GitHub dotfiles

Originally written on January 6, 2013

I work across a couple of computers for development; a Mac Pro at work, and a Macbook Air at home. For the most part, I've kept my development environments similar, but I recently ran into a problem where my work computer died and I needed to transfer everything to a new Mac Pro. Enter GitHub dotfiles.

Dotfiles to the rescue!

Dotfiles provide a way to backup, restore and sync various programs in your toolbox. Things like OS user settings, terminal settings, or keyboard shortcuts can all be backed up and saved on GitHub. You might not think you need to back up all your user settings now, but trust me, it's worth it if something unexpected happens. When I started up my new computer, I simply downloaded my most commonly used apps and entered a couple of commands from my dotfiles into the terminal, and I was up and running! Manually setting up those settings might have otherwise taken hours, and I still would've probably forgotten something. This is handy in and of itself, but the great thing about GitHub's dotfiles is the community. You can fork anybody's dotfiles and use theirs as a base (I personally forked Mathias Bynens' dotfiles and customized from there). If you work off of multiple computers, and even if you don't--you should be backing up your dotfiles. You never know when they might come in handy!*

Jan 18, 2020: This continues to ring true; since this post was first written, I've gone through two personal laptops and one work laptop, and my dotfiles have saved me hours of setup time. My personal dotfiles can be found here:, and an up-to-date account of what I am using currently can be found here: Uses.