Sweet Setup Interview: Rick Stawarz’s Mac Setup

Every week we try to post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Why do we do these interviews? Because 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 orTwitter to stay up to date.


Who are you and what do you do?

Hi. I am Rick Stawarz. The last name is a bit of a mouthful. Most people end up saying “Star Wars”. I’m not too sure how the Pollocks actually pronounce it, but I just say “stores”.

The past four and a half years of my life have been spent in seminary, and it was during this season I quit Apple Retail to start a company called Macinstructor. Simply put, we teach people about Apple tech, and it’s a lot of fun. Our clients range from retirees to homemakers to businesses to educators. I think of Macinstructor as being a bridge between the Apple Store and the community.

Having now graduated, I recently started pastoring an Anglican church in Birmingham, Alabama. As for Macinstructor, I couldn’t leave my clients hanging, so I’ve slipped into an administrative role and handed off the daily training appointments to some quality former Apple buddies.

I host a podcast called Farmer’s Market, too.

What is your current setup?

Rick Stawarz Mac Setup

Rick Stawarz Gadget Bag

While it’s not always this regimented, I try to only work at a Mac, chill on an iPad, and check App.net on an iPhone. A new development in my setup is that I’ve switched from an iMac + MacBook Air setup to now using a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro as my sole Mac. While some people love the versatility of a laptop/desktop duo, I personally found that setup to be full of friction. I don’t always have a strong internet connection where I go, and so keeping everything in sync between the desktop and laptop was a chore. Now having everything under one hood helps on so many fronts. As someone who works from a home office, I love the freedom to toss the Pro in a bag, head to my favorite bar/coffee shop, and pick up right where I left off.

iPad Air joins my ranks as well — replacing the iPad mini. The mini never really took for me; mostly because of its smaller touch targets, non-retina screen, smaller on-screen keyboard, and not-as-zippy A5. I agree with numerous reviewers: the iPad Air is the quintessential iPad. Apple nailed it. The iPad is what I use to capture meeting notes, deliver presentations, and catch up on Instapaper. The bigger screen, in my opinion, is better suited for reading, collaborating, handwriting, and enjoying videos. When preaching, it’ll act as a teleprompter, too.

Other favorited gear include…

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

Mac Software

For the sake of knowing Apple’s software inside and out, I try to use the Apple apps as much as possible. Safari, Mail, and Calendar are open at all times. Pages for publishing, Aperture for photography (Canon T4i + EyeFi Pro X2), Numbers for budgets & invoicing, iTunes for radioing, AirPort Utility for utilizing AirPorts, and GarageBand 6 for podcasting. Here is the third party lineup.

  • Alfred is my “Here we go!” app. Launching, finding, calculating, mapping, tasking, and surfing all start here.
  • Things for keeping projects straight and helping me not drop the ball.
  • Dropbox syncs all the stuff.
  • Droplr shares the stuff.
  • Google Drive for team collaboration. (As far as I know, it’s the only solution that allows for simultaneous collaboration of documents and spreadsheets.)
  • TextExpander for automating email and other repetitive keyboard things.
  • Client appointment logs, blog drafts, and meeting notes are written in Byword and 1Writer.
  • Accordance houses Bible commentaries, translations, language tools, timelines, and reference material for preparing sermons and theological essays. It does in five minutes what would take about five days at the library.
  • Delicious Library for managing and referencing physical books.
  • OmniOutliner for outlining sermons, lesson plans, and essays.
  • EndNote for… endnotes.
  • Mental Case for memorizing.
  • Delish is a Pinboard client. It archives my internets.

iOS Software

Because my devices are also what I use for training others, I leave the home screen in their original layout. Page 2 is where you’ll find all the usual tools familiar to readers of shawnblanc.net.

Like a lot of people these days, the iPhone is my most used computer. It’s a credit card terminal, news reader, podcatcher, navigator, document browser, coffee timer, password manager, calendar, email triage, twooter, netter, and todo list. Sometimes, I call people with it.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

Having now acquired a Retina MacBook Pro, I have my ideal setup. It’s a dream. That said, the next generation Thunderbolt display ought to be quite tempting. Assuming it’s 4k, thinner, and equipped with Thunderbolt 2, it will be a beast of an accessory for MacBook owners.

The iPad and iPhone are near perfect devices. Battery and performance improvements are always welcome, but the design itself hardly deserves any critique from this corner of the woods.