🔗 Link Post: From TextExpander to Keyboard Maestro again

Another great Keyboard Maestro macro from Dr. Drang. I haven’t been using my MacBook Pro lately, but I definitely wanted to be sure that I have this macro in my toolbox in if I switch back from my iPad. It was straightforward to put together following Dr. Drang’s instructions included in the article.

Dr. Drang writing for And now all this:

After a good bit of thinking, I canceled my TextExpander subscription today. This is not the first time I’ve left TextExpander—I dropped it when Smile first adopted a subscription payment model about five years ago, and stayed away even when Smile listened to the complaints and lowered the subscription price.

[…]

So I’m back to using Keyboard Maestro as my snippet expansion tool. It works well, and I didn’t have to do too much work to switch over. In a rare display of forethought, I didn’t delete my snippet macros. I had merely disabled them when I started using TextExpander again—now I just had to re-enable them.

[…]

And I decided to tackle the one big advantage TextExpander had over Keyboard Maestro: the ability to make a new snippet quickly. By combining AppleScript with Keyboard Maestro itself, I now have a way to make a KM snippet out of what’s on the clipboard.

For example, let’s say I’m writing a report about products made by Mxyzptlk Industries. To make a snippet for that name, I copy it to the clipboard and invoke my new Make Temporary Snippet from Clipboard macro. That brings up this window, where I can define the trigger (I chose “;mi”) and adjust the expansion if necessary. After clicking OK, I have a new snippet in my Snippet – Temporary group.

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:

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

Every year towards the end of December I evaluate the apps that I’ve been using and what I will use for the next year. I find that writing this out helps me better evaluate the apps that best fit my workflows. Once I complete my evaluation, I summarize it in a post on this blog.

Another reason for this post is that visitors are always asking me which apps I use for specific tasks. To keep from repeating myself over and over, here’s the list of apps that I use.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro early–2015 13” (soon to be replaced with a MacBook Air M1/8gb)
  • iPhone 11
  • iPad 5th Generation (which I rarely use these days)
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Table of Contents

Web

Safari – Safari is my browser of choice. I use Wipr with Safari to block ads, trackers, cryptocurrency miners, and other annoyances.

As we all know some websites don’t play nice with Safari. In those situations I use Firefox.

Communication

Fastmail – I’ve been using Fastmail for email ever since I left Gmail over 6 years ago. I also use it for calendar, and contacts.

Fastmail has an iOS app, that I use, but none for the Mac so I use the Fastmate app which is a native Fastmail-wrapper.

Messages – Messages is how I communicate with family and friends.

Calendar and Tasks

Fantastical 3 – Fantastical is my calendar and task app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events and Apple Reminders tasks.

Reading

Reeder – Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds. Anything that I want to read I save to Instapaper for reading later.

Twitter – Twitter is for news and the feeds for apps that I use.

Writing

Drafts 5 – I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s the launching-off point for text for me. I use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services.

iA Writer – iA Writer is my current writing app of choice. For preview I use Marked 2 side by side with iA Writer. Everything that I write goes through Grammarly for proofreading grammar and spelling.

Apple Notes – Notes that I want to keep long-term go in the Notes app.

Utilities / Productivity

Bitwarden – Gotta have a password manager.

Alfred – Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it.

Keyboard Maestro – Keyboard Maestro is another app that I can’t live without it. I use it for keyboard shortcuts, launching apps, opening files and folders and automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do amazing things. I’ve written about Keyboard Maestro here.

PopClip – I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Hazel – Hazel watches whatever folders I tell it to, automatically organizing my files according to the rules that I’ve created.

Yoink – Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Dropzone – Dropzone makes it easy to copy or move files to my favorite folders, open applications and uploading files to the Internet right from your menu bar.

App Cleaner – AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you drag the app icon to the trash.

Moom – I use Moom for window management.

Witch – Witch is my app switcher.

Bartender 4 – Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat – ScreenFloat is my app for taking screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN – TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and for web browsing privacy.

PCalc – PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

 

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.

Back to a MacBook

I wrote a while back about going iPad first when iPadOS 13 was released with keyboard and trackpad support. I had turned my 2015 MacBook Pro (MBP) off and put in a drawer to never be turned on again hoping this would work out.

