OK, so, I’m looking at this application called Fresh based upon a reader submission. I’m trying to get a sense of what it does, so I am watching the preview videos on the site. I open the first video and start watching and something in it, actually the very premise it sets forth, strikes me the wrong way. Go ahead, watch it yourself. I’ll wait here until you get back…
Here is the thing, if your Downloads folder has 400+ items in it, then you have deeper issues than this application can solve. Seriously. A tourniquet may stop the bleeding if you chop off a limb but it does not, in fact, correct the root issue.
I’m really not trying to pick on the application here or the developer. I am sure that the developer is a nice guy who is trying to come up with an elegant solution to a problem that many have – too much “stuff” and how to make sense of it all, find what you need, when you need it, and quickly. This is one of my goals here as well. That said, there is nothing happening in Fresh that you can’t already do with the tools built into your Mac.
Let me address the theoretical user in the video. First of all, clean out that Downloads folder. That’s just crazy! Why are you holding onto that much stuff? Once you download an application and install it, throw the .dmg or .zip file away. Make that part of the installation process. In fact, treat that folder like an inbox. Set a time, daily, to process anything that is in there and stick it where it really needs to be. If you are hell bent on getting an application, get one like Hazel and automate some of that processing. Can’t remember where you put something? Use Spotlight. Can’t remember the file name? Do you remember what the file was about? Spotlight can search inside of files for key words as well. Remember who sent you the file? Yep, Spotlight to the rescue there too. Do you need have quick access to some files for things you are working on at the ready? Why not create a folder in your Home folder called “Working” and then keep it in the dock. One click easy access. Just make sure to clean that up, just like the Downloads folder, when you are done.
My overall point is, if you are searching for an application to solve a particular problem, first really take a hard look at where the problem really lives. It may be within. And that, my friends, no application can solve.
Coveting possessions is unhealthy. Here’s how I look at it:
All of the computers on Ebay are mine. In fact, everything on Ebay is already mine. All of those things are just in long term storage that I pay nothing for. Storage is free.
When I want to take something out of storage, I just pay the for the storage costs for that particular thing up to that point, plus a nominal shipping fee, and my things are delivered to me so I can use them. When I am done with them, I return them to storage via Craigslist or Ebay, and I am given a fee as compensation for freeing up the storage facilities resources.
This is also the case with all of my stuff that Amazon and Walmart are holding for me. I have antiques, priceless art, cars, estates, and jewels beyond the dreams of avarice.
The world is my museum, displaying my collections on loan. The James Savages of the world are merely curators.
As I am the curator of their things, and thus together we all share the world.
Love the idea of this. The idea that, even that thing you “need” today may become “good to have” tomorrow and that it is OK to release it to someone that has a need then. The idea that all of this stuff the world produces for our consumption are things we already, in some small way, own – or own us.
Maybe you don’t want or need to be a hero to a bunch of portly men in Daring Fireball t-shirts. That’s understandable. And, in which case, yes, this is all beyond irrelevant. But, I’m assuming you want to do the right thing and that you want to reclaim your rightful place of honor within the community that, frankly, helped make you (yeah, I know you’re big competitors now, rah rah).
Merlin calls Adobe out on their many, many failings. This is a must read.
I used to work in QA for a major Mac software developer. Trust me, I know how difficult it is, even with a team a fraction of the size of Adobe, to take a step back, turn around, reconsider, or even rewrite your product. Especially if it is something that has been used for double digit years by millions.
That said, sometimes you must. It’s not simply for the good of your users and your product. If you don’t some small guy in a Daring Fireball T-Shirt in his basement will come along with something that has half the features but is exactly what your users were hoping to get from you.
Or, perhaps even worse, that guy will be Apple. Just about every good feature of every product that my former employer made is now right there, right now, baked into your Mac.
While CMD-clicking a link opens into it into a new tab, there’s more to this modifier key in Safari.
CMD-click a Submit button in web forms to open the resulting page in a new tab - this keeps your painstakingly filled form intact.
CMD-click the Back button to open the previous page in a new tab. CMD-Enter a URI in the address bar to quickly open new tabs with that address, and (my favorite) CMD-Enter a Google search in the window top to open the results in, yes, a new tab.
In industrialized countries the same thing happened with food in the middle of the twentieth century. As food got cheaper (or we got richer; they’re indistinguishable), eating too much started to be a bigger danger than eating too little. We’ve now reached that point with stuff. For most people, rich or poor, stuff has become a burden.
This is not Mac specific, per se, but it is an excellent summation of some of the what’s and why’s that drive what I do here. Worthwhile read.
While the majority of posts here discuss the minimalism possible in the features and appearance of your mac, I believe the same qualities to be important in the code that your applications operate from.
All macs either have an Intel or PowerPC processor, each of which require their own type of code. Many, if not most applications are now made to be “universal”, meaning both kinds of code are present so the app is compatible with both machines. However, if you’re on an Intel machine, why do you need PowerPC code taking up space on your hard drive? Why should your computer have to sift through that useless code when an application is opened?
In addition, many apps come with several language options installed. If you know you’ll never use any language but English, why keep multiple copies of the apps in all these other languages installed?
