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Posts tagged with "keyboard maestro"

iPad Diaries: Using a Mac from iOS, Part 1 – Finder Folders, Siri Shortcuts, and App Windows with Keyboard Maestro

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

After several years without updates to a product that, somewhat oddly, "remained in Apple's lineup", the Mac mini was revived by the company last November with a major redesign geared toward pro users and designed for flexibility. As listeners of Connected know, one of the show's long-running jokes was that I would buy my last Mac ever as soon as Apple released a new Mac mini1; when it happened, I took the opportunity to completely rethink my home office with a new desk, well-specced Mac mini, and 4K display that supported both modern Macs and iPad Pros via USB-C.

Effectively, I had never owned a desktop Mac until2 this Mac mini arrived. I always preferred portable Macs to workstations, and over the years I moved from a late 2008 MacBook Pro to a 2011 MacBook Air and, in 2015, back to the (now Retina) MacBook Pro again. Over the past couple of years, however, and particularly since the introduction of iOS 11, my penchant for Mac laptops started clashing with the realization that the iPad Pro had become my de-facto laptop. I was using a MacBook Pro because I thought I needed a portable Mac machine just like when I started MacStories in 2009; in reality, the iPad had been chipping away at the MacBook's core tasks for a while. Eventually, I saw how my MacBook Pro had become a computer I'd open twice a week to record podcasts, and nothing more.

With the iPad Pro as my primary computer, the Mac's role in my life evolved into a fixed environment that was necessary for multi-track audio recording and Plex Media Server. And as I shared on Connected on several occasions, I realized that my workflow in 2018 wasn't the same as 2009 anymore: it no longer made sense for me to have a Mac laptop when what I really needed was a small, but powerful and extensible Mac desktop. That's why I started waiting for a new Mac mini, and my wishes were granted with the 2018 relaunch of the mighty desktop machine.

For the past three months, I've been busy setting up the Mac mini and optimizing it for the tasks that inspired its purchase. I bought external SSD drives (these two) to use for Plex and Time Machine backups; I set up a homebridge server to add unsupported accessories to HomeKit (such as our 2017 LG TV) and turn iTunes playlists into HomeKit scenes; I rethought my podcasting setup (I now have a Zoom H6 recorder and a taller microphone stand) and arranged my desk to make it easier to use the same UltraFine 4K display with the Mac mini and iPad Pro (I just need to plug in a different USB-C cable). Because this Mac mini is fast enough to handle 4K transcoding for Plex without breaking a sweat, I started using youtube-dl to enjoy 4K YouTube videos on iOS devices with the Infuse or Plex apps. I'm trying to take advantage of a powerful, always-on Mac server in any way I can, and I'm having lots of fun doing it.

This doesn't change the fact that the iPad Pro is my main computer, and that I want to interact with macOS as little as possible. Aside from recording podcasts using Mac apps, I rely on the Mac mini as a server that performs tasks or provides media in the background. Any server requires a front-end interface to access and manage it; in my case, that meant finding apps, creating shortcuts, and setting up workflows on my iPad Pro to access, manage, and use the Mac mini from iOS without having to physically sit down in front of it.

In this multi-part series, I'm going to cover how I'm using the 2018 iPad Pro to access my Mac mini both locally and remotely, the apps I employ for file management, the custom shortcuts I set up to execute macOS commands from iOS and the HomePod, various automations I created via AppleScript and Keyboard Maestro, and more. Let's dive in.

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  1. It was funny because everybody thought the Mac mini line was done. ↩︎
  2. Many years ago, I did use an iMac for a few months. However, I never considered that machine truly mine – it was set up at my parents' house (where it now sits unused) and I worked on it for a while until I moved in with my girlfriend a few months later. ↩︎

Replacing QuickCursor with Keyboard Maestro

QuickCursor was a great app which allowed you to use your favorite text editor to edit text anywhere on the Mac. For example, rather than writing a blog post in a form field in your browser, you could press a keyboard shortcut and then whatever text you had written would be sent BBEdit (or any other text editor). You could finish writing your post using all of the features of your preferred text editor (and, most importantly, not have to worry about your browser window crashing or anything else that might cause you to lose your work). When you finished writing, your text would automatically be sent from your text editor back to the web browser. (If the awesomeness of this is not immediately obvious, watch this short YouTube video showing how QuickCursor worked.)

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Keyboard Maestro 7.0

When I used to work from a Mac every day, Keyboard Maestro was one of my most used apps. Nowadays, my automation needs are satisfied by a combination of Workflow, Editorial, and Pythonista on iOS, but I still have a deep appreciation for the power and versatility of Keyboard Maestro on OS X.

