A Brief Guide to Setting up Mac … (again)

Buying a new mac is one of the most exciting things I enjoy. The experience is sacred, since owning a new Mac is far less frequent than switching new phones (not that I switch new iPhone every year). The box-opening is a total satisfaction, a box is slowing sliding down from the cover with friction, and then you see the iconic logo at the center of the beautifully crafted art piece. Seeing the screen lit up for the first time, you almost forget how many junk files you have in your old mac and it has given you a clean slate. A new chance to start over. 

I was given two choices.

I can either effortlessly copy everything from the old Mac using Time Machine Backup or set it up as a new Mac. Of course, Time Machine backup guarantees everything will be the same, but old files remain after years of upgrading OS and unused apps.

I picked the latter one.

Set up as a new mac, Always.

 Here’s why:

  1. All my working files are stored on either Google Drive or Dropbox. If you are not, you should. It’s 2017. Getting all files and folders sync up shouldn’t be a problem.
  2. It’s almost time to clean up my Applications & Library folder. This should become a ritual to keep all the good apps and getting rid of the bad ones. Also, the process of typical deleting an app, by throwing the icon into the trash will not clear all its associated files. Library, the one hidden folder (Press Alt when you select Go on the Menu Bar in Finder) that you wouldn’t dare to touch, is also growing bigger after tons of installations all over App Store and the web.
  3. Taking a closer look at apps that I use every day (Sketch, Quip, Illustrator, Evernote, Todoist, Franz and etc. ) Most of them are either web service based or include export functions for their settings, plugins, templates. Not much effort should I spent on settling down for these apps.

Yet, the biggest challenge in setting up a new mac is still getting the same configurations & settings. iCloud might have sync your calendar, contacts, Safari bookmarks and even your passwords across all Apple’s device. You will still need to perform OS-based settings, install third-party apps and reset their settings all over again. And you should consider this clearly before making the decision.

I made a step-by-step guide just for that purpose:

1. Re-configuring Keyboard Shortcuts

Most preference panel settings are not transferable, so I just have to set it up again. Typically, I switch Spotlight (Command + Space) and Switch Input Method (Alt + Space), because I switch input method more frequent than spotlight.

I’m also heavily addicted to Show Desktop (Command + F3), by dragging screenshots or files from desktop to various windows. The missing F3 key has been replaced by “3” key on my Touch Bar Macbook Pro.

Three-finger Drag weirdly has relegated to Accessibility page since OS X Sierra. You will need select Mouse & Trackpad, and select Trackpad Options, in order to enable the Three-finger Drag.

Weirdly “Three Finger Drag” is a bit laggy on the new Macbook Pro

2. Reinstalling All Applications

Download back all necessary apps from App Store should be easy. Try to recover those you need in daily operation first, but not everything in your purchase record. Next, I download all apps that I’m actively subscribing. Then the third type is those license-code activated apps. I looked over your old email threads and track down license codes. Some of them might have active device limitation, so you might want to unlink from the original Mac as well.

I also tidy up Launchpad since pinching is way easier to type an App’s name in Spotlight (Keep in one page) 

3. Restoring Files and Folder

I use Dropbox and Google Drive to sync all my working files. So it just takes few minutes to set up and some time to download everything back.

4. Taking Control of Menu Bar & Dock Bar

Next thing is getting the menu bar and dock bar in place. Few of my favorites are Hazel, Day-0, Divvy and KeepingYouAwake. Press Command to re-order the menu bar apps position. I hide those apps icon on the menu bar that should have run in the background because menu bar space is too valuable.

Next up, Dock Bar. Niklas Goeke wrote an article recently about Focused Work on Mac by eliminating most apps on Dock Bar.

A dock serves to load, unload and repair ships. Ships in the dock are there for a reason, they don’t just idle and wait for their next voyage.

Therefore, I try to think of the way I would trigger the app to open. If it was opened by Finder in your project folders or Download folders.(Say some Photoshop file or Illustrator file). Then you actually wouldn’t need to keep it in the Dock.

5. Keep your Desktop & Download folder clean

Your desktop and download folder has given a second chance, I tried my best to keep it clean and tidy. Most things end up in two folders, as I discovered are either screenshots and some temporary files. With the support of custom or even nest rules, I find Hazel, created by Noodlesoft, is an excellent file processing tool to automate your workflow.

Two rules that I relied on every day :

  1. Daily Cleaning up Screenshots
    I use Mac’s default screenshot tools every day, saving them on the desktop is very handy. But they should put in a folder after a day.

