Set Up For Web Development

A guide to getting your Macbook ready for web development — tools, shortcuts, accessories, tips and tricks, and more.

I recently switched jobs, and during the first few days on the new job, I had to setup a MacBook with all the tools required for me to do my job, web development. Although, I’ve used Macs for a long time, at my previous job I was developing on a PC with Windows 10. It was surprisingly pleasant and productive once I got WSL up and running, but I’m really glad to have a Mac as my primary workstation once again.

Every now and then, I look for guides like this one to see what tools people are using and to get productivity tips. And almost always I learn about something new that makes my life as a developer easier. I’ve kept notes of all the things I installed and configured during the first weeks on the new job hoping it’d be useful to other developers.

macOS Settings

Let’s start with a few changes you can make to macOS and the built-in apps.

System preferences

Keyboard Keyboard > T️️ouch Bar Shows: F1, F2, etc. Keys Keyboard> Press Fn key to: Show Control Strip

These two settings are about the touch bar. As a developer, I find myself using the F keys more often (a lot of shortcuts rely on them) than the other options — thus I prefer to have them be the default.

Dock ️️☑️ Automatically hide and show the Dock

More often than not, I use Spotlight (⌘ Space) or the terminal to launch applications instead of the dock — it’s hard to justify dedicating such display real estate to it. Besides, you can easily access it by moving your mouse to the bottom of the screen or by pressing ⌃ F3.

Trackpad Point & Click > ️️☑️ Tap to click

Once you get used to it, it’s way faster to tap instead of click.

Accessibility Pointer Control > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options… > ️️☑️ Enable dragging

By enabling trackpad dragging, you’ll be able to drag files, select text, etc., by double tapping (and holding the second tap).


Preferences Preferences > Advanced > ☑️ Show all filename extensions

View options View > Show Path Bar View > Show Status Bar

Show hidden files Type defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true in terminal, or press ⇧⌘ .


Change where screenshots are saved Open the Screenshot app via Spotlight search or by pressing ⇧⌘ 5, find the Options menu at the bottom of the screen, then select a folder under Save to

macOS Shortcuts

These are some the mac shortcuts I use the most (I won’t list the very basic ones like ⌘ C, ⌘ V, ⌘ Tab, etc.). For a more comprehensive list, click here.

System wide Spotlight search: ⌘ Space Character Viewer: ⌃⌘ Space (Quickly find emojis and special characters) Force quit an app: ⌥⌘ Esc Lock screen: ⌃⌘ Q Show or hide the Dock: ⌃ F3 or ⌥⌘ D Show all windows: ⌃ Arrow-Up Show all windows of the front app: ⌃ Arrow-Down Forward delete: fn delete Paste without formatting: ⇧⌘ V

Screenshot Open Screenshot app: ⇧⌘ 5 Save screenshot of the screen: ⇧⌘ 3 Save screenshot of a portion of screen: ⇧⌘ 4 Save screenshot of a window: ⇧⌘ 4 + Space Copy screenshot of the screen: ⇧⌃⌘ 3 Copy screenshot of a portion of screen: ⇧⌃⌘ 4 Copy screenshot of a window: ⇧⌃⌘ 4 + Space

Finder Open the home folder: ⇧⌘ H Open the desktop folder. ⇧⌘ D Open the parent folder: ⌘ Arrow-Up Go to the previous folder: ⌘ [ Go to the next folder: ⌘ ] Show or hide hidden files: ⇧⌘ .

Command-line Tools

Now to the fun part. These are the command line–related tools I recommend for any web developer.

It’s the package manager. It allows you to install, uninstall, and update command-line tools and Mac applications.

To install it, open the terminal, and run this command:

/bin/bash -c “$(curl -fsSL"

During the installation, you might be asked to install the Xcode Command Line Tools if you haven’t already. Just follow the instructions on the screen.

To make sure your system is ready to brew, run brew doctor.

You can now search for packages with brew search and install them with brew install (for command-line tools) and brew cask install (for macOS applications).

You can list installed packages with brew list and brew cask list.

To update the packages’ local registry you can run brew update, and to upgrade the installed packages to their latest versions, type brew upgrade.

I recommend running brew doctor every now and then to make sure things are good and brew cleanup to remove unused files.

It’s a replacement for the terminal. It offers a lot of features that are really useful. I’ll list my favorite ones below.

To install it, open the terminal (this is the last time you’ll need it), and run:

brew install --cask iterm2

Now, feel free to replace terminal from the Dock (if you have it) with iTerm2. Or just open Spotlight and type iTerm2.

Hotkey window You can show or hide the iTerm2 window via a hotkey from anywhere very quickly.

Preferences > Keys > Hotkey > ☑️ Show/hide all windows with a system-wide hotkey

I recommend using ⌘ ` as the hotkey.

