Sean O’Sullivan’s Mac and iOS setup

Every week we post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. We do these interviews because not only are they fun, but a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.

New setup interviews are posted every Monday; follow us on RSS or Twitter to stay up to date.


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Sean O’Sullivan. I’m an IT Manager by day, but away from the office you’ll find me working on a novel and my next iMessage sticker pack. I’ve created two so far, Scribblings and Weatherlings.

What is your current setup?

Sean O'Sullivan's MacBook Pro

I’m currently rocking a late-2012, 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 8 GB RAM, a 2.5 GHz i5 processor, and a 128 GB SSD. Hands down this is the best laptop I’ve ever owned. Whilst not the newest Mac, the machine is still really responsive and I’m constantly in awe of the beautiful LED, IPS screen.

Before our daughter was born, my wife and I used to have the MacBook connected to an external display and a pair of first generation Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard peripherals to direct input. Nowadays I happily work from the sofa most of the time, or at a nearby coffee shop when I get the chance.

The Dock stays hidden, tucked away off the bottom of the screen. Yes, I’m one of those people.

Where can we find your OS X wallpaper?

I like a clean and minimalist desktop. The wallpaper laden across it at the moment is from Wallpaper Stock. It’s simply stunning on the retina screen.

What software do you use and for what do you use it?

  • Scrivener — For any kind of long form writing, Scrivener is the best editing environment on the market. I’m making extensive use of it for drafting my novel, which I hope will be finished in the near future. Recently, Literature and Latte released an iOS counterpart with a sync feature, and it’s just sublime.
  • Ulysses — Pretty much everything else I write goes into Ulysses. Rough notes, blog posts, short stories, and my own documentation. It’s the best Markdown editor for beginners and experienced people alike.
  • 2Do — I like to structure and plan my day rigorously, so projects and to-do lists play huge parts in my workflow. I started off on Things many years ago, but upgraded to 2Do last December. It’s ridiculously powerful and there’s a steep learning curve to grasp all of the features, but I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. Without 2Do, I’d feel somewhat lost.
  • Safari — My web browser of choice. It’s fast, synchronises across my devices via iCloud, and is as solid as a rock.
  • iTunes — I’ve tried other media players, but I keep coming back to iTunes. (Most recently because my family have an active Apple Music plan.)
    • I’m currently using MiniPlay, which puts a mini controller in the Today view. I’ve configured a Hot Corner in the lower right so a quick track pad movement brings MiniPlay into action.
  • Photos — We went all in with iCloud Photo Library a couple of months ago, so I’m using Photos a lot. The synchronisation of our family photos has been pretty reliable for us thus far.
  • TweetBot — My Twitter client of choice. Fast, clean, and it remembers my timeline position across devices.
  • f.lux — It’s one of the first utilities I install, ensuring the MacBook display becomes warm and easy on my eyes when I’m working late at night.
  • Arial — I love this screensaver. It turns the otherwise static lock and sleep states into an Apple TV-like moving montage of scenic views.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

To be honest, I’m very happy with my setup, though I’m a little disappointed that our model just missed out on supporting unlock via Apple Watch. I can do everything I need with this machine, so right now it’s ideal for me.


What iPhone do you have?

Sean O'Sullivan's iPhone

I have the iPhone 6 Plus in silver. Quite honestly, it’s my go-to device for pretty much everything, especially when I’m out and about.

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

The wallpaper is the same as my MacBook.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

