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Due to the issues I've been having with Lion Server, I'm looking at a full re-install. I've got backups (Time Machine + CrashPlan, etc.), so I'm not super worried about the reinstall.

I'd kind of like to not restore ~/Library when I restore my home directory. What do I have to be aware of when doing this? I know I'll lose application prefrences, is there anything else that I should be especially wary of?

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You lose pretty much everything that isn't stored in some data file (document, image, movie) elsewhere. A very incomplete list of what is in ~/Library:

  • Application preferences
  • Software license registrations
  • Printer, screen, and other per-user system configuration
  • Scripts for the AppleScript menu
  • Saved Searches for Spotlight
  • custom Services (e.g. created using Automator)
  • Mail plugins
  • All cached Mail data, and account information, filters, etc.
  • Safari bookmarks
  • Safari history
  • custom Color Picker plugins
  • third party application data, e.g. Firefox profiles, Thunderbird profiles, Things task lists, etc.
  • Dashboard widgets you installed
  • Fonts you installed
  • Third party context menu plugins
  • All iCal and address book data
  • Saved passwords in all applications, other keychain items
  • Dock, Launchpad, Mission Control configuration
  • configuration which programs launch on login

Notably missing from this list is everything related to Unix/command line applications like your shell, that's stored in dotfiles right in your home directory. It depends on how you restore that whether those'll be lost as well.


For all intents and purposes, you'll have a fresh user profile with (maybe) applications and saved documents moved other.

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great. Thanks for the validation. :) I'm pretty much ok with losing everything on that list. I've got my software lics in 1password, my dotfiles are in dropbox, and email/calendar etc. is in the browser. –  skarface May 5 '12 at 18:13
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