Update – Alfred or Keyboard Maestro or both

This is an update to my Alfred or Keyboard Maestro or both article that I wrote the other day.

I’m back using both Alfred and Keyboard Maestro. After using just Alfred for a few days I discovered a couple of Keyboard Maestro macros that I use that I wasn’t able to replicate in Alfred. So since I need Keyboard Maestro for them I switched back to Keyboard Maestro for all my automation.

I like the way Keyboard Maestro macros work better than Alfred workflows and as a side note, they execute much faster. I also prefer the way web searches are executed using Keyboard Maestro. It’s several keystrokes quicker.

I’ll be upgrading to version 9 very soon.

Alfred or Keyboard Maestro or both

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Alfred and Keyboard Maestro.

Alfred was one of the first apps that I discovered after moving from a PC to a Mac. I use its features many times every day.

I discovered Keyboard Maestro a little later on. Since Alfred was already ingrained in the way I used my Mac there were a lot of its features that I didn’t use. There’s a lot of feature overlap between Alfred and Keyboard Maestro. Over time I created or accumulated a couple of dozen Keyboard Maestro macros some that I used often and others that I rarely used.

When Alfred 4 came out in June I immediately upgraded without a thought. I think the cost was around $15. Today I received an email from the developer of Keyboard Maestro letting me know that version 9 is now available with lots of new features and an upgrade price of $25. But, I’m having trouble justifying the upgrade. After reviewing what’s new I’m not sure I’ll use any of the new features or actions.

So that leads me to question whether I even needed Keyboard Maestro. I figured if I could recreate my KM macros as Alfred workflows I wouldn’t need Keyboard Maestro any longer. So that’s what I did. To my surprise, I was able to create Alfred workflows that would do the same thing that my KM macros did. To be fair to Keyboard Maestro I love the app but don’t need to apps that will do the same thing. Also, my macros were just scratching the surface of what Keyboard Maestro can do.

For now I’ve stopped using Keyboard Maestro and I’m using Alfred for 100% of my automation. Folks, this is what works for me but may not be what works for you.

I wrote an update to this article. You can find it here.

 

Apple listening

I love the Mac. It’s my preferred computing device. What makes the Mac great are all the apps that increase productivity. I’m thinking about Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, PopClip, Moom, and Hazel to name a few. You won’t find these in iOS or iPadOS

So, my Mac’s are getting old. Up to today, I have been concerned with what I would replace them when the time comes?

If you care about the Mac as I do you’ll want to read Marco Arment’s article Apple is Listening. After WWDC and reading Marco’s article I’m encouraged about the future of the Mac and that I will be able to continue to enjoy the Mac and the apps that I love using.

But there has clearly been a major shift in direction for the better since early 2017, and they couldn’t be more clear now:

Apple is listening again, they’ve still got it, and the Mac is back.

The MacSparky Keyboard Maestro Field Guide

Keyboard Maestro is one of my most used Mac apps. In fact, I’ve written several articles about how I use it here on this blog.

Here are a few of those articles:

Keyboard Maestro Macro – Getting URLs from Safari
Keyboard Maestro macro for plain-text pasting anywhere
Launch your favorite Mac apps with keyboard shortcuts | Keyboard Maestro
Quickly quit all open applications at once on your Mac – Keyboard Maestro

If you’ve been thinking about getting Keyboard Maestro now would be a great time. Here’s why. David Sparks has just released his MacSparky Keyboard Maestro Field Guide. This is a great way to get started. There are over 4 hours of streaming or downloadable video, 76 separate videos, 8 separate sections, many downloadable Keyboard Maestro scripts, and lots of knowledge, tricks, and hacks to make your Mac dance.

David is offering an introductory price of $24 for a limited time. Along with the introductory price for the Field Guide the developer is also offering a limited time 20% discount for the Keyboard Maestro application.

If you don’t have the Keyboard Maestro application yet, no problem. Keyboard Maestro’s developer digs the new Field Guide so much that he is giving 20% off the purchase of the Keyboard Maestro app for a limited time to celebrate the release of the new Field Guide. Just use the offer code “KMFG” when purchasing the Keyboard Maestro application.

