Mac Power Users 449: macOS Mojave

On this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Katie and I talk about Apple's latest operating system, macOS Mojave. We discuss the state of the Mac, yearly release cycles, what we like, what we don't, new features for productivity, and more.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Molekule: The only air purifier that actually destroys pollutants. Use mpu for $75 off.

  • SaneBox: Stop drowning in email!

  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.

  • Fujitsu ScanSnap: ScanSnap helps you live a more productive, efficient, paperless life.

Free Agents 56: Iterate in Public, with Sean McCabe

Sean McCabe started his free agent journey as a designer doing hand lettering and has built a successful online business through teaching what he knows. On this week’s episode of Free Agents, Sean talks about the lessons he has learned along the way, including the power of rest and why he takes a sabbatical every seven weeks.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code FREEAGENTS at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

1Password 7.2 Brings Autofill for Apps

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It’s easy to be cynical these days. So at WWDC when Apple announced app autofill, an API that will fill in usernames and passwords in applications the same way it does in websites, I naturally assumed this would be a feature for Apple’s own password service only and this would be a not-so-subtle nudge to third-party password managers. Then, just minutes later, Apple explained they are making this also available to third-party password managers. My heart grew two sizes larger.

Fast forward to the iOS 12 release and now we’re getting this feature in 1Password 7.2 for iOS 12. I’ve long been a 1Password subscriber (Disclosure: they sometimes sponsor my podcast.) because 1Password brings so much to the table. I love that I can now use my chosen password manager for applications as well.

To turn it on, go to iOS 12 Settings > Passwords and Accounts > Autofill Passwords. You can leave the iCloud Keychain passwords at the same time. It’s a nice update and I already can’t believe I ever lived without application-based password autofill.

Mac Power Users 448: iOS 12 and the September 12th Event

On this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Katie and I run through our favorite new features for iOS 12 and watchOS 5, and we’ve got thoughts on the September 12th announcements.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

  • Timing: The automatic time-tracking app for macOS. Use this link to save 10% on your purchase.

  • PDFpen from Smile: With powerful PDF editing tools, available for Mac, iPad, and iPhone, PDFpen from Smile makes you a Mac Power User.

  • Gazelle: Sell your iPhone for cash at Gazelle!

10 Years of 512 Pixels and Josiah's Fundraiser

Stephen Hackett is celebrating ten years of 512 Pixels this week, and I wanted to take a moment to thank him for all his hard work in our nerdy community. I’ve dealt with Stephen as a colleague and friend for years, and he is one class act.

You should check out 512 Pixels and while you’re there, take a look at his growing Aqua Screenshot Gallery. It’s a trip.

Finally, Stephen’s young song, Josiah, has been fighting back against childhood cancer his whole life. Every September, Stephen does a fundraiser for St. Jude’s. This year he’s trying to raise $20,000, and I'd like to see him succeed. I’ve made a donation on behalf of Josiah. If you can help, I encourage you to do so.


The Gather Round Event

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Tomorrow is Apple’s annual new iPhone event, this year dubbed “Gather round.” While the rumor sites are now getting a steady stream of spoiler-heavy information out, I am always curious to see exactly what story Apple tells around the new products. (Usually, they also still have a few surprises.)

Either way, you can watch it live tomorrow in Apple’s Special Events app on the Apple TV or at Apple’s Special Event site from your Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

I’ll be sitting in front of my Mac with my popcorn and my keyboard. I’ll be tweeting from @macsparky and also contributing to this thread on the MPU forums where listeners will be weighing in. Enjoy the show.


Mac Power Users 447: Workflows with Zac Hall

Zac Hall joins us on this week's episode of Mac Power Users to talk about how he stays on top of Apple news at 9to5Mac and his work as an online publisher. We also talk about 9to5's recent discovery of the new iPhone and Apple Watch prior to Apple's September 12th event.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.
  • The Omni Group: We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 
  • Marketcircle: We help small business grow with great Mac, iPhone and iPad apps including Daylight and Billings Pro.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Home Screens - Marina Epelman

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Marina Epelman is a professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, specializing in theory and applications of mathematical optimization (professional twitter), homepage. In her copious spare time, she eagerly follows Apple and the Boston Red Sox (personal twitter). I’ve got to know Marina over the years as we’ve spent time together at many Mac-related conferences. She always blushes when I introduce her as my brilliant math professor friend … but it’s true. So Marina, show us your home screen.

Marina's "Home" Screen. (Click to enlarge.)

Marina's "Away" Screen. (Click to enlarge.)

What are some of your favorite apps?

