Something Terrifying and Satisfying

There is something so satisfying about a well-laid plan working out as expected and paying off. Let me tell you a tale of mystery, loss, and recovery…

This morning I noticed something strange in my Mac, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at the moment and was busy with several (early) meetings so it slipped my mind and I carried on.

Then this afternoon after lunch I noticed that my clipboard history was empty and wasn’t saving new items when I was trying to run a Shortcut to share my availability with a vendor for a meeting tomorrow. Perplexed, I opened Alfred (the app I use for my clipboard history) to see if everything was working correctly and noticed that the clipboard history feature was disabled. I think, “Well, that’s odd but, whatever, that is an easy fix I will enable it.” When I tried to enable it I was prompted to activate my PowerPack license. Still, I wasn’t overly concerned, more curious, I went to recover my license key in 1Password and reactivated Alfred PowerPack figuring that would be the end of it. So to test that everything was working I tried to invoke the shortcut I use to call up my clipboard history and nothing happened…

I reopened Alfred and checked the clipboard history settings, the shortcut was set back to the default. In fact, when I looked closer, all the settings for this option were the default. I checked other preferences and found that all the settings were back to defaults and all the Workflows that I’ve gathered and used were gone as well. My stomach went cold for a second as I tried to recall what might have happened. I opened the Alfred preference file in Finder and checked the created date… it was *today* and the Workflow folder was empty.

My head was spinning for a moment as it went through the realization that somehow the Alfred Application Folder had been deleted and reset like a factory reset. I hunted to see if I had somehow saved the preferences in another location and forgot that I did that (it wouldn’t be the first time that had happened), but couldn’t find anything. I began to fear that I wouldn’t *ever* find the files and preferences that were lost.

I went through a mini-version of denial, thinking that maybe this would be a good excuse to try out RayCast which everyone had been talking about but I had been resisting because “I’m really invested in Alfred and have everything setup the way that I want” but that was suddenly no longer a reason. I started to try and think if I had saved the various links to useful Workflows that I had gathered for the past few years in a Read-Later tool or if I might have an older backup of my Alfred Preference file from when I moved things over from my old Mac to my current one that could be used to rebuild what I’d lost.

Then the thought of “backup” triggered something in my mind and I remembered that in the middle of last year, I had purchased the Transcend JetDrive to put in the unused card reader slot of my MacBook Pro and set up Time Machine! It had been silently jugging along things the whole time and upon checking the backups I saw several to be found from today. I suddenly felt so relieved because I knew I would just have to go back to it before my Alfred folder suddenly wiped itself out (I still have no idea why it did it either).

After a brief side adventure to get to the Application Support folder from within Time Machine, which I’d never tried to do before, I was able to scroll back through the backups until the missing files were showing again and I brought them back from the past into the present to restore Alfred to its former glory. Then I just sat back and had this immense feeling of satisfaction at the past Chris that took the time to setup Time Machine and left it running all this time so that current Chris could use it to bail me out.

(I realize that this is basically a classic story of “why backups are good and you should do them” but the feeling of happiness, relief, and satisfaction that I felt at the end of this small emotional roller coaster was too great for me not to share; besides no one in my family would understand or care why I was so excited by what you just read.)

Categorized as Blog

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