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Posts tagged with "reminders"

macOS Sonoma: The MacStories Review

In one sense, the story of this year’s macOS update is that there is no story, but that’s not exactly right. Instead, it’s a bunch of stories. It’s the tail end of the realignment of macOS with Apple’s other OSes that began with macOS Catalina in 2019. However, Sonoma is also part of a work-at-home story accelerated by COVID-19. The OS is also linked to the story of visionOS, only part of which has been revealed. Sonoma is a bundle of narrative threads built on the foundation of past releases, adding up to a collection of updates that will be less disruptive for most Mac users than recent macOS updates. Instead, Sonoma is packed with a variety of useful new features that help draw it closer to iPadOS and iOS than ever before, design enhancements, and a few disappointing omissions.

The timing for a more modest macOS update is right. In recent years, Mac users have had to adjust to substantial redesigns of everything from their favorite system apps to the Finder’s windows and toolbars. The changes were inescapable and necessary to harmonize the Mac with Apple’s other products, but also disruptive for some long-time users.

Sonoma adds a vast collection of new wallpaper and screensaver options.

Sonoma adds a vast collection of new wallpaper and screensaver options.

With macOS Sonoma, the biggest design shifts seem to be behind us – at least for the time being. Interactive widgets on the desktop are a big change this year, but it’s not like macOS dumps a bunch of them on your desktop by default. If you never want to see a widget anywhere near your desktop, you don’t have to. Other than the subtle way the login screen has changed and the new screensavers and wallpapers that are available, the core macOS experience has barely changed.

Instead, this year’s update is primarily about refining and building upon the foundation of the past few years, coupled with a handful of more significant updates to system apps. So, while the marquee features and design changes may be less notable than in recent years, there is still a long list of new and refreshed items that touch nearly every aspect of the OS, so let’s dive in.

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WWDC 2023: Notes and Reminders to Gain Significant Productivity Features This Fall

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Every WWDC, I look forward to what Apple’s Notes and Reminders teams have in store for the next version of the company’s OSes. Notes debuted with the iPhone itself, and Reminders wasn’t too far behind. All these years later, both apps remain actively developed, and in recent years have significantly extended their capabilities, adding new features that remain approachable for all users but also extend further to meet the needs of people who want something more.

Let’s take a look at the highlights of what both apps have in store for users in the fall.

Notes

Notes will add several new features this fall, including PDF tools, linking, new formatting, and Pages integration.

Probably the most extensive set of new features coming to Notes is related to PDF documents. With the update, you’ll be able to read and annotate PDFs and collaborate on documents with others. When you drop a PDF into Notes, it can be navigated by swiping from page to page or by displaying a strip of thumbnails above the current page. All of the markup tools available in Notes can be used to draw and type on a PDF, add shapes to it, or sign it. Notes will be able to detect fields in a PDF, so you can fill out forms with an enhanced version of AutoFill using data from the Contacts app too.

Users will also be able to collaborate in real-time when editing PDFs by sharing a note with others. As you draw, annotate, type on, or add stickers to a shared PDF, Apple says the changes will appear immediately on your collaborator’s device.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Also coming to Notes are a couple of new ways to add links. You can select text and add a hyperlink to a website, but you can also link to existing notes. I love this feature. It doesn’t automatically add backlinks to the source note the way an app like Obsidian does, but you can do that manually if you’d like, and I expect one-way linking is plenty for most users. With the new internal linking, users will be able to create tables of contents for related notes and split what might otherwise be a long note into linked sections, making the content easier to navigate and read.

Finally, Notes will add Pages compatibility in the fall. If you begin a document in Notes, you’ll be able to open it in Pages to take advantage of Pages’ more extensive set of styling tools. That will allow you to do things like use more fonts, resize graphics incorporate video, and more.

I’m excited about the updates coming to Notes. PDFs are at the heart of a lot of workflows. I don’t use them as frequently as I used to, but students, teachers, lawyers, and many others who depend on PDFs as a core part of their work, should get a much more robust solution for adding them to their note-taking setup with Notes this fall.

I’m also impressed by Notes’ addition of internal linking to other notes. The update should allow for vastly better organization of information in Notes. I’m envisioning it as a solution for our internal documentation needs at MacStories, along with project management and a lot more. I’ve used Notes for that sort of thing before, but once a note reached a certain length, it became hard to manage, especially on smaller devices. With internal linking, I expect that will be a thing of the past.

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Automation April: 10 Shortcuts for Mac Multitasking, Markdown, Reminders, Music Lyrics, Twitter, and More

10 shortcuts for Automation April.

