Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: Tapping the reset button

Assuming nothing bonkers happens between now and then, next month will mark the release of iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4 and tvOS 11.

The Apple TV and Apple Watch updates seem like they’ll be nice, but I don’t think they will change the way I work day to day. High Sierra is a bigger deal than tvOS 11 or watchOS 4, but as nice as it is to have a “Snow Leopard” year, I think the biggest changes to my workflow will come with iOS 11.

That’s no surprise, of course. The new multitasking scheme, complete with the Dock and Spaces, coupled with drag and drop, promises to make the iPad a much more serious machine for work for those like me who have generally chosen the Mac as their tool of choice when it comes to work.

I think any OS update, regardless of impact and scope, offers an opportunity to start afresh.

Let’s talk about the 5K iMac I’m sitting in front of at the moment. I’ve had it almost a year, and am very happy with it, but the user I log in to when I sit down at it is much older than the computer itself.

By looking through my user library and other folders, the best I can tell, the user is one I set up around 2010. It has made the jump through a string of MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs before being migrated to this iMac a year ago.

There are preference files for applications that have been deleted for years, and support folders for programs that aren’t for sale anymore. It’s all a bit crufty, thanks to macOS’ unwillingness to delete support files when an .app bundle is removed from the system.

None of these files are causing any problems, and besides a 2 GB Evernote folder I found that I no longer need, none of it is taking up much space on my iMac’s SSD.

That’s not to say that cruft doesn’t accumulate in the corners of iOS, either. I have some long-forgotten games and apps stashed into folders on both my iPhone and iPad, just longing to see the light of day one more time. Thankfully, removing them is just a long-press and tap away.

I came across this in a big way on my iPad after installing the Public Beta of iOS 11. The Dock made me rethink my iPad home screen in a big way, and before I knew it, I was slinging apps and folders around, totally dismantling a setup that I had enjoyed for years.

Like my iMac, my iPad and iPhone setups has survived many upgrades and restores as I’ve hopped from device to device over the years. When I unbox a new iPhone next month, I’m really considering taking the time and starting anew, foregoing restoring an iTunes or iCloud backup.

Some will say that doing so will make an iOS device run faster and smoother. I’m not sure that’s true unless something has gone wrong, but the idea of starting with a nice, clean device, set up and arranged to take advantage of all iOS 11 has to offer in a tempting idea. It’d be a bit of work to sign back into a ton of apps and services, but doing so lends itself to making decisions about what I actually need on my device, as opposed to what I’ve been shuttling along over the years.

[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]

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