Setting Up a Mac OS Development Environment

David Brookton
6 min readJul 31, 2019
Know the Pain Harold ready to setup his development enviornment

Whether you’re new to a Mac, new to development or you just got a new computer and want to start fresh… Here are the steps I go through to setup my development enviornment.

If you just bought or received a new Mac for work

Congrats! I recommend setting it up without restoring from a backup (if you haven’t already). You can read more on why below, but feel free to skip to the installation instructions to get started.

Benefits of starting fresh on Mac OS

I’ve spent six and a half years working for Apple doing external customer support, as a Senior Advisor, and also spent some time on the internal support side. I’m bringing it up because unequivocally the best possible Mac OS cure-all is Erasing and Reinstalling a fresh copy of your Mac’s operating system.

If you’re a recent CS or dev bootcamp grad and already using a Mac

I’d like to briefly explain why it’s worth considering backing up, erasing, and reinstalling a fresh copy of your computer, manually migrating your files, and manually re-configuring your dev environment with the steps I use below.

A fresh Mac OS installation ensures security, stability & speed.

Over time, who knows how many global npm packages, sql database configurations and or other dependencies you may have installed. Obviously, it’s possible to monitor and update your dev dependencies, but especially if you’re interested in security and performance, I recommend starting fresh every once and a while.

To erase and reinstall a fresh copy of the OS on your Mac, first backup to Time Machine so that you can manually restore from these and recover system configurations later if needed. Then, when you’re ready, click this link and follow Apple’s offical support documentation on erasing and reinstalling from Recovery. These are the same steps you take when you’re ready to sell or give away your mac. If you’re setting it up again, don’t restore from the backup, manually migrate your files, and follow these steps to get your basic development dependencies up and running.

David Brookton

Full Stack Software Engineering. Flatiron School. 6 years at Apple. Visual artist & award winning Apple support expert. Here to learn & write about code.