Re-thinking digital data management

I’ve been rethinking how I store my digital data. I used to keep it in plain text markdown files. More recently I have been keeping it in apps like Bear, Ulysses, or Apple Notes. I’ve never been comfortable with this method because of the lock-in. And, use I know Bear and Ulysses have export options.

To get a better idea of how people store their digital data I started a thread titled “Conflicted! Data storage – Individual files or proprietary database format?” in the MPU forums.

What I gleaned from the comments was that more people favored storing data in individual files. Several people use Devonthink or EagleFiler while others use a folder structure in Finder. The subject of finding files/search came up. HoudahSpot was mentioned a few times as a Finder search app alternative to Spotlight.

Researching HoudahSpot lead me to this blog post by Brett Terpstra.

For those of us who have shifted from folder hierarchies to search as our primary method of “filing,” Spotlight has become a way of life. And where Spotlight falls short, HoudahSpot steps in and fills the gaps. I’ve said it enough that it sounds cliché to me, but HoudahSpot really is steroids for Spotlight on macOS.

The decision I made was to go back to individual files. All my digital data is now in a shallow folder structure in Finder as individual files. I can access these files with any text editor on any platform. And searching with Alfred or HoudahSpot I can find absolutely any file I’m looking for.

How to create a reminder in the Reminders app from macOS Mail

One of the things that keeps me from using Apple’s Reminders for all my todo needs is the ability to forward an email to Reminders like I can in Things.

Well, according to Mac Geek Gab Episode 908 listener Dave, there’s a hidden and undiscoverable way to do just that. “It turns out that one can create a reminder from an email message by control clicking or right-clicking on the subject field of the email. When you do this, the contextual menu that pops up includes a share menu which contains among a few other things Reminders. Clicking anywhere else in the message will not work.”

I checked it out. It works. I found that selecting the subject then control clicking or right-clicking works better. It’s also fairly easy to add a date, time, or note to the reminder if you want to.

This also worked on iPhone and iPad for me.

Chrome 97 lets you erase all data and information a website stored on your visit

I don’t use Chrome but I know a lot of Mac users do use Chrome or a Chromium-based browser. Chrome 97 released yesterday comes with a significant Security & Privacy improvement that I want to bring to your attention.

Joe Fedewa, writing at How-To Geek

Chrome 97 makes some changes to the Privacy and Security settings. You can now delete all the data stored by a website. Previously, you could only delete individual cookies. This new setting can be found at Settings > Security and Privacy > Site Settings > View Permissions and Data Stored Across Sites.​

🖇 Search Safari open tabs from Alfred

Gabe Weatherhead, writing at MacDrifter

Lately I’m frustrated with Safari.

I typically have several Safari windows open, each with a different group of related tabs. When I want to switch to a specific tab it’s a tiny awkward dance of flipping through windows and then CMD-Shift-Backslash to open the Safari tab overview search. It’s not a great experience, especially if I have a Safari window in another space.

There’s a really nice solution to this problem with using an Alfred workflow. It’s some clever work that uses javascript to list all of the browser tabs. It also has separate triggers to search Chrome, Brave, Edge, and something called Vivaldi.

Alfred Tab Search
Alfred Tab Search

I have found this Alfred Workflow to be particularly useful when I have lots of tabs and multiple windows open. You can download the workflow here: https://github.com/epilande/alfred-browser-tabs

Uninstalling “Grammarly for Mac” app breaks “Check Spelling While Typing”

A few days ago I noticed that “Check Spelling While Typing” had stopped working on my iMac. A google search led me to these two MPU Talk forum threads:

Spell check turned off? – MPU Talk

Uninstalling Grammarly Desktop app breaks macOS spell checker – MPU Talk

If you uninstall Grammarly for Mac and the system spell check is not working in apps such as Mail or Notes, do the following:

Open Terminal and copy and paste the following:

defaults write -g NSAllowContinuousSpellChecking -bool true

Restart the affected apps (or your whole computer).

Yes, I had deleted the old Grammarly for Mac app and installed the new Grammarly Desktop app. So, I’m going to assume that’s what happened. It appears that uninstalling the new Grammarly Desktop app also breaks “Check Spelling While Typing”.

Running the terminal command fixed “Check Spelling While Typing” for me.

