TJ Luoma

24 posts on MacStories since February 2015

Tj went to college as a Computer Science major and came out as a Presbyterian pastor. It’s kind of a long story. He’s been using OS X since the days of NeXTStep. These days he enjoys finding ways to automate his Mac with Keyboard Maestro, Hazel, launchd, and/or shell scripts. Brett Terpstra once called him insane (but in a good way). He believes in keeping his dock on the left side, multiple backups, and the Oxford comma. When he’s not writing at MacStories, you can find him at Luo.ma.

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The MacSparky Hazel Video Field Guide

Mac Power Users co-host David Sparks has released his latest MacSparky publication:
The Hazel Video Field Guide. Hazel is one of my favorite automation tools, and was recently updated to version 4. I bought it before I even downloaded the new version. That’s how great of a tool it is.

As David says: “The thing I love about Hazel is the way it can turn mere mortals into automation gods. Anybody can do this. You don't need a lick of programming knowledge.” He’s right. Hazel is easier than Folder Actions, and a lot more powerful too. If you can write Mail.app rules, you can automate your Mac with Hazel.

But what if you’ve never used Hazel and want to jump right in and learn the best of what it has to offer? That’s where David comes in. In almost 2.5 hours of video, David will walk you through Hazel, showing you everything from the basics to more advanced features using AppleScript. I’ve been using Hazel for years and would call myself a power user, but I learned some new tricks from David in this guide.

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BitTorrent Sync: For Privacy, Speed, and Control

BitTorrent Sync (or “BTS” for short) is a newer player in the space of personal file syncing compared to Dropbox or Google Drive, but it has some power and flexibility that I have not found anywhere else. Today I want to tell you about the first of what I suspect will eventually be a series of posts about “How I Use BTS” over the coming months.

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Knock to Unlock, but Also to Keep Your Mac Moving

The only downside to Apple’s fabulous Touch ID is that, once you have it, you miss it everywhere it doesn’t exist. I miss it the most on the Mac. Yes, I know about MacID. No, that isn’t what I want.

For me, the closest thing to achieving the convenience of Touch ID on the Mac is Knock a/k/a “Knock To Unlock.” It’s not all the way there yet for example, it can’t unlock 1Password on my Mac), but let me explain why it has such a place in my heart.

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Arq 5 Brings Significant New Features and a Major Licensing Improvement

Arq Screenshot

Arq Screenshot

For years, Arq Backup has been often overlooked when talking about backup solutions for the Mac, despite the fact that it is one of the easiest and most flexible options, as well as the most configurable. If you are really concerned about the privacy and security of your backups, you should take a close look at Arq.

Today marks the release of version 5 of Arq, a little over 6 years since its first official release, and it contains many awesome new features, but one significant change that I want to highlight right up front is this: Arq v5 moves from a per computer license to a per user license. That means that instead of having to buy a new license for each Mac you own, one license covers them all. This makes Arq a much more affordable option for people who use multiple Macs. It also means this is the time to take a closer look at what Arq offers.

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What to Do When the Mac App Store App Just Spins and Spins

Recently I found myself in a bind: the Mac App Store app on my Retina MacBook would launch, but would not show me anything except a little spinning circle near the top-left corner. I left it like that overnight and when I came back the next morning it was still spinning. Fixing it was tricky, even for an experienced Mac user like myself, so I thought I’d share what worked for me in case you ever find yourself in that situation.

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A Cautionary Tale About Contacts and Backups

On episode 306 of Mac Power Users, David and Katie talked about contacts on OS X and iOS, including a discussion of Interact, which sounds pretty much like the app that Apple should have built for contacts on iOS. They also mentioned Contacts Cleaner which I consider an indispensable tool for managing contacts on OS X.

However, there are a few details about backing up and restoring contacts that I wanted to add. And by “details” I mean “war stories” and by “war stories” I mean “let me tell you how I got these scars.”

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Bartender 2 Arrives with New Features and Full El Capitan Compatibility

Version 2 of Bartender is now available. If you have been running the El Capitan betas, you know that version 1 required you to temporarily disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) in order to install its system file. Version 2 does not need you to perform those steps. It is fully El Capitan-compatible right “out of the box.”

Other version 2 changes include:

  • With Bartender 2 you can now keyboard navigate all menu items both in the menu bar and the Bartender Bar, simply arrow through them and press return to select.
  • You can now search the Bartender Bar for menu items, allowing you quick access to a menu item without looking for it. Simply display the Bartender Bar and start typing, then press enter to select the menu item.
  • A key part of Bartender 2 has been rewriting the internals to enable new features and to allow Bartender to work with System Integrity Protection in OS X El Capitan. As always we continue to improve Bartender’s performance and reduce energy usage.
  • If you want a really clean look and privacy, Bartender’s own icon can also be hidden.

I'm not sure if that last one is new, but it’s new to me. With Bartender’s menu bar item hidden, you can still access the app using a keyboard shortcut. Then, just keep typing the name of the menu bar item you are looking for, or navigate with the arrows. That’s pretty cool.

This is a great update which brings some great new features. Dealing with SIP was a big hurdle, but I’m glad to have a fully armed and operational Bartender back on my Mac.

There's a free, four week trial available from the Bartender website. After that it’s $15 for new customers, or $7.50 to upgrade.

My advice? Just buy it now.


Browser Fairy Overcomes Browser Commitment Phobia

Browser Fairy allows you to set different browsers to open different links, rather than having to use the same browser for everything.

If this sounds familiar, you might be remembering Choosy, which worked as a Preference Pane and did a very similar thing. I have written about Choosy on several occasions, and MacStories covered it back in 2009! However, Choosy has not been updated in a long time, and I have happily moved to Browser Fairy, if for no other reason than its ability to import/export its own settings, so I can move those settings between Macs and back them up.

I generally use Safari as my web browser, but I make two exceptions: I use Google Chrome for any Google-related sites, and I use a Facebook-specific Fluid browser for anything related to Facebook, which I do to prevent Facebook from tracking what I do on other websites. (I started doing this before I started using Ghostery.)

This is especially important if you are trying to maximize battery life on a laptop, where Safari is far superior to Google Chrome (“Using Safari full time is like getting a new battery. Not even kidding.” — @bradleychambers), but need/want to use Chrome for some websites.

Bonus Tip: If you are looking at a website in Safari and need/want to quickly open it in Chrome (for example, if you come across a page that, for some inexplicable reason, still uses Flash), Bradley Chambers has an Alfred workflow to open the current Safari URL in Chrome. Browser Fairy also has browser extensions to send the current URL to another browser easily.

Browser Fairy ($5, Mac App Store) requires OS X 10.7 or later.

Thanks to Abby for first introducing me to Browser Fairy.