

Windows Installation

After the partition is created and reboots into Windows

  • Select your language
  • Enter your product key (It is OK if you don't have one, select I don't have a product key)
  • Select Windows 10 Version (Win 10 Home)
  • Accept the license terms (Read every single word)
  • When you are asked to create a username don’t put a space in your name. When you create a username it is going to be the name of the users home folder /Users/Dan Vega/. I don't know about you but I am not a fan of spaces.
  • Enter password and Security questions/answers
  • Cortana (I turn off)
  • Privacy Settings ( I turn all of these off)

Post-Windows Installation

  • Install Boot Camp on Windows (Restart after recommended)
  • Connect to Wireless Network
  • Run Apple Software Update (Start menu) (Restart Required)
  • Update Date/Time Settings
  • Enable Developer Mode
  • Activate Windows (if you have a product key)
    • Personalize Windows

Software Installation

I am not installing a full suite of applications here because I am not using this full time.

Switching Between Operating Systems

If you want to switch between operating systems you need to restart the computer and hold the option key down. When the computer boots it will ask you which partition you want to boot in. You can only run one operating system at a time and you can’t run both in parallel. This is perfectly fine for my use case but if you want to run both simultaneously check out Parallels

Contact Me

If you have any questions about anything I am using or have suggestions for something I am missing please don't hesitate to comment or reach out to me. As always...

Happy Coding

Dan

This article was first posted on my blog at https://www.danvega.dev/blog. If you found this article interesting please consider subscribing to my newsletter or following me on Twitter.

Posted on by:

therealdanvega profile

Dan Vega

@therealdanvega

Curriculum Developer @ Tech Elevator. Writer of words, Creator of code. Husband & Father. My passion is helping others and I'm proud to call Cleveland home.

Discussion

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Thanks for this! I've been a lifelong pc user and now that I'm learning web development, I just picked up a used macbook to see what all the hype is about. This was really helpful to get pointed in the right direction.

 

Thank you so much! It is really a great machine for development and I wish you luck on your new journey. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out Taylor.

 

Checkout Brewfile. Makes tracking and easily-installing all the various brews, casks, (even mac apps if you add mas) super simple.

robots.thoughtbot.com/brewfile-a-g...

 

Awesome, thanks for the suggestion, Phillip!

 

Saved an hour of my life, immensely helpful thanks

 

Great setup. Do you do this manually or have you built some shell scripts to do these steps? If not, it would be a good next step. I have done this and want to bring in some of your steps.

 

I do this pretty manually. I could probably automate it but for whatever reason setting up a new machine is one of those things I really enjoy doing :)

 

How/where did you get 13inch with 16G ram, and 500G storage?

 

Right from the Apple store. There is an option to upgrade the memory and storage.

apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro...

 

OH BOY! welp, I know what my next big purchase is.

 
 

I really don't do a ton on Windows so hopefully, someone with a little more experience there can provide that.

 
 

Amazing article Dan! Thanks for sharing this, sir!

 

Nice write-up. There are new some tools I have not used. So I will try them. To add a few more, source tree, postman, Oh my zsh, Dropbox, PDF reader. Etc.

 

Thanks for the feedback... I use Postman & Dropbox so I will get those added.

 

Thanks a lot. Every new mac user should read this.

 

Excellent post for necessary tools and softwares needed in a New Mac setup. Thanks Dan for sharing.

 

You are a life saver man. New to macs and macOS and had 0 idea of where to start or the correct programs to use. Thank you so much

 

sir, I am currently using a MacBook Air 2017 can I use it for development purpose?

 

my bash profile link you mentioned is not working.please check.

 
 

The font looks nice. I am always worried using a credit card for a site that I do not know. Wish they took Paypal

 

I have purchased it for 2 machines and I have never had an issue, but I totally get it.

 

Hi, Dan nice post, maybe could you give me an advice, do you think that a macbook pro of 15-inch worth it?, or it will ok taking the 13-inch model.

 

I personally have a 15-inch but it was because at the time the specs were way better. I have the 13-inch for work and that is a really good machine. I don't really care about the screen size because I usually have it hooked up to an external monitor and I actually like the smaller screen when I travel. I would say take a look at your budget and the specs you need to get your work done and let that be the basis of your decision.

 

The process you are describing for the MacBook setup is really good to see. I want to say that many people nowadays facing a common problem of Macbook and that is the touch bar not working on Macbook and I suggest them for the proper solution you can contact with Apple's Officials.