🖇 The ‘Zelle Fraud’ Scam: How it Works, How to Fight Back

Most major US Banks offer Zelle so I read this article in order to understand how the scam works. After reading it I realized that this scam would be very easy to fall for if you’re not aware of it. Please take a few minutes to read this article.

Brian Krebs, writing at Krebs on Security

One of the more common ways cybercriminals cash out access to bank accounts involves draining the victim’s funds via Zelle, a “peer-to-peer” (P2P) payment service used by many financial institutions that allows customers to quickly send cash to friends and family. Naturally, a great deal of phishing schemes that precede these bank account takeovers begin with a spoofed text message from the target’s bank warning about a suspicious Zelle transfer. What follows is a deep dive into how this increasingly clever Zelle fraud scam typically works, and what victims can do about it.

macOS Safari has a disappearing extensions bug

Last Wednesday I needed to log in to a website and to my surprise the Bitwarden extension had disappeared from the toolbar. I went to Safari > Preferences > Extensions to enable it again and found that it was no longer listed. Then I noticed that the Goodlinks, and Wipr Extra extensions had also disappeared. What the hell!

I emailed Bitwarden and Goodlinks support, hoping to get an answer as to why this happened and how to restore the extensions. Here are the responses that I got and how to get the extensions back:

This is posted in the Wipr FAQ:

Wipr Extra Is Missing

If you can see Wipr Part 1 2 and 3 in Safari’s Preferences under Extensions, but not Wipr Extra, you’re being bit by a bug. Safari can’t seem to reliably index Web Extensions like Wipr Extra.

Note that this affects all Web Extensions, not just Wipr, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Please complain to Apple – the more people complain, the sooner they’ll fix this.

The following Terminal command has been reported to fix the issue (at least temporarily):

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -f -R /Applications/Safari.app

I got a similar response from GoodLinks support in an email.

Hi Loren,

Could you try quitting Safari completely and running this command in Terminal?

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -f /Applications/Safari.app

If it still not work, try restarting your Mac after running that command.

Thanks,

Ngoc

I can confirm that the terminal command reinstated the missing extensions.

Mac Migration Assistant broke Alfred file search on my new M1 iMac

My attempts to resist getting a new M1 Mac failed. I’ve now taken delivery of a base model M1 24” iMac with a Touch ID Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad.

After migrating data from my old MacBook Pro to my new M1 iMac, I ran into an issue with Alfred. File Search was broken.

If this happens to you, here’s what you need to do to fix it:

First, make sure all Permissions are enabled.

Then follow the instructions in this Alfred support email sent to me by Vero:

Hi Loren,

This is an issue in macOS Monterey that affects primarily users who migrate data from another Mac. We’ve established in this forum thread that rebuilding your Mac’s index in full resolves the issue for everyone:

https://www.alfredforum.com/topic/17462-file-search-in-macos-monterey/?do=findComment&comment=90299

The first steps to follow when results seem unexpected is to rebuild your Mac’s metadata. It’s usually because the data being provided by macOS is incorrect (even if it appears correct in the current Spotlight cache), and rebuilding ensures that all this information is refreshed by the OS.

Even if you believe you’ve already reindexed, please follow the steps below specifically (as it involves deleting a cache first and ensuring Terminal has suitable permissions).

  • ******First, please pop open System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access and add Terminal**
  • Once you’ve done this, go to Alfred’s Advanced preferences, choose “Rebuild macOS Metadata”
  • ******Ensure that you check “Delete .Spotlight-V100 before reindex”**
  • Follow the steps in Terminal, and keep a close eye for any error messages relating to your index. 

Please let me know if there are any errors. Otherwise, if it proceeds smoothly, you may need to wait up to an hour for the reindex to complete. Once this is done, make your searches again and see if your results are more as expected.

If your issue persists, please provide the following information:

  • Your diagnostics file, by typing ?diagnostics into Alfred and attaching the resulting fileExamples of the File
  • Troubleshooting reports for the files you cannot find using Alfred
  • Details of exactly what you’re typing into Alfred and what results you are expecting to see

Cheers,

Vero

Using a keyboard shortcut to trigger PopClip

In September 2017, I wrote a post on how to trigger PopClip when it didn’t appear using a Keyboard Maestro macro. With the release of PopClip version 2021.11 on November 3rd you can now set a keyboard shortcut in PopClip preferences. This comes in handy when PopClip fails to appear or disappears.

