Beauty & Pain of Nuke and Pave

I just a completed a nuke and pave on my MBP and a reinstall of MacOS and selected apps (more on this below). I did so because I was having trouble accessing subscription management on the App Store on the MBP. That issue was not resolved so I have sent an 800mb file to Apple engineers. I expect to hear something Tuesday evening.

But, this gave me the excuse to start with a “clean Mac.” The “beauty” is that I’ve cleaned out any crud and had a good excuse to curate my apps before deciding what apps to install. The pain, even with everything backed up in the cloud, is that it takes hours to rebuild from scratch by downloading everything fresh. This includes re-adding all of my replace text snippets. I did not want to restore any apps or settings. I wanted to start fresh.

Now, the pain part was/is being very selective with what apps to install with the goal of keeping the number of apps to a minimum. So, with that said, here are the apps I’ve elected to install (in addition to the Apple stock apps).

  • 1 Password (no brainer)
  • Spark (I used Apple Mail all of last year but the feature set in Spark is fantastic and ones that I’ll use constantly so I have decided to make it my default)
  • Dropbox (to sync my Scrivener files)
  • Scrivener (for all writing projects–short and long)
  • Hemmingway Editor (replaces grammarly)
  • PDFExpert
  • PDFPen Pro (don’t like the app but I sometimes need OCR)
  • ScanSnap Home
  • Logos Bible
  • DEVONThink
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Xthoughts (Prefer MindNode but not willing to pay a subscription)
  • Brave browser (backup as needed for Safari)

Apps I decided NOT to reinstall:

  • Fantastical (I like it but just can’t bring myself to justify $40/year for a calendar app)
  • Alfred (I only used it for the snippet features. I’ll miss those but I’ve created snippets in Apple Notes–takes minimum effort to cut and paste what I need and Spark has templates so that covers a lot of territory for me)
  • MindNode (I prefer MindNode over iThoughts but I’m not willing to pay a subscription)
  • Downie 3
  • Copied
  • Drafts (I was only using it to compose drafts of emails)
  • Bartender (with minimum apps, there is little need to manage my menu)
  • CardHop (nice app but the stock app works just fine)
  • Weather app (I can check the weather on my phone, iPad, and watch)
  • MS Onedrive
  • OmniOutliner (Scrivener has an excellent outlining feature as does Xthoughts)
  • OmniGraffle (I used it perhaps once very 16-18 months)
  • Day One
  • ExpressVPN (I travel with the iPad Pro so I only need it on the iPad and iPhone)
  • Mac Updater (I can update apps with a utility)

This means that I have only 14 apps that are not Apple stock apps. I think/hope I can do with these to get my work done. I use Asana for major project and task management. Asana is a web based application so nothing to install.


As you know I am on the verge of this too. I am sorry your issue is still not resolved @Bmosbacker.
I have to say I still suspect an extra copy of keychain somewhere? However a nuke and pave should have resolved even that! Unless it exists on the cloud somewhere? I don’t understand it well enough to go further even at a guess.

However this is exactly the kind of list I am making for my new Mac which I will start from clean.

Essentials for me too are down to a small number 15, 14 if I exclude barender which I am in two minds about. I priced them too. I might have missed one or two. I had TextExpander and don’t need it. I use Keyboard Maestro for the small number of snippets I have. I only have about 50 macros but they are mission critical and makes the app worth four times its cost to me.

Like you I am not sure now that I need bartender. Mellel is maybe disposable too. I like to have it around for now though. There might be something I missed. I doubt if I will reload ‘Duplicate Detective’, Caffeine and one or two like that. I had BBEdit at one time and that was the only time I had a shortage of space on my menu bar and why I got bartender I think in the first place. I am used to the lay-out and feel of the menu bar it gives me though so I might keep it for now?

I was interested to see you write everything in Scrivener. I might try it again one day. For now I like Ulysses and other apps I then transfer too. DEVONthink now has excellent notetaker too: I can use it 100% from the keyboard now.
The only app I consider pricey, including subscription ones, is Final Draft but I have zero choice concerning that one. Having said that the total for apps is way under under $1000 even if I had to pay out at once. I doubt if I pay more than $300 per annum on apps including averaged out upgrades? I haven’t costed it and might do so just out of interest regarding the endless controversy about subs and so on.

  • BackBlaze $90 SUBSCRIPTION every two years

  • Lastpass $12 a year SUBSCRIPTION

  • Launch Bar $30

  • DevonThink $150

  • KeyCue $20

  • Keyboard Maestro $40?

  • CleanMyMac 3 $40?

  • LaTeX suite

  • Texpad $40?

  • Bartender $?

  • Ulysses $39 per annum SUBSCRIPTION

  • Mellel $40?

  • Zotero

  • Libre office

  • Final Draft $200+

I have no idea what is causing the App Store problem but surely an Apple engineer can figure it out for me—way above my pay grade. :slight_smile:

Your app list also look minimal. I like Ulysses but Scrivener has no subscription and can be as robust or simple as one needs. I can set the editor default to plain text, markdown, rich text, etc. I also like the built in outliner. The killer feature for me is that I can import mind maps and Scrivener will make each node and sub-node a chapter, section, etc. Scrivener has pretty much everything one could need in a writing app. The editor is just as distraction free as Ulysses.

Let me know how your nuke and pave goes! :slight_smile:


Thanks I should give Scrivener another chance someday. I do have a licence. Sometimes one misses, by overload, some good apps. At that time I think I was also learning DEVONthink and some others and it was overwhelming. I didn’t give the app a fair shake. I hear nothing but good about it from folk I trust actually. Do you use LaTeX just out of interest? Or have you ever rather?

