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Rachel Anderson’s iOS and Mac 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 Rachel Anderson. I’m originally from Philadelphia, and now live in New York City. By day, I’m a Web Producer for a specialty publisher focused on medical journalism. By night, I write about technology and culture for Sanspoint.com.

What is your current setup?

Rachel Anderson's desk

I use a 2012 15″ MacBook Pro, the last of the non-retina models. I opted for it over the first generation Retina MBP because it was a few hundred cheaper, and because I’m one of those weirdos who still needs an optical drive for things. I keep it tethered to a 24″ Dell E2424Hr display, a 1TB external drive for my media, and a few other devices, including a MIDI keyboard, as I’m slowly trying to teach myself how to play.

I have a Blue Snowball microphone that I purchased for my (now defunct) podcast, Crush On Radio, but use it now for the irregular The Untitled Sanspoint Podcast Project.

My keyboard is the Logitech K811. I love that I can easily switch it between my Mac, iPad, and another device — my iPhone, I guess — at the push of a button. I’d love a good, old-fashioned clicky keyboard like the Model M I gave up when I switched to the Mac a decade ago, but this one is comfortable enough and convenient. I also have a Magic Mouse that I like, though I don’t love it.

Where can we find your OS X wallpaper?

From the download for Merlin Mann’s epic Mailchimp promotion, the “Sometimes There’s a Man” rock opera. I use the same wallpaper across all my devices, so I also have it on my iPhone, my iPad, and even my crappy Dell work computer.

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

I do all my writing in Byword. It’s the perfect app for writing, at least for me. For web design and editing, I swear by Sublime Text. I use it professionally and privately, and while it has some rough edges, it’s largely gotten me over my torrid breakup with TextMate back in the day.

I use LaunchBar almost constantly. It was Merlin Mann’s love letters to Quicksilver that made me finally switch to the Mac, but when it was abandoned, I switched to LaunchBar and never looked back. I’ve dabbled with Alfred, but the way LaunchBar handles controlling iTunes is exactly how I’m wired, so I’m never going to switch.

I’m in the process of moving all my notes and other digital ephemera out of nvALT, and into Evernote, if only because my nvALT folder has become unmanageable.

For audio editing and recording, I swear by Audacity. It’s ugly, but it gets the job done.

Other than that, most of the stuff I do is on the web, so I spend a lot of time in Safari. Not all of it productively, alas.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

Much like what I have now, just faster and with less struggle. I need to put an SSD in my machine one of these days — spinning platters are the last, absurd bottleneck on my machine.

What iPhone do you have?

Rachel Anderson's iPhone

I roll with an iPhone 5S, 32GB, in Space Gray, and keep it in a Speck CandyShell Flip case, also in black. It’s paired with a black Pebble that I bought as an experiment to see if smartwatches made sense for me. They do!

What apps do you use the most, and why?

I want to say Drafts and OmniFocus to make me sounds like a super productive writer-type, but that’s not true. It’s probably Tweetbot, Hangouts, Overcast, and Cesium — in that order. Tweetbot needs no explanation, of course.

Overcast is the best podcast player ever, and I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work. When I run out, I put on music. I’m anti-streaming music, so I buy or download music and store a subset of it on my phone. Cesium is an awesome replacement for the stock Music app, which has been broken for how I listen to music since iOS 7.

I also use Hangouts to message with my girlfriend during the day. I miss the old days of instant messaging. That I have three different apps on my phone for messaging people infuriates me, but all the multi-platform clients these days are terrible.

I’m trying to lose weight, so I have a bunch of fitness apps to keep track of my food and activity. I use a Pebble as my primary tracking device for walking and sleep, and pipe it all into Jawbone’s UP app. MyFitnessPal tracks food, Coach.me helps me build habits, and FitPort gives me a dashboard view of my day.

Which app could you not live without?

Due. Due all day, every day. It prods me to do all the things I need to do that I would otherwise forget, from taking eye drops, to running errands, to just calling home to talk to my parents. I need to use it more, but not so much that I succumb to alert fatigue. If you need to be sold on Due, this amazing breakdown of how Sean Korzdorfer uses it should do the trick.

Which iPad do you have?

Rachel Anderson's iPad

I have a positively ancient 32GB black iPad 3, the first model with retina, and the last model with the old 30-pin Dock Connector.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

I’m not, but I want to use it more. I think it’s a great writing device, and I lug it, along with my Logitech keyboard, to a writing group once a week. I’d probably use my iPad more if it wasn’t so heavy and ran iOS 8 better. I’ve got my eye on an iPad Air 2, and I’m hoping they show up in Apple’s refurb store soon.

What apps do you use the most, and why?

Byword and Drafts are where much of my writing on the iPad either live or at least begin. Instapaper was practically made for the iPad, despite being born on iPhone. Reeder is another heavy use iPad app, and I catch up on my RSS feeds over breakfast with it most mornings.

Which app could you not live without?

Byword once again without a doubt. It’s a great, simple editor, and it works great on my iPad. I also use Paprika quite a bit. I love to cook, and being able to just pull up a recipe in Paprika on my iPad in the kitchen and see what I’m doing is great. I used to print recipes out and hold them to the fridge with magnets while I cooked. Seems like insanity now.

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