I've just encountered a situation where, for the first time since I started designing, I am switching from one desktop to another with a completely new OS (Win 8.1 instead of Win 7) and will be required to "start fresh", as it were.

Do you all, as graphic designers, have specific tools or procedures that would be useful to know for porting over all of your custom fonts, brushes, presets, workspaces, palettes, and everything else? Are there any systems in place that allow for you to install and hit the ground running as fast as possible?

I'm currently using Adobe CS 5.5 (likely upgrading to CC) along with a number of fonts I've downloaded over the past year.

  • 6
    This is not a good answer, so leaving it as a comment, but I actually don't carry over. I start fresh--including tools and fonts. I find it breaks habits I have fallen into subconsciously ("oh, look, I'm using the same typeface in every logo I create" kind of habits.)
    – DA01
    Dec 18, 2014 at 17:30
  • 2
    @DA01 It's a good comment, though :)
    – Vincent
    Dec 18, 2014 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


Everything you listed could be accessed or stored:

  • Workspaces: Go to ~/Library/Preferences/Adobe Software/Version X.0/en_us/Workspaces to find your saved workspace
  • custom fonts: server software exists, such as Universal Type Client, that can be linked to all computers on the network and allows you to turn on and turn off fonts.
  • swatches: save them out and store them on a server or where you store the client project. I try to always save the color palette used for a project so if someone else needs to work on the project they have everything and can import it in
  • brushes: can be stored and import the brush you need for the project

Everything you talk about can be added to a NAS (Network Attached Storage) and you could simply add what you need. If you're not implementing a NAS they are a great tool for backups (hopefully not storing files locally).

A NAS I use personally: Synology DS414 or if you're a little computer savy and have a computer with 4gb of RAM you could try FreeNAS.

If you can't afford a NAS solution then simply use an external HDD. Some network routers that have a USB connection will allow for an external HDD to be mounted. I would store your files such as:


If you are looking for a file structure hierarchy you could do:

Client Name

Since you mentioned you want to get into scripting and going towards CC check out how to do custom scripts in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. You can even do a few searches for custom scripts or ways to increase productivity. I enjoy writing my own scripts for InDesign and I'm using ExtendScript Toolkit that comes with CC.

  • Thanks Matt. Although I like DA01's comment and @Scott's answer, yours is probably closest to technically answering the question I've asked. I'll mark it correct. It's interesting to note that there does seem to be a fair amount of manual labour involved (which was why I posed the question in the first place). I, for one, have not done enough design work where I feel the need to start fresh, so bringing the things I've already created over to a new system would actually save me some frustration, I think. Dec 18, 2014 at 18:44
  • @armadadrive its only manual if you make it manual, you can easily (with sufficent base skills info easier than manual) write a batch script that does that does this to you.
    – joojaa
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:31
  • @joojaa Hmm... I come from a programming background, but have never investigated scripting. I'll hit up Google! Dec 19, 2014 at 13:15
  • 1
    @armadadrive if you're going to be running windows and want to use bash look up Cygwin Dec 19, 2014 at 13:48

The only items I move from an old system are:

  • Fonts. Fonts can be costly and are required when called upon by a client to edit a previous piece.
  • Client/Billing app database
  • Email database
  • A notes app and it's database (contains important passwords, registration numbers, etc.)

Beyond that, I install the OS fresh. I install all apps fresh and do not move any app preferences or custom items. As @DA01 commented, this encourages new directions and exploration. Not only giving the OS a fresh start but hopefully infusing the work with some of that freshy goodness.

Custom brushes, presets, workspaces, etc can all be recreated if desired. And in recreating items I may do a better job or find a different "tweak" that aides in workflow.

It should be noted that I always run a file/OS separation. My apps and OS are on one drive and everything else is on other drives. So there's never a need to move actual design files anywhere.

(Small rant: Be aware that with Adobe's CC subscription it means you need to re-download all apps. S0, for me, that's 12GB of download. It's not anywhere near as easy and nice as pulling out a DVD and installing apps in 30 minutes. And, you need to download again each time you need to reinstall an Adobe app. The subscription is horrible in this respect -- along with a few other reasons.)

  • My biggest reason for moving to CC is that my current install of CS5.5 was a volume installer and license key given to me by my former company. I still do design work for them part-time, but it will be a hassle to get someone with credentials in to get me those licenses again since I was the "tech" guy in the office prior to my departure ;) Dec 18, 2014 at 18:42
  • Sounds like a hornet's nest. My main point about the CC subscription is to be aware of the bandwidth you'll need and allow for the time it'll take to download everything.
    – Scott
    Dec 18, 2014 at 18:47
  • I also have an 80Mb/s fiber connection at home, so large downloads don't pose as much of a pain to me as they used to. Dec 18, 2014 at 18:49

Whether you want to do this or not, the way you are supposed to do this is just merge your old home folder into the new one. That is why these kinds of support files are in your home folder. There is an app that does this on new Macs, and likely there is a Windows app for this also, either built-in or 3rd party. Ideally, your identity would move from the old computer to new along with the home folder.

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