I recently switched over to using a MacBook Air as my primary computer for development. I quite like it. It’s very light, fast, and for the reduced amount of design I’ve been doing, it has all the processing power I need.

Outside of getting all my development dependencies, apps, and such installed, there are a few things that I wanted to change about my computer that are simple to do, but I often forget the commands for doing them.

Since I’ll eventually need to setup another computer some day, I figured I’d write down what I’m doing for future Scott, and maybe right now you?

Update keyboard settings

As I noted in my post “Tabbing Links in OSX/macOS Firefox”, macOS oddly limits keyboard accessibility to interactive elements by default. Which seems opposite to what should be the defaults…but I digress…

In System Preferences, Keyboard Preferences, update the radio button selection from “Text boxes and lists only” to “all controls” to allow keyboard tabbing to all focusable elements.

For more detailed instructions on how to alter these settings check out my previous post.

Updating Screen Shots

To change the location of where screen shots are saved, when using Command Shift 3 or Command Shift 4, open terminal (located in: applications > Utilities > Terminal) and type enter the following command:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/New_File_Path_Goes_Here

Changing the location isn’t all I want to do though. By default macOS saves screen shots as .png files. While this may be fine for most people, I would rather my screen shots be set to .jpg by default, as they’re typically around half the file size, and I have needed these for blog posts, or to use in GitHub issues.

Using the following command, you can change the file type from .png to .jpg

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg

If you want to change the default to a different file type, swap out jpg with one of the following:

  • PDF
  • gif
  • tiff

After running those two commands, running the following will apply the changes and the next screen shot you take will be in your designated folder, with the modified file type.

killall SystemUIServer

Show Hidden Files, Folders and Status Bars

As OSX evolved, and became macOS, the UI of the operating system was refined and streamlined. Many of these changes may have gone unnoticed to casual users, but some of these changes hid things that were important to me, as a developer. The following commands will reveal some files and features that are hidden by default.

Show dot files

I need to create and edit a lot of project dot files. Those files are typically hidden by default since many macOS users likely will never need them.

To reveal dot files on your machine, run the following:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

To hide them again, simply replace YES with NO.

Show Path and Status Bars

I like my folders view setup as a single column list view. The columned view is nice if I need to get to a parent folder quickly, but I personally don’t like switching between folder views.

Running this command:

defaults write com.apple.finder ShowPathbar -bool true

Will reveal the path bar, going all the way back up to the hard drive.
Speaking of the HD, running the following will reveal the status bar, which will indicate how much disk space is remaining, among other information about the current folder:

defaults write com.apple.finder ShowStatusBar -bool true

That’s it for now

Have other suggestions of ways to modify a Mac? Let me know on Twitter