How we work on our iPhones, iPads, and Macs

Here's how the iMore team uses their Apple products for daily productivity.

With a new year comes new technology, new iMore staff, and new home offices! Almost a year after our last peek into how we use our iPhones, iPads, and Macs, here's how we're using our devices in 2016.

What hardware do you have?


Because of "the job" I have a bunch of Apple hardware. That's pretty much all I have through — everything else in my home is a cobbled-together fort made out of old aluminum and glass. Seriously. Kinda.

The iPhone 6s Plus, while not the most powerful or capable computing device I own has increasingly become the most important. When its 5.5-inch display just isn't big enough for the work I have to do, I switch to either an iPad Pro or a 13-inch MacBook Pro. (I used to use the MacBook more, but now the iPad Pro fills that slot.)

When I'm in my studio I use a 27-inch Retina 5K iMac, which not only handles all the podcasting work but whose ridiculously glorious display keeps me updated on everything, always.

Through it all, my Apple Watch has become a persistent second screen. I can tell the time, get notifications, and control HomeKit accessories even when away from everything else.


Currently, I've got an array of great Apple devices at my fingertips depending on what projects need doing. I recently purchased a 21-inch Retina 4K iMac, which has become my new podcast workstation, video editing powerhouse, and Apple TV screenshot-maker. The aforementioned fourth-generation Apple TV lives next to my Mac, underneath an old 32-inch Samsung television I've mounted to the wall for both TV-testing and second-monitor purposes.

My main portable computer these days is the 12.9-inch iPad Pro: I've paired it with a Logitech Create keyboard and Apple Pencil, and it handles about 99 percent of what I need to do both at work for iMore and when I'm off using it for roller derby, teaching, or drawing. Right now, I don't really have a laptop — my poor MacBook Air has been drowned, so I'm rolling iPad-only! Scary.

I also have just about every iPhone under the sun, though I'm currently rocking the iPhone 6s with Apple Battery Case. (It's weird looking, yes, but oh-so-functional.)


Ever since college, I've been an Apple user. It started with an iBook and has since blossomed to practically everything Apple has ever made. Now, I concentrate most of my work on a 27-inch Retina 5K iMac with a bit of transition work on a non-retina 13-inch MacBook Pro.

I have my iPhone SE on me at all times (I stuck with the smaller model because my tiny hands don't work well with the larger screen iPhone 6s), which I use for checking and responding to notifications from the iMore team. My Apple Watch Sport is attached to my wrist from morning until night and is the go-between for my iPhone.

I've also been known to use my 9.7-inch iPad Pro as a second screen, in conjunction with Duet Display, when I'm working on my MacBook Pro, because I need that extra screen space. But, I don't usually use the tablet as a work device.


I was a Windows desktop and laptop user until 2011, at which point I bought the most powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro I could afford, consolidating all my computing needs into one (relatively) portable machine.

Since then, the majority of my connected life has transitioned to an Apple logo. Though I pull double duty as an editor for Android Central and Windows Central, and have a number of smartphones, laptops and tablets to prove it, the vast majority of my time is spent on an iPhone 6s Plus, which is the best computer I've ever owned.

It's been reiterated many times on this site, but the combination of iOS 9's app ecosystem and extension platform, and the iPhone 6s Plus's screen size and power, lets me do about 90% of the quick-task work (and occasional play) I have on my docket.

What the iPhone isn't able to accomplish — namely, longford writing and extensive multi-tab multitasking — I use my Early 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro. With a quad-core Core i7 chip and 16GB of RAM, it's likely the most powerful computer I've used, and the keyboard/trackpad combination is so far beyond second nature, they've become extensions of my own hands.

In the office, I use a 27-inch Retina 5K iMac, which I bought late last year as a housewarming present to myself, and it's an extraordinary machine. As someone who practically lives in a browser, it's clear the web isn't quite ready for so many pixels, but OS X El Capitan has enough scaling options to make any app look just right.

And while I don't use tablets all that often, I'm finding the 12.9-inch iPad Pro an enormously useful tool while traveling. On airplanes, the Smart Keyboard is compact enough to accommodate even the stingiest of tray tables, and the Pencil is easily the best non-ink writing tool I've ever used. It's practically replaced my paper-and-pen combo during meetings and interviews, though the 12.9-inch Pro is too big and distracting for some situations. The 9.7-inch version is, obviously, more portable, but whenever I try to use it as my main computer I always yearn for the bigger keyboard.

Finally, I use an Apple Watch with Saddle Brown Classic Buckle, and I have to say, it's one of the connected items I think about least. As was Apple's intention, it just works. I use it mainly for timekeeping, exercise tracking, and notifications, and without straining the nascent platform beyond those three core features, I feel I am getting my money's worth.

Oh, and the Apple TV 4 is great. Watch Jessica Jones.