The contents of my home screen change a little depending on the circumstances. I took two screenshots for this writeup a couple of days before a trip (to WWDC 2018 “unconference,” as it happens) in quick succession: before and after I rearranged my home screen to help me pack and otherwise prepare for travel. In between, some apps moved to the second page (controller for the Sonos speakers in my house, and ATracker time tracker and Productive — since I would be putting my regular routines on hold). To replace them, I brought in Wallet (for boarding passes and tickets to WWDC-related events), Yelp, and AnyList (which contains my very detailed and elaborate pre-travel checklist, including a packing list for items to bring to the dog sitter — yes, “dog” is one of the items, as I am the dictionary definition of “absent-minded professor”).

I have many favorites that will likely be familiar to most readers — Overcast, OmniFocus, Carrot Weather (on Overkill), Drafts, PCalc (as a college professor, I am required to use the chalkboard icon). I want to highlight a few that might be slightly less common. 

I am very particular about my calendars, and Week Calendar has been in my dock for as long as I can remember. As you can guess, it has a superb week view, but also an excellent month one, which manages to pack information for a month worth of events on an iPhone screen. In addition, its settings options are very rich and flexible.

Scanner Pro from Readdle is a great scanner app, and my favorite in most circumstances. However, I highly recommend adding Office Lens if you ever need to capture and share notes written on whiteboards. It has a whiteboard mode that gracefully removes the unavoidable glare that office fluorescent lights cast on the boards, and does a very nice job framing the contents.

ATracker is an iOS app, backed by a web portal, that I hope will work out for me as I am trying to jump on the time-tracking bandwagon. It has a widget and a Watch counterpart, and some nice display options and calendar intergrations that set it apart from other time-tracking apps I’ve tried so far.

I have also been experimenting with using Notion as my app for note-taking and information tracking. The Notion system is very flexible and somewhat complex. Many articles and tutorials have been published about it lately, and I am not going to do it justice in one paragraph (see this recent review by the Verge, for example. At this point, I’ve only spent a couple of weeks with it, and it looks promising for bringing different types of notes and other bits of information together in one place, and linking easily between them. It is not as flexible and full-featured as some tools designed with a single purpose in mind, but I think it has enough power in most cases, and allows for easy export of individual items or entire databases if it becomes necessary. (Also, this math nerd appreciates the opportunity to throw in an occasional LaTeX equation into her notes.)

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Probably the same as for most people: social media, in my case, Tweetbot and Instagram (all those dog pictures and videos are not going to view and like themselves!). I don't have them on my home screen — they are hidden away in the "Communicate" folder on the next page — but Siri suggestions don’t lie...

What app makes you most productive? 

I don’t use iOS very much for full-on productivity. I use my iPad occasionally to read and mark up research papers in pdf format, but most of my productive computer time is spent on a Mac (although, of course, I can get quite a lot done on an iOS device in a pinch). On the other hand, the iPhone is invaluable in quickly accomplishing so many small, useful tasks that I honestly don’t remember how I was getting through the day at work, or taking time off without falling too far behind, 10–15 years ago!

What app do you know you're underutilizing?

Workflow. Let’s see whether its transition to Shortcuts nudges me to start utilizing it more.

What is the app you are still missing?

I have pretty serious chronic migraines, and would love to have an app that makes it easy and convenient to track pain levels and medication doses at regular intervals throughout an episode. I try to keep track manually as best as I can using a pre-configured sheet in Notion, but the last thing you want to do while in pain and medicated is to remember to create database entries. A perfect app would have an easy and gentle UI but have enough persistence to help elicit information needed to understand pain patterns and effectiveness of different medications. Ideally, it would also collect information about what I eat, where I travel, and what I do throughout the day, and provide longitudinal data for my doctors.

In terms of productivity, I’d love to have a LaTeX writing app with access to any sub-folder in Dropbox (although it might be the Dropbox sync protocol that’s preventing it more than lack of effort by iOS developers).

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

My sense is, I use my iPhone many, many times a day, but primarily for short, specific bursts of activity. 

Incidentally, David has been asking his home screen contributors to answer this question for years now — I am looking forward to a follow-up piece, comparing all those “my sense is...” answers to hard, cold numbers that iOS 12 will be providing! 

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I use widgets that provide either quick pieces of information, or access to quick actions: Up Next (next calendar event and alarms - sadly not currently available), Carrot Weather, ATracker, Productive, Batteries, and PCalc.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Always having a map and a GPS navigation device on me. I am literally lost without one — often even in my small town.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I have a strong preference for ultra-wide external displays over, say, an iMac, and a laptop plugged into one takes up the valuable real estate on my small home office desk. So, if there is a “making Marina’s life better” department at Apple, they are working on a modern model of Mac mini.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.

