How I use Alfred for text expansion on my Mac

This is Part 3 of how I use Alfred.

There are a number of text expansion apps available for the Mac the most popular being TextExpander. I considered it but the monthly subscription was a deal breaker for me. I also didn’t need anything that powerful. All I needed was basic text expansion and sync across both my Macs. After exploring several alternatives I settled on using the text expansion feature that was already a part of the Alfred app.

Alfred’s text expansion feature allows me to quickly type out frequently used snippets of text, my email addresses, my name, my phone number, my address, markdown syntax, special keyboard symbols (⌘, ⌥, ⇧), the date and time, and more with a short keyword. For example, I can type ,ddate and get the current date or I can type ,rwr and get “Run, walk, run miles @MAF” which is a text snippet I use for logging my runs in Garmin Connect. Text expansion is all about saving time and increasing productivity.

To learn more check out these Alfred articles:

There’s one thing in Bear app that really bugs me

Last September I wrote about making a permanent move from nvALT to Bear for notes and lists. Since then I have gone all in with Bear. The first year of my Pro subscription was up in December and I renewed it for another year without hesitation.

Now I’m experimenting with Bear as my app for writing blog posts and other short-form writing projects. This may or may not last but for now, it’s what I’m doing.

But, there’s one thing that really bugs me.

In markdown compatibility mode using the double asterisk syntax or ⌘B for bold at the beginning of a line inserts a line separator. It’s really irritating. This happens in both the iOS and macOS versions of the app. This is not a new bug. It’s been around for as long as I can remember.

I have reported this twice. It’s still not fixed. I know Shiny Frog knows about it because Shiny Frog has acknowledged my bug reports and I’ve seen complaints about it on Twitter.

Please Shiny Frog, when will this bug get fixed?

How to permanently zoom specific websites in Safari on macOS

Sometimes websites that I regularly visit have a font that’s so small my aging eyes have difficulty reading it. Safari 11 for Mac has a nice feature that lets me set a permanent zoom level for those websites. Now, the next time I visit the site it’s already zoomed to the level I need for easy reading. Safari does this automatically, but the zoom can also be controlled from Safari Preferences Safari > Preferences > Websites > Page Zoom. You’ll see all the websites that are open, and those that are already configured (if you’ve already changed the zoom).

Web Finds for February 1, 2018

Web Finds are from my web surfing travels. You’ll find some unique and informative news, apps and websites that you may have never known existed. Enjoy!

Agenda – A new take on Notes
Agenda for Mac is a date-focused note taking app for planning and documenting your projects. With its unique timeline, Agenda gives you a complete picture of past, present and future, driving your projects forward. The notes in Agenda are beautifully styled, and include powerful features like tags, lists, and links. You can even connect your notes to events in your calendar. Agenda Review by Mac Stories.

Scoop: Apple delays iOS features to focus on reliability, performance
Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned.

Software head Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month, shortly before he and some top lieutenants headed to a company offsite.
Via Axios

Apple Said to Release New Entry-Level 13-inch MacBook This Year, Likely Replacing MacBook Air
Apple plans to release a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook in the second half of 2018, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. The report claims General Interface Solution (GIS) is expected to win more LCD display orders from Apple for the planned new model, after it began supplying the modules for existing MacBooks in the fourth quarter of last year.
Via MacRumors

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Team Up to Disrupt Health Care
Three corporate behemoths — Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase — announced on Tuesday that they would form an independent health care company for their employees in the United States.

The alliance was a sign of just how frustrated American businesses are with the state of the nation’s health care system and the rapidly spiraling cost of medical treatment. It also caused further turmoil in an industry reeling from attempts by new players to attack a notoriously inefficient, intractable web of doctors, hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies.
Via The New York Times

Strava Fitness App Can Reveal Military Sites, Analysts Say
A fitness app that posts a map of its users’ activity has unwittingly revealed the locations and habits of military bases and personnel, including those of American forces in Iraq and Syria, security analysts say.

The app, Strava, which calls itself “the social network for athletes,” allows millions of users to time and map their workouts and to post them online for friends to see, and it can track their movements at other times. The app is especially popular with young people who are serious about fitness, which describes many service members.
Via The New York Times

Previous Web Finds are here.

How I’m using Alfred as a clipboard manager on my Mac

This is Part 2 of how I use Alfred on my Mac.

There are times when I need to go back to something that I copied to the clipboard and use it again. The macOS clipboard only holds my most recently copied item. So in order to go back to something I need to have a clipboard manager that holds my history.

On my Mac, I use Alfred’s built-in Clipboard Manager. It’s really handy and easy to use. My viewer hotkey set to ⌥⌘C. So all I have to do is type my hotkey and the viewer pops up with my history ready for me to select what I need. If my list is fairly long I can either scroll the list or do a search for what I’m looking for.

