The First 3 Apps I Install on a New Mac

Yesterday, I finished replacing the hard drive in my wife’s Macbook (which I also use at home) and reinstalled Mac OS X Lion. [BTW, if you ever need to do the same, bookmark these two articles on downloading the Lion Installer from the Mac App Store and creating a bootable flash drive.] So, last night, I had a fresh, clean installation of Lion.

I’m 99% sure that I heard Dan Benjamin describe this same set-up on the Back to Work podcast, but I’ll go ahead and say that I was doing it already, which I doubt is true. On a brand new Mac, here are the first programs I install, before I do anything else.

  1. Dropbox: Partly because Dropbox is awesome, partly because Dropbox can store/sync the data for the next two apps, and partly because I can simply save to Dropbox any files I want to transfer from my old computer and — voilà! — they appear on my new computer. (FYI — use this link to sign up for Dropbox and I get some additional storage. Yay!)
  2. 1Password: If you don’t have 1Password, you need to get it. How many passwords do you have to use or remember? What about account logins? Credit card numbers? Software licenses? 1Password stores all of that for me, plus allows me to access it from my browser or my phone, plus generates new passwords for me when I need them. And, because 1Password syncs via Dropbox, all of my passwords show up automatically on my new computer. (App Store link, iPhone app)
  3. TextExpander: If you’re like me, there are things that you type over and over and over again — your name, your phone number, your email signature, the generic response to someone who wants you to do something, and so on. TextExpander lets you create shortcuts so that you don’t have to type all that out. Over the years, the app has also added some great features. I use TextExpander so much that I often find myself trying to use my typing shortcuts while I’m writing longhand. And, just like with 1Password, TextExpander syncs through Dropbox, which means that all of my saved text expansions show up on my new computer. (App Store link, iPhone app)

After that, I have started following Dan Benjamin’s advice and only install applications as I need them. That way, I don’t carry over from my old computer any obsolete programs, apps I used to use for old job functions that I don’t do anymore, or other stuff that’s just been laying around.

How to Back Up Your WordPress Website, Automagically!

I maintain several WordPress-based websites, all of which are, well, important to me, including this one, and it would seriously stink if something happened to any of them. Jason Tarasi posted a great how-to at with easy instructions for backing up a WordPress blog using the uber-simple WP-DB-Backup plug-in. I installed the plug-in, and my WordPress installations started emailing me daily copies of their databases. Awesome.

But what to do with these backup copies? Well, I have a Dropbox account (that’s my referral link) that I can use for safekeeping. Dropbox is a great app that lets you synch files and folders on your hard drive with an online file-sharing service, even keeping files synched across multiple computers if you want. You can share files and folders with others, so, for example, your wife and you could use it to work on your Christmas letter. Each time one of you made a change, it would be synched across all computers. It’s great for larger documents or things that are more complicated than Google Docs can handle.

So I have a place to store my WordPress backups, but I don’t really want to manually save the new backups every time they arrive. How could I make this process automatic and invisible?

After several failed attempts, here’s the process I created. Continue reading