Unixyness Copy on selection, paste on middle click, and focus follow the mouse.

Preferences > General > Selection > ☑️ Copy to pasteboard on selection Preferences > Pointer > General > ☑️ Three-finger tap emulates middle click Preferences > General > Pointer > ☑️ Focus follows mouse

Disable native full screen By disabling native full screen, you can quickly make iTerm2 take the whole screen without the usual full-screen animation.

Preferences > General > Window > ☐ Native full screen windows

Shortcut for full screen: ⌥ Return

Split panes You can divide up your tabs into multiple panes with separate sessions and quickly switch between them. This works very nicely with focus-follow mouse.

Right Click > Split Pane Vertically Right Click > Split Pane Horizontally

I recommend creating new key bindings for those actions: Preferences > Keys > Key Binding > + I use ⌥ v and ⌥ h.

Shell integration You can enable better integration between your shell and iTerm2.

iTerm2 > Install Shell Integration

Then, add the following to your .zshrc (more details about Zsh can be found in the next sections): source ~/.iterm2_shell_integration.zsh.

See the docs for more information.

Profile settings Feel free to explore these settings and configure your profile to your liking. I recommend experimenting with background opacity and blur.

The most popular version-control system. You should install it with Homebrew before continuing:

brew install git

Visual Studio Code supports Git (and several other VCSs via extensions). But if you want to take your Git via CLI to the next level, you should check out lazygit and/or forgit.

If you want better diffs, check out Delta.

As macOS’s default shell since Catalina, Zsh is built on top of Bash and provides a lot of cool features.

The first thing I recommend is having Homebrew manage its installation — open iTerm2, and run:

brew install zsh

To update our default shell to be Homebrew’s Zsh, we need to edit the shell’s whitelist: sudo vim /etc/shells. (If you’re not comfortable with Vim, you can use TextEdit instead by running sudo open /etc/shells.)

Add a new line with /usr/local/bin/zsh, save, and close.

To change the default shell, run: chsh -s /usr/local/bin/zsh.

Restart the terminal, and confirm we’re on the correct Zsh by running: echo $SHELL. You should see /usr/local/bin/zsh.

Now, we have access to many features. My favorites are:

Tab completion

Press TAB to complete a command:

Zsh will show you all the available commands you can use. If you press TAB again, you’ll be able to navigate between the options by pressing TAB or the RIGHT and LEFT arrows. Confirm the command you want by pressing SPACE or RETURN.

Press TAB to complete file and folder names:

And it’s smart enough if you type just a substring: cd p/s<TAB> expands to cd project/src.

Globbing (aka filename generation) List only files in the current directory: ls *(.)

List only folders in the current directory and its subdirectories: ls **/*(/)

Remove all .DS_Store files recursively: rm -rf **/.DS_Store. (If you want to be sure which files will be deleted, you can press TAB before running the command, and Zsh will expand the pattern)

There are lots of qualifiers you can use to target files with specific attributes. You can enable the more complex ones by running setopt extended_glob.

Here’s one command to recursively match all normal files that have no uppercase characters or numbers in the name. They’re executable for the owner but not for the rest of the world. The owner must have the UID 1002, the file size must be above 30MB, and it must have been modified within the last month: ls -l **/([^A-Z[:digit:]])##(#q.x^X^u1002Lm+30mM-1)

You can find many other useful tips here.

And my list of keyboard shortcuts:

Regardless of its odd name, Oh My Zsh is a community-driven framework for managing your Zsh configuration. It provides hundreds of plugins and themes and makes configuring Zsh a breeze.

To install Oh My Zsh, run:

sh -c “$(curl -fsSL"

We can configure Zsh by running vim ~/.zshrc or (open ~/.zshrc if you prefer TextEdit over Vim). You’ll see a lot of configurations added by Oh My Zsh that you can play with. If you ever need to reset your .zshrc, you can find the template here.

I’ll list my recommendations below, but I highly recommend you browse the available themes and plugins later.

Theme Powerlevel10k is my theme of choice — it’s fast, it’s really well integrated with Git, it supports icons, and a lot more.

It has a really nice wizard that walks you through configuring it the first time that you run it:

I highly recommend enabling Transient Prompt.

To install it with Homebrew, run:

brew install romkatv/powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k

And add the following line to your .zshrc: source /usr/local/opt/powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k.zsh-theme

It’ll override any value you have set $ZSH_THEME to.

Restart iTerm2, and you should see the configuration wizard. In the future, you can run it again with p10k configure.

Zsh plugins

  • zsh-syntax-highlighting: It enables highlighting of commands while they’re typed. This helps in reviewing commands before running them, particularly in catching syntax errors.

