Rig Talk: What I Use

The Setup website is one of my daily web trawls. I’m fascinated by the tech that other people use to get things done. Towards that end, it’s been almost two years since I’ve recapped my hardware and software setup so I thought I’d share a little behind-the-scenes on what I use to “get it done”.

desktop screenshot 7-7-12


My main rig is an early 2008 Mac Pro tower with 14GB of RAM, a 120GB OWC Solid State drive (for apps and OS), and a 1 Terabyte drive that houses all my data. I have two separate drives (both internal) that I use for backing those drives up.

I’m a firm believer in data redundancy (because I’m paranoid like that), so I also use Backblaze for off-site backups.


My Mac Pro runs the latest flavor of Mac OS X (10.7.4). Below are a few of the apps that I find to be indispensable:

Trickster 2.0: this little app (formerly Blast!, which I reviewed on the site some time back) is great for keeping track of the files most recently used on your Mac, making them available from the menubar.

MarsEdit 3.0: My de-facto app for blogging on the desktop. It makes logging into WordPress’s control panel to craft a blog post seem positively antiquated by comparison.

Alfred: Alfred has replaced LaunchBar as my app launcher. It’s fast, it’s easy on the eyes, and its powerful features are easily accessible.

Dropbox: It’s the way I share files between all my computers. Plus, I have access to all my files from any machine connected to the Internet thanks to Dropbox’s excellent web user interface.

Typinator 5.0: Simply the fastest text expanding, auto-correcting, gun-slinging app on the market. Whether its used for creating lengthy boiler-plate text, or auto-correcting spelling mistakes on the fly, Typinator does what it does in a simple and elegant fashion.

Divvy: This little app makes managing window sizes a breeze, without having to manually adjust them each and every time. As a bonus, it’s also available for Windows.

Fantastical: It’s true to its billing, as “the Mac calendar you’ll actually enjoy using”. I use it for organizing my schedule – it synchs across my Macs and my iPhone. And I never even need to launch iCal.

Hazel: I’m a late adopter of Hazel, but now I find that I can’t live without it. Hazel lets you set up rules and automatically takes care of routine tasks on your computer. For example, with Hazel, I can create a rule to automatically move all screenshot PNG files from my desktop into a folder on another drive, and then empty them into the Trash after 3 hours. I can then set a rule to empty the trash. With Hazel, I can even automatically upload the latest PC Weenies comic immediately after it’s saved out as a JPEG file. Every computer should have Hazel – it’s THAT good.

Wunderlist: The best To-Do app on the market. It works across Mac, Linux, Windows, iOS platforms and let’s you sync your To-Do list across all devices. Without Wunderlist, I would go insane trying to manage my daily tasks. Best of all, it’s FREE.

For creating my comics, I use a combo of Adobe Photoshop CS6, Sketchbook Pro and Manga Studio Pro EX 4. My workflow has shifted a bit recently, and I hope to cover that in an upcoming blog post.

Apps that I No Longer Use

Corel Painter X, LaunchBar, and Default Folder fall into that category. My needs with Sketchbook Pro and Manga Studio Pro have more than fulfilled my need to stick with Corel Painter. Default Folder has been superseded by Trickster and the Mac OS X Finder sidebar. LaunchBar has been replaced with Alfred. I’ve also eliminated iStat, favoring GeekTool instead.

What About You?

What apps do you rely on for getting your work done? Mac / Windows / Linux: tell me a little about what apps you can’t live without in the comments below.


These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Bearman
    July 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Wacom, photoshop elements and windows. That’s it for me

  • Bartimaeus
    July 8, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I use Quicksilver, with the Clipboard add-on. I hardly ever go through Applications for anything, these days.
    For media, I use the Perian plugin to watch FLVs and whatnot.
    For navigating folders and handling invisible files, I use FinderPop.
    Finally, I use NTFS-3G to access my Bootcamp drive from my Mac desktop.