A few words about customization

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Elsewhere at Macworld, I’ve written a feature on customizing your Mac, with an assortment of tips and tricks for enhancing your system or boosting your productivity. I thought I’d use this Hints post to offer a few cautionary words about tweaking your computer.

Generally speaking, your OS X-based Mac is a robust beast. It will put up with quite a bit before it gives up, but there are some things you should avoid doing to keep it at its happiest.

  • Back up. Back up. Back up. By far, the single most important thing you can do is back up your system—especially if you’re going to be applying tweaks to customize it! Use SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the system, or at worst, make sure you back up all your important photos, music, and documents to another drive. Nothing I covered in my customization article is dangerous, but there’s always the chance something could go wrong. If it does, and you don’t have a backup, you’ll be very upset.
  • Don’t change your user’s home folder name. By clicking on your user’s home folder—the one that matches your short name—you’ll see that OS X will let you rename it. Don’t be tempted; leave it alone! If you do rename it, the next time you log in, the system will create a brand new user account for you, and you’ll think you lost everything! (If you ever want to change your short user name on purpose, Macworld’s Dan Frakes has a tool called ChangeShortName to do so in a graceful manner.)
  • Leave the System folder alone. You may be tempted to move some files into or out of the System folder. Don’t do it! Leave the System folder alone, as it’s what enables your machine to run.

Following these simple rules should stave off any customization-related woes—not to mention angry e-mails to your faithful correspondent.

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