Getting the link for an Apple Mail Message

This post by David Sparks aka MacSparky from a couple of days ago provides an Apple Script that he uses to get links to Apple Mail messages anywhere using TextExpander.

It’s easy to understand and there’s also a video that shows you how and why you would want to use it.

After reading the post and watching the video I decided that this would be something that I would use. Only one problem. I don’t use TextExpander. So after thinking about it for a few minutes, I figured I could accomplish the same thing using a Keyboard Maestro macro.

Here’s the macro:

This Keyboard Maestro macro works the same way as David’s TextExpander snippet. Now type “;elink” in any app that can take a URL and you create a link to the currently selected email message. I’m primarily using it in Things 3 and Bear.

Here’s the AppleScript if you want to copy and paste it:

(*
  Returns a link to the first selected Apple Mail message
*)
tell application "Mail"
  set _msgs to selected messages of message viewer 0
  if (_msgs is not equal to missing value) then
    set _msg to first item of _msgs
    set _msgID to do shell script "/usr/bin/python -c 'import sys, urllib; print urllib.quote(sys.argv[1])' " & (message id of _msg)

    return "message://%3C" & (_msgID) & "%3E"
  end if
end tell

 

Modifier key order

I’ve learned a lot about the Mac from following Dr. Drang’s blog. A lot of what he talks about is over my head but some I’m able to pick up on and use in my daily workflow.

Did you know that there’s a proper order for stating the modifier keys in a keyboard shortcut? I didn’t. But I do now.

Dr. Drang explains the the proper modifier key order in stating a keyboard shortcut:

Control (⌃), Option (⌥), and Command (⌘) always go in that order. The oddball is the Shift(⇧) key, which sneaks in just in front of Command.

If you write about Mac keyboard shortcuts, as I did yesterday, you should know how to do it right. Just as there’s a proper order for adjectives in English, there’s a proper order for listing the modifier keys in a shortcut.

The order is similar to how you see them down at the bottom left of your keyboard.

The last bit of standard syntax is that the letter key in the shortcut (if there is a letter) is always presented as a capital, even when the Shift key isn’t used.

​When entering a keyboard shortcut, you’re not typing a letter, you’re pressing a set of physical keys on the keyboard in front of you. The symbols on the letter keys are capitals, so that’s the appropriate way to identify those keys.

iPad – Can it replace my Mac update

I switched to Apple products about 4 years ago. My first device was an iPhone 6 that replaced an LG Android phone. Shortly thereafter I replaced my ailing Windows PC with a late 2013 21” iMac. Next came my early 2015 13” Retina MacBook Pro. And I recently upgraded my iPhone to a 7 Plus. With this setup, I never felt the need for an iPad. In fact, I recently wrote an article Can iPad replace my laptop.

So here’s how I’ve ended up with an iPad. Several months ago a friend gave me a B&H gift card that I had actually forgotten about. After rummaging through some stuff the other day I ran across it and realized it was going to expire on October 30 which was only a few days away. Not knowing what to get I decided on an iPad. So I placed an order for a 2017 iPad 9.7” with Retina display and 128 GB storage.

I’ve been using it now for a few of days. The setup was pretty straightforward. I installed all the apps that I want on it and purchased a Speck Slim Balance Folio case for it.

Now how does this iPad fit in with my iPhone and Macs? My computing needs are pretty simple. I write, read, browse the web and manage my finances. Knowing what I do, I am sure I wouldn’t want to completely switch to an iPad. So far I like the reading and web browsing experience on the iPad is. It’s lightweight making it easier to handle than my MacBook and easier to read on than my iPhone.

Writing is not so great. My writing workflows include apps like Keyboard Maestro, Alfred, PopClip, and Marked 2 that improve my productivity. There are no apps like this for iPad. I have to jump through too many hoops to do the same things (if at all) I can do on my Mac.

Here’s the bottom line. I like having an iPad but I certainly don’t need one.