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

The new Fantastical 3 offers a free version

I started using Fantastical in 2014. I have it on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac and in my opinion, it is the best calendar app out there.

With Version 3 Fantastical has gone to a subscription business model. I know, another subscription. But I think Flexibits has handled the transition well. They have taken care of existing users as well as offering a free version. If you have always wanted to try Fantastical now is the time.

Another benefit of a subscription is a free version of Fantastical. That’s right, we now have a free version of Fantastical. It’s basic, but if your needs are simply to look over your schedule, add the occasional event using the famous and magical Fantastical parser, then you will be quite happy.

Now for those of us who have been using Fantastical. Do we have to move to the subscription model? The answer is no.

And what about our existing customers who bought our apps in the past years to get us to this point? Some have called us crazy, but we call it doing the right thing. All of the features from your prior purchase of Fantastical 2 will continue to work with the new Fantastical. That’s right: your new apps will automagically detect your existing purchase and provide a special unlock of the features you already paid for. This means you will continue to get bug fixes and support for some time to come, too.

This means existing users like myself will be able to use the free version but with all the features that we’ve already paid for.

I’m not going to write a review here but if you would like to learn more take a look at the articles listed below.

Fantastical 3 steps out of Apple’s shadow – Six Colors

Fantastical 3 Review: The Best Calendar App Just Got Better

Fantastical Field Guide | MacSparky Field Guides

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.

Drafts for Mac now supports actions

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.

This week Agile Tortoise released Drafts 16 for Mac which now supports actions and multi-window. This makes me very happy. With the addition of actions, I can now use Drafts on my Mac just like I do on my iPhone and iPad.

Actions!

The full power of Drafts actions, previously only available on the iOS version, are now available for Mac! Integrate with many popular apps and services, and manipulate your drafts and text with scripted actions!

If you use the iOS version, all your existing actions will automatically sync to the Mac. If not, a default set of actions will be configured.

Actions are available through the action pane to the right of the main window, via the “Actions” menu, or the Action Bar 19.

Back to Dropbox after a short stint with iCloud Drive

Along with being done with Apple Notes, I’m also done with iCloud Drive. After updating to iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 iCloud sync is a mess.

I should have never moved from Dropbox to iCloud in the first place but I did based the recommendation of the same folks that were singing the praises of Apple Notes. Well, I’ve never had an issue with Dropbox and I’ve used it since it was released in 2008. You know the old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. I should pay more attention to that saying in the future. So last night I moved all my files out of iCloud and back into Dropbox.

Fastmail now lets you snooze emails

Those of you that follow my blog will remember that I replaced Gmail with Fastmail several years ago and have never looked back. Up to now, I have been using Fastmail IMAP in Apple Mail on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Now I’m using the official Fastmail app on my iPhone and iPad and Fastmail’s webmail on my MacBook Pro so that I can take advantage of snoozing emails. So far I’m very happy with the Fastmail apps.

As a quick side note, I used Unite 2 to create a native Fastmail Mac app. This works out really well since Fastmail doesn’t offer an app for Mac.

If you would like to try Fastmail use this link to get a 30 day free trial and a 10% discount for the first year.

Switched to Pocket from Instapaper

Over the last few months, I have become increasingly frustrated with Instapaper as my read later app.

Here’s why. I read a lot of how-to articles and right now is a prime time for that sort of thing with all the articles about iOS 13 and iPadOS and soon macOS Catalina. These articles typically use images for illustration. For me, the illustrations add a lot to my understanding of what I’m reading.

So, here’s my rub with Instapaper. The majority of the time images are missing in articles. Because they are missing I then have to open the article in Safari and then switch to reader view. This is a waste of time. Unfortunately, Instapaper has never done a good job handling images and videos.

Having used Pocket in the past I know that it does do a good job handling images and videos. And, If by chance images are missing in an article I can switch to web view right within the app. No need to go to Safari. I also prefer Pocket’s tags to Instapaper’s folders for organization.

As a side note Pocket is now part of Mozilla and since taking it over they have removed sponsored ads from lists in the free version of Pocket. They also just released Pocket for Safari extension for Safari 13.

Overall I’m finding Pocket to be a much better experience.

Drafts 5 special subscription offer

I’m going to do a 1 year subscription to Drafts 5. Under normal circumstances, I would continue using the free version because that’s all I need. But today the developer posted a tweet with a special offer that I’m interested in.

