A few years ago, I peeked over the shoulder of a very dear friend as he was using his computer. “R” is a computing guru through and through, spending his days between WebObjects applications, Aperture, countless browsers and utilities. He is the kind of user who cannot work with less than four partitions and three huge disks attached to his machine. And work he does, brilliantly. In fact, I have rarely seen anyone squeeze so much computing power out of his machine. Imagine my surprise when I noticed how close to the defaults R’s installation was…
Mine, on the other hand, used to be customized to the brim: special icons, menus haxies, applications from all over the web. I did not spend hours applying changes, mind you, but they all came gradually from the moment I unpacked my Mac. Curious, I inquired. R’s reply was pretty simple: “You’ve got to learn to live with the defaults.”
Uh? For a long time, I just could not really make sense of it. Then, in the middle of this OS transition, now equipped with two more machines than I had at the time - yes, that’s a lot, although not everything is the top-of-the-line latest and greatest, I assure you - and a lot more going on in my life, I suddenly can make sense of these words: the more you customize, the greater a pain it will be to move from one machine to another.
Apple’s defaults may not be the best for my current mindset but they are the same across every single machine they make. Learn to live with the defaults and every Mac will be tailored to your “preference.” Of course, that is an ideal situation, and we will all make some changes here and there but the fewer, the better.
I’ve spent the past couple months attempting to “re-learn” using my Mac with progressively more default settings. Guess what? I’m much happier. Not because I agree with them all but because I have a lot less to worry about when switching machines. This, in turn, helps me focus on my data which helps the computer part fade into the background, as it should do.
We do, indeed, have synchronization options now but how reliable are they when it comes to carrying across all your settings from all your applications? So far, it has been more trouble than help on this end.
And you, what do you think of Apple’s defaults? Do you use them? How do you translate your own settings between various configurations?