To install it, run:

brew install zsh-syntax-highlighting

And add the following line to your .zshrc: source /usr/local/share/zsh-syntax-highlighting/zsh-syntax-highlighting.zsh

To install it, run:

brew install zsh-autosuggestions

And add the following line to your .zshrc: source /usr/local/share/zsh-autosuggestions/zsh-autosuggestions.zsh

  • zsh-history-substring-search: Type in any part of any command from your history, and then press chosen keys, such as the UP **** and DOWN **** arrows, to cycle through matches.

To install it, run:

brew install zsh-history-substring-search

And add the following line to your .zshrc: source /usr/local/share/zsh-history-substring-search/zsh-history-substring-search.zsh

If you want to use zsh-syntax-highlighting along with this script, then make sure you load it before you load this script.

Also, you need to map your arrow keys. Add the following after the source command.

bindkey '^[OA' history-substring-search-upbindkey '^[OB' history-substring-search-down

Oh My Zsh plugins The following plugins are made available by Oh My Zsh, like any other plugin found here. To install it, just add its name to the plugins array in your .zshrc file.

For example, to install all the recommended plugins:

plugins=(alias-finder brew common-aliases copydir copyfile docker docker-compose dotenv encode64 extract git jira jsontools node npm npx osx urltools vi-mode vscode web-search z)
  • alias-finder: This plugin searches the defined aliases and outputs any that match the command inputted. This makes learning new aliases easier.

  • brew: The plugin adds several aliases for common brew commands

  • common-aliases: This plugin creates helpful shortcut aliases for many commonly used commands

  • copydir: Copies the path of your current folder to the system clipboard

  • copyfile: Puts the contents of a file in your system clipboard so you can paste it anywhere

  • docker: This plugin adds auto-completion for Docker.

  • docker-compose: This plugin provides completion for Docker Compose — as well as some aliases for frequent Docker Compose commands

  • dotenv: Automatically load your project ENV variables from a .env file when you cd into the project root directory

  • encode64: Alias plugin for encoding or decoding using the base64 command

  • extract: This plugin defines a function called extract that extracts the archive file you pass it, and it supports a wide variety of archive file types

  • git: Provides many aliases and a few useful functions

  • jira: CLI support for Jira interaction

  • jsontools: Handy command-line tools for dealing with JSON data

  • node: This plugin adds the node-docs function, which opens the specific section in the Node.js documentation

  • npm: The npm plugin provides completion as well as adding many useful aliases.

  • npx: This plugin automatically registers the npx command-not-found handler if npx exists in your $PATH

  • osx: This plugin provides a few utilities to make it more enjoyable on macOS

  • urltools: This plugin provides two aliases to URL encode and URL decode strings

  • vi-mode: This plugin increase Vi-like Zsh functionality

  • vscode: This plugin makes interaction between the command line and the VS Code editor easier

  • web-search: This plugin adds aliases for searching with Google, Wikipedia, Bing, YouTube, and other popular services

  • z: This plugin defines the z command that tracks your most visited directories and allows you to access them with very few keystrokes

Aliases Often-used commands can be abbreviated with an alias. alias tf=”tail -f” makes it so you can run tf instead of typing tail -f.

You can add as many aliases as you want to your .zshrc.

Plugins like Git and Common Alias add a lot of aliases that’ll make you type less. But it can be hard to learn them all. That’s what the alias-finder plugin is for.

If you want to know what aliases exist for, it’s git commit:

You can also set ZSH_ALIAS_FINDER_AUTOMATIC=”true” in your .zshrc to have it run automatically before each command.

There are three types of aliases:

  • command aliases: just like the tf example above

  • global aliases: which are substituted anywhere on a line. For example, the G alias added by the common-aliases plugin gets replaced by | grep. ls G foobar => ls | grep foobar

  • suffix aliases: These are special aliases that are triggered when a file name is passed as the command. For example: alias -s pdf=acroread invokes acroread when you run file.pdf.

Command aliases can also access the original command’s arguments by using the array $:

loop() {  for x in {1..$1}; do $@[2,-1]; done}

This alias runs a given command x times. For example: loop 10 echo ‘hello’ will print hello 10 times.

The JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It’s the most popular framework for running and building web applications.

To install it, run:

brew install node

If you need to manage multiple applications that need different versions of Node, I recommend nodenv.

Docker allows you to develop and deliver software in packages called containers. Containers are isolated from one another and bundle their own software, libraries and configuration files.

To install it, run:

brew install --cask docker

You should also check out lazydocker, a great CLI tool for docker and docker-compose.

A collection of simplified and community-driven man pages.

To install it, run:

brew install tldr

It’s similar to top but allows you to scroll vertically and horizontally so you can see all the processes running on the system, along with their full command lines.

To install it, run:

brew install htop


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