To be honest, I really don’t know what LaTeX is, though I see it often referenced. I’ve not taken time to check it out. If it is for bibliographies, I use Papers 3.

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Lyx is looking pretty good these days. I look forward to giving it a good long look when I have time.

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Another one down too! I started having problems with Launchbar tonight. I gave up and turned that keyboard shortcut over to a Keyboard Maestro palette. It seems to be doing pretty much all I was really using Launchbar for anyway. I might give Alfred a try. Would you recommend?

LaTeX is a thing of beauty, the creation of Donald Knuth who we are in debt to. I am not going to recommend it as such. It is not at all clear how much I ‘need’ it now myself. It is a labour of love in a way. It has a steep learning curve really if I am honest. I am a very non power user of it. It is however a classic of some kind. I don’t know how to classify it really maybe somebody can help me. It has a dedicated group of people who sort of maintain it too who are like the folk here: helpful and really decent.

I’ll post something more meaningful about this later, but I got a chuckle so I wanted to write. You have kept both PDF Expert and PDFPenPro for the same reason I have. I enjoy and vastly prefer PDF Expert, but I had to pay for an upgrade to PDFPenPro just to ensure I had a PDF tool with OCR capabilities. The scriptability is helpful because I have all my e-mail attachments automatically saved and ocr’d w/ PDFPenPro.

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I never managed to like LyX. I use either TexPad or Sublime Text/Atom (can’t decide which one I like more).

Indeed! It is a shame that PDF Expert does not have OCR capability. I’m a bit perplexed as to why it doesn’t. I’m guessing the cost to license the software would significantly increase the cost of PDF Expert, which probably explains why PDFPen Pro is so expensive. PDFPen Pro would not be half bad if they would redesign the UI. I have always found it confusing.

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I must say that my MBP is loading from a cold start or a restart much faster. It also seems in general to be operating faster. This is probably due to having fewer apps loading at start and the elimination of crud that accumulated over several years. While a pain, I’m glad I did the nuke and pave.


You’re probably aware - DEVONthink has Abbyy’s OCR builtin. (Not to be confused with Abba.)
Not sure if the PDF has to be “in” the database, or if it works on indexed files too.
It could be a simple matter of sending a PDF to DT, then putting it where you want it to live after the OCR has happened.
If it works on indexed files, you could index a folder (OCR_Me), drop a PDF in for a while, then move it where you want.

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Thanks John. Yes, I’m aware that DT can OCR documents, which is great. But, it is easier to open a PDF that has been emailed to me in PDFPen to OCR it than to move it to DT, OCR, and back out again. At least I find it easier. :slight_smile:

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Thanks John, I will look at that one too. I wasn’t really aware of LyX, I had heard of it but I didn’t know what it was really. Launchbar seems to have got real glitchy and I don’t think there is much work being done on it. I might be wrong. I don’t do a lot with LaTeX now: it is a kind of labour of love to use it and it does produce a nice finish still.

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If you just need OCR capabilities but don’t feel like paying for an expensive PDF application there are a couple good FOSS CLI options. I use OCRmyPDF and after messing with it in terminal figured out the recipe I like turned it into an Automator quick action and I use it in finder. I haven’t found any issues with it.

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So while I’m at this, I’ve made another decision to simplify. I’ve moved my essential DevonThink documents–a very large number!–to Finder or the Notes app. I’ve decided that I can accomplish what I need with Finder and Notes without the overhead of DT. I am also utilizing tags as part of this process. DT is an excellent application but it adds complexity for me, especially since I have only been using it as a repository for documents. Moving everything to iCloud in Finder does not increase storage usage since everything in DT was backed up in iCloud anyway. I’m feeling like a minimalist. :slight_smile:


@Bmosbacker In looking through your list, I’ll have to check out Hemmingway Editor, does it not need a subscription? Also can’t remember what I have for mindmapping but I don’t use it enough to warent paying for a subscription. I agree with you about not installing Fantastical, it’s features are vast but not for my use case. I could use Alfred more but often use it as a spotlight replacement and I like the UI. I’m wondering if the Apple Notes app can replace Drafts for me though I’m a sucker for good UI and design…ugh.

@TudorEynon I love Ulysses as well and it’s going to be hard to get rid of that, still going back and forth on it. Any tips to make Keyboard Maestro more useful? It’s really overwhelming.

OK. I have found the 3 version a big improvement, I use the notetaker, which I can now do from the keyboard which matters a lot to me, all the time now. It was becoming just a repository for me too though. I understand your decision. I still find DEVONthink 3 worth the money though. I like the minimalism and I am extending that to other parts of my life frankly to great benefit. I am interested in your approach. I did replace Launchbar though with Alfred which I much prefer.

Hemmingway Editor does not require a subscription but note that it only has a Mac version.

As to Drafts verses Apple Notes, it depends on how you are using Drafts and Notes. I use Apple Notes for ALL notes and have a lot because I’m in a lot of meetings. :slight_smile: I take both typed and handwritten notes in Apple Notes. If you are using Drafts to take notes, then I believe there are advantages to using Apple Notes instead. BUT, if you are using Drafts as a means of taking actions on the text then Drafts is the better option. So, for me, Apple Notes for all notes. I use the free version of Drafts for only one purpose—drafting sensitive, lengthy emails that I want to make certain are right before I put them in my email client. When ready, I send the draft email to my email client and archive the draft in Drafts.

I hope that helps!

I also think DT is worth the money and version 3 is much better. But, the nuke and pave gave me the opportunity to assess my use—which was exclusively a repository for documents, quotes, etc. I realized that I can use Apple Notes as a repository for my quotation “database” and use Finder to store and retrieve documents without the overhead of DT. My needs are relatively simple and DT is far more than I need.

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