2. Daily Categorizing Download files
Most people’s Download folder is a mess, it won’t happen if you use Hazel to categorize your downloaded files. I create multiple rules according to file type (pictures, videos, disk images etc). And I usually would add an exclusion rule for files that were downloaded within today so I can still locate them right after


6. One More Thing, Backup

If you haven’t recovered your Mac from Time Machine backup, you’ll need to set up the Time Machine backup again. Apple has made the process so easy, you should instantly grab an external hard disk to perform a backup. Time Machine backup are safety precautions, even your new Mac probably won’t have any hardware failure any time soon.

This is unacceptable! Backup your Mac now! 

To wrap up, treasure the time you have start off fresh with your new Mac. If you have more hacks to share with me, please feel free to leave a comment.

Day-O 2 – Built-in Calendar on Menu Bar



Day-O 2 is a dead simple tab bar app that serves one single purpose. Replacing system menu bar clock with a quick, month-view calendar. Even Calendar or Fantastical takes time to load, Day-O doesn’t, due to its simplicity. Day-O 2 come in very handy if you are on a call and want to check the calendar. It was supposed to be that easy. The new version now supports dark mode and transparency.

Continue reading “Day-O 2 – Built-in Calendar on Menu Bar”

KeepingYouAwake – Prevent Your Mac From Sleeping

I have been using Caffeine for years, a MacOS menu bar app that simply does one job – prevent your Mac from sleeping. However, Caffeine has not updated for years and there are compatibility issues in latest macOS Yosemite, El Capitan & Sierra.

KeepingYouAwake is good choice to replace Caffeine, with support of retina display, a flatter icon and dark mode support as well. Customise options like deactivate when battery is lower than certain percentage is also available as well.

| Made by Marcel Dierkes from Germany

| KeepingYou Awake, macOS, Free

IM Reunion

Franz – One App To Rule IM

Franz is the ultimate king to rule in the stupid messy war of IM. (Franz means King in Austria as where it developed). It combines all web-available messaging platforms into one, and hence iMessage is not invited. With multiple account support, you can easily to switch between personal Facebook messages and business talking on Slack.

Additional support of major email platforms (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook), Franz spares endless tab pages from your browser and connects with local push notification as well.

| Made By Stefan Malzner & Jonathan Burke in Austria

| Franz, Windows / Mac / Linux, Free

Fast & Lightweight

Bvckup2 – Backup in A Breeze

I have embarked on a long journey for one single backup app on Windows to do all the hard-work.  Bvckup2 is the last and only backup software that you’ll ever need. Most apps over-complicated the process of backup, involving two-way of synchronization.

Bvckup simplifies the process and cut to chase allowing speeding one-way copy task management with scheduling features. Supporting delta copying support also speed up my routine backup from my PC to NAS every single night.

| Made by Pipemetrics in Switzerland

Bvckup2, Windows, $19.95

Thoughts on Digital Habit

Reorganising my digital life before 2017 ends

Let’s begin, by admitting I am living in a digital mess.

This is the year 2017. Everyday, I am tempted by new products with sweet and cool features wrapped in fancy landing page. Struggling between one and other productivity tools, like calendar, todo app and mail client make myself to feel better, to be more productive.

Hopping on and off different platforms and apps day by day, we face the constant headache in the era of cloud storage and web app:


There are no continuity of our personal data, at all.

In the days of homogenous products, scattered digital life will be one of biggest problem in time. I have already lost count of the following scenarios:

  • Find an article that I have read before, tried Feedly, Instapaper, but end up finding it on Facebook Saved
  • Locating an old file. My documents and files are spread all over Dropbox, Google Drive, various hardisk and backup drive on my PC and Mac.
  • Search for bookmarks and browsing history. Some are even archived online (I can’t beleive Netvouz is still working right now)

In the end of 2016, I declared a war on my 1000+ saved articles and evernote notebook. I got rid all of it and I solemnly swear to clean my saved articles every end of the month since then. Things aren’t looking great right now. To put an end or at least feeling better to the problem that I have raised, I felt my mission to log my journey before 2017 ends.

In addition to fix those problems that I encounter. I would also want to

  • Manage all my gadgets, trade in/out record, serial number and warranty
  • Password management, period. There is a nice piece on password management written by Mauricio Estrella.

In the remaining days of 2017, I have set myself a target to audit my digital life, to re-think each part of my digital Getting rid of all messy bookmarks, decent password system, unified bookmarks, integrated workflow for saved articles and knowledge base. More articles to come …