Keyboard Maestro 7.0 has been released today with over 100 new features and improvements. My friend Gabe has a good first look at the new version and the Keyboard Maestro website explains in detail the new options for contextual menus for actions, new triggers, themed palette styles (nice), and more.

If you need to automate tasks on a Mac, you can't go wrong with Keyboard Maestro. You can download the new version and check out the upgrade options here.

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Spring Cleaning, or How I Fell in Love with 1Password Vaults

I've been using 1Password since January of 2008, which means that I have a lot of passwords and other bits of secure information stored in there.[1] Recently it started to feel like I had too much in there. Search results were cluttered with accounts that I no longer use, don’t use very often, or other information that I might need some day.

At first I went through and attempted to deactivate/delete accounts that I no longer use (i.e. the user forum for some piece of software that I used 3 years ago). Most often I found that the account could not be deleted unless I contacted someone, or the login information was no longer valid. The process was boring, time-consuming and frustrating. I found myself trying to guess if I might need something later. (Do I need to save the password for a friend’s WiFi login if I only see them once or twice a year? Couldn’t I just ask them for it again if I did need it? Do I need to keep a copy of my mother-in-law’s Gmail password in case she forgets it? Yes. Do I need to see it every time I search for “Google” in 1Password? No.) It is hard to know if I might ever need something again, and so I tended to err on the side of caution, meaning that I would keep things, even if I didn't use them all that often. The end result was that I didn't get rid of very much, and it still felt like I had more in my 1Password database than I really needed.

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Keyboard Maestro Adds Mavericks Tags Integration

With version 6.4 released yesterday, Keyboard Maestro (one of my favorite utilities to automate tasks on OS X) added support for Mavericks tags alongside improvements to AppleScript, asynchronous macro and script execution, and a variety of bug fixes and refinements.

Introduced last year in OS X Mavericks as a way to quickly group and organize related files, tags have been integrated in various automation-related apps and workflows that include Hazel, Alfred, script launchers, and command line utilities. With version 6.4, Keyboard Maestro is now capable of getting and setting tags as attributes to files -- with just a couple of actions, you can now set up a macro that tags multiple files at once with a hotkey.

If you work with tags on Mavericks and wish you could speed up the process of adding or removing tags, Keyboard Maestro 6.4 is available here; if you're new to Keyboard Maestro, check out my previous coverage here.

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A Simple “Open In Chrome” Keyboard Maestro Macro for Safari

My problem: I haven't installed Flash on my Mac and I sometimes need to watch YouTube videos that require Flash Player in Google Chrome. Google's browser is my Flash shelter: Safari is my main browser and I only keep Chrome around for Flash videos. I was getting annoyed by the process of copying a URL -> launching Chrome -> pasting the URL, so I made a simple Keyboard Maestro macro to automate everything with a hotkey. I don't know what took me so long.

The macro checks if Safari is the front window, and, if not, it displays a notification with an error message. I do this to prevent accidental hotkey presses for URLs that I don't want to open in Google Chrome. If Safari is the front window, however, what required a bunch of steps in AppleScript to open the current Safari URL in Chrome is a single action in Keyboard Maestro: Set Google Chrome URL, using %SafariURL% as a variable.

The two additional steps --  Open Chrome and Wait For Chrome To Finish Loading -- were necessary because I discovered that, when launched with a Set URL action, Chrome wouldn't intercept the URL sent by Keyboard Maestro and would simply display a blank tab. In this way, Chrome is launched, paused for a second as it reloads open tabs or the start tab, and then the Safari URL is opened in the current tab. If you want to open the URL in a new tab, change the Set Chrome URL action to New Google Chrome Tab.

You can download the macro here.



Keyboard Maestro 6.2

Keyboard Maestro 6.2 was released a few weeks ago and it includes some interesting additions. The Mail integration has been substantially improved with new actions to send email messages and set statuses, as well as tokens plus date, status, and action functions. Working with AppleScript and Mail has always been a problem for me, and I welcome Keyboard Maestro's built-in support that makes things incredibly easier.

Also of note: JavaScript can now access Keyboard Maestro variables (good for bookmarklets integrated with the app) and Andreas Zeitler's excellent new Markdown Library is now built into the app itself.

For more Keyboard Maestro coverage, see my original post on version 6.0 and subsequent articles based on it.

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Markdown for Keyboard Maestro 2

One of my favorite tools for more efficient writing was recently updated to version 2, which is available for download on GitHub. As Andreas Zeitler explains, the main focus for version 2 was "speed optimization, interaction, accessibility for non-English speakers, and usability". There's also a screencast on YouTube showing the new features.

I use Markdown for Keyboard Maestro on a daily basis to speed up my writing in Sublime Text. In fact, many of the workflows that I'll share when Editorial for iPad will come out have been inspired by Andreas' work.

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