Well, it lasted about 60 days and then I got my MBP out of the drawer it had been sitting in, turned it back on and slowly started transitioning back to my it.

The trouble with iPad was that I spent more time fighting it than loving. It was just too hard to get things done as fast and efficiently as I can on my MBP. I have so many automations with Alfred, PopClip, Keyboard Maestro, and Hazel that make doing things on the Mac so fast and easy that just can’t be duplicated on the iPad. So, I gave it up.

In fact, I’m not sure that I even need or want an iPad. A couple of weeks ago I put it in the same drawer that I had put my MBP in and didn’t even miss it. I found that between my MBP and iPhone 11 I can do all that I need or want to do.

All that said, I just finished watching Apple’s One More Thing event where they introduced the new Apple Silicon 13” MacBook Air, 13” MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with the new M1 chip. These devices are incredible and what I’ve been waiting for. I’ll be ordering a new MacBook Air as soon as I decided whether to get 8 or 16 GB of unified memory.

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.

My 2020 Must-Have Mac, iPhone, and iPad Apps

Each year towards the end of December I summarize in a post, on this site, the Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps that I will be using for the next year. This is always one of my most popular posts.

This year instead of a separate article for Mac apps and another for iPhone and iPad apps I’m putting them all in one article. I indicate in parenthesis under the app title where I’m using the app Mac, iPhone or iPad.

During 2019 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to and others I tried, didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. I hope you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro (early–2015 13”)
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPad 5th Generation
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Safari is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS. I use Firefox when a site doesn’t play nice with it.

Enpass
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Gotta have a password manager.

Fastmail
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been using Fastmail for email for over 5 years. A few weeks ago I also started using it for calendar, and contacts. On my iPhone and iPad, I use the Fastmail app. Unfortunately, Fastmail doesn’t have a Mac app but with Unite I turned the Fastmail web client into a native Mac app. I’ve written about Fastmail here.

Fantastical 2
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Fantastical is my calendar app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events.

Things 3
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I use Things 3 for task management. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote about it here.

Due
(iPhone and iPad)
Due is where I keep all my reminders.

Drafts 5
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s my multi-purpose writing and note-taking app. I often use it as the first stop for most everything I write and then use Drafts actions to send what I’ve written anywhere I want to. I’ve written about how I use Drafts here.

Bear
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’ve been a Bear pro user since the inception of the app. It’s where I keep all my notes and lists. For now, it’s also where I’m doing my writing. And for plain text I use iA Writer on my Mac and 1Writer on my iPhone and iPad.

Marked 2
(Mac)
Marked is the markdown previewer app I use side by side with my writing app.

Grammarly
(Mac and iPad)
I use Grammarly for proofreading my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Yoink
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Copied
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Reeder
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Pocket
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
I’m now using Pocket instead of Instapaper for reading later. I wrote about why I switched here.

Tweetbot
(iPhone and iPad)
Tweetbot is for Twitter.

Day One Journal
(iPhone and iPad)
Day One is where I keep a lifelog.

Alfred
(Mac)
Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it. I’ve written about it here.

Keyboard Maestro
(Mac)
Keyboard Maestro is another app that I couldn’t live without it. I use Keyboard Maestro keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, open files and folders and automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do some amazing things. I’ve written about Keyboard Maestro here.

Dropbox
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
Dropbox is where I keep files that I want to have available on all my devices. It’s also where syncing happens for apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Due.

PDFpen and Hazel are key apps for my paperless workflow. I’ve written about my paperless workflow here.

Scanner Pro
(iPhone and iPad)
Scanner Pro is also part of my paperless workflow. I use it to scan paper documents into PDFs with OCR that look clean and professional.

App Cleaner
(Mac)
AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.

Moom
(Mac)
I use Moom for window management on my Mac.

Witch
(Mac)
Witch is my Mac app switcher.

PopClip
(Mac)
I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Bartender 3
(Mac)
Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat
(Mac)
ScreenFloat is my app for taking screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

PCalc
(Mac, iPhone, and iPad)
PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

Apple Activity app
I use the Activity app with my Apple Watch to track all my daily activities.

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

I wrote an update August 22, 2019 to this article. You can find it here.

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.

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.