One of the things I like about Alfred is the ability to clear items from the history. I have mine set to clear an item after it has been in history for 24 hours. That helps keep my history cleaned up. If I want to clear the history before the 24 hours I can clear my clipboard history by typing “clear” in Alfred’s main search box and choosing whether I want to erase the last 5 minutes, 15 minutes or all of Alfred’s history. By default, Alfred ignores popular password applications like the macOS Keychain Access and 1Password, so that you don’t inadvertently copy a password to your clipboard.

I also have Copied which is a more advanced clipboard manager. Since Alfred is Mac only I use it to copy items between my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I could use Copied in place of Alfred on my Mac but I prefer the quick access and simplicity of Alfred.

To learn more you can check out these Alfred articles:

“This Is Serious”: Facebook Begins Its Downward Spiral

Nick Bilton, writing for Vanity Fair

There’s another theory floating around as to why Facebook cares so much about the way it’s impacting the world, and it’s one that I happen to agree with. When Zuckerberg looks into his big-data crystal ball, he can see a troublesome trend occurring. A few years ago, for example, there wasn’t a single person I knew who didn’t have Facebook on their smartphone. These days, it’s the opposite. This is largely anecdotal, but almost everyone I know has deleted at least one social app from their devices. And Facebook is almost always the first to go. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other sneaky privacy-piercing applications are being removed by people who simply feel icky about what these platforms are doing to them, and to society.

And then there’s the main reason I think people are abandoning these platforms: Facebook knows us better than we know ourselves, with its algorithms that can predict if we’re going to cheat on our spouse, start looking for a new job, or buy a new water bottle on Amazon in a few weeks. It knows how to send us the exact right number of pop-ups to get our endorphins going, or not show us how many Likes we really have to set off our insecurities. As a society, we feel like we’re at war with a computer algorithm, and the only winning move is not to play.

Facebook only cares about Facebook not it’s users. I’m happy to see folks are starting to delete their Facebook accounts.

Web Finds for January 24, 2018

Web Finds are from my web surfing travels. You’ll find some unique and informative news, apps and websites that you may have never known existed. Enjoy!

How Bill Gates limits tech use for his kids
For all his success in designing world-changing technology, Bill Gates has set surprisingly strict rules for how his kids can use that technology, the billionaire philanthropist has said in multiple interviews.

Each of Gates’ three kids — ages 15, 18, and 21 — has grown up in a home that forbade cell phones until age 14, banned cell-phone use at the dinner table, and set limits on how close to bedtime kids could use their phones.
Via Business Insider

Apple plans $350 billion boost to u.s. economy over 5 years, 20,000 new jobs, and a new campus
Cupertino, California — Apple today announced a new set of investments to build on its commitment to support the American economy and its workforce, concentrated in three areas where Apple has had the greatest impact on job creation: direct employment by Apple, spending and investment with Apple’s domestic suppliers and manufacturers, and fueling the fast-growing app economy which Apple created with iPhone and the App Store. Apple is already responsible for creating and supporting over 2 million jobs across the United States and expects to generate even more jobs as a result of the initiatives being announced today.

Combining new investments and Apple’s current pace of spending with domestic suppliers and manufacturers — an estimated $55 billion for 2018 — Apple’s direct contribution to the US economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years, not including Apple’s ongoing tax payments, the tax revenues generated from employees’ wages and the sale of Apple products.
Via Apple Press Release

On rumors of the iPhone X only being produced for one year
This would not be the first time an iPhone flagship model didn’t stick around for a second year. In 2013, Apple introduced the iPhone 5S to replace the iPhone 5, and also introduced the iPhone 5C to occupy the second pricing tier. The iPhone 5 was dropped from the product line when the 5S and 5C debuted.
Via Daring Fireball

Will millennials kill Costco?
Warehouse clubs such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club have for decades been an American staple: a place where families can stock up on bulk items, try free samples and spend the better part of a weekend morning meandering through aisles filled with 26-packs of canned salmon and king-size mattresses. But as more of Americans’ buying shifts online, some retail analysts say warehouse clubs may largely be left behind.

The sector received more bad news this month, when Walmart announced it would close 63 Sam’s Club stores, affecting an estimated 10,000 workers. In a tweet, the company said the closures would help “better align” its physical locations with its strategy. (Ten locations will reopen as e-commerce fulfillment centers.)
Via The Washington Post

Previous Web Finds are here.

Stop apps from downloading on all iOS devices

If like me you have more than one iOS device using the same Apple ID you may have noticed that if you download an app on one device the same app will download to the other device. This started happening to me after I got my iPad a few months ago. When I download an app for my iPad it would also download it to my iPhone if it was an app that wasn’t already on my iPhone. Since I don’t always need or want the same apps on both devices I was having to delete apps from my iPhone. Then I discovered that there’s a setting called Automatic Downloads that’s on by default. I went into Settings and turned it off on both devices. Now app downloads only happen on the device I’m using.

Here’s how you do it. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Automatic Downloads and toggle the switch next to apps to the off position.