Guide to using the Keyboard Shortcut trigger in PopClip – How-Tos and Guides – PopClip Forum

PopClip 2021.11 introduced a new control in the prefs, to set a keyboard shortcut. This guide explains what the keyboard shortcut does, and how to choose, set and use it.

What the keyboard shortcut does:

It is a global keyboard shortcut that triggers PopClip to appear. Being global means it will be recognised by the system in whatever app you are using.

🔗 Link Post: iOS 14.6 Battery Life Draining Issues? 8 Tips to Help

Paul Horowitz writing for OSXDaily.com:

Some iPhone and iPad users have reported that battery life is suffering after updating to iOS 14.6 on their device.

My normal practice is to wait a few days before installing OS updates. I want to see if the update is presenting any new issues. I was alerted to a possible battery issue with iOS 14.6 in a May 26th blog post by Lee Peterson. Therefore, I did a some research and found that several folks were having problems with rapid battery drain. I’m going to hold off installing 14.6 and wait for a fix.

As a side note Apple has stopped signing iOS 14.5.1, blocking downgrades from iOS 14.6 according to 9to5Mac, so this is no longer a possible workaround.

New from Bitwarden: Send

Secure one-to-one information sharing

Bitwarden has been my password manager since 1Password went subscription a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong I love 1Password but by comparison, it’s pricey. Bitwarden is free to use with Premium features for $10 a year. The free version will do everything most people need from a password manager.

This week Bitwarden introduced a cool new feature. Send for secure one-to-one information sharing. “Bitwarden Send is a lightweight utility used to share information with another person for a limited period of time. Bitwarden users can easily transmit a file or text, and rest easy knowing the sent information is protected with end-to-end encryption, and will not live forever. Users choose an expiration date for the Send link, after which it no longer works to access the information.”

“This new feature is available on all Bitwarden clients: Web Vault, mobile, browser extensions, and CLI, meaning users will always have a secure way to share sensitive information temporarily.”

About Send | Bitwarden Help & Support

Create a Send | Bitwarden Help & Support

This isn’t something that I will use all that often but it sure is good to know that Send is there for that rare occasion that I need it.

Did the Bitwarden Safari web extension disappear on your Mac?

Bitwarden Safari extension no longer works with the Bitwarden direct download application

Today I needed to login into a website so I opened Safari and went to open the Bitwarden extension and to my surprise, it wasn’t there. WTF!

Here is whats up: “Due to changes by Apple, Safari limits Web Extension use to only those obtained through Mac App Store downloads. As of the 2021-03-11 Release, users will not be able to use a Bitwarden Safari Extension obtained through a .dmg installation from bitwarden.com/download or any other non-App Store source. ”Safari Web Extension | Bitwarden Help & Support

According to Bitwarden Support Release Notes the Safari App Extension has officially been ported to a Web Extension for use with Safari 14 . Due to changes to Safari, Web Extension use is now limited to only those obtained through Mac App Store download. Release Notes | Bitwarden Help & Support

I unistalled the download version of Bitwarden and installed the Mac App Store version and all is good. A little advance notice on this issue would have been nice.

4 New things I learned today about my Mac’s Dock

I was catching up on some reading today and one of the articles that I read was Get to Know Your Mac’s Dock by Kirk McElhern. I’m not a Mac newbie but even as an experienced Mac user (sometimes considered a power user) I still learn new things all the time.

“One of the key elements you use to interact with your Mac is the Dock. You can use the Dock in many ways: you can open apps, you can open files by dragging them on icons in the Dock, you can open folders that you’ve stored in the Dock, and more.”

In Kirk’s article you will discover the many configuration options available for the Dock, and the best way to turn the Dock into a high-powered productivity booster.

The 4 things that I learned

  1. Magnification

In the early days, the Dock’s magnification was on by default; these days, now it’s off by default. When you select this setting, the Dock icons increase in size when you hover your cursor over them. This has the advantage of providing a bigger target when you drag a file to the Dock, but you may, like me, find it a distraction.

  1. Animation

The Dock preferences have a few settings for the way things animate in the Dock, or when you minimize windows by clicking the yellow button at the top left of a window or by double-clicking a window’s title bar.

