I’ve been an iPad guy for a long time now, but I recently picked up an M1 Mac Mini because, shiny, and I’ve got to say I’ve been really impressed by it. It boots in seconds, and really flies, at least for the light work I do on it.
Chris Wilson recently shared a fun post featuring his favourite iPhone Apps of 2021. I’ve been enjoying using my Mac Mini so much that, when I saw this, I immediately thought about posting about that, rather than my beloved iPad1. I don’t think I’ve been using the Mac thoroughly enough to realy highight my favourites, or recommendations, so I thought I’d post a slighty different take by talking a little about the Mac apps I’ve grown fond enough of to put into my coverted dock space. By looking at a few of these apps, you will get a better feeling of what I use my Mac Mini for. I’ll likely follow up with an iOS / iPadOS version, thus specifically calling this out as a macOS Edition. So, without further ado, here is my current macOS dock.
(Apologies, it doesn’t seem to come out in the highest of resolutions)
I’ll call out each app individually, but most of these you will be very familar with so I wont go into much depth on all of them.
There isn’t much to say here, other than I’m not sure why you’d want to use much else as a primary web browser if you’re in the Apple ecosystem. This app is a beauty whether you’re using iOS, iPadOS, or macOS.
If you follow this blog you will have noticed that I’ve been posting about email a fair bit recently and it’s fair to say it’s been on my mind a fair bit recently. I have a tendancy to fill my mind with pointless things like email services, instead of actually useful of helpful things. It’s an illness.
I’m pretty set now on iCloud mail, and the official Apple Mail app does a really good job for me. I’m an email organiser sort of person, which is why HEY didn’t stick with me I think. Apple Mail is perfect for consuming email content and then filling away the important parts.
Finally we get to the first non-stock app, Reeder 5. I’m a big fan of RSS services, and I like to find as many smaller, independant blogs to follow. I’ve been on and off with the various iterations of Reeder, but this current version has really struck a cord with me. It’s simple, clean and the iCloud sync has been flawless. The underrated UI is a real pleasure to use.
I don’t actually send, or receive, that many texts while I’m on my Mac, so this can probably go to be fair, but you never know when it may come in handy.
I have an Apple News+ subscription, but only because it’s part of Apple One. If it wasn’t, I certainly wouldn’t have it. I don’t think I’ve ever read an article from one of the magazines published within the app, but I’m often checking out the news in the app throughout the day. I know it’s not perfect, and it’s certainly an even more imperfect example of a macOS app, but I like to keep abreast of the news throughout the day.
Despite the fact that most of my pictures these days are off my daughter or an attempted photo of my little black dog, I still like to keep Photos to hand. I’m in there a fair bit, usually clearing out hundreds of the same photo from a family day out. Despite always convicing myself I need the highest end iPhone each year because of the best camera, I rarely get to really just go out to take some photos without having my hands full with kiddo, dog or both. Those photos I do take I always manage them in Photos and then share them to my photos page.
I’m very rarely a trend setter when it comes to finding and using the new hot app, so I can happily admit that I am, once again, following the pack on this one, but [Obsidian](obsidian.md, so far, has been a really fantastic find.
The team behind Obsidian call it:
… a powerful knowledge base that works on top of
a local folder of plain text Markdown files.
I guess the best way of thinking of it is kind of like a Markdown based Notion. At it’s core it’s a Markdown editor, but it can be far more advanced than that. For an idea into some of it’s use cases check out the following posts from those same people I mentioned being a shameless follower of in my usage of Obsidian:
While Obsidian can be incredibly complex, my usage is fairly light and mundane. A big factor that has prevented me from switching note taking apps every time a new hotness comes out is a fear of losing my content, or having it spread around every nook and cranny of the internet. A huge positive that enticed me to Obsidian was the fact that all it really is is an interface to read and edit basic text (markdown) files. There will be no need to struggle with exporting my data out should I need to at any point. Just open the files in any text editor, on any device, and away you go. Matt’s video, embedded below does a great job of visualising this benefit.
Take this post, for example. I started writing this sat and my desk, via Obsidian. At this point, however, I’ve got into bed and have picked up right where I left off in iAWriter2.
I’m dabbling with other use cases for the tool beyond just blogging, such as for work notes, however writing posts is likely to remain my primary use case for the foreseeable.
I’m a real magpie when it comes to apps and services. I’m attracted to the new and shiny and Obsidian has definitely fallen into this category. As is usually the case, a new app or service always encourages me to write more and, whilst being early days, I’m certainly getting that feeling.
I publish this site via micro.blog, though I generally only use the fairly basic app for browsing and interacting with the Twitter-esque social network element, not for publishing actual blog posts.
The app is mainly in the dock to remind me to check in. Despite really enjoying speaking to the people I’ve met there, my muscle memory for jumping on Twitter when I have a thought I want to share is hard to shake.
Apple Notes and Reminders
I’ll group these up because this is getting a little longer than I had planned originally. I’ve likely lost a few of you by now.
In relation to both of these apps, I tend to like sticking with stock where possible and it makes sense. Both Apple Notes have been stalwarts for me over the years and at this point I can’t imagine moving either of my workflows to a different app for either use case. When Obsidian’s iOS app launches I could potentially be considered to move at least a few key notes if it made sense to do so.
AnyBuffer is, according to their App Store listing is a ’things organiser’. Essentially it’s a clipboard manager, but you can store images, text etc. I’m not quite sure how I stubbling across this app, to be honest, and to be frank I rarely use this. I’ve put it in my dock to try and encourage it’s use, but so far I’ve rarely come across an instance where it would be useful.
Writing this post has actually reminded me it’s even there, so it’s likely I will remove it. Sorry AnyBuffer!
Podcasts and Apple Music
Next up we have the stock Podcasts app and Apple Music. I’ve been an Apple Music user for years and, as with Apple News, I have a subscription as part of my Apple One bundle so it’s not likely to be going anywhere. I’m not a huge music listening, to be honest, but I do like to listen to some of the Apple Music stations or random tunes occasionally.
My audio entertainment on the Mac is more likely to be in the Podcasts app. I swiched back to the stock Podcasts app some months ago, as my usage dropped considerably, due to the pandemic. I’ve always had an on/off relationship with this app, across all devices, with some really flaky syncing. In recent months, however, it’s been a whole lot better. I’ve dropped my subscription list down to only a handful of podcasts, however, so I’m sure this has had a hand in helping sync feel more robust.
I think I’m in the minority here, but I really like the look and feel of the official app, especially with the new Channel views, and I like having the same content synced between iOS, iPadOS, Mac, Apple TV and my Watch.
Firefox and AnyDesk
I’m going to jump over a couple of obvious items (App Store, Settings and Twitter) and move onto two apps which have been getting a lot of use recently, namely Firefox and AnyDesk.
Now that I’m working from home full time, for the time being at least, I’ve been able to start using my Mac a lot more than I used to. I think this post is now long enough, so I will likely post about this in more depth at a later date, but it’s been a real joy to be able to continue working as efficiently and effectively as I did when I was based in an office everyday, but also to use the M1 Mac Mini a lot more. The device is really fantastic, and has changed my view of the Mac in general recently which, again, I will touch on in a later post.
AnyDesk is a remote desktop client which allows me to remotely access my work laptop from my Mac Mini. The connection seems near perfect, and mouse and keyboard actions are perfectly sycned. There is absolutely no noticable delay between typing into my Mac and the action taking place on the remote desktop. It’s really been a revelation.
After stating how good Safari is above, I’ve started using FireFox as an application I can use between both my Work PC and my personal devices. It’s actually a very nice app and the added emphasis on security and privacy is in keeping with my current usage.