I used a Windows PC growing up, but always dreamt of owning a Macintosh of my very own. Now, much like my colleagues, I'm reppin' an Apple-laden setup. My day-to-day machine is a mid-2015 Retina MacBook Pro with boosted specs. Most of the time, it's connected to a 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display and it's where I edit video and podcasts, create stuff in Illustrator and Photoshop, and do most of my work.

I've also always got my iPad Pro (with the Smart Keyboard) and iPhone 6s Plus nearby and my Space Gray Apple Watch Sport strapped to my wrist. My iPhone 6s Plus is hands-down the device I use most — it's great for catching up on Twitter and Slack, snapping photos and taking video, and handling email and messages. My iPad Pro is hands-down my favorite device to write with (on?). I love the Smart Keyboard, the portability of the Pro, and the beautiful, high-resolution screen.

Show and tell us about your office setup!


I have more of a studio than an office these days. Back shelves are Ikea. The top is boxes, next row is Lego Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, and DC, next row is old gadgets, next row old gear. The standing desk is also Ikea. I have an old cheese grater Mac Pro that runs some stuff that still needs running. On top of it is the new Retina 5K iMac, a Magic Mouse 2 I never use, and a Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad I use constantly.

There's also a Logitech 910 web cam, a Heil microphone, and a Makie Onyx Blackjack audio interface I use to talk on the Internet, and a bunch of Hue lights and LED panels I can control with Siri.

I'm thinking of changing a lot of it around, though. I'd like something that could adapt better from podcast fun to serious network hit and back. We'll see what this year brings!


Like Rene, my office has become more of a studio: I used IKEA KALLAX shelves to build a standing desk and bookshelves, and have a TV mounted to the side of the wall next to my iMac so that I can have a second display or Apple TV testing unit — whatever makes the most sense at the time. My walls are decorated with a custom Massachusetts license plate for my derby name (thanks, Corey!) and some incredible art from Phantom City Creative (a poster of long-favorite film A Trip to the Moon) and Bottleneck Gallery (Where the Wild Things Are, Empire Strikes Back). My podcasting's all done through a Heil arm on an old analog Audio Technica AT-2020 connected to a digital Onyx Blackjack mixer interface.

I use Philips Hue lights and LED panels to light my studio, and a wonderful portable tripod and Gorrilapod to mount my iPhone or Canon DSLR for shooting Facebook Live video or produced work. I've also got a BB-8 and lots of graphic novels gracing the bookshelves next to my makeshift shooting studio.


You might say I have two offices. The main one, which is where my 27-inch Retina 5K iMac with Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 sits, has an eight-box Ikea Expedit (now Kallas) Workstation with a second Ikea Linnmon table right next to it. The second desk is mainly used to store all of my gadgets when I'm actively using them. My main office doubles as the storage space for all of my band equipment, so I share the room with an acoustic drum kit, an electronic drum kit, a bass amp, a guitar amp, two basses, and three guitars. It's kind of a mess, but a rock 'n' roll mess.

My second office is actually my living room, which I use when I'm writing about Apple TV. Here, my MacBook Pro sits on a lap desk (which I think I got at Michael's 10 years ago), which sits on my lap. Most of the time, my iPad Pro is connected to my laptop with a Lightning cable so I can use Duet Display as a second screen.


I just moved into my first house, so as of publication my office is still being built. As it stands (or sits), I have created a makeshift desk that pulls double duty depending on the state of my back. A large piece of tempered glass sits on two standing speakers, creating a setup that is both chair- and standing-friendly depending on how it is arrayed. On it sits my iMac, Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard, and a bunch of wires I wish weren't visible. Oh, and a cup of steaming hot coffee made fresh in my many coffee contraptions.


I've got a two-desk office — one standing desk and one sitting desk. Lucky for me, the MacBook Pro can move freely between the two spaces and hooks up nicely to external displays.

I'm sad to say there's not an IKEA anywhere near me, which breaks my heart. Instead, I had to opt for some alternative affordable office furniture. My sitting desk is a Mainstays (read: Walmart) L-shaped desk that's still going strong after three years and one house move. It fits my Thunderbolt display quite nicely and my MacBook Pro sits off to the side. I'm rocking the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 on the keyboard tray beneath.

I built my standing desk out of several Mainstays furniture products, a couple two-by-fours, some one-by-fours, a dozen metal brackets, and some blood/sweat/tears. My standing desk has — on one side — one of those super-widescreen Dell monitors mounted to the wall with a monitor arm and on the other side, my Blue Yeti microphone rests comfortably in a Heil microphone boom connected to the side of the desk. I use a Logitech Marathon mouse and an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard at this desk. My rMBP rests comfortably in clamshell mode, in a little (breathable) slot I built for it at the base of the desk. #BobTheBuilder

How do you use your computer throughout the day?


