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Nazmuz Shakib Pranto
Nazmuz Shakib Pranto

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macOS Web Development Setup Guide

Table of Contents

What does this guide cover?

This brief guide will go over a step-by-step process of setting up a web development environment for Software Engineers, specifically web developers. If you are new to web development or even an experienced pro, I think I got you covered. While this is not an exhaustive list for every cool hack or setting you may want for your development setup, I hope it helps to get someone started, without wasting a ton of time.

Quick note, this is NOT an industry standard for how every developer should set up a development environment. There is no such thing as that. This is a personalized guide that I find handy whenever I set up a new macOS device or factory reset an existing one.

Why should you consider using it?

Well… I’m sure developers always run into this whenever they start a new job or buy a new macOS device. They had their old development setup on their previous device that worked well, but now, they have to set up the entire process all over again. THIS is where this guide comes in. I know different developers will have different opinions and preferences for how they want to set up their development environment and that’s completely fair, but I hope they can at least take some helpful tips that I have added here.

Ok, enough talk, let’s get started!

Guided Steps


  • macOS Big Sur or above

Step 1

Factory Reset

I am going to assume that you are perhaps in one of these 2 scenarios as you start this guide:

  • You have a new macOS device (i.e., MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and so on)

  • You have an existing macOS device, but you want a fresh start with a factory reset.

If you have a new macOS device, you won’t need to factory reset it. Skip to Step 2 in that case.

While factory reset is completely optional for existing macOS devices, I prefer to start with that b/c I like a fresh new laptop to work with.

Anyway, there are plenty of videos on YouTube on how to factory reset a macOS device, here is one that I prefer:

“How To Erase and Reset a Mac back to factory default” -

Step 2


Sign into iCloud:
System Preferences > Sign In (top right)

iCloud Sign In

iCloud Preferences:

iCloud Preference - Part I

iCloud Preference - Part II

Note: The preferences above are solely based on my own choices, which obviously might differ quite a bit from others. So, feel free to enable/disable apps using iCloud as you see fit.

Step 3

macOS Settings

Show hidden files in Finder

  • Open “Finder”
  • Press the Command + Shift + . (period) keys at the same time
  • Now, all hidden files should be shown


Show path bar in Finder

  • Open “Finder”
  • View > Show Path Bar
  • Now, the full path to a file should be shown


Show File / Directory Status in Finder

  • Open “Finder”
  • View > Show Status Bar


Show all file and directory sizes

  • Finder > View > Show View Options > (Check) “Calculate all sizes”

Show file name extensions

  • Finder > Preferences > Advanced > (Check) “Show all filename extensions”

Show reference to user in Finder sidebar

  • Finder > Preferences > (Check) <user> on the sidebar, i.e., “jsmith”

Turn on Firewall

  • System Preferences > Security and Privacy > Firewall > Turn On Firewall

Only Allow App Store and Identified Developer Apps

  • System Preferences > Security and Privacy > General > Allow apps downloaded from > (Choose) "App Store and identified developers"

Disable File Sharing

  • System Preferences > Sharing > (Uncheck) “File Sharing”

Enable tap to click

  • System Preferences > Trackpad > (Check) Tap to click

Disable auto correct spelling

  • System Preferences > Keyboard > Text > (Uncheck) Disable “Correct spelling automatically”

Enable fast keystrokes and key repeats

  • System Preferences > Keyboard
    • Set “Key Repeat” to “Fast”
    • Set Delay Until Repeat” to “Short”

Auto hide docks

  • System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar > (Check) “Automatically hide and show the Dock”

Show battery percentage

  • System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar > Battery (left sidebar) > (Check) “Show Percentage”

Step 4

Finder Directory Structure & Hierarchy

- AirDrop
- Recents
- Applications
- Desktop
- Documents
- Downloads
- <user-directory>, i.e., “jsmith”
   - screenshots      // all screenshots live here
   - workspace
      - ___space___   // all development related configuration, contents and settings live here
      - projects      // all development projects live here
      - profile
         - avatar     // profile and social pictures
         - wallpaper  // (optional) wallpapers directory 
         - refs       // photo id, resume, or essential quick references live here
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Step 5


