Ever notice how the Photos app resembles a film negative contact sheet? I am amazed with the viewing experience from the iPad/iPhone/Mac and all the information that is built into it. My workflow is simple: Take images with the iPhone, let them sync to the cloud and they are visible on any device you want to view or edit. I can also shoot images on my digital camera, load the SD card into the reader, insert reader into my device and transfer there for post-processing.
Why do I prefer the iPad to do this with? First, the experience of viewing, choosing, and editing your photos on an iPad is much more fun and interactive than just seeing them on your laptop. I can take my digital photo lab with me everywhere. And seeing my photos on a brilliant screen is more intimate for me. I am able to hold my digital images in my hand and interact with them, flag, post-process, and even sketch the composition.
In an effort to keep my library and current reads organized, I purchasedBook Track. It is a simple but gorgeous app that is easy to use. Just take a picture of the ISBN barcode on your book and it does the rest. You can mark the progress of your reading, create a wish list and more. My collection and reading progress is not up to date but I hope to change this soon. Eventually I’ll get to the point where my Library page and this app will be in sync. In the future, I’m considering doing book reviews with notes that I have added.
A few days ago I mentioned I am back in minimalist mode. I want to reduce the amount of possessions, or stuff that I do not need and appreciate what I have. I want to make everything I have useful and appreciate it. I’ve had a lot of success, donating clothes, shoes and trading in physical media like record albums, movie discs and yes, books. I know, I know. Getting rid of books is tantamount to blasphemy to some.
I enjoy reading, always have. If I am not reading a book, then I am reading content online or e-books. But I am drawn to books because of the tactile nature. The feel, the smell and the looks of them. Drop me off at a library or bookstore and pick me hours later.
Reading books transports me to the places I want to go and explore, it stimulates my mind, they relax me right before I go to sleep and they have been comforting while in my home office when I take a break, grab something from the bookshelf, sit in the comfy chair and relax.
I’m learning to let go of physical books for long periods of time. I don’t need an anti-library. But the process of removing them was easier than I hoped. I sorted what I wanted and parted with those I don’t. During a move across country, I would squeeze my vast library into about 25 totes that were a burden to carry and transport. I am down to sixteen physical books after ruthlessly culling the herd.
The winter season is almost here and I anticipate a lot of free time will be spent reading. So my thinking is to plan what to read specifically for the next few months.
A minimalist’s approach to reading can be just as rewarding as having your own physical library but without all the occupied space.
Here’s what I plan to do:
Purge those books I haven’t gotten around to reading or are a one-time use.
Borrow from the library, either physical or digital books.
I’ve mentioned books in this post but the same can be applied to all physical media like record albums, DVDs, etc. Streaming or borrowing digital media on multiple devices is quite liberating and minimal.
Regarding technology, I suggest that simpler is better. Lately I am keeping it even simpler by using plain text or markdown files after years of more complex formats and software programs.
Complex file formats are slow, bloated and usually only works if you have subscribed to the proprietary software and in a few years fail, and no longer support it. There goes your data.
Simple file formats are quick, lean and light. They play well with multiple software applications, no one owns it, and are almost always guaranteed to work in the future. Want proof? I can take data I stored on a 1.44MB capacity floppy disk back in the day and still open and read it- provided I had a floppy disk reader, but I don’t.
Plain text is the way to go for my needs. It is designed to be simple, dependable and minimal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
WordPress *Apple product
These software applications are my current preferences for their design, utility and keep my Mac a lean, mean productivity machine.
After scanning the website and cleaning up some design code, I came across the Library page. It has been neglected and needed a good dusting off. So of course I neglected it again but that will change soon as I also rediscovered an e-book resource called Standard E-Books and need to make room for new additions.
I just downloaded and installed more copies of public domain classics in beautiful modern formats. So this is just in time for cooler weather and curling up with a good, uh, iPad.
The 4S from Grid is a piece of artwork made up of the individual parts of an old iPhone 4S put on display. Around forty pieces, the components are individually placed and glued on a white background, complete with measurements and labels so you know exactly what the components are.
The hard part will be deciding on where to put this gorgeous display of Apple tech.
Satisfaction and technology for me is rare. When it comes to gadgets, I long to have the latest and greatest, especially with a personal computer, or camera. For far too long though, I’ve had to make do with the minimum, the cheapest, the hodge-lodge collection of gadgets. These were frustrating to me as I had to discover workarounds to overcome my lofty expectations.
Recently, I’ve decided to purchase top shelf devices that would meet my performance, productivity and aesthetic needs. These devices need to be designed to look great, have modern tech specs, last a long time and create joy (thanks Marie Kondo.)
Over the past year I sold off my old gear and slowly upgraded to what I wanted. A refurbished MacBook Air from 2015 for a 2021 MacBook Pro. An iPhone 8 to the new iPhone 12 Pro. Apple this and that, Nikon to Sony camera etc etc. All upgraded and designed to last. All bought and paid for upfront.
I looked at upgrading the iPhone 12 to the as-yet-to-be-released 13 next week. You know what? I am content. My current is that good. It’ll be good for at least 3-4 more years.
I am finally happy where I am and don’t feel the need to move to something else anytime soon.
It is liberating not to have to think about my computer setup anymore and just use my computer setup. Things can always be better, and I can guarantee new things will be coming that will make all of my devices feel obsolete.
But that doesn’t mean that they are no longer useful or can no longer make me happy as they have always done. The most significant benefit of being content with my computer is that most times, I don’t think about it anymore; I just use it. Worrying or contemplating what else I could get that is better no longer crosses my mind.
But contentment is something I will continue to strive for. As for now though, I am there. Finally.
These devices are used daily. Most of my work comes from these beautifully designed tools. It’s fair to say that after years of frustration with Windows and Android, I am drinking the Apple-flavored kool-aid.