  1. Add files and folders

You can also add files and folders to the right (or bottom) section of the Dock; just drag them there, to the left of the Trash icon.

  1. Click and hold menu

You’ll notice other settings in the menu that displays when you click and hold an app icon: you can have it launch at login, you can show it in the Finder, and, if you use Spaces, you can assign it to a specific desktop.

The changes I made

Previously I had the Dock on the bottom with Hide on and a smaller size than the default. Now I have the Dock on the left with Magnification on, and Genie effect Animation, and the same smaller size. I also removed a few apps that I rarely use. I’m liking my new Dock setup.

You can transfer your iCloud Photos to Google Photos

Apple has launched a service for transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos. Easy data export to a competitor? Hm! “As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple’s privacy website and sign in to see the “Transfer a copy of your data” option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your ‌iCloud‌ photos and videos to Google ‌Photos‌.”

“Transferring photos and videos from iCloud Photos does not remove the content you have stored with Apple, but it provides a backup method and stores a copy of the content on Google ‌Photos‌.” Not sure if this is something that I would use. 🤨

On another subject All of Apple’s 270 U.S. retail stores are open again in some capacity for the first time since closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic began nearly a year ago. 👏👏👏

Those of who you have been following me for a while know that I’m a fan of Fastmail. Here’s one of the reasons I use Fastmail. “Recently, “spy pixels” have been in the news, with the BBC running a story about this marketing industry practice. Fastmail has blocked spy pixels by default for years. Your information is safe with us.”

“Fastmail protects you from spy pixels and other remote images. As the world’s oldest independent email provider, we’ve been defending your privacy for over 20 years.” Take a look at the Fastmail 30 day Free trial.

Oh yeah, I got my first of two Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations last Saturday. What a relief.

A keyboard shortcut for a markdown link in Drafts – Keyboard Maestro

Lately, I’ve been doing more of my writing in Drafts. One thing that I miss is a keyboard shortcut for a markdown link. In other writing apps like iA Writer, Byword, Ulysses, and etc, ⌘K is the keyboard shortcut for a markdown link. Since I use links fairly often I miss not having it when I’m writing in Drafts.

I solved this by creating a Keyboard Maestro macro for ⌘K to insert a markdown link when I’m writing in Drafts. Now when I press ⌘K in Drafts I get the markdown link syntax []().

Here’s the macro setup:

First, you have to create a Drafts group. When you do this be sure to set Available in these applications: to Drafts.

Now the macro:

Maestral: An open-source Dropbox client for Mac

Dropbox has taken a lot of heat from users lately. They aren’t happy with the app that’s now part of the Dropbox install. Like me, most users would like to have the Finder integration only. That said, I only have a couple of Dropbox folders that I would like to have on my Mac but I don’t want them enough to have the new Dropbox app installed.

Last week macosxguru mentioned Maestral in his 2020 Review. Maestral is a light-weight and open-source Dropbox client for macOS and Linux. It uses the public Dropbox API and integrates with Finder just like Dropbox used to do. I’ve been using it for a few days and have had no issues.

If you’re interested in Maestral an app bundle is provided for macOS High Sierra and higher and can be downloaded from the Releases tab on the Maestral GitHub page.

Toggle Control Center with a keyboard shortcut in Big Sur

I installed Big Sur on my 2015 MacBook Pro the other day. One area that I wanted to customize was the menubar. There is so much blank space between the icons, it’s a gigantic waste of space and looks awful. Even after installing Bartender 4 to organize my menubar I wanted to move some items to the Control Center for better organization.

Now that I have items in the Control Center, that used to be visible in the menubar, I’ll be accessing Control Center more frequently. Rather than clicking Control Center, I wanted a keyboard shortcut to toggle it open and closed. I did this with a Keyboard Maestro macro.

Credit maxwellj02 for the apple script:

tell application "System Events"
    tell process "Control Center"
        tell menu bar item "control center" of menu bar 1
            click
        end tell
    end tell
end tell

By the way, my Big Sur install went perfectly and I haven’t had any issues.

How to get the trackpad to ignore touches while typing

Do you get frustrated with how the slightest touch of the palm of your hand or thumb on the trackpad causes the text cursor to jump to a different position when you’re typing? I have and it’s been bothering me for some time.