Now through the end of the day tomorrow, Sept. 18, 2019, all proceeds from new Drafts Pro subscriptions will be donated to support the @_RelayFM St. Jude Fundraiser. Details:. I’ve been thinking about donating but as of yet I haven’t done so. This is a perfect way to do it. I get Drafts Pro for 12 months and the developer is donating the proceeds of my purchase to the RelayFM St. Jude Fundraiser. That sounds like a win-win to me.

Thanks to Greg Pierce for this great offer.

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.

Brett Terpstra and nvUltra

It sounds like the successor to nvALT is finally on its way. According to Brett, it is codenamed nvUltra. The final name to be determined later.

You can sign up for the email list, and get notifications and beta access as it comes out by signing at the bottom of Brett’s post over on his website.

Codename: nvUltra – BrettTerpstra.com

You’ve been hearing from me for years about BitWriter, the nvALT replacement I was working on with David Halter. Well, I failed at my part, then we lost touch, and it never came to fruition. Now that my health is back to working state, I attempted to pick the project back up. Turned out David was MIA (hopefully ok), and the code I was left with no longer compiled on the latest operating systems. Seemed like it might be time to let go.

Then I heard from Fletcher Penney. You know, the guy who created MultiMarkdown, and who develops my favorite Markdown editor, MultiMarkdown Composer. He was working on a similar project and invited me to join him on it. Now we have an app nearing beta stage that’s better than any modal notes app you’ve used. Code name: nvUltra.

Moom for Mac window management

The other day, I bought Moom after trying the free trial for about an hour. It’s an amazing Mac app for managing windows. As a side note, I’d tried it several times before but gave up on it because I found getting started confusing.

Before Moom, I was bouncing back a forth between Better Touch Tool and Magnet. I wasn’t really happy with either one and was looking for a replacement. This time around I was determined to understand how Moom works. So, after installing it I did a search for getting started with Moom. I came across this video Wrangle Your Windows with Moom by Kevin Yank that does a great job of explaining how to set up and use it.

If you’re looking for a way to manage windows on your Mac you ought to download the Moom trial and get started by watching Kevin Yank’s video. You’ll be glad you did.

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

 

How to View Folder Sizes on Mac Using Finder

I don’t often need to know the size of a folder but when I did I didn’t know how to find the size until recently.

When you use Finder’s List view to work with files on your Mac, the Size column tells you the size of each file, but when it comes to folders in the list, Finder just shows a couple of dashes instead.

Here’s how to view the size of a folder. Click File in the menu bar and hold the Option key, and Get Info will turn into Show Inspector. Unlike a Get Info panel, the Inspector panel is dynamically updated and will always display information for the active Finder window’s currently selected file or folder – including, of course, its size.

iOS 12 keyboard trackpad on iPhone or iPad

Having a trackpad on my iPhone and iPad comes in really handy for moving the cursor around in a document versus trying to tap the cursor where I want it.

If you’re not using the trackpad feature you should give it a try. Here’s how:

If your device has 3D Touch – which includes most iPhones since 2015’s iPhone 6s – you can hard press the keyboard whenever it’s present onscreen, turning it into a makeshift trackpad. If you have an iPhone SE or iPhone XR with iOS 12 -both of which lack 3D Touch -you can now long-press the spacebar to invoke the same trackpad.

Via appleinsider

How to close other tabs in Safari on Mac

Sometimes I have several tabs open in Safari when I’m searching for something to write about. When I’ve settled on something I often want to close all the other open tabs. Rather than closing each tab individually, I do the following:

  1. Right-click (or Control+Click) on the tab I want to keep open
  2. Choose “Close Other Tabs” to instantly close all the other open tabs

File Quick View with Alfred

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I’m a big fan of Alfred. I use it all the time for finding and opening files. One thing I didn’t know though is that when searching files you can do a Quick View. In the past, I’ve always opened the file in the appropriate app to view it. With Alfred Quick View I can press ⇧ or ⌘Y to bring up a quick view of the file. This is a nice time saver.

Credit to Lee Garrett: Quick View with Alfred

 

Switching between multiple open windows in the same application

Switching between multiple open windows in the same application has always been a pain point for me. Go to Window in the application Menu Bar and then select the window I want from the list of open windows. Or right click on the application in the Dock and select the window from list of open windows.

I just learned that there’s an easier way. Use the keyboard shortcut ⌘ + Tilde to quickly switch between open windows in the same application. So, for example, there are times when I have several Safari windows open at the same time. I can quickly sort through them with this keyboard shortcut.

Next time you have several windows open in the same application give it a try.