My routine for new versions of Mac OS X is time honored and faithful. When a new OS X arrived, I would back up everything on my Mac, wipe the hard disk drive clean, and install the latest and greatest.
That worked for many years until Mac OS X Snow Leopard. For whatever reason, I went straight to the upgrade just to see how it would do. A year later I reverted to my past, and decided to go pure on my Mac.
The Purity Of OS X
For most Mac users, whatever we get from OS X, Adobe and Microsoft is enough. Most Mac users don’t tinker with OS X. Most don’t fill up their hard disks with dozens of utilities.
Two weeks ago I wiped my Mac clean, started over, and went pure Mac.
No add on utilities. No extra tools. No tricks.
It was just me and my Mac. The Finder and the Dock. The default Menubar and all default settings. No extra preference panes. Only the basic of basic Mac apps. Safari. Mail. TextEdit. iLife. iCal.
For a longtime user whose first Mac, circa spring of 1984, came with 128k, MacWrite and MacPaint (and plenty of ‘bomb’ crashes), could I survive a week as a 21st century user by going pure Mac?
In a word, no.
Basic Mac OS X Is Boring
I tried. I really did. It took a few hours to back up, wipe the hard disk drive, re-install OS X, iLife, and a few necessary apps. In the end, my Mac ran better, faster, snappier, and was uncluttered.
The Dock was not stretched out so long from left to right that the icons were little more than colorful blobs. Gone was my beloved Drag Thing, the best launcher, navigator in the world.
The Applications folder contained about one third of the apps I usually keep running. No GraphicConverter. No NetNewsWire. No Skype. No Things. This was a test to see if I could be as productive on a clean, unadulterated Mac as I was on my custom jalopy hot rod Mac.
It didn’t work. Navigating the Finder and Dock is slower and more cumbersome than using my built-in Dock shortcuts or DragThing. The dozen or so Menubar applets keep me informed at a glance.
The Finder pales in comparison to Path Finder’s power trip. After two days of stumbling slowly from place to place, step-by-step I began to add my time honored tricks. First, I added aliases in the Dock so navigation would be easier. One click would get me almost anywhere on my Mac.
After that, it was a floodgate of tweaks, tricks, apps, tools and utilities. Within a few hours my Mac was home again. Full of the apps I know and love. A pure Mac was but a passing fancy. It can’t be done.
The best I could get was two full days of pure Mac the way Apple had intended.
I added Spam Sieve to Mail (better than Apple’s built-in Junk Mail filter).
Next up was PTH Pasteboard. It’s a clipboard collector that never forgets what you copied. I added browsers, word processors, FTP apps, and backup apps.
Apple’s default Dashboard Widgets were joined by comics, weather radar, pCalc the special calculator, and movie time Widgets. Time Machine was joined by SuperDuper! as part of a backup plan that hasn’t failed.
In time, my Mac had become my old Mac, but with a fresh clean installation of everything. It was snappier, too.