By default, all screenshots are automatically saved on the “Desktop.” This can clutter your home screen over time, so for a cleaner and more maintainable structure for screenshots, let’s set up a “screenshots” directory

  • Create a screenshots directory on the root level (under user’s directory, i.e., jsmith > screenshots)
  • Open screenshot app (Command + SHIFT + 5)
  • Update “Options” by setting “Save to” to the screenshots directory

Ok, now the real stuff... development environment

Step 6

Set Up Development Environment

Open Command Line / Terminal

Install Xcode command line tools

  • Run xcode-select --install

Install Homebrew

  • Run /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  • Run brew update; brew upgrade; brew cleanup; brew doctor to ensure brew is up to date and healthy

Now, with Homebrew installed, let’s download a list of essential tools and applications right from the command line:

  • brew install node
  • brew install tree
  • brew install blueutil
  • brew install --cask iterm2
  • brew install --cask visual-studio-code
  • brew install --cask google-chrome
  • brew install --cask firefox
  • brew install --cask docker

Setup Shell

  • Run echo $SHELL // expect “zsh” shell by default

Note: if you have a different shell, use the steps below to install zsh shell:

  • Run brew install zsh
  • Then, run chsh -s /bin/zsh

Install Oh-My-Zsh

Oh-My-Zsh is a popular framework for ZSH configuration, mainly to jazz up your command line

Run sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"

Add Alias:

Aliases let us add easy to remember short commands that run much longer and multi-step processes in the command line

After installing Oh-My-Zsh, you should have a .zshrc configuration file on the root level


Open .zshrc file inside VS Code (Note: VSCode is code editor we installed via homebrew earlier)

Run code ~/.zshrc

Under “# Example aliases”, add these aliases:

  • To keep brew up to date and clean - alias brewup=”brew update; brew upgrade; brew cleanup; brew doctor”
  • Shortcut to copy SSH - alias copyssh=”pbcopy < ~/.ssh/”
  • Shortcut to open .zshrc file - alias openzshrc=”code ~/.zshrc”
  • Shortcut to go to projects directory - alias gotoprojects=”cd ~/workspace/projects”
  • Shortcut to turn Bluetooth on/off:
    • ON - alias bton=”blueutil --power 1”
    • OFF - alias btoff=”blueutil --power 0”

Add ZSH plugins:

Plugins help to add more enhancements to Oh-My-Zsh. I always go with this 2 must-haves:

  • zsh-autosuggestions

    • Run git clone ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions inside the command line
    • Now, add the plugin name to the plugins list inside .zshrc file: plugins=(zsh-autosuggestions)
  • zsh-syntax-highlighting

    • Run git clone ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-syntax-highlighting
    • Add to plugins list in .zshrc file: plugins=(zsh-syntax-highlighting)

Note: If you are interested in installing more plugins, check out awesome-zsh-plugins


  • Run brew install git, if git is NOT installed already
  • Run brew upgrade git, to install the latest version of git on system
  • Run git config --global "<FIRSTNAME> <LASTNAME>" (keep the quotes)
  • Run git config --global "<EMAIL>" (keep the quotes)
  • Run git config --global color.ui auto

Setup SSH Key

SSH key enables a password-less way to talk to another computer or a server from your local machine. Check out Quick Bite: SSH Key if you want to learn a little bit about SSH keys.

Anyways, let’s set up an SSH key...

  • To check for existing SSH key, run ls ~/.ssh/id_rsa (if you see “No such file or directory”, then continue to generate a new SSH key)
  • To generate a new SSH key, run ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C ""
  • To copy SSH key, run pbcopy < ~/.ssh/

