Boost Your Productivity on macOS - Apps

Published on 10/14/2023 by Joey Yu

Have you ever seen people doing this on their Macs so they can have 2 windows side by side?

I know, it is a bit painful to see how that 11 seconds just gone into waste there. But Hey! You may have realized it already, we could have just used macOS’s split screen mode, right?

The answer is, yes, and no.

Let’s first take a look at how it would work if you use the split screen mode:

Based on my observation, this approach seems to be the most common when it comes to splitting the screen on macOS.

However, it is not the most efficient way to do so, and there are a couple of annoying drawbacks, let’s take a look at the following example:

Imagine you are currently browsing your notes on the split screen, and you just have a question and you would like to email your instructor. Now you have to switch to another window to get to your Outlook client. You start typing your email, after a couple minutes, you may not remember where your split screen was. Then you start to swipe left and right on your trackpad, trying to find your split screen.

Not to mention that while you are typing your email, you may also be constantly swiping left and right to check something on your notes. I see people do this all the time, swiping on their trackpad trying to find their “lecture_5.pdf” that’s in full screen mode on “Desktop 8” :(

Moreover, this can easily become a mess once you have lots of split screens opened at the same time.

How can we make this better? Using Rectangle!

Table of Contents

Rectangle Window Manager

Rectangle is a free and open-source window management app for macOS, it allows you to manage your window placement using keyboard shortcuts or snap areas.

Let me show you how it works, by replicating the same scenario as above, only using keyboard shortcuts:

This provides lots of benefits:

  1. No need to touch your trackpad/mouse, it is a lot faster to do things with your keyboard only.

  2. Very easy to re-arrange your window, place it anywhere you like, left half, right half, top half, bottom half, etc.

  3. Unlike the split screen mode, you can have multiple windows on the same screen. Thus no need to swipe left and right to access some other window.

  4. No need to move your cursor to the smallest green expand icon, and then click on it.

  5. the list goes on…

One important thing that completes the Rectangle experience is 👇

Hiding Your macOS Dock

In my opinion, the Dock takes up lots of screen real estate, but provides little to no value in return.

Most people use the Docs to access their apps, move files to the trash bin, etc. But relying on your trackpad/mouse to perform those actions is quite slow and inefficient.

There are 2 main ways to claim that screen real estate back:

  1. If the app you want to access is already open, simply use the Command+tab shortcut to switch to it.

  2. If not, use Spotlight, or even better, Raycast to launch the app.

Compare the 2 following examples, one with the Dock and one without:

When your Dock starts to have lots of things, it may sometimes even take a while for you to find the app you want!

But you can just do this instead:

No need to memorize where your app is in the Dock, just bring up Spotlight/Raycast, and type the first couple letters of the app you would like to launch and hit enter :)

Once you get used to this, you will find that you don’t need the Dock anymore. That part of the screen finally belongs to you.

PS: For iPad users, just imagine if your iPad’s Dock does not go away after you open an app, taking up space on the bottom of your screen forever. That would be a horrible UX, right? Yet that’s exactly what we have on macOS right now if you do not hide your Dock!

Raycast Is a Must-Have

After we ditch the useless full / split screen mode and the annoying Dock that drags down your productivity, we can finally start boosting our productivity. (It’s like you should always get rid of your credit card debt before you start investing, because the debt easily outweighs the gain)

Raycast is a must-have for macOS users, it is a Spotlight replacement that allows you to so so much more.

Whether it is quickly looking up your calendar schedule:

Raycast Calendar

Or searching for a file on your disk:

Raycast File

Or even searching through your clipboard history!

Raycast Clipboard

Kill a process that is slowing your computer down?

Raycast Process

Query ChatGPT directly with a keyboard shortcut instead of opening your browser and navigate to and then realize your auth has expired so you login again and then start typing your query and realize that your thought process has completely been interrupted?

Raycast AI

I can keep going with the list, creat a quick Google Meet meeting with the Google Meet extension, update a Linear issue with the Linear extension, look up TailwindCSS docs with the TailwindCSS extension

The idea is, you can almost always find a Raycast extension for what you need :)

Have You Tried Arc? Say Goodbye to Chrome

Moving on to the browser space. We tend to spend a lot of time using our browser, and since we are spending so much time on it, we need to make sure it is nice and enjoyable.

Arc Browser is the only browser that fits this criteria.

It has the most delightful implementation of Chrome’s Profile feature, allowing me to easily switch between my personal, study and work profile with a keyboard shortcut. Also note the ability to organize tabs into folders:

Moreover, the new AI features they rolled out last week: Ask on Page, and 5-Second Previews are super useful:

Effortless Demo - Screen Studio

Have you wondered how I made the animated screen recordings above? Screen Studio is the answer.

It allows me to quickly record demo footage like this with almost 0 effort as Screen Studio will automatically create all the animations for me, and it looks absolutely stunning!

It is by far the easiest way to create nice and quick product demos.

After we take care of screen recording, let’s also step up our screenshot game.

Reimagine Screenshot - CleanShot X

I will skip over the most basic screenshot features, and jump straight into some unique aspects of [CleanSho

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