Launch your favorite Mac apps with keyboard shortcuts | Keyboard Maestro

By using keyboard shortcuts to launch apps on my Mac, I can cut back on mouse or trackpad usage to perform actions faster and more efficiently. In fact, the Dock on both my Macs is hidden. I launch all my most popular apps using keyboard shortcuts.

I’ve created my keyboard shortcuts using Keyboard Maestro. Within Keyboard Maestro I have a Group called Launch Apps. All my app launcher macros live there. Here’s how to create the app launcher macro:

Repeat this for all the apps that you would like to launch using a keyboard shortcut.

If you create the macro the way I have, the hotkey will also show/hide the app once launched.

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Recent Items 4.2 for Alfred 3

If you’re not familiar with Alfred, Alfred 3 for Mac is an award-winning app for which boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more.

Recents is an Alfred workflow triggered by the rec keyword. This opens up the navigation menu shown in the screenshot below where I can select a category to narrow down my search of recent items. The available options are Now (for the most recently accessed files), Folders, Applications, Documents, Downloads, and Favorites.

I use this instead of using Finder or the Recent Items menu to find recently used files, folders, documents, applications etc. I find this much quicker as all my recent items are in one place.

The download link for the workflow is here.

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Keyboard Maestro macro for plain-text pasting anywhere

I discovered the plain text paste Keyboard Maestro macro on tjlouma’s GitHub page.

Here’s what it does:

  1. Remove any formatting from the clipboard.
  2. Inserts the clipboard text by typing.

Here are a few of the scenarios when this comes in handy:

  • any time you want to ‘paste’ text but do not wanted any formatting kept
  • any time you are faced with a text field that does not respond to a ⌘ + V (paste) command
  • any time you need to enter a phone number into one of those stupid web-forms that uses three different fields for a phone number (area code + prefix + suffix) where you can’t use ‘paste’ because it will put all of the digits into the first box

I use this keyboard shortcut almost every day. I use it when I know I don’t want formatting and am not sure if where I’m pasting will keep the formatting or not. I use it to login into websites or apps that don’t allow pasting. For example you can’t login into an encrypted disk image by pasting. It’s not allowed. So instead of typing your password copy it to the clipboard and past it in using ⌥V.

You can download the Keyboard Maestro macro here, courtesy of tjlouma at Github. tjlouma has a bunch of other Keyboard Maestro macros available on his Github account as well.

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I’ve gone paperless

No more filing cabinets no more bankers boxes full of paper. I now keep my bills, medical and insurance paperwork, bank statements, etc. digitally.

For first 30 days, I ran paperless while maintaining my paper workflow. Once convinced going paperless was going to work I started the great purge of my old documents.

Here are the tools in my paperless workflow:

I use the scanner that is part of my older Canon printer. It’s slow but it works for me. If you don’t have a scanner check out the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Mobile Document Scanner . It comes highly recommended. I also have Scanner Pro by Readdle. on my iPhone.

My scanner doesn’t have OCR capabilities so I needed a way to OCR my scans. For this I chose PDFpen. PDFpen besides its OCR capabilities is also a great pdf reader and editor. If you’re not familiar with OCR here is what it does. It converts an image of the text to text that is searchable by computers and computer software like Hazel, Spotlight, and Alfred.

Hazel is the program I use to automatically name and organize my files according to rules I’ve created.

After I scan my documents I destroy the originals with a cross cut shredder.

The Great Purge:

I processed my backlog of documents this way. I went through all my old documents and organized them into three groups scan and keep, scan and shred, and shred. With that complete, I reached the point of doing the actual shredding. There was no way I was going to be able to shred 18 boxes of paper with my little shredder. So I called a local mobile shredding service and had them come to the house and do the shredding. It took just 15 minutes and I was able to watch all my get shredded.

Here’s my paperless workflow:

Now every incoming piece of paper goes into the inbox pile on my desk. All digital documents go into the Inbox folder on my Mac. Every Friday I go through both inboxes and process all the documents using the tools in my paperless tool in my paperless workflow.