If you want to be truly minimal, check out XSlimmer. I am in no way affiliated with the company, but I use the product. I just installed iTunes 9.0.1 today, and the app size was about 150MB. I ran XSlimmer. I took out the PowerPC code, as well as the other languages available. The app is now 40MB.
There are other applications out there that serve similar functions. No matter what approach you take, look at ways to slim down code you’ll never use to approach true minimalism on your mac.
(Submitted by Evan Heckert)
I was not familiar with this app. Certainly of interest if you are on an Intel based Mac.
AlternativeTo is a new approach to finding good software. Tell us what application you want to replace and we give you suggestions on great alternatives! Instead of listing thousands of more or less crappy applications in a category, we make each application into a category. Think of it like forever evolving blog posts about good alternatives to the software that you’re not satisfied with. And the “blog posts” are generated by you through suggestions, comments and votes.
This is an interesting idea and a good way to find less bloated and inexpensive alternatives to the traditionally accepted fare.
Actually, what I am about to say might shock you but… This might be OK. I know, Mr. Minimal-Mac-Down-With-Clutter-Clean-Desktop-Full-Screen has lost his mind, right? Well, let me tell you about some people I know and love.
My beautiful Wife, Princess Bethany, has a desktop that looks not all that dissimilar from above. Not only that, but she commonly has a dozen applications open with at least twice as many windows. Nothing hidden or minimized, just all layered on top of each other. She does not use tabs in Safari, she opens new windows instead. She never uses keyboard shortcuts, not even for simple and repetitive operations. In fact, she is the exact opposite of just about everything I talk about here.
Hardest working and most productive woman I know.
Then there is my Mom. She is an Actress, Director, and a Professor at a major university. She is just about the most clutteriffic person I’ve ever seen. It is even more so when she is working on a project. She has to have everything about the project, from the script to the music to the inspirational items all laid out across the floor. It remains this way for the duration of the project. The floor becomes her “Twyla’s Box" In fact, having grown up in, and still to this day being surrounded by, those in the creative arts, I have come to find this sort of working style is not an exception but an unwritten rule.
Yet, to see one of her productions, you would swear it was executed with organized precision.
My point is, everyone is different. There is not a “right way”. The only right way is the one that works for you. For some people, like my Wife and my Mother, having a full desktop and thirty windows open may not affect you. In fact, you might be the very model of productivity and efficiency. Guess what, that is the point. You win. Bravo!
There are many of us that, are actually overwhelmed just looking at someone else working that way, let alone ourselves. Clutter is chaos and confusion and when we end up there, it is not by choice. It is because did not take the time to choose the right tools for the job. It is because we did not take the time to challenge ourselves with new ideas and better ways to work. A clean desktop and empty menubar are pointless if that makes your work harder and less productive. It is not about less being less, it is about less being more. More = Better. Better for you and better for the agreements and commitments you have made to yourself and the world. Better for your productivity and better for your peace of mind.
PlainView is an extremely minimal Safari-based web browser. It only functions in full-screen mode but also offers a complete browser experience. No toolbars or menus are ever visible, all control is done via keyboard shortcuts. The browser was originally designed for presentations but I find that it works very well when it comes to isolating the browsing experience and ensuring that it doesn’t stay as an always-open distraction, something I’ve had trouble with.
Leo makes the case for using text files for storing notes and other data for the sake of portability and simplicity. I’ve certainly made the same case here.
I do have to call out one item in his post though. He argues that, Notational Velocity stores your info in a database. While that is the default, the latest version now includes the option to store your notes as text files — which is the way I have chosen.
I was recently reminded of this gem of an article, written by Cory Doctorow, offering his favorite tips on getting writing done in our ever connected, ADD world. Love this part:
Kill your word-processor Word, Google Office and OpenOffice all come with a bewildering array of typesetting and automation settings that you can play with forever. Forget it. All that stuff is distraction, and the last thing you want is your tool second-guessing you, “correcting” your spelling, criticizing your sentence structure, and so on. The programmers who wrote your word processor type all day long, every day, and they have the power to buy or acquire any tool they can imagine for entering text into a computer. They don’t write their software with Word. They use a text-editor, like vi, Emacs, TextPad, BBEdit, Gedit, or any of a host of editors.
I guess it is “extreme measures” day here at Minimal Mac. Some of you may remember this photo that I posted a few weeks back. Well, I have heard from it’s owner and the story behind it is every bit as interesting as the picture may suggest. He actually shot it as part of a story for his own blog on how he fights the demons of distraction:
I soon came to the conclusion that it is not possible — for me at least — to creatively write sitting at the same desk, in front of the same setup where I work, read news, manage email, navigate the Web. When your main system is capable of keeping multiple applications open, it’s easy to be distracted by incoming emails and updated RSS feeds. Not to mention the temptation to search the Web by following the spur of the moment — when that happens, the best case scenario is that I find myself two hours later digesting a lot of information I found following link after link, yet without doing anything really productive
It’s a really great story and well worth the read. If you have an older machine cluttering up your surroundings, perhaps this is a better use then disposing of it otherwise…