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Justin Hamilton’s Mac 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.

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Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Justin Hamilton, and I’m a first-year student at the University of Delaware studying computer engineering. When I’m not in classes or doing work, I sometimes write music and take pictures as hobbies. I also tweet a lot.

What is your current setup?

Justin Hamilton's desk

I was recently inspired by the Nintendo Switch and completely revamped my desk, which sports a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar at its core. It spends most of its time in a TwelveSouth BookArc, connected to the rest of my desk via one USB-C cable. What makes this setup special to me is that through this one cable, I am connected to:

The monitor and speakers sit on a stand formed from an IKEA shelf and legs, alongside a pad of sticky notes, a Rubik’s cube, and an Echo Dot (oh, how the HomePod is tempting me though…).

I also attached an LED light strip to the back of my desk, because why not. It also looks amazing at night.

Where can we find your macOS wallpaper?

I change my wallpaper fairly often, but my current wallpaper (at the time of writing) is this picture from Ron Whitaker.

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

I’ll split this into two sections:

Main Apps

  • Bear is where I take my notes for class where applicable. Its tag sorting, Markdown support, and elegant design are perfect for quickly taking notes and organizing them.

  • OmniFocus is absolutely critical to my workflow, as it keeps track of my assignments, projects, and general to-dos in my life. Without this app, I would probably have lost my mind a while ago.

  • Fantastical is another super important app, and lets me keep track of my lectures, labs, exams, and so on. Its natural-language input is mind-bogglingly excellent, and I use the complication on my Watch to see upcoming classes, as well as asking Alexa questions.

  • iTunes is constantly open, with the MiniPlayer sitting on the top-left corner of my desktop. I almost always have music playing, whether I’m working, relaxing, and everything in between. A lot has been said about Apple Music and iTunes, but I haven’t had any problems with either. It lets me quickly access my music and find new artists I might like with ease.

  • Ableton Live is how I write and produce my music. Its intuitive Arrangement and Session views let me create sounds and tailor them to my exact liking. I have been using Live for over 5 years, and it has not failed me once.

  • Pixelmator is a relatively recent purchase, but I love being able to plug a picture in and do whatever I want to it. It’s especially useful for making adjustments to my Unsplash submissions and for making silly Twitter avatars.

  • Tweetbot is where I go if I want to say anything, be it a rant, a bad joke, or a picture of something I make. I’ve had a Twitter account since 2012, but I didn’t really start using it until January of 2017. Now I practically live on it, and Tweetbot is my client of choice.

  • Messages speaks for itself: I like to talk to people, and iMessage is my platform of choice. Really nothing else to say about it.

  • Safari is in the same vein as Messages. I like browsing the web, and Safari is my browser of choice.

  • Spark makes me not hate email as much as I would without it. Its smart filtering features and customizable actions make it my choice for dealing with this necessary evil.

  • Day One is one of my all-time favorite apps. It has a log of my life from March of 2014 onward, and I love its design, writing experience, and automatic logging features. I also use its Watch app to log cool places I go to.

  • 1Password is another one of my all-time favorites. I can’t even imagine how much time I’ve saved by pressing CMD + \ instead of typing out all my passwords. Even more so, its Two-Factor Authentication features make it so much easier to have a more secure account.

  • OmniOutliner Elements is incredibly useful for outlining my papers, and iA Writer is incredibly useful for actually writing them. I love how fast and easy it is to use OmniOutliner, and I love iA Writer’s simple, minimalist design.

Background Apps

  • Bartender makes my menu bar actually useable. I have 26 icons in my Menu Bar, and Bartender lets me hide the ones I don’t need to see and just show me the essentials.

  • Hazel is one of those apps that you don’t know you need until you actually use it. It has been crucial to keeping all my files organized, and I know exactly where my documents are going. I even have an AppleScript set up so when an Unsplash download gets moved to my Pictures folder, it sets it as my wallpaper automatically.

  • BetterTouchTool is something I was a little skeptical about when I downloaded the 45-day free trial, but having used it and paid for it, could not live without it. I have custom Touch Bar interfaces set up, custom keyboard shortcuts, custom trackpad gestures, and even custom button functions for my generic mouse I got off Amazon. With one keystroke, I can toggle dark mode on and off, or eject my drives and put my computer to sleep, and even more. This app is incredible.

  • iStat Menus is an app that I don’t use that much, but is incredibly useful for when I do need it. Even if I didn’t need it, I would still get it for those beautiful graphs and being able to see my fan’s speed or my palm rest’s temperature or my battery’s health. The amount of customization you can pull off with this app is something to be marveled.

  • Quitter lets me automatically close Spark, Bear, Tweetbot and more if I don’t use them for an extended amount of time, just so I can save a little more battery. I just like having it around.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I have the foundation laid out for my perfect setup; everything at this point is just a matter of upgrading certain components. A better display, a better pair of speakers, a Logitech MX Master, and a sit/stand desk are definitely future purchases for when it’s time to upgrade.


What iPhone do you have?

Justin Hamilton's iPhone

I have a 64GB Space Gray iPhone 6s, which spends its time in a Midnight Blue Apple Leather Case.

Where can we find your wallpaper online?

I have separate wallpapers for my lock and home screens: I have this as my lock screen wallpaper because I love space, and I have this as my home screen wallpaper because it’s not distracting and it invokes nostalgia in me from the good ol’ Lion days.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

A lot of my apps carry over from my Mac, like OmniFocus, Fantastical, Tweetbot, Bear, Day One, Music, Messages, and Safari.

  • Overcast is how I listen to Friendshipping, Cortex, MBMBaM, Most Important Meal, or Roderick on the Line. I love its design and smart playback features.

  • Weather Line is my perfect weather app. It displays the weather information in a unique but genius way, and it lets me quickly get the info I need without any digging around.

  • Unread is how I follow my RSS feeds. This app is incredible to read in, and its gesture-driven navigation is a joy to use.

  • Drafts is my shortcut to pretty much everything on my phone. I have shortcuts to search Google, add to my OmniFocus inbox, create an event in Fantastical, send messages, and more. It’s so important that it lives in the middle of my dock.

  • Instapaper is where I send articles I don’t have time to read in Unread. I love being able to send my queue to my Kindle, and its Share Sheet extension makes it super convenient.

  • Halide is a great camera app that quickly lets me access manual controls. And while I don’t have an iPhone X (yet), the use of its “ears” absolutely blows me away.

  • Apollo makes it way too easy to waste a lot of my time on Reddit, but I’m okay with that because I love this app so much. I’ve been following development since the early betas, and I immediately bought it on release day.

  • PCalc says it right in the title: it’s the best calculator. I love the ability to create custom layouts and functions, and the About screen is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in an app.

  • Deliveries is where I track my extortionate amount of Amazon orders.

Which app could you not live without?

I’d say Safari, because if I lost all my other apps, I could probably make do with the web versions.


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