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.

Instapaper Mac app falls short

On November 11 Instapaper announced that a Mac app is available in the Mac App Store, thanks to Apple’s Catalyst technology. As a long-time Instapaper user, I was excited to hear this. Now that I’ve used the app for a few days it’s nothing more than a basic reader and lacks almost all the features the website and iOS apps have.

You can’t highlight text, add notes, copy text, copy article links, delete articles from the article view, and the share sheet is non-functional.

The app in its current state is useless to me. Let’s hope the developer gets the app on par with the iOS apps and website.

Thoughts on Reeder 5 and iCloud feed sync

With Reeder 5, the option to sync your RSS feed via iCloud instead of using a third-party sync service such as Feedly or Feedbin was added.

iCloud Feeds

Sync all your feeds and articles with iCloud. Reeder 5 comes with a built-in RSS/Feeds service which will keep everything in sync on all your devices. Of course, this is optional. You can still just use one of the many third-party services supported by Reeder

I wanted to try iCloud feed sync thinking I could cancel my free Feedly account. I’ll share a couple of issues that I experienced and ultimately sent me back to using the free version of Feedly. First off I found iCloud feed sync to be much slower than Feedly. In addition to being much slower often times feeds timed out and didn’t sync.

Reeder 5 supported third-party services

Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, FeedHQ, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Inoreader, BazQux Reader, and FreshRSS.

Is an iA Writer subscription coming to an App Store near you?

The two most popular markdown writing apps on Mac and iOS are iA Writer and Ulysses. Ulysses is a subscription and iA Writer is a purchase. When Ulysses went subscription many users got pissed, me included, and moved to iA Writer. I got over being pissed at Ulysses and today I use both apps.

Not surprising, iA Writer is now going to be transitioning to a subscription / paid choice (I’m guessing) with their next major update.

Here are the details:

Subscription or no subscription? That’s not the Question. – iA

Talking about subscriptions in public is a delicate matter. Apple is jealously watching what developers say. Competitors are watching and trying to get ahead of the game. Customers are watching and might get worried: What are they planning!? McKinsey suggests that you could offer both subscriptions and paid options in the transition from paid to subscription.

This is not where we are going. We believe in the choice and we want to bring the choice to buy or subscribe to all platforms. Customers like the choice, and we like it. Clearly, after seven years of offering free updates, there will be a new version of our apps at some point. And even though Apple doesn’t offer upgrade discounts, this, next to offering a choice, is exactly what we want to do. We just have to find a way around the hurdles. But we have lots of other things planned, that we can’t talk about yet. It won’t be a simple move from paid to a choice between paid and subscriptions. It will be even better.

Maybe subscriptions are not the best fit for productivity software. But, as laid out above, some do prefer subscriptions, especially if they are reasonably lower than buying the apps. In that sense, subscriptions will allow you to charge a fair price for your app and not compete in the race to the bottom. But if you offer the choice, you offer customers the opportunity to decide for themselves how they support you.

Copied clipboard manager app is back

After more than 2 years without updates, what was my favorite clipboard manager app Copied is back. I used it on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The great thing about it was that it synced across all my devices using iCloud. Not many clipboard managers do that.

With this update, it will become my main clipboard manager again. The new version 4.0 now has link previews, dark mode, Siri shortcuts, and improved compatibility across devices.

As a side note:

After I updated the app on my iPad and iPhone the Mac app version 2.0.7 stopped syncing. Frustrated, I uninstalled the Mac app and reinstalled it. To my surprise, the reinstalled app is version 4.0.0 which is compatible with the iOS and iPadOS apps. Remember to enable iCloud sync.

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.

Quick thoughts on using a Trackpad with iPadOS 13.4

Yesterday Apple released iPadOS 13.4 with advanced cursor support. I immediately downloaded 13.4 to my iPad and paired my Magic Keyboard, Trackpad and Mouse.

I’ve been using my iPad with the Trackpad for a few hours now and can say this will change how I use my iPad. One thing I will mention is that my original Magic Mouse didn’t scroll. A Magic Mouse 2 is required for full mouse support.

Now I can see an iPad replacing my MacBook Pro as my main computing device. That said, I’ll be considering a new iPad. I’m not sure which one at this point but I’ll decide after I’ve used my existing iPad with the Trackpad for awhile.

All that said, I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my workflows since a lot of what I do on my MacBook Pro involves using Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Hazel. A lot of what I do with those apps can’t be replicated on the iPad. I’m sure I’ll find ways to work around it though.

To get started, I found this 9to5 Mac YouTube video very helpful.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, iPadOS 13.4 will be released. Why am I so looking forward to this? Well, 13.4 will have advanced cursor support which means a mouse and trackpad will now work with my iPad. I’ll be trying this out and that will be a welcome diversion from worrying about COVID-19.

We have seen that with iPadOS 13, which was the first version to introduce mouse support to the iPad, but the implementation was extremely limited. This will change with iPadOS 13.4, which brings a new way to use a mouse or trackpad on the iPad.

The cursor will be a small semi-transparent circle instead of a regular pointer, which will come up only when you need it. That means once the user stops moving the cursor, it will disappear from the screen so that the focus continues on the content.

It also disappears when it is over certain interface elements, such as buttons and icons of the Dock. These elements will be highlighted with a different shape so you know the cursor is there, and you can just slide to access other options.

I think that at some point I would like to be iOS only? This may get one step closer to doing it.

Raindrop.io for bookmarks

For the last several years I’ve been using Devonthink Pro for bookmarking. With the introduction of Devonthink 3, which is a paid upgrade, I decided to look for a different bookmark app/service. Why? I didn’t want to pay the upgrade price and I wanted a truly cross-platform app. Devonthink is a great app and is a lot more than just for bookmarking but it is first and foremost a Mac app with an iOS app that is limited by comparison.

Enter Raindrop.io. I came across Raindrop.io while reviewing Federico Viticci’s My Must-Have Apps, 2019. He sums up the app quite well:

To sum up: I wanted to find an app/service that would help me save links from the web, organize them with folders or tags using a good-looking UI, and find them again with ease. Raindrop.io, which has been around for several years at this point and is in active development, ticks all these boxes: it’s a web service that comes with a desktop web app, browser extensions, and native mobile apps; links are automatically saved with rich thumbnails and descriptions extracted from the original webpage; you can organize links in collections, tag them, and choose from multiple view and sort options; you can also customize the look of a collection by choosing from thousands of icons. Here’s where it gets better and why Raindrop.io is ideal for my needs: on iOS, links open with Safari View Controller, not a custom web view; and, if you pay for the Pro version, you’ll be able to upload your own images, create nested collections, and rely on the service to find duplicate or broken links for you.

I decided to give the app a try. I’m using the free edition of the app which meets all my needs. So for now, I see no reason to pay for the Pro features. If your looking for a bookmarking app/service give Raindrop.io a try.

Spotlight on iPad

I find myself using my iPad more and more lately. That’s because I’m discovering that there are things that I do on my Mac that I can also do on my iPad. The trick is discovering that these things exist.

For example, I use Alfred on my Mac. I recently discovered that the iPad has Spotlight which I can use to do many of the things that I use Alfred for on my Mac. I use a keyboard with my iPad so I can quickly invoke Spotlight with the keyboard shortcut ⌘ + space bar.

Now here are a few things that I do with Spotlight on my iPad:

  • Launch apps
  • Search files and folders
  • Search the App Store
  • Search the web
  • Search maps