After upgrading my first mac (powerbook) to another powerbook, then to an iMac and finally to a Mac Pro, I realized five years of using the Migration Assistant had finally run its course. Various basic parts (mostly Keychain Access) of Leopard stopped functioning properly and since everything ran great on my new Macbook Air, I decided it was time to backup, format, and reinstall fresh on my main Mac Pro.

A few hours after upgrading I installed Firefox and my most often used apps like Transmit and Textmate. Every few days I realized I needed one more app so I’d download and install it. After a week or so, I was pretty much done reinstalling.

Last year I wrote about doing as much as possible using online apps and how I found it really handy, so today I looked at my Applications folder to see how many things I’ve installed aside from the default Mac apps. I counted 11 applications total outside of iLife and iWork. It includes a couple proprietary things I need for installed hardware (like the wonderful ScanSnap) but it’s mostly the basics (Firefox, Transmit, etc) for doing my everyday work tending MetaFilter.

The thing that surprises me is that I reformatted my computer about six weeks ago, and I haven’t felt like anything is missing since. Thanks to a combination of almost all my work being done online and the great set of built-in functionality of OSX, I can get by on an almost completely clean system.

Ten years ago I had literally hundreds of apps on my Windows box, and I feel like I was constantly needing more.

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

3 replies on “Eleven”

  1. I’ve always taken every major OS upgrade as an opportunity to clear house—do a complete backup, wipe the disk, and install anew. I’ve generally willing to try out new apps (and discard them quickly if they don’t work out), so I reason there’s probably a lot of cruft lurking around. And I always do what you describe—only add apps back when I discover I need them.
    I’m not as web-applified as you are, and for my style of work, there’s less reason for me to be, so I do keep more desktop apps around. But the general trend has been downward. Some of this must be because single apps can do more—VLC can open a host of formats I once would have needed different decoders or whatnot for. Some of it must be because out of the box, OS X comes with a fair number of useful apps.
    The whole issue of how the desktop and the webtop (can I say that?) are balanced is an interesting one. I kind of like the direction Apple is going in with mobileme–the idea that your data lives locally, is sync’d through the cloud to other devices, and also available in the crowd. This, of course, is tricky, and means that desktop apps need to be duplicated as webtop apps to really work. Of course, there’s some interesting work on that front.


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