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I do indeed! I have multiple Watch faces set up. The two that I use most often are Modular and Simple. The former is great because of the density of information it presents without tapping or scrolling — perfect for running between meetings or sessions at a conference, especially when my hands are not free. The latter is the complete opposite — I switch to it when I am having a leisurely day with no events to remember and nowhere to rush. Lately, I’ve also been using the Siri watch face. Initially, I set it up when I realized that it shows a “Now playing” platter whenever I am listening to Overcast or Spotify on my phone, allowing me to change the volume easily even if the phone isn’t nearby. It has been slowly growing on me, and I am very curious to see whether it will become even more useful with third-party apps joining the party. (So far, the only non-native complication I have on any watch face is Carrot Weather.)

What's your wallpaper and why?

Last fall, I set the wallpaper to “OLED black.” I thought that I would just keep it for the first few weeks with my new iPhone X, to show those curious just how black this black was, and how the icons popped against it. Half a year later, I still can’t get over how good it looks! 

Anything else you'd like to share?

This post was written and edited on the last day of WWDC week in the cafe at the visitor center at Apple Park. It’s a perfect Northern California day, and I can see the edge of the Spaceship roof from my table. The Americano was pretty good, too.

Editors note:

And with that answer we find exactly how slow David has been about posting home screen posts. More in the pipeline gang.

 

Automators 5 – Project Templates

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Automators, episode 5 is out, and this one is all about automating project templates. I think this is one bit of automation that is underutilized. Not many people automate project creation, but a lot of people could benefit from it. Rose and I explain all the details and Rose wrote this episode up in detail. I’ve included one of the show’s screencasts below, but you should check them all out on YouTube or just subscribe to the Automators Bonus Content course so you can get access to all the materials.

CleanMyMac X

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Today MacPaw releases CleanMyMac X. CleanMyMac has always been my safe choice for disk maintenance and management. The app does a great job of getting cruft off your SSD and finding big, unwanted files. Over the years they’ve added most of the standard maintenance routines, which made CleanMyMac even easier to recommend.

With the newest version, the team has added malware protection. The new software will scan and detect thousands of malware threats on your Mac. This new feature, in hindsight, is obvious and a great addition to an already useful utility.

I got to see an early build of this in June and have been running the beta on my beta Mojave machine. That's crazy. Right? It's been fine. MacPaw knows what they're doing. More than ever, CleanMyMac X is an all-around great Mac maintenance tool. You can get 30% off CleanMyMac directly from Mac Paw for a few days. It’s also included with a SetApp subscription.

 CleanMyMac's new Malware Removal Screen.

CleanMyMac's new Malware Removal Screen.

Make Your Team More Productive with TextExpander – Sponsor

This week MacSparky is sponsored by TextExpander. While TextExpander is a fantastic personal productivity tool, it’s even more helpful for teams. With TextExpander team accounts, everyone can access, search, and share common snippets. You can have your best writers prepare your snippets, and everyone can use them on multiple platforms: macOS, iOS, Windows, and the web.

I am a TextExpander for teams subscriber. While my team is pretty small–just two people–TextExpander for teams has been extremely helpful the last few days as you guys have been flooding me with requests to transition your video courses to the new learn.MacSparky site. To solve this problem, I updated the links and codes in the shared TextExpander library so my assistant could get up-to-date information. As I was updating the links and information, she wasn’t even aware of the changes. She could still use the same snippets to send out the customer emails that are now magically updated.

As a result, I was able to make this transition more efficiently. And that is with just a team of two people. Imagine if you had 100 people using TextExpander. If you're on a team, TextExpander will change your life, leaving more time for what you do best. For larger teams, TextExpander supports Single Sign-On (SSO) and grouping accounts to make on-boarding a breeze.

If you are on a team, you should consider implementing TextExpander to make you more productive. To learn more head over to TextExpander.com and let them know you heard about it at MacSparky.

 

Free Agents 55: The Math Works

Mike and I cover a variety of Free Agent topics on this week's episode, including getting enough sleep and staying motivated. Also, I make a big decision about my transportation.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • Casper: The Internet’s favourite mattress. Get $50 off select mattresses with the code ‘FREEAGENTS’.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code FREEAGENTS at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

Announcing Learn.MacSparky

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new website for the distribution of all my video courses, learn.MacSparky.com. I am moving all of my video courses to that site and encourage you to check it out. There's plenty of free and paid material there to keep you busy.