10 shortcuts for Automation April.

Automation April is well underway: we’ve entered the second week of our month-long special event about automation on Apple platforms, and – in case you haven’t noticed – things are happening everywhere. We’ve published Shortcuts-focused articles on MacStories; interviewed developers of Shortcuts-compatible apps on AppStories; we’ve hosted a Town Hall Workshop on our Discord along with giveaways. And, of course, our panel of judges is now busy testing and evaluating shortcuts submitted by people for the Automation April Shortcuts Contest. If you haven’t yet, now would be a great time to start following @AutomationApril on Twitter to keep up with everything we’re doing.

Last week, I shared an initial batch of 10 shortcuts I prepared for Automation April here on MacStories. I’m back this week with another set of 10 shortcuts that encompass a variety of platforms, app integrations, and functionalities. In this week’s collection, you’ll find even more shortcuts to speed up macOS multitasking; a shortcut that makes it easy to create a calendar event starting from a date; there will be a couple of shortcuts for Markdown and Obsidian users too.

I’m having a lot of fun sharing these sets of shortcuts for Automation April. So once again, let’s dive in.

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Remind Me Faster 4.0

Remind Me Faster 4.0.

Remind Me Faster 4.0.

Remind Me Faster, my favorite app to create new reminders with support for natural language input and quick access to priorities and lists, received a major 4.0 update earlier this week. The app has become a staple of my iPhone and iPad dock in this final part of 2021, and it only felt right to mention its latest update now as many of us are (likely) reassessing our task managers over the holiday break.

I previously covered Nick Leith’s excellent Reminders utility in this issue of MacStories Weekly, so I won’t rehash the details again here. There are two key additions in version 4.0 worth your attention: like Apple’s Reminders app, Remind Me Faster can now create tasks with a due date, but without a due time. These reminders show up in the ‘Today’ view of the Reminders app and will match the default notification settings for all-day reminders you configured in Settings ⇾ Reminders, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a third-party Reminders client do this. You can cycle between due dates with and without times in Remind Me Faster by tapping the date button above the keyboard, and I especially like the animation Leith designed for this interaction.

The second addition is one I’m going to be using a lot: you can now create presets for locations you want to attach to reminders. Specifically, Remind Me Faster now lets you create custom presets for specific locations with an associated radius and leaving/arriving trigger; when you want to attach a location to a reminder, you just need to press a button and pick a preset without fiddling with additional buttons. This is the kind of feature that makes you wonder why Apple didn’t think of it in the first place for their Reminders app: it’s much faster to create location-based reminders this way, which is something I’ve never done on a regular basis because of all the taps required to add location alerts in Reminders.

Remind Me Faster continues to be a fantastic addition to Apple’s Reminders app when it comes to quick entry. I highly recommend checking it out if you use Reminders as a task management system but have always wished typing new tasks with dates, locations, priorities, and lists was quicker.

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Reminders’ Smart Lists Put Unprecedented Control in the Hands of Users

A couple of years ago, Apple transformed Reminders from a simple checklist-style task manager into something far more robust. It was a surprising but welcome update that made the app a good choice as the sole task manager for many users. Reminders is back with more surprises this year, including tagging and Smart Lists features, which I didn’t expect. Both new features work together to make it easier than ever to manage your tasks in Reminders, which by itself makes this year’s update to Reminders worth checking out. However, the update may indicate something broader too: that Apple is more receptive to providing users with greater control over how they use the iPhone and iPad’s stock apps, an exciting possibility that I hope comes to pass.

Tags are brand new to Reminders and probably the most surprising addition to the iOS and iPadOS 15 versions of the app. Tags aren’t anything new to task management apps in general, but user-defined tags haven’t historically been available in Apple’s iPhone and iPad apps.

There's a new Tag Browser in Reminders and multiple ways to add new tags.

There’s a new Tag Browser in Reminders and multiple ways to add new tags.

The design of Reminders’ tagging system makes it easy to get started. When you add a new task, there’s a field just below Notes for adding tags. Just start typing a name for your tag, and when you tap the Space bar, hit return, or type a comma, a hashtag is added to the beginning of the tag, and it changes to Reminders’ purplish accent color. Sorry, no spaces are allowed in your tags.

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Apple Releases macOS 11.3 Beta with New Safari Features, Reminders Sorting, Music Updates, and Improvements to iOS and iPadOS Apps Running on M1 Macs

Start page items can be reordered.

Start page items can be reordered.