Here’s how I solved this problem. I turned off “Tap to click” in the Trackpad Settings. Now when I’m typing and my palm or thumb accidentally touches the trackpad the text cursor doesn’t jump to a different position. I’m guessing this setting is on by default because I don’t recall having ever turned it on.

When I’m not typing, I like having “Tap to click” turned on. Since it’s not convenient to go into Trackpad Setting to turn it on and off all the time I looked for an AppleScript that I could use to toggle it on and off.

I found this one and it works fine.

Credit: Wojtek Witkowski on Github

tell application "System Preferences"
	activate
end tell
tell application "System Events"
	tell process "System Preferences"
		delay 1
		click the menu item "Trackpad" of the menu "View" of menu bar 1
		delay 1
		click the radio button "Point & Click" of the first tab group of window "Trackpad"
		click checkbox 3 of tab group 1 of window "Trackpad"
	end tell
end tell
tell application "System Preferences"
	quit
end tell

I’m using this script in Keyboard Maestro with the hotkey ⌘+⌥+9 to toggle the setting on and off. This will also work with an Alfred Workflow.

Results of one of the largest password re-use studies ever

Last month a Turkish student Ata Hakçıl studying computer engineering at the University of Cyprus did one of the largest password re-use studies ever. He analyzed more than 1 billion-plus leaked credentials from data breaches at various companies. These data dumps have been around for several years, and have been piling up as new companies are getting hacked.

Out of the 1 Billion credentials, 168,919,919 were passwords. The most common password 123456 was spotted 7 million times per billion credentials. The average password length was 9.5 characters and 87.96% of passwords didn’t contain special characters. And 34.41% of all passwords end with digits, but only 4.522% of all passwords start with digits.

Cool Stats

  • From 1.000.000.000+ lines of dumps, 257.669.588 were filtered as either corrupt data(gibberish in improper format) or test accounts.
  • 1 Billion credentials boil down to 168.919.919 passwords, and 393.386.953 usernames.
  • Most common password is 123456. It covers roughly 0.722% of all the passwords. (Around 7 million times per billion)
  • Most common 1000 passwords cover 6.607% of all the passwords.
  • With most common 1 million passwords, hit-rate is at 36.28%, and with most common 10 million passwords hit rate is at 54.00%.
  • Average password length is 9.4822 characters.
  • 12.04% of passwords contain special characters.
  • 28.79% of passwords are letters only.
  • 26.16% of passwords are lowercase only.
  • 13.37% of passwords are numbers only.
  • 34.41% of all passwords end with digits, but only 4.522% of all passwords start with digits.

Here’s my takeaway from this:

  1. Massive amounts of people need to start using a password manager. This would allow for longer and more complex passwords and eliminate the need to re-use them.
  2. Only 12.89% of passwords contain special characters and only 4.52% of passwords start with a digit. So pick a password that starts with a number and includes special characters to avoid brute forcers.

If you’re not using a password manager then get started now. I’m using is Bitwarden. Bitwarden is open source, simple to use and best of all it’s FREE.

If you would like to see if any of your passwords have been breached you can check them at HaveIBenPwned.

Three finger swipe to undo

I had been writing an article in Ulysses for the last couple of days and was just about done with it. Last evening while lying in bed I was reviewing it on my iPhone and I noticed something that I wanted to change. So I selected the change and deleted it. Unknowingly I had somehow selected the text of the entire article and everything I had written was gone. Ah Shit!

I couldn’t figure out a way to get what I’d written back. I checked for a Ulysses backup but to my surprise, Ulysses doesn’t backup external files and folders and the article was in a Dropbox folder. Next, I tried a google search for a Ulysses undo action and again no luck. So at this point, everything that I’d written was gone.

This morning I was listening to an episode of Accidental Tech Podcast and Casey Liss happened to mention three-finger swipe for undo. I don’t remember in what context he mentioned it but it sure got my attention. I immediately thought I wish I had known this yesterday. It would have saved my ass.

Here’s how it works. Swipe left with three fingers on the active app to undo your last actions. To redo your last action, swipe right with three fingers. This works on iOS and iPadOS.

The Sweet Setup has a good article on text formatting gestures that you can find it here.