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.
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.
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.
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)' " & (message id of _msg)
return "message://%3C" & (_msgID) & "%3E"
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.
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.
One complaint I have with Keyboard Maestro is the way passwords are handled in the clipboard history.
Clipboard entries that resemble passwords are obscured, deleted after they reach position ten in the clipboard history, and not saved to disk. You can option click on an obscured password to reveal it.
This way of handling passwords has always made me uncomfortable. I’m used to being able to exclude apps like you can in Alfred or Copied.
PopClip is a Mac utility for working with selected text. When I highlight text with my mouse or trackpad an actions menu pops up with options to do something with the text. I don’t have to right-click, it just appears automatically. And if I don’t use it, it’ll disappear when I move my mouse.
PopClip includes standard actions like copy, cut, paste, and delete. There are also extensions to get the highlighted text into some of my favorite apps. Another action I frequently use is taking highlighted text and converting it to markdown. There are over 100 extensions that can be downloaded from the PopClip download site.
The only problem with PopClip is that occasionally the menu doesn’t appear when I make a selection or I’ll sometimes accidentally dismiss it. When this happens I have to re-select the text to get the menu back again. That’s a pain. Thanks to Brett Terpstra there’s a simple script to get the menu to appear. To solve this problem, I’ve set the script to a Keyboard Maestro hotkey trigger ⌥⇧P so I can get the menu to appear anytime I want.