Visual Studio Code

  • Open VSCode (Finder > Applications > Visual Studio
  • Open command palette inside VSCode - CMD + p
  • Once search bar pops up, type >shell command, choose Install 'code' command in PATH
  • Install VSCode extensions:
    • Create a new file (extensions.txt) file inside workspace/___space___/ directory
    • Paste in the following list of extensions inside extensions.txt file:
- Now, open the command line, go into the `extensions.txt` file level, and run `cat extensions.txt | xargs -L1 code --install-extension` (installs all these cool extensions automatically, all at once):
   - npm Intellisense
   - Path Intellisense
   - ESLint
   - Prettier - Code formatter
   - Live Share
   - Auto Close Tag
   - Bracket Pair Colorizer 2
   - DotENV
   - Live Server
   - Add jsdoc comments
   - Code Spell Checker
   - DotENV
   - Dracula Official
   - EditorConfig for VS Code
   - GitLens — Git supercharged
   - Markdown All in One
   - Material Icon Theme
   - Night Owl
   - Night Owl Black
   - ES7 React/Redux/GraphQL/React-Native snippets
   - Palacode
   - Prettier - Code formatter
   - Quokka.js
   - Tailwind CSS IntelliSense
   - TODO Highlight
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  • Install FiraCode Font
    • Download FiraCode inside workspace/___space___ directory
    • Now, unzip it
    • Go into the ttf directory
    • Select all font files
    • Right-click and select Open
    • Select "Install Font"
  • VSCode Settings
    • Open command palette - CMD + p
    • Inside the search bar, type in > open setting and choose Preferences: Open Settings (JSON) from the given options
    • Now, paste in the following rules (in JSON) in it:
  "editor.fontSize": 18,
  "editor.fontLigatures": true,
  "editor.fontFamily": "Fira Code",
  "editor.wordWrap": "on",
  "workbench.colorTheme": "Dracula Soft",
  "editor.formatOnPaste": false,
  "editor.formatOnType": false,
  "editor.formatOnSave": true,
  "editor.defaultFormatter": "esbenp.prettier-vscode",
  "workbench.iconTheme": "material-icon-theme",
  "terminal.integrated.fontFamily": "MesloLGS NF",
  "terminal.integrated.fontSize": 14,
  "editor.tabSize": 2,
  "prettier.requireConfig": true

Node Version Manager (NVM)

NVM lets you install multiple versions of Node.js inside your local machine. This can be essential at times when you have to go back and forth between different projects using different Node versions.

Install NVM:

  • Run curl -o- | bash
  • Verify installation - command -v nvm (output should be nvm)
  • Usage:
    • Run nvm install node, to install the latest version of Node
    • Run nvm install <version>, to install a specific version, i.e., nvm install 14.7.0
    • See list of Node versions installed - nvm ls
    • To use the default node version - nvm use node
    • To set alias default version - nvm alias default <version>
    • To uninstall a node version - nvm uninstall <version>


A great alternative to for command line


  • Profiles > General > Working Directory > (Choose) “Reuse Previous Session’s Directory”
  • Profiles > Font > Size (16)


3 Options:

  • Oh-My-Zsh Theme (easiest to set up)
  • Dracula Theme (what I use)
  • Powerlevel10k Theme (coolest option)

Oh-My-Zsh Theme:

  • Pick a theme from this list
  • Update “ZSH_THEME” inside .zshrc file with your favorite theme
  • Example: ZSH_THEME="awesomepanda"

Dracula Theme:

  • Open iTerm and go into workspace/___space___ directory
  • Run git clone
  • Activating theme
    • iTerm2 > Preferences > Profiles > Colors Tab
    • Open the Color Presets drop-down in the bottom right corner
    • Select Import from the list
    • Select the Dracula.itermcolors file (from “workspace/space/iterm” directory)
    • Select "Dracula" from Color Presets

Powerlevel10k Theme:

  • Open iTerm and go into workspace/___space___ directory
  • Run git clone --depth=1
  • Run echo 'source ~/workspace/___space___/powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k.zsh-theme' >>~/.zshrc
  • Now, restart iTerm
  • You should be prompted by Powerlevel10k to customize your iTerm
  • Follow through each step with provided instructions to setup your own customized iTerm UI preferences

Step 7

Recommended Applications:

Step 8



Before I leave, a few things...

  • 📑 bookmark this page in case you want to refer back to it later on
  • 👍 share this article with your peers or anyone who might want to set up a macOS for web development
  • 💌 if I got anything wrong in this article, please leave a kind feedback


Top comments (1)

nkeil profile image
Nicolas Keil

Awesome resource, thanks for sharing