I reach for my iPhone 6s Plus first thing in the morning and quickly check mail and social. Then I slap on my Apple Watch, get up, and get going.

Depending on how early it is, I'll grab my iPad Pro and do some light work before heading to the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display and my morning run meetings. That typically starts at 10am and, if I'm podcasting, can run until after lunch.

A lot of the work I'm currently doing involves Google Docs, which is currently beyond painful on the iPad Pro, so while I wish I could take that around with me more, I'm ending up with my 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro most of the time these days.

I sometimes go MacBook, but I try to lock Docs in a Chrome cage, and Chrome just shreds MacBooks. Double WTF, Google.

If I'm out and about, then I'm back on my iPhone 6s Plus, and it's pretty amazing what all I can get done. Even Docs works better there than an iPad Pro…

At night, I watch TV and prep for the next day, either on the iPad Pro or my MacBook Pro. When I'm ready to wind down, I'll read a little on my iPhone 6s Plus, and then at some point it'll be morning again.


My Mac gets the most use during the mornings and midday, when I don't mind standing. Otherwise, I'm often curled up on my office couch, writing on the iPad Pro. (I'm trying to stand more. I really am.)


When I wake up in the morning, I grab a cup of coffee and sit down with my MacBook Pro, where I check email, go through my RSS feed, and watch "The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross." I then switch over to my office, where I work on my 27-inch Retina 5K iMac for the rest of the day (unless I'm writing about Apple TV, in which case, I remain in the living room).

I write all of my articles using Markdown Pro, which I love because of the split-screen preview mode. My iPhone SE is always on hand for checking in with the Mobile Nations team or responding to notification in Trello (and checking in on my cats in Neko Atsume).


Unlike Rene, I start, middle and end my day with my iPhone.

But when I'm not straining my neck at awkward angles, I'm writing on my MacBook Pro or editing photos and video on my iMac. While out of the house, my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro are used almost interchangeably depending on the task. I've actually come to prefer writing on the iPad Pro, which, due to its limited multitasking functionality, is considerably less distracting than a laptop.


Except when I'm scrolling through social media or reading emails — which I do on my iPhone 6s Plus for the most part — I'm on my MacBook Pro. I use iA Writer on my Mac and on my iPhone because it supports Markdown and syncs like a champ.

I've only just started working in a remote-office environment, so I'm not quite sure how I'll handle being out and about while doing work. Coffee shop writing is in my future, for sure, but I need to experiment with how I write at said coffee shops.

How do you augment your work with your iPhone, Watch, and other tech?


The iPhone has become my primary digital device. It's with me everywhere and stores everything important. My Apple Watch is like a window into my iPhone, letting me peek into notifications, apps, and other data without having to reach into my pocket or across the room.

I often use my iPhone as a second screen for my Mac, and my Apple Watch as a second screen for my iPhone.

For cameras, I'm still using the Canon 5D Mark III, primarily with the 50mm f/1.4, because so prime. I'll probably pull the trigger on the Sony Alpha a7R II soon though. I'm ready for something lighter… and something 4K.


My iPhone and Watch are my computers when my iMac and iPad Pro can't be. I've done a ridiculous amount of work on that 4.7-inch screen, and dictated many an iMessage to my watch. I love the flexibility between devices, and it helps so much to be able to almost seamlessly switch conversations or projects from iPhone to iPad to Mac — depending on which device is best for which project.


My iPhone is my personal assistant. It lets me know when someone needs me in the work group chat, reminds me when a project is due, and hands me paperwork that needs to be dealt with (via Handoff). I test a lot of apps and take a lot of screenshots with it, so I absolutely couldn't go through a workday without it.

My Apple Watch is like my personal assistant's personal assistant. It gives me a tap on the wrist when something needs my attention. If my iPhone isn't within arm's reach, I can triage emails, read chats, and check on Trello notifications. The screen is very small, though. So, I don't use it to respond to alerts unless I absolutely have to.

I use my iPad Pro as a second screen whenever I'm working on my MacBook Pro. I use up a lot of screen space when I'm writing and need that extra room.


The iPhone has quickly supplanted in importance every other connected device in my life. It deals with notifications better than a Mac, and it is often faster to reply to a message or email than my Watch.

But my Watch acts as triage for the iPhone, which, because I am so addicted, stays in my pocket as long and as often as possible. Apple Watch has become such an important part of my workflow that on the rare occasion I forget to strap it on in the morning I feel distracted by the lack of that gentle Taptic impression.

What I don't use often enough is Siri, which, with the proliferation of HomeKit-enabled gear, has become considerably more desirable to me.

When I shoot gear, I use my Nikon D750 with the awesome 24-70mm F2.8, or my trusty Sony RX100 IV point-and-shoot.


