I think I landed my next job. I’m pretty enthusiast about this future experience, but this is not the topic of this post.

Who says new gig also says new machine. I’ve been working on Arch Linux for almost a decade. But I’ll have to switch to macOS now.

And macOS UI sucks so bad I had to find a solution before the onboarding week. Here list a list of tricks I found to get the most of it using the keyboard.

The issue

I’m used to i3 on arch. I love them both, but I’ve to take a separate road for work.

Still, I want to have my tiling window manager and my workspaces. And I want them at my fingertips.

macOS has native workspace support, which is nice. So the tiling part need some custom configuration.

The solution


I roamed a bit on the internet before finding tiles. It’s a free application and one can install it using brew.

The default settings may make sense to a non-vim user. But the feel pretty awkward to me. I remove almost every keybinding except for the following ones :

  • Left → Ctrl-Meta-h
  • Down → Ctrl-Meta-j
  • Up → Ctrl-Meta-k
  • Right → Ctrl-Meta-l
  • Full → Ctrl-Meta-;

Here, the good old HJKL for specific positions and ; for full screen. Now I feel comfortable.

Tiles is easy to install, runs just fine and gets out of the way. Definitively worth giving the devs a quarter or two for their awesome work!


Now comes the workspaces configuration.

It’s kind of easy (GUI sucks, give me my plain-text settings, please) : System SettingsKeyboardKeyboard ShortcutsMission ControlMission Control (Yes, twice…). There, one can choose its favorite shortcuts.

I picked Ctrl-N where N is a number from 1 to 0 corresponding to the workspace I want to land on.

But wait, I switch between workspaces all the time. Why? Well, because I told my terminal to stay on workspace 1, browser on workspace 2 etc. I keep my head organized this way, so I don’t have to rely on the awful Meta-Shift workflow.

So, two keys, often… That’s too much.


Remember QMK? The firmware my custom keyboards run on. See where I’m going?

bool process_record_user(uint16_t keycode, keyrecord_t* record) {
    switch (keycode) {
        case (LT(0, KC_Q)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_1)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_W)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_2)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_E)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_3)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_R)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_4)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_T)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_5)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_Y)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_6)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_U)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_7)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_I)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_8)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_O)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_9)); return false; } break;
        case (LT(0, KC_P)): if (!record->tap.count && record->event.pressed) { tap_code16(C(KC_0)); return false; } break;
    return true;

What an ugly piece of code! What does it do? Simple : if I hold Q more than 300ms, the keyboard sends Ctrl-1, W sends Ctrl-2 all the way to P that sends Ctrl-0. Wow, such handy, much one-key!

I already did this with i3, and it’s a blessing. Of course, it only works with my keyboard plugged-in. While on the laptop I’ve to use the Ctrl-N but since I spend most of my time at my desk, this is OK.


By default, macOS adds a ton of useless visual effects when switching between workspaces. It’s slow and serves no functional purpose.

System SettingsAccessibilityDisplayReduce Motion.

There, a blur is more than enough. Well, if you ask me it’s still too much. Hey, Apple Geniuses, please, make fully disabling visual effects possible 🙏


I’ll miss Arch and i3 dearly.

But I managed to make macOS UI acceptable for now. Hope tiles will keep being updated in the future and Apple won’t go the sparkle ❇️ way too much.

It feels weird to have to fight a computer to make it do simple tasks.