  • Overcast — I listen to podcasts on my daily commute and when I’m working around the house, so I appreciate Marco Arment’s attention to detail in the app. The program strikes an excellent balance between features and usability, but I wish the watchOS app was a little more responsive.
  • Health — I’m not a fitness buff, but I do like to keep an eye on how I’m doing. Paired with my Apple Watch, the Health app is regularly populated with data alongside entries I add manually, such as caffeine.
  • Calendar — I keep my personal, family and work accounts layered so I always know what’s coming up in the week. I check it each morning alongside 2Do to make sure I’m on top of things.
  • 1Password — Words cannot express how much I love and rely upon 1Password, but I’ll give it a shot. It’s installed everywhere, keeping me connected to my various online accounts and pieces of important information. I deliberately set lengthy diceware passwords that make no sense, mixed up with symbols and what have you, so it’d be impossible to remember everything. The native extension for iOS is something you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands!
  • 2Do — As I detailed before, 2Do makes sure I don’t miss a thing.
  • Ulysses — I definitely use Ulysses more on my iPhone than on my Mac, but the superior user interface makes sure I don’t slow down. Everything is just there, ready to go, including the stellar export functions.
  • News — I used to run my own Fever installation for reading the news, but since News came onto the scene, I’ve jumped ship. It’s pretty good these days.

Which app could you not live without?

I’m going to say 1Password because more and more of our lives are connected with software and services in the cloud. If I couldn’t fire up Scrivener or Ulysses, then I could nab another editor and begin typing, but if my database of passwords went away I’d be pretty stuck.

(OK, not entirely. I have backups :))


Which iPad do you have (color, size, etc.)?

Sean O'Sullivan's iPad

I’m still using a third generation iPad in silver, with a paltry 16 GB of local storage. I’ll certainly be looking for more space when the time comes to upgrade, but I’m in no hurry.

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

Déjà vu. The answer lies in another paragraph.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

The iPad is capable of a lot more than I find myself using it for. With my recent work on Scribblings and Weatherlings, I’ve been using Paper to draw images with a capacitive stylus. When I’m doing work around the house I tend to have the iPad perched horizontal in a case so I can keep an eye on Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

  • Paper — It’s my go to app for drawing content for my iMessage sticker packs. Easy to use, full of tools, and very quick to get up and running with.
  • Scrivener — I tend to write new content when I’m using the MacBook, but at lunchtime I’ll whip out my iPad and edit the drafts. Everything syncs up perfectly.
  • Coda — My website doesn’t need me to work on it much these days, but from time to time I like to add new things or perhaps change how it looks. Coda lets me edit the HTML and CSS wherever I am, on both my sandbox and live templates.
  • Netflix — Black Mirror, Rick and Morty, Stranger Things, Orphan Black, House… Need I go on?
  • Pocket Mortys — I’m really enjoying this tongue in cheek take on Pokemon, Rick and Morty style. Wubba lubba dub dub!

Which app could you not live without?

For the time being, it would have to be Paper. I love settling down on the sofa to draw pictures with the iPad’s gorgeous display. It’s very relaxing.

Apple Watch

Sean O'Sullivan's watch

Which watch do you have (color, size, etc.)?

I own an original, first generation Apple Watch Sport, 42mm, with an aftermarket Milanese loop band. My wife and I both bought one within a couple of months of its release and we love them to bits.

How are you using your Watch on a daily basis?

I like to go for long walks around the countryside when the weather’s right and the Watch keeps track of my stats. At specific points, I’ll double tap the screen in the Workouts app to start another ‘lap’. This lets me see how well I’m doing compared to my previous walks in the iOS Activity app later on.

Notifications is the Watch’s other big pulling factor for me, as it keeps me up to speed with what’s happening without needing to constantly pull out my phone. Since watchOS 3, I’ve been sending a lot more iMessage replies from my wrist using the Scribble functionality.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

  • 1Password — Whenever one of the websites or online services I use brings two factor authentication support, I switch it on. By synchronising these specific records with 1Password’s watch app, I can grab the 2FA code at a glance.
  • PRTG — We use PRTG Network Monitor at work and should any of the predefined sensors go into an error state, I get a notification right on my wrist. With a couple of taps I can also see an overview of the network’s health for peace of mind.
  • Workout & Activity — These two apps operate independently, but together they let me track my walks and see how I’m doing on my daily move, exercise, and standing rings.
  • Messages — Apple has made it a lot easier to send messages from watchOS since 3.0. I use the Scribble feature a lot as I tend not to dictate personal replies in public.
  • 2Do — The watch app lets me quickly check off today’s outstanding tasks without resorting to my iPhone or iPad. I can also add tasks to the list using dictation, which helps when my hands are busy.