It’s happened to all of us. We’re working on a document and something happens. Power goes off. Word crashes. Mail crashes before sending.
Whatever document we were working on disappeared.
Gone. Wooosh. Never Never Come Back Land. What to do? TrackBack.
This is one of those nifty little applications that makes so much sense that it’s hard to believe it’s not included in Mac OS X.
BackTrack is one of the simple utilities for the Mac that, once it saves your carcass, you’ll always keep a copy on your Mac.
What’s BackTrack do? It records all your keystrokes in each of your applications.
That’s about it. If you’re typing something into Word, then BackTrack records your keystrokes, and saves the text in a log file.
If Word crashes, what you just typed, all of it, is there, ready to BackTrack.
Let’s say you’re a bit like me (but with better hair days and fewer children), and you’ve got Word, Safari, Mail, TextEdit, Stickies, iCal, Excel, and a couple of other applications open and running.
You’re using each and have text in each.
The applications have been open all day, and, like a good Mac users, you’ve saved the documents from time to time. But not since lunch and it’s 3:30 PM.
Bing. Power goes off. Everything is gone. It’s gone. Blank screen.
If you have BackTrack running, it’s all still there—saved and waiting for you to start up again.
BackTrack opens as a simple brushed aluminum application and requires that the ‘Enable access for assistive devices” selection in System Preferences be enabled.
Then BackTrack goes to work capturing the text input from your keyboard.
If you type it in, it gets captured, recorded, logged, ready for access. Except passwords and user IDs, so confidential login information won’t be available to prying eyes.
BackTrack is small enough that you can put it beside or slightly behind your application and watch it record your keystrokes.
In true Mac fashion, Preferences are few. You can purge records older than a specific date, and you determine the number of days.
You can also adjust the “Auto-save File…” to every so many minutes or hours. Everything you type gets stored in a small SQL Lite database on your Mac.
Of course, it’s just the text you type, not formatting such as font, font size, or color.
One annoying trait is that BackTrack doesn’t erase or delete text as you erase or delete text when you type. My “delete key” is my friend and I use it often, so some of what BackTrack records looks a bit messy.
Finding text in the database couldn’t be much easier. Scroll to the date and time, select the application in the list, scroll through the text, cut and paste back into your application (you’ll need to clean it up a bit if you love the “delete key” as much as me).
Looking for more detail? More features? More things to click? Sorry. This is simplicity at its’ best. A simple, $15 Mac application that records your keystrokes into a quick and easy to access database as you type. If something goes wrong, your keystrokes are there.
If you type using a Mac, and occasionally lose something you want back (Mac crashes, Word crashes, Mail crashes, you accidentally closed a window you shouldn’t have, etc…) then you’ll like BackTrack.
Gripes? A few. Not deleting what I delete with the delete key is messy, though not terribly so.
Give BackTrack a try to see if you can track back far enough to save your bacon.