Dual-display outfit splits the keyboard and goes mouse-free [Setups] | Cult of Mac

Dual-display outfit splits the keyboard and goes mouse-free [Setups]


How do you navigate without a mouse?
How do you navigate without a mouse?
Photo: gdeLopata@Reddit.com

Do you dream of ditching your mouse? Maybe you have the wrong one. Or maybe you’re onto something, like the software developer who works sans rodent with today’s featured M2 MacBook Pro setup featuring dual external displays in different orientations.

Instead of a mouse for input, she relies on a radically split keyboard with a trackball, plus a macropad. See those and all of the other gear in the cool setup below.

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Dual-display M2 MacBook Pro setup opts for split external keyboard with trackball and skips the mouse

Infrastructure architecture developer, 3D-modeling hobbyist and Redditor gdeLopata showcased the striking setup in a post entitled, “My ergonomic mouseless macOS desktop setup for optimal productivity.”

“Didn’t happen in one day, took years … one step at a time,” she said in response to commenters’ envious praise.

She rocks a blazing-fast M2 MacBook Pro strapped with 64GB of unified memory and a 1TB SSD. It sits open on a stand as a third display.

The brawny MacBook drives a pair of nice external displays. The center, landscape-mode screen is a 34-inch LG UltraWide QHD Curved Nano IPS Display. It features 3440 x 1440 pixel resolution, a 21:9 aspect ratio, a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync technologies for smooth gaming. She uses it for 3D modeling.

On the right, in portrait mode, she’s got a 27-inch Dell UltraSharp U2720Q 4K USB-C monitor. That ultra-high-def screen gets 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution on its LED-backlit in-plane switching (IPS) screen.

“The portrait orientation is perfect for displaying lengthy markdown documentation and other developer resources,” Lopata said. “I have two communication apps running on it, but the majority of my applications, around 8-10, are displayed on my center screen. I use my Mac screen for terminal sessions and for attending meetings and calls.”

How’s the ultra-wide curved display for work? (not gaming)

“How is it to work on an ultra wide and curved display?” a commenter asked. “I feel it’s more for games than actual work?”

“It’s not a very aggressive curve,” Lopata replied. “You should be fine, I 3D model on it without any issues.” She identified 3D modeling as a hobby, while her main work after being a full-stack developer is infrastructure architecture, with more emphasis on meetings and document work than coding, she lamented.

A commenter who works as a product designer agreed that ultra-wide curved displays are “amazing for productivity” and “not a big deal at all” despite her initial worries along the same lines. And she works on a 49-inch super-ultra-wide display with a 32:9 aspect ratio. That’s about as wide and curved as it gets.

Navigating without a mouse

For input devices, Lopata skips the mouse and goes with a ergonomic Charybdis split keyboard with a trackball.

“What do you use to navigate if not a mouse?” asked a commenter. “What are those little devices (aside from the keyboard)?”

“I use a keyboard with a built-in trackball (Charybdis), with a cup warmer located in between the keyboard,” she replied. “On the right, I have a macropad, while the middle is occupied by a [Blue Yeti] mic. On the left, underneath the Mac, there is a Zigbee motion sensor and button for home automation purposes. Some charges at the back of the table.”

Other figured Lopata must be a “keyboard shortcut ace.” She admitted her post’s headline is a bit misleading, as she relies on the trackball. “Though I do utilize [hotkeys] shortcuts heavily swap between apps, and within apps,” she said.

She also uses a MurphPad, which is a type of macropad for custom inputs.

“I use the Murphpad for music control, and it also has hotkeys to my scripts behind Raycast, which help me manage my audio devices and monitor layouts,” she said. “I don’t use it to launch apps, as I already have a keyboard with macros, but it has that capability, as well.”

Waking the Mac and multiple monitors

An interesting exchange arose in the comments over waking the Mac from sleep and how well it brings up the external displays. Lopata pointed out a simple workaround, below.

“Do you have any issues waking up the Mac with that many monitors?” a commenter inquired. “Every since I updated my 2019 MBP to Ventura it takes forever to wake up and get a signal to the monitors (I have a 4K LG and a vertical HP monitor in a config similar to yours). Sometimes I get a Windowserver crash.”

“That is an interesting observation. I have used the [CalDigit] TS3 Plus dock on my Intel-based MacBook Pro without any issues, even on Ventura,” Lopata replied. “However, on my M2 Max 2023, I experienced an issue where the monitors did not come back up after waking up the laptop. To resolve this issue, I had to unplug and replug, which was quite annoying. As a workaround, I enabled this.”

The link shows went to Settings > Displays > Battery and energy and enabled “Prevent automatic sleeping on power adapter when the display is off.”

Shop these items now:

Computer and dock:

Displays and mount:

Input devices:


Furniture and accessories:

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches, challenges and plans for new additions.


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