Everything I’ve Added or Changed on my M1 MacBook Air So Far, Hardware and Software

 

Everything I’ve Added or Changed on my M1 MacBook Air So Far, Hardware and Software

Pimping out my ride

Photo by author — Mac accessories

Yes, I know that my desk is a mess. I have excuses and have detailed those in another story you’d easily be able to find if you must know why I have offended social norms by keeping my workspace in such disarray.

Hardware

Some of the things you see on my desk were inherited from my Intel Mac Mini. The USB-C to USB-A hub from Amazon came from there along with the three external drives. The OWC dock is new and I did talk about that at the same time I explained my messy desk.

Two of the drives are for local Time Machine backups. Time Machine automatically switches between them; if your system is set to backup every hour, it will use a different drive every hour. These drives are plugged into two of the USB-C ports on the OWC dock. I plug that dock in every morning and leave it long enough for both drives to complete their backups. I then use the OWC Ejector menu bar app to unmount everything on the dock with one click.

What about backups when the Time Machine drives aren’t connected to a laptop? Well, Time Machine will make “snapshots” — copies of what needs to be backed up — and store them on the internal drive and any other drive still connected as long as there is room. In Monterey, you can see the snapshots that exist by selecting the drive in Disk Utility and then choosing Show APFS Snapshots from the View menu. Snapshots are purgeable; your system will delete them if it needs space.

Screenshot by author

The other drive is attached directly to the laptop while I’m at my desk. It contains storage for apps like iMazing (see below), copies of some iCloud directories, and Apple Xcode.

The Amazon USB-A dock is for anything where I need to plug in a USB-A cable. Eventually I’m sure that I’ll replace everything with USB-C equivalents, but for now I need this dock. It’s also the only place that will let me mount my wife’s old Garmin GPS. That wouldn’t mount directly from my Mac with an adapter, nor from the OWC dock either from its USB-A or the USB-C ports. I have no idea why, but as I need to mount it to update its maps for her, I’m glad that it does. Why does she need this? I have no idea; we have only one car; it has CarPlay and I use Apple Maps there for all navigation. She doesn't drive anymore, but she insists that I keep the Garmin. Happy wife, happy life, no matter how baffling her wants are.

Software

Managing my menu bar has been annoying for a long time now. I imagine that most of us have more things occupying that space than will fit. There are plenty of apps that deal with that in various ways; I tried more than a few but finally went with BarTender. I found it to be the easiest to use while giving me the most control of all those silly little icons.

I’m a fan of excess backup, so in addition to backing up my iPhone and iPad to iCloud, I also use iMazing, a beautiful program that backs up those devices over WiFi to my computer. iMazing has many other helpful features, but my main concern is extra backup. Once the backups reach my computer, Time Machine and BackBlaze will back them up again. I’m very safe indeed.

Maybe it’s my age, but I lose track of my cursor often. To fix that, I made it slightly larger and changed its color to red. See System Preferences->Accessibility->Display.

Screenshot by author

Mail tabs are not an app but are a new Mac Mail feature. They are a little weird in that Command-T doesn’t add a tab because it’s already mapped elsewhere. There’s now “New Tab” menu choice either. But you do have a “+” sign that works. It’s easy to miss!

I bought iStat Menus so that I can monitor system performance, but so far I’ve had no need to.

Malwarebytes has been running on my machines for years. It’s yet to find any malware, fingers still crossed.

Paste is the best clipboard manager I have found. As you’d expect, it maintains a stack of stuff you’ve copied so that you can easily paste older cuts and copies. It also has an IOS companion and as all that you copy goes to the cloud, everything I’ve done on my computer and my IOS devices is available to me anywhere I need it. I love it!

Macupdater helps me keep all my apps up to date. It looks for apps that have updates and lets me decide what to do. It can update many apps by itself and can launch the installer when it cannot.

Once in a great while, I use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy my drive. Clones have become less useful and less needed, so I haven’t done that with my M1 Air, but I do have a clone of my old Mini.

I have so many duplicates that Daisy Disk is a handy tool to find them when I’ve forgotten and sometimes to help clean up when my copying enthusiasm goes too far.

Keyboard Cleaner lets me clean my computer keyboard without accidentally destroying something.

Microsoft To Do helps me create my grocery list. It’s cloud based so I use the IOS version at the stores. Yes, stores: we shop around.

Overcast is the best podcast app ever and I am so happy that there is a Mac version now!

I don’t use Pcalc all that often because Command-Space on Mac is my supertool for searches and quick math. But it’s good to have when I want to save a tape of my calculations or do something more difficult.

I detest Zoom but I have to have it anyway, dammit.

Got any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments. And, as always, if you need help, just ask. I’ll always help Medium paying members free of charge (because that’s where the money comes from).

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