As my esteemed colleagues have all noted, the iPhone is a great place to get things done — same goes for the iPad. They both serve as writing instruments, consumption tools, and content creation devices. My Apple Watch is my handy little Navi, reminding me to take my vitamins, allowing me to read important notifications, and keeping track of my health.

Shooting beautiful video and photos happens on the Panasonic Lumix GH4, which is just an astounding device. In a pinch, though, the iPhone 6s Plus takes some pretty remarkable photos and can produce some superb-looking video.

What other must-have accessories do you use?


I have Hue lights throughout my house, and use Sonos for my home theater. Is it okay to count beverage making gear as accessories? If so, my tea and coffee gear helps me survive all my days.


So many Hues. I'm addicted. I love my Amazon Echo, too, though I didn't think I'd dig it at first, and my Sonos speakers keep me entertained throughout the day.


I don't really have any other must-haves. I agree with Rene about coffee, though. If it counts, coffee keeps me alive.


Sonos. Aside from my iPhone, my Play:5 speakers are probably the most well-loved tech in my house. I play music not just to fill the silence but to enhance it. I can't work properly without it, and by grouping three speakers (I have two Play:5's and a Play:1) I can synchronize what's being played, making it easy to work from anywhere in the house.

I keep tabs on my place from afar with several well-placed Dropcams (now known as Nest Cams), and have enjoyed my time with the Kwikset Kevo smart lock, which allows me to open my front door with a finger, or give temporary access to my place using an eKey.


Rene, it is absolutely OK to count beverage gear. In fact, we have the same coffee setup! I also love my Amazon Alexa for all things home automation, my Hue lights, and my Bose SoundLink III for listening to podcasts and music anywhere in the house. Oh, did I mention I have an August Smart Lock? I've had it for about six months and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It could stand to be more responsive.

What's your go-to "can't survive a day without it" software?


I use a ton of software. 1Password, Dropbox, iMessage, Slack, Skype, Safari, Mail, Napkin, Tweetbot, Notes, TextExpander, Photoshop, BBEdit, Instagram, Facebook, Overcast, Trello, Sheets, Docs, and the list goes on and on.

I could survive without much or even most of it. Some days I'd very much like to! If I had to pick one, though, it'd be Safari. It's a gateway to almost everything else.


Can I just copy/paste Rene's list? I use pretty much everything he mentions above, but I also have some iPad-only favorites, including Screens, 1Writer, Paper, Pixelmator, Workflow, and Longscreen. Couldn't live without them.


For now, I'm heavily into using Markdown Pro, Slack, Skype, iMessage, Napkin, Dropbox, DeskConnect, 1Password, Duet Display, Trello, Mail, Sunrise Calendar, Safari, and Wanderlust. I'm sure there are others, but these are the main ones.

The apps above are all software programs that I use all of the time, all day. Dropbox and 1Password are probably the most important in my life, since they are both storage programs for important data and multi-device synced so I can start working on one computer, continue on a mobile device, and finish on another computer.


I live in Slack for work and Google Hangouts for personal, and couldn't survive without Dropbox, Airmail, Evernote, 1Password and Adobe's Creative Cloud suite. And because I get a lot of packages in the mail, Deliveries for iOS and OS X has become a must-have utility.


YOWZA! There's a lot of software I'd claim I can't live without. I'll just mention the non-stock-app stuff. I use Slack for both professional and personal communication, 1Password for keeping track of all my randomized keys, TweetDeck for power-using Twitter, Airmail for all things email, Dropbox for keeping all my files synced and linked, Final Cut Pro and Motion for video production, and the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for design and photo editing.

What do you want from Apple in the future for your daily productivity?


I may have written a lot about this already. Extensibility and Continuity did a lot for me though. Still want it for media, of course. Finishing keyboard navigation on iPad Pro will help a lot, as would an iPadOS.


Even more integration between desktop and laptop. And drag and drop between iPad Split View Windows!


Thanks to Continuity, I'm able to get a lot more done, a lot faster. But, I wish Handoff were a little more reliable.


I still don't love typing on my iPhone, and dread having to peck away at a long email when I know I could do it in half the time on my MacBook. To that end, I'd love Apple to stop treating third-party keyboards like second (or third) class citizens.

And I know this sounds silly, but I'd love picture-in-picture video support on the iPhone 6s Plus in landscape. I watch a lot of basketball, and would love a small box showing the latest Warriors game as I navigate the rest of the OS.


Good question. I haven't done much thinking about this, 'cause Apple is pretty doggone good at enabling productivity.

I agree with Bader — it'd be nice to have third-party keyboards that aren't as difficult to access and switch between. I also agree with Lory — FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, why are Airdrop and Handoff so erratic?

Tell us how you work!

How do you use your iOS devices and Macs, dear readers? What's your office look like? Tell us in the comments.