Here are a couple of recommendations if you are thinking about going paperless. Read Zachary Sexton article Think going paperless is hard work? Think again. Here’s how I showed my 56-year-old dad go paperless. Zachary’s article got the ball rolling for me. For a more in-depth guide check out The MacSparky Paperless Field Guide by David Sparks.

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Privacy Tip – How to know when your Mac’s webcam or microphone is spying on you.

If you are like me and stick a piece of tape over your Macs webcam then Objective-See’s Oversight is for you.

Once installed, Oversight sits in your menu bar and runs in the background monitoring your Mac’s mic and webcam, alerting you when the internal mic is activated, or whenever a process accesses your webcam.

The developer of Oversight explains why a tool like Oversight might be beneficial to you:

One of the most insidious actions of malware, is abusing the audio and video capabilities of an infected host to record an unknowing user. Macs, of course, are not immune; malware such as OSX/FruitFly, OSX/Crisis, OSX/Mokes, and others, all attempt to spy on Mac users. OverSight constantly monitors a system, alerting a user whenever the internal microphone is activated, or the built-in webcam is accessed. And yes, while the webcam’s LED will turn on whenever a session is initially started, new research has shown that malware can surreptitious piggyback into such existing sessions (FaceTime, Sykpe, Google Hangouts, etc.) and record both audio and video – without fear of detection.

I run Oversight on both my Macs. You can download and get more information about Oversight here. Oh yes, and by the way it’s free so there’s no reason to not install Oversight to better protect your privacy.

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My Dilemma With Better Touch Tool

I’ve only been using Better Touch Tool for a little over a month. In that time I’ve created a small number of gestures. The primary ones are for managing windows on my desktop. Prior to using BTT I was managing windows with Magnet. Magnet uses hotkeys to manage windows rather than gestures.

Here’s my dilemma. Would I rather use hotkeys or gestures to manage windows? Either way, you have to remember a gesture or a hotkey. After using both my preference is remembering and using hotkeys.

I’m a die hard Alfred and Keyboard Maestro user so using hotkeys fits my workflow better. The other advantage to using Magnet is the menubar drop down in case I forget a hotkey.

The other thing I find myself doing with BTT is accidentally executing a gesture. I have a gesture setup to quit an app. I’ve accidentally executed that while working in Safari with several tabs open. What a pain! This is less likely to happen using hotkeys.

After mulling this over for a bit I’m going to manage windows with Magnet and use BTT to trigger a few of my most used keyboard shortcuts.

As for my long term use of BTT? Well, the jury is still out.

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Backing up Pinboard bookmarks

I recently moved all my bookmarks to Pinboard. So far my experience has been beyond my expectations. But, I started to wonder what would happen, to my bookmarks, if something were to happen to the service. Even though Pinboard has been around since 2009 I decided I should have a backup of all my bookmarks.

Here’s how I do it:

I open Pinboard in Safari and go to settings > backup > click the HTML format option and a pinboard-export.txt file is downloaded to my Downloads folder. I then have a Hazel rule which renames the file, gives it an .html extension and moves it to my Pinboard Backups folder in Dropbox. Changing the extension to .html makes all the bookmarks clickable links. I do this every Friday.

This way I always have access to my bookmarks outside of Pinboard if I need them.

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Moving read later to Pinboard – No more Pocket – No more Instapaper

I’ve used read later services since around 2012. In the past, I’ve kept my bookmarks in Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote, Notes, Bear, and sometimes a combination of the above. I was never happy with any one system until I moved all my bookmarks to Pinboard.

I’m a recent convert to Pinboard. My move to Pinboard was influenced by Brett Terpstra, the developer of nvALT and Marked, and Gabe Weatherhead of MacDrifter. They spoke so highly of Pinboard that I wanted to give it a go. I went all in with the archiving account.

Since I moved all my bookmarks to Pinboard I started to wonder if I still needed Instapaper? The answer. No.

I now save all my read later to Pinboard. There is a healthy ecosystem of apps around the Pinboard service, as a read later solutions. I use Readkit on my Mac and Pinner on my iPhone for managing my bookmarks and reading later. After reading an article I delete it or if I want to keep it I mark it read and add the appropriate tag(s).

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