Picture for me, if you will…
Six months have passed since you began your journey as an empowered user.
Your Text Expander game has gotten serious. After shelling out $5 for aText you’ve got a few dozen snippets in your library. You haven’t typed a salutation or sign off in your emails in weeks and your colleagues marvel at the impecable degree symbol at the end of your complaint about the 100˚ weather.
You’re on the cusp of buying the Alfred Power Pack because you haven’t had to go through JSTOR or EBSCOhost homepages to do a search ever since you built yourself 15 custom searches for your research.
Your work life is kush because you’ve got libraries of snippets, searches, and other automations brining you electronic coconuts and fanning you with digital palm fronds. Life is sweet.
And then a bear destroys your computer. It happens.
They’re all gone. All your beautiful automations.
A moment of silence please.
It’s not that big a deal these days, though. Your contacts are synced with iCloud or Google, your important files are on Dropbox, and your passwords were all in the cloud to begin with. But what about your snippets? Your Searches? Your macros? Dear lord what about the macros?!
Well, if you didn’t sync your app data like a pro, then you’re doomed to the power user’s hell. You’ll type abbreviations and gawk slackjawed as the cursor blinks and your snippet fail expand. Shortcuts that once launched your whole work set up result in nothing but the taunting ‘pop’ of the MacOS error sound.
Where is Data Stored?
Your snippets, macros, etc. as well as the preferences you set are typically stored in your “Application Support” folder (User/Library/Application Support/). If you don’t use a service like Time Machine, then this folder—and therefore all your automations—will be lost in a bear attack event.
Odds are, you’ve never visited your Application Support Folder. For that matter, you may not even know that there is such a folder called “Library”. That’s because it’s hidden on MacOS by default. If you’ve got the Empowered User mindset, then this kind of secrecy is not going to fly, so consider revealing it and taking a look around.
To reveal the Library directory, open Finder and navigate to your “Home” folder, then bring up the view options either by hitting ⌘J or selecting from the menu “View > Show View Options”. At the bottom will be a checkbox for “Show Library Folder”. Click it and watch your Library folder spring into existence.
Taking Ownership of Your App Data
To secure your precious automations, you’re going to create your own folder specifically for storing data for apps that are important to you.
This is a fantastic opportunity to take even more control of your digital life and take another step in your journey. You just need to summon up a little bit of confidence and as always trust in your ability to follow directions and make changes.
Creating Your App Data Folder
This guide assumes you use some sort of desktop cloud storage service like Dropbox, Google Drive Backup and Sync from Google, Box, or iCloud. No matter what service you use, just make sure you have it set to sync regularly.
Create a folder in your Drobox or Drive or wherever, and name it something like “App Data”.
This folder will serve from now on as the homebase for your app data. This will give you maximum control and security going forward as well as add to your sense of ownership over your computer.
Syncing Your Apps
There is no universal setting, but most apps are similar. I’ll show you a few examples so you can get a sense of what to look for.
Search in an App’s Preferences
Most applications will have a preference where in you can designate where it will read and write its date. It’s just a matter of finding that prefence and directing it to your app folder.
I’ve accidently wiped my whole computer…more than once. The fact that I chose early on to move not just my important personal and work files as well as my app data made these wipes mere inconveniences. I don’t enjoy the couple hours it takes to get back to normal, but because things are backed up, I’m safe from losing anything of substance.
A core part of the empowered user’s journey is ownership. You must own your data, and that extends beyond your music and word docs, to the very data that powers your personalizations. Once you sync up your data, you’ve effectively peeled back another layer from the shroud of impenetrability of your technology.