Never be more than 5 minutes away from your computer setup

Since I'm without my own computer tonight, I borrowed one and remarked on twitter that I love that I can pretty easily recreate my laptop's basic setup with tools I use anyway. These few easy steps mean that at best I can be ultra portable if need be and save myself from a disaster in the worst case scenario.

1Password + Dropbox

I store all of my passwords (and application keys, as well as other important information) in 1password (Mac and Windows only, sorry Linux friends :{ ). 1password has a neat feature where they allow you to backup your passwords with Dropbox so it can be used with things like the 1password mobile app, but a lesser-known feature is that you can also access this from the web.

Once you have it backing up to Dropbox, log in to Dropbox on the web and navigate to the 1password.agilekeychain folder (this should be in the top level directory). Inside of that is an 1password.html file which you can open. Enter your 1password master password and you have access to everything as if you were using the desktop app or browser shortcut!

Chrome Sync

I setup Chrome Sync a few months ago to be able to use Chrome Mobile on my phone. It's neat because it allows me to open tabs on my phone that are open on my computer, which is great when I find a recipe but don't want to put my laptop in danger in the kitchen. I just tap the little sync icon on the new tab screen and choose the open tab on my computer i want to reopen on my phone.

In addition to that, it also allows you to syn tabs, bookmarks, history, and passwords (if you store them in Chrome) across computers. Just open up chrome and login to your google account; it'll ask you if you want to use this computer as one to sync to and a few moments later your bookmarks bar, extensions, passwords, and history are all loaded. Clicking into a new tab, you'll see the "other devices" menu that let's you open the tabs from any other computer or device that you are logged into.


You'll find that many developers highly customize their coding environments to get it just the way they like them. Thankfully for many command line programs (this may also be true of GUI editors, but I'm not the best person to ask), you can take those settings with you.  I put all of my dot files (programs like bash and vim store their settings in files named .[program name]rc or similar) in a repo up on github so I can easily pull them down no matter where I am and be able to recreate my environment very quickly. This keeps me from floundering trying to use someone else's setup or the default settings (and also from wasting a bunch of time trying to remember my settings from memory).

Additionally, I keep all of my current projects in either Github or Bitbucket, so I don't have to worry about losing my work or being on a machine with out-of-date changes. Just clone a repo locally and get back to work.


  • If you're running OS X and you get a lot of software through the App Store, logging into the App Store with your credentials means you can also grab any necessary software without having to dig out license keys and such. There is a tab in the App Store for previous purchases, so you can quickly find anything you may have installed somewhere else.
  • Since many of the applications I use on a regular basis also have a web component, I don't have to worry about being without things like my preferred mail setup, calendar, documents, etc.

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