Apple has released the first beta for macOS 11.3 Big Sur, which includes new Safari features, changes that parallel yesterday’s updates to iOS and iPadOS, and more.

Some of the most interesting features of the latest Big Sur beta are in Safari. As I wrote in my Big Sur review, I like most of the changes made to Safari’s start page but wished I could reorder the default sections. That’s now possible, which is terrific, but there’s also a new third-party extension point for developers to build start page integrations, which is very interesting. We’ll have to see what developers do with the new feature, but I expect it will allow RSS clients to list recent articles on the start page that could be opened directly in Safari, for example. There’s a new Web Speech API that allows speech recognition functionality to be built into a webpage too.

Music's new Made for You tab

Music’s new Made for You tab

Similar to iOS and iPadOS, Reminders is gaining the option to print lists. Music adds a dedicated ‘Made For You’ section in the sidebar that includes your annual Replay playlists and Apple’s personalized algorithmic playlists. The Listen Now tab will also suggest upcoming live events tuned to your music tastes. There’s an enhanced News+ tab in Apple News designed to make it easier to access magazines and newspapers and manage downloaded issues. Sony PS5 DualSense and Xbox Series X/S controllers are supported too.

The News+ tab has been redesigned.

The News+ tab has been redesigned.

Finally, the experience of using iOS and iPadOS apps on the Mac got a boost too. There’s a brand new Preference pane in iPhone and iPads running on an M1 Mac that provides more keyboard control over touch commands. Apps can also be opened in larger windows.

The new iOS and iPadOS app Preferences window.

The new iOS and iPadOS app Preferences window.


Due for Mac Modernized with New Design and Features

A full-fledged task manager is terrific for many projects, but if you dump your entire life into one, it can quickly become a cluttered mess. At the same time, if you’re focused on a big project, it’s easy to let everything that’s not in your task manager slip through the cracks. One strategy for attacking the problem that has worked well for me is using a separate, lightweight app for tasks like remembering to take out the garbage, pick up medicine at the pharmacy, or publish an article when an embargo lifts.

In the past, I’ve used Due on the iPhone and iPad for these sorts of tasks. There has been a Mac version of Due for years too, but it hadn’t been updated in about two years and was showing its age. However, with today’s update, Due for Mac joins the iOS version with a fully-modern design and slate of new features, putting it on par with the outstanding iOS version, which I’ve covered in the past.

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Everything Changing in Apple Notes and Reminders in iOS and iPadOS 14

Notes and Reminders in iOS 14.

Notes and Reminders in iOS 14.

Apple Notes and Reminders are two of my most-used apps, and each has received significant updates in iOS and iPadOS 14. Though neither app’s improvements have been held up as tentpole features of this fall’s releases, Apple has nonetheless given noteworthy attention to making the user experience for each app better in a variety of key ways. You won’t find fundamental evolutions in how either app works, but these updates prove the power of iteration. From visual tweaks that make everything look and feel more modern, to quality of life enhancements, and more substantive new features, the list of total changes is surprisingly rich.

After a few days of use, here’s everything new I’ve discovered in Notes and Reminders.

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Due Adds Modern Shortcuts Support with New Reminder Creation Parameters

At some point, I think everyone who manages their work and personal lives in a task manager runs into a clutter problem. With everything from reminders to move my laundry from the washer to the dryer to another to publish our latest MacStories project, it often feels like my list of tasks never gets shorter.

If you’ve ever experienced that feeling yourself, or just want a lightweight way to quickly manage your life, Due is a fantastic option that Federico and I have both covered since it first debuted in the earliest days of the App Store. What I like so much about Due is that by moving short-term, smaller tasks out of my main task manager to it, my primary task manager becomes more focused and easier to use. It’s also so simple to add reminders and timers to Due that I’m far more likely to use the app for ephemeral to-dos, reducing day-to-day mental overhead.

The core functionality of Due has remained the same since Federico’s review of version 2.0 and my review of version 3.0, which are great places to start if you’re unfamiliar with the app. What I said in my review of 3.0 is as true today as ever:

Due is a pro-user implementation of reminders and timers. The app has one of the best quick-entry UIs I’ve used in an app. Picking dates and times is a clunky, laborious process in most apps, but Due gets it right making it simple to add a date and time to a reminder with a combination of natural language recognition and a unique date and time grid.

With today’s release of version 20.5 of Due, the app adds updated Shortcuts support complete with actions with parameters, which I expect will make Due an integral component of many users’ shortcuts. The app’s numbering scheme changed earlier this year, too, jumping from version 3 to 20 to indicate the release year.

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