Mac Setup: Dual Display MacBook Pro Retina with Custom LED Backlighting

May 31, 2014 - 5 Comments

MacBook Pro with Retina Display and Dual External Monitors with custom mood lighting

It’s time for another featured Mac setup! Let’s visit the excellent Mac workstation of Paavan G., a student designer who has a great dual-display desk with some really fancy customizable lighting to add some flair. Let’s jump in and learn a bit more about this setup:

What hardware is included in your workstation?

The Mac

Displays & Accessories



  • Xbox 360 Elite (connected to the left monitor)


Retina MacBook Pro with dual displays and custom backlighting

What do you use your Apple gear for?

I currently study BSc Product Design & Management at Aston University, Birmingham. I went for this setup since I needed a portable computer for when I’m travelling and actually in the university buildings, but also needed a decent amount of screen ‘real-estate’ when I’m doing the main bulk of my work in my room. I actually started with only one external monitor and used it in conjunction with the MacBook’s screen (hence the Rain mStand), but the 13” screen started to feel a bit too small to look at, but now using two matching screens seriously boosts my workflow and productivity. 

The Mac is running OS X Mavericks but also has a Windows 8 Boot Camp setup for when I need do work on SolidWorks for CAD. Alongside my degree, I also design and operate a few websites, along with occasional video work.

The Lloytron lamp is as good as any fancy Anglepoise lamp and when I need to do sketch work I just rotate it from behind the monitors to the empty desk space to the right. Otherwise usually, it just provides pleasant ambient lighting along with the LEDs which I set to a different colour depending on my mood (white or blue is usually best when I’m working). 

As a student, we all need to have a bit of fun as well, so this room is regularly used for movie nights where the screens are mirrored and pulled out as far as they’ll go so that all our flat can watch a film -with the LEDs dimmed of course! The Xbox is also connected to the left screen which is then pulled out allowing for some serious combat between within the flat! 

Dual display retina MacBook Pro and custom LED backlighting

What apps do you use most often? What apps could you not do without?

I absolutely wouldn’t be able to live without Adobe InDesign CC and Photoshop CS6 since these help me create some pretty hefty design portfolios. 

Recently, Pages has also become a ‘must-have’ app, since I’ve also needed to compile quite a lot of reports and analysis’s for the engineering side of my degree, and this is far easier to do on Pages than MS Word.

Other apps I rely on include:

  • Transmit – by far the best FTP client for Mac
  • Tagalicious – within which my music collection would be an absolute mess
  • Final Cut Pro X – really powerful and yet easy to use for my video projects
  • Reeder – helps me check up on hundreds of website that I subscribe to including OS X Daily!
  • TotalFinder – I appreciate my folders being on top, items actually being sorted alphabetically, and progress bars in the dock so this is a must!
  • Dropbox – it may be more expensive but it supports symbolic links meaning I can keep my files where I actually want them and not just restricted to the Dropbox folder.
  • SuperDuper! – it’s what I use to create the bootable system clone and also live data clone onto the 2TB backup drive
  • VLC – who doesn’t need VLC to survive? 

Do you have any Apple tips or productivity tricks you want to share?

My workflow would be a complete mess without the use of Spaces (Mission control), where apps that are always open and I refer to such as Reeder, Mail, iTunes and Safari are allocated fixed desktops on the secondary (right) screen, with the remaining spaces on both screens left for whatever I’m working on. 

I used SwitchResX to ‘hack’ the 13” rMBP to run scaled at 1920×1200 – something that the displays preference pane doesn’t allow as it only goes up to 1680×1050. I like my screen real-estate.

An awesome screensaver I recently found is called ‘Soundstream’ which responds to audio being played through the Mac. It’s actually kinda mesmerising.

I’d say that lighting is one of the most important aspects to a setup, it can totally change how you feel about a space. Especially if you work a lot at night like I do, the right sort of ambient lighting can make the room still feel open and welcoming. The next most important is ergonomics, those screens are high for a reason; so that my eye-line is around 3/4 up the screen making it comfortable to work here for several hours at a time. 

Dual monitor MacBook Pro setup with custom lighting

Do you have an interesting Mac setup or Apple workstation you want to share with OSXDaily? What are you waiting for! Take a couple pictures, answer some questions about the hardware and how you use it, and mail it on in to – Still working on your setup and not ready to send yours in? Browse through our past Mac setup posts for some inspiration!


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Posted by: OSXDaily in Mac Setups


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  1. Brendon Jarrett says:

    How does Solidworks perform on the 13″ retina?

    I have Solidworks running on my 2011 13 Inch Macbook Pro with an i5 and 16GB ram. Windows 7 runs in Parallels 8 and I have no lag. Unfortunately I don’t have RealView but I do get photo render.

  2. Brian says:

    How can I make one wallpaper cover two monitors on Mavericks 10.9.3?

  3. Chris Cheng says:

    Nice desk I like the lights

  4. Jeff says:

    Nice monitor stands, always wanted to do that but would need Thunderbolt displays to not suffer any performance degradation and lag, right?

  5. Peirs says:

    Love the lighting, what a neat idea… makes me want to install some behind my living room TV for watching movies.

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