What does a minimalist Mac setup look like? A lean, mean, productivity machine is what it looks like. My MacBook Pro with the M1 chip can handle anything I throw at it including using multiple apps and not charging it for a full day and it will still perform with zero lag. But why stress it out when I can streamline processes and preserve it as long as I can?

Most of the software applications installed are stock, meaning they are designed by Apple to take advantage of storage space, memory and battery life. The rest of the apps are what I have deemed important enough for me to install and use. The end result? Fast speeds, no bloat and my work is frictionless and efficient.

I tell everyone that asks to imitate this type of setup, regardless of what device they are using to keep it simple and make it fast.


  1. Remove the clutter because a desktop that is messy is a distraction. Close the windows you aren’t using, close the browser tabs, remove all those icons on the dock. Minimize your distractions and be more productive.
  2. Keep it lean. Most computers are bloated with apps, files, and junk because they look cool, but are resources hogs. I suggest against using these features, because they slow things down.
  3. Specifics apps as opposed to all-in-ones because some try to do too much. Find a simple solution for a specific task, one that does not create bloat and hogs the memory. It takes a long time to load big apps, and they will crash or slow things down.
  4. Simple formats like text files for storing documents. Most of my documents are in text format because they are future-proofed, non-proprietary and compatible with multiple programs.
  5. There will always be something new and shiny but take it from me, the one who likes shiny stuff, find something and stick with it. Choose the best one and get your stuff done.
Look ma, no clutter on the desktop!

Simple Software

These are the software applications I suggest for a minimal setup – lightweight, fast, without bloat or too many features:

Writing- Your operating system’s very own text reader. On Macs it is called TextEdit. Bloated word processors like Microsoft Word is over-the-top if you only want to write. Most writers and bloggers get swept up looking for the perfect writing software, but all we need is text. Don’t let the software distract, just write. When you need to format it, use software such as IAWriter, Ulysses or WordPress.

Notes and Tasks- Again, the built-in software could be the best. Apple’s Notes app is one of the best out there, and the ugliest but it works. When I need more I turn to Bear notes for specific formatting and design use. Both applications have the ability to use text as a task format to check things off your to-do list. Why pay $50 a year for that?

Browsing- My daily driver right now is Safari. It syncs up on all my Apple devices and is one of the most privacy-driven browsers available. Again, designed by Apple to be lean and secure. No crashes, no bloat, no excessive memory usage.

Blogging- IAWriter and WordPress. I use WordPress because it’s free and does everything I need it to do. This text is being written on IA Writer, another minimal, no nonsense, everything in text format kind of software. When I am done with this article all I need to do is send to WordPress and it publishes to my website.

The minimal aesthetic of IA Writer

Photos- Here is one of the few places I can splurge when it comes to resource hogging. I use several photography software applications but mostly use Adobe Lightroom. I use Apple’s Photos app for organizing and Lightroom for post processing and storage. Both are available on all my devices so I can work with my images everywhere.

Communications- Apple’s Mail and Messages. You don’t need Skype, or WhatsApp or any other IM app. Mail and Messages are free, can do everything those other apps can do and do it better. Why waste the storage and memory on those others?

Cloud Storage- iCloud. Duh.Alternatives-I stay away from anything that has Google attached to it. Go ahead, name one out of any Google product. The answer is nope. The truth for me is I have tried almost every software out there for various and specific needs and they all came up lacking in utility but heavy on the price for the same capability as the preinstalled software. I’ll pay and enjoy those software apps that will be the most beneficial but again, those are kept at a minimal.

Applications installed and used-

  • ACDSee Photo Studio
  • Adobe Lightroom and Bridge
  • Bear
  • BookTrack
  • Books*
  • GoodLinks
  • iA Writer
  • Mail*
  • Messages*
  • Mindnode
  • Music*
  • Notes*
  • Obsidian
  • Pixelmator Pro
  • Reeder
  • Safari*
  • WordPress
    *Apple product

These software applications are my current preferences for their design, utility and keep my Mac a lean, mean productivity machine.

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