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Andrew Canion’s Mac, iPad, and iPhone 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?

I am Andrew Canion, and I work as a Business Adviser, delivering the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme that provides a range of advisory services across management, innovation, growth, and commercialisation of products and services. I can also help companies to access government grants that support their business objectives.

I’m also a Non-Executive Director and Treasurer of a not-for-profit organisation, Midlas, that provides legal support, financial counselling, disability advocacy, and tenancy advocacy for people in need.

As an early Twitter adopter with an unusual surname, I managed to get @canion.

What is your current setup?

Andrew Canion's desk

My main machine is a 13-inch MacBook Pro, Late 2013 with a 2.4GHz i5 and 8 GB of RAM. This machine has been rock solid. I think back to my first Mac, which was the first generation Intel MacBook Pro 17” that got so hot it would burn your legs, and am amazed by how far things have come. This 2013 MacBook has been excellent, and still has more than enough power for what I need. With the lack of ports on the new MacBooks, I think I will hold onto this machine for as long as I can.

Andrew Canion's desk

At home I plug the MacBook into a 27” Apple Cinema Display. I love this monitor, but its lack of retina makes me sad, but not sad enough to fork out for an upgrade. Plus it looks pretty on my desk, which is an IKEA sit/stand job. I sometimes put the laptop on a Griffin stand I bought years ago.

In the corner of my office, I have a QNAP TS-421 NAS that gives me a place to store media and backups and have it do other typical server stuff.

My employer provides me with a Surface Pro, which is terrible and I try to avoid using it wherever possible. That thing has the worst trackpad known to man, heats up like crazy, and Windows 10 is ugly.

Where can we find your macOS wallpaper?

I’m not really a wallpaper kind of guy. At the moment, I’m cycling my Photos library, but I generally just pick one of the default Apple options.

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

I use a range of software and try to use the best tool for the job. I do have a core group of apps that I rely on immensely, however, which include:

  • OmniFocus: I’ve been using this since it was Kinkless GTD running on top of OmniOutliner. My brain now thinks in OmniFocus structures, and I would be lost without it.
  • iThoughtsX: When I’m meeting with clients, iThoughts is the best way for me to take notes while at the same time facilitating the meeting. It can both direct the agenda and let me record what the firm is saying, all at the same time.
  • Reeder: I still love RSS, and Reeder is the best.
  • Scrivener: For drafting my work reports, Scrivener’s project-based approach works really well. The report ultimately winds up being published via a mandated Word template, but up until final production, I’m doing my writing in Scrivener.
  • Bear: I bought a subscription because Apple Notes is ugly.
  • DEVONthink Pro: This is my filing cabinet for my personal life and my reference cabinet for work. Its AI can help me find random documents that I have saved that would never otherwise have found the light of day. This really adds a lot of value for the companies I work with as an adviser, and makes me look smarter than I am.
  • YNAB: I love YNAB. My wife loves YNAB. We never fight about money anymore!
  • Setapp: While a lot of the apps in the Setapp bundle I already owned outright, I continue to subscribe for a few apps, plus I just like the concept and want it to succeed.

In addition, I run a whole bunch of other apps and menu bar utilities to help keep me productive, such as Launchbar, Keyboard Maestro, Bartender, 1Password, and so on. So many apps!

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I’m pretty close to my ideal setup at this stage. Part of me would love to get a nice 27” iMac for the beautiful screen, but with so much of my work being done at random business locations, I need to be mobile. Introducing another computer is just adding complexity for marginal benefit.

What iPhone do you have?

Andrew Canion's iPhone

My iPhone SE in space gray is provided by my employer. That’s great in that I don’t have to pay for it. That’s bad because I’m the victim of a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile. The main downside with the MDM policy is that my employer has disabled iCloud Sync, which renders useless so many of the apps I use on my Mac and iPad.

So, my iPhone is not a great productivity device in my workflow, and is mostly used for iMessage, email, calendaring, and podcast listening. Sometimes I even use it as a phone!

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

I found my current wallpaper through the Vellum app. I chose to blur the image of purple crystals for my home screen, and have the same unblurred image as my lock screen.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

  • OmniFocus: To manage my work and life.
  • Overcast: (I am addicted to podcasts, and have been since the early days of Adam Curry. In the early 2000s I used to drive to work with my IBM Thinkpad open on the passenger seat of my car, playing podcasts!).
  • YNAB: To track my spending.
  • AnyList: I’m a subscriber to their Premium offering because my wife and I rely on this for shared grocery lists, and we want to ensure the app doesn’t go away.
  • Spotify: To listen to music. Apple Music just doesn’t do it for me, but I really wish Spotify had access to Siri.

Which app could you not live without?

OmniFocus. If I didn’t have that app telling me what to do next, I would probably curl up in the fetal position and refuse to carry on.

Which iPad do you have?

Andrew Canion's iPad

I just recently upgraded to an iPad Pro 10.5” in space gray (black bezel, FTW). Before that, I was just getting by with a 1st generation iPad Air, but that thing was getting slow.

I had wanted to buy the original iPad Pro 12.9”, but now I feel vindicated for holding out because this new second generation iPad Pro is amazing.

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

I recently went with the Apple linen wallpaper, which I saw on a blog somewhere recently. Was it here? I can’t remember!

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

I love my iPad and wish I could adopt an iPad-only lifestyle, but I have too many workflows that need the structure that only a desktop OS can provide. I also have to interface with Government systems, and in their eyes, the iPad is not a “real machine.”

I use my iPad for all the typical consumption activities, browsing, RSS reading, etc. I am trying to find effective workflows that encompass the Pencil, but I’m not there yet.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

  • Reeder/Unread: For reading RSS, and I pick the app depending upon my mood.
  • OmniFocus: For tracking my tasks.
  • Pzizz: I need noise to fall asleep to, and Pzizz never fails to knock me out.
  • FastMail: I wanted to be able to use my own domain name for email, and FastMail lets me support an Australian company at the same time.
  • Day One: For diarising my life, which actually mainly turns into me diarising my kids’ lives. I currently have 759 entries encompassing 597 days, dating back to August 2012.
  • 1Password: To get access to anything. I don’t know any of my own passwords. I have the Families subscription, which is a great service.
  • Fantastical: The superior calendaring app (although I’m a BusyCal holdout on the Mac).
  • Bear: For taking notes that aren’t ugly.

Which app could you not live without?

Probably OmniFocus once again, but if you looked at the time spent in apps, the winner might actually be Reeder/Unread.

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