I have recently moved to a MacBook Air M1 for mobile app development as it allows me to develop for both iOS and Android and is a solid upgrade to my ThinkPad E480.

I come from a Linux background so naturally, I like to make things work for me and because of this, macOS at first felt very un-natural to me however, there are a few apps I have discovered that make the experience much more enjoyable and to the point where it surpasses my Linux experience in many ways.

In this article, I will be sharing some of the apps (mostly open-source) that I found which helps make macOS more for power-users. Some of this is not necessary for a lot of people out there however, for me personally, they make a world of difference.

Clipboard Manager – “Maccy”

Having a working clipboard manager is a must for me. It needs to be one that allows me to paste without formatting, is efficient on resources and ideally open-source as it would hold sensitive data (e.g. passwords) albeit temporary.

Screenshot from Maccy (https://maccy.app)

I have found one called Maccy and it works really well! Give it a go.

Mouse Optimisation – “LinearMouse” and “Mos”

These two apps are a must-have for me. I have tried to use the Apple Magic Mouse and I do keep it around for on-the-go use however, the sensor and shape is less than ideal for me. I have tried some Logitech Mice too which work well on other operating systems however, the Bluetooth connection tends to lag on macOS (i.e. the polling rate is less than 90Hz which makes it feel sluggish).

I am currently using a SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless which can be used in both dongle and Bluetooth mode and it works really well. I run it on the lowest polling rate to save on battery with LEDs off, I get a max polling rate of 145Hz which is perfect for daily use in macOS (I am not a big gamer).

However, there is one caveat of using a non-Apple mouse and that is the side-buttons won’t work and mouse acceleration. These two issue are resolved with the use of LinearMouse which allows you to adjust acceleration, sensitivity but also enable universal forward/back buttons which is a must for me.

Plethora of options are available for Rectangle

I also discovered Mos recently which allows me to implement smooth scrolling in all apps and it works really well. It was sad knowing Safari would only have smooth scrolling if you use a magic mouse but I want to use something else and Mos allows me to make Safari absolutely perfect. 👌

My current Mos Mouse configuration – it gives it a nice MS Edge-like scroll feel.

Moving windows around – Hummingbird and Rectangle

Rectangle is an app that allows you to snap your windows to corners on your desktop — something that macOS should be able to do by default (even the iPad can do this). It’s a free and open source app and it’s the first thing I install.

A basic app but can be customised quite a lot.

Hummingbird is a new discovery for me which allows me to move windows around without having to click on the top bar (i.e. I can put my mouse on the window, press “CTRL+OPT” and simply move it around, no clicking required. And if I press “CTRL+OPT+CMD” together, I can resize the windows.

The reason why I love this app is because I am very used to resizing and moving my windows around with “SUPER+Left Mouse” in Linux but macOS doesn’t have this feature out of the box. Hummingbird is a game changer for me and makes window management even easier.

A simple yet super effective app. Hasn’t been updated in a while but still works like a charm.

I also wanted to try out Yabai but having used tiling window managers in the past, it breaks my workflow so I prefer the floating.

Keep Mac Awake – Amphetamine

This is a simple app that works like “caffeine” on Linux (e.g. a GNOME extension) but allows for more granular control (e.g. set up timers for how long you should have caffeine) — simple but effective.

Windows-like Alt-Tab Behaviour – AltTab

I normally use “CMD+TAB” but the default behaviour is to not bring the application to the foreground which is annoying and I have to do “CMD+TAB,OPT”.

This is fine however, there is a nice addition that also allows me to switch to multiple windows of the same app with ease (akin to using “CMD+TILDE”) — and this is AltTab!

It also comes with a load of additional features so it is a nice addition to my Mac workflow.

Status Bar Management – Bartender 5

This is a paid app but I believe it’s a must-have, especially if you decide to install everything mentioned here! 😀

I usually use the basics but it can be customised quite a bit.

Bartender allows you to clean-up your status bar and keep it looking minimal, similar to how Windows has a “tray”, macOS doesn’t have one by default so in order to have a clutter free top-bar, Bartender comes to the rescue.

So these are some of the apps I use on my Mac and it’s made the transition from Linux much easier and dare I say, more enjoyable. There are things I miss daily that I could do on Linux but Mac being a UNIX system underneath means that everything feels mostly the same aside from the desktop environment. So there really isn’t much to brag about macOS but when you have nice Apple Silicon powered hardware and have a few Apple devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad), it works wonderfully.

I will also share some of my favourite extensions for Safari too in an upcoming article, thanks for reading, hopefully it has inspired you to spice up your own macOS installation.