First a Little History …

When I first started distributing videos, I did so with one large video file that you could download to your Mac. That worked okay for a while but it very quickly became evident that people wanted a streaming solution. Put simply, a lot of people watch these courses on their iPhones and iPads. That eventually led me over to Vimeo where I have been distributing my video courses for a few years. It was a service that allowed for streaming, but it was also entirely outside of my control. I received complaints from customers that didn't like the Vimeo marketing, where they would send them advertising materials for videos entirely unrelated to geeky MacSparky stuff, and furthermore, Vimeo never gave me a list of who bought my stuff. Put simply, I wanted to have a direct relationship with my customers.

I’ve been hard at work on this problem for several months, and today I'm announcing the new website, learn.MacSparky.com where you can get access to all of my video products. Having set up the website, I am also able to now distribute a lot of the videos that I create freely. I think it's better for you and better for me. I've summarized the current offerings below, and I hope you check them out. I'm thrilled to have made this move. Go sign up today and let me know what you think. Below is a list of the current video courses.

The Workflow Field Guide

I made this several years ago when workflow first was released. This has been a paid course since its original release, but now I am making it completely free. 

The Hazel Field Guide

Hazel is one of my favorite Mac utilities. It takes so much of the TM out of file management and let your Mac to a lot of your work for you, unassisted. To get the most out of Hazel, you do need a little help in this course is aimed at solving just that problem. This course already has many happy customers who are automating their way to fame and fortune.

60 Tips Vol. 1 and 60 Tips Vol. 2

There are two volumes of this book I wrote with my pal, Brett Terpstra. The video versions have all of the same materials as the books and can help you get better at using your Mac every day. Both volume 1 and volume 2 are available in the new learn.MacSparky.com website.

The Photos Field Guide

Apple photos is a powerful and all-in-one solution for managing, editing, and storing your photos. This video course walks you through how to set up your library, manage pictures, and make edits. This course also goes beyond explaining some common photo management utilities, backup strategies, and all the other bits you need to manage your photos and video properly.

The Drafts Field Guide

This recourse includes this series of videos I have been producing for The new version of the Drafts app, one of my favorite writing and automation tools (yes, it’s both) for iPhone and iPad.

The Bonus Sparky Field Guide

I often release short little videos for free relating to new workflows that I find or products that I like. A lot of these are on the MacSparky YouTube channel, but if that's not your thing, you can sign up for a course@learn.macsparky.com that will regularly update with the same content.

Automators Bonus Content

The Automators podcast comes with a lot of bonus content explaining how to create and run specific automation routines that Rose and I regularly discuss on the show. Again, we have a YouTube channel for that, but not everyone wants to spend time on YouTube. We are going to distribute all of the podcast supporting materials through this learning course in addition to the YouTube channel.

What About New Stuff?

 Now that I've built this learning website, I'm back in full swing in creating new content for it. In the next month, I will be releasing an all-new course on Siri Shortcuts to coincide with the release of iOS 12. The new course is coming out great, and I'm working on it every day.

Also, later this month, when the Omni Group releases OmniFocus 3 for the Mac (or shortly after that), I will be releasing a brand-new edition of the OmniFocus Field Guide. This new version is shot entirely from scratch and nearly done. There is a lot of new material about how to get better at using OmniFocus and how to manage your tasks in a way that makes sense. In addition to having a lot of new material about technically managing the software, this new version also has a lot of discussion about productivity and strategies to make your task system work for you instead of you working for it. The new OmniFocus Field Guide is still in production but coming out great, and I cannot wait to share it with you.

Transitioning from Vimeo

If you were a customer for any of the above courses on Vimeo, and you would like to transition your course to learn.MacSparky.com, sign up for the learn.MacSparky.com website and send me a copy of your receipt. I can then send you a code for your account. Please note that is a manual process and I'm sure the initial flood of requests is going to take a little bit of catching up.

I am so happy to share this news with you. It has taken a lot of work, but this new website is going to be great for everyone. If nothing else, I encourage you to sign up for some of the free courses to check things out.

Mac Power Users 446: MPU+: Are You Going to Go Big?

Join Katie and I on this week's Mac Power User's episode as we speculate about Apple's upcoming September 12th event. Also, I go laptopless again. We discuss hiding cables and technology clutter around your home, shutting down Wi-Fi on a schedule, storing business cards, and fixing a broken iPhone. And it's time for some listener feedback.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • TextExpander from Smile: Type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.
  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.
  • Casper: The Internet’s favorite mattress. Get $50 off select mattresses with the code ‘MPU’.
  • eero: Never think about WiFi again. Use code MPU for free overnight shipping.

The Irvine Spectrum Apple Store

My "home" Apple Store is located at the Irvine Spectrum. The center has been getting some updates lately and, with little warning they moved the Apple Store from a typical outdoor mall site to its very own building. I had a little business there yesterday and was able to check out the new store. Very nice.