Tuesday, July 08, 2008

OS X Troubleshooting Feature I'd Like to See

Truth be told, I rarely have problems on my system that I can't fix pretty readily—barring some complete failure by the programming department at Apple or the software author. I pay attention to the tech-news sites and forums so I read what troubles others might be having with their system or particular apps. Should the time come when similar troubles pop up for me, I usually remember reading something about them. I can go back and find the articles or forum threads and see if they apply to the troubles I'm having. I also know I can count on people here, there and everywhere to offer suggestions, input, and full-on fix-it tutorials.

But there are those times where even the most savvy among us could use a little help that can't be found readily. It's something so basic that I can't believe it's not already a function of the OS UI.

Here's what I'd like to see:
• EVERY application that gets installed should create a simple text file that logs where EVERY file associated with that application gets installed. That text file should include a title and metadata/keywords that denote exactly what application version/build it is documenting and a precise date & time stamp detailing when the files it documents were installed.
• In cases where the application itself doesn't generate this text file—say, in the instances where one simply writes a folder or file to the hard drive—the OS should create one.
• When the time comes for troubleshooting, often we are required to drag files to the trash or elsewhere, so that we can let the application rebuild them, or in preparation for installing fresh or new versions of the helper file. It sure would be nice if there was an easy way to make note of the file's location on the hard drive before we move it. That way, if we want to put it back, we know exactly where it should go (click on thumbnail below to see full size mock-up of what this might look like).

Picture hosted by Pixentral ⇒ Now, say we have moved a number of files to the Trash, or to a temporary folder on the desktop while we're in the process of troubleshooting. If we have recorded the file location to each file's "Get Info" box, we'd know exactly where to return them to in the event that replacing or rebuilding them didn't help solve the problem we're having. Further, perhaps there could be a widget next to the "Recorded file location" field that could be clicked to return each file to its original location.

With the exception of the new, additional field in the "Get Info" box, I might imagine that much of what I propose could be accomplished through AppleScripting or through Terminal commands. And yes, I know that many apps write install logs, and that there are utilities like AppZapper which will remove applications and the files associated with them. But, does it grab ALL associated files? I'm not entirely sure if it does. Let's assume that AppZapper does grab all associated files. Completely removing an app is all well and good, but what if you just want to perform some troubleshooting, and it involves deleting or moving just a few files? Putting the files back where they belong can be very important. The way I perform this now is that I manually grab the file path by using Bare Bones Software's "Super Get Info" utility, which I then paste into the Spotlight Comments field in the "Get Info box". These types of functions ought to be incorporated into the OS in a user-friendly GUI.

1 comment:

pendolino said...

great idea. make sure you send the suggestion to apple directly.