A Digital Reset

9 May 2024 • PersonalWeblogPoMo

(Quick note: I’m back from vacation! It was an amazing time away, and I’m back recharged and energized again. It’s so much nicer to be able to type on a real keyboard and get everything published easily, vs. attempting to do this all via Apple Notes and GitHub’s website [because the app doesn’t let you create pull requests]. I’m sure I’ll write more about my time off at some point.)

Have you ever thought about nuking everything on your devices and starting over?

I’ve often thought about how different my computing experience is compared to many other people. I remember watching how a coworker had their laptop set up; they were making heavy use of Mac’s Spaces feature, having a browser window, IDE window, and other relevant apps for every client that we worked with. It allowed them to stay focused on just the things they needed for the particular client they were working on at the current moment, with no other distractions. Slack was even in a separate space, preventing them from getting pulled away by random conversations. This is far too much effort for me; I have various apps tiled all over the screen in a nice, organized manner, but I just Cmd-Tab from one app to the next for the most part.

Someone else was talking just the other week about how they make heavy use of Gmail’s inbox tabs (Primary, Promotions, etc.). This is something I disabled the second I had the option to do so, because over the past decade plus, I’ve set up enough filters to push emails into various labels and out of my inbox (although this itself was driven by older email systems built around the concept of folders, and not of labels). I’m also someone that has defaulted to deleting emails vs. archiving them, which has come back to bite me in the ass numerous times when deleting the conversation also deletes any emails I may have sent during that conversation.

All of this made me think.. what would it be like if I just nuked everything and started over? What if I went through the sorts of things people new to the Mac, or at least those who took to them more recently than me, would try to solve? How would they organize their spaces? What would their inbox look like? What sorts of features would they lean heavily upon that I just ignore (or don’t even know exist)? What apps would they use to do certain tasks (Robb has recently switched from Alfred to Raycast, and is trying to convince me to do the same)?

I’ve done something like this in the past; whenever I get a new iPhone, I’ll save a screenshot of my home screen layout, and then set up the new phone completely from scratch. I usually end up with something very similar to what I had before, but at least it forces me to think about what I use frequently and why. But it doesn’t make me revisit app choices and think “is there something better?”

Have you ever done a full reset before? How was it? Would you recommend it?