Automate Text Entry for Your Whole Team with TextExpander (Sponsor)


This week is sponsored by TextExpander, the easiest way to start automating your work on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. TextExpander is a text replacement tool. With it, you can type a phrase like “ccell” and it will automatically fill in your cell phone number. But TextExpander is so much more than that.

TextExpander brings so much power to text automation, including Team Support. I’m a TextExpander for teams subscriber myself. Using TextExpander, my team supporting the Field Guides is able to get quick responses to customer inquiries with exactly the right information. Imagine if all of your customer support team could use a common bank of snippets, written and edited by your best writers and shared with everyone on your team. Not only that you can update the snippets at any time and they automatically populate to everyone.

I’ve done so much with TextExpander over the years that I even have a page of snippets I’ve created that you can download ranging from movie to reviews to conference calls. One of my personal favorite groups is foreign thanks where you can say thank you to people in most language. Sending an email to a French friend, just type “french thanks” and TextExpander gives you “Merci”. It’s like your own, personal translator.

To learn more, head over to and let them know you heard about it at MacSparky in the “Where did you hear about us” field.

Configure-less MacBooks

Jason Snell wrote a thought-provoking article in Macworld about exactly how configurable Apple will make future MacBooks and MacBook Airs. In short, he thinks our options will be limited and that is born out by the currently shipping MacBook Airs that will let you pick RAM and Storage levels but offers no configuration as to the processor.

I agree with Jason. Particularly if Apple moves the Macs (or some portion of the Macs) over to ARM processors, I believe they will be treated as appliance computers more than ever before. Consumers buy iPads and iPhones without considering processor (or RAM!) customization and I think Apple would love to pull off the same trick on the Mac.

Mac Power Users 457: 2018 Geek Gift Guide

Listen to this week’s Mac Power Users episode for our annual Holiday Geek Gift Guide. Katie and I run down our favorite gift picks for the year as well as what's on our own holiday wish lists.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code POWER at checkout for 10% off.

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

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

  • SaneBox: Stop drowning in email!

Get Organized with OmniFocus 3 (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by The Omni Group and their latest version of OmniFocus 3, now out for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. This latest version adds several new features while still keeping it a beautiful (and usable) app. What features you may ask? I have a list:

  • Tags! Make them for people, energy level, priority, location, or whatever floats your boat. 

  • The Forecast view now shows your tasks and calendar events in order, so you can better see what’s coming up in your day and adjust if needed. 

  • Enhanced repeating tasks are easier than ever to set up, and they work with real-world examples, such as the first weekday of the month. 

  • Batch editing has been brought over from the Mac, and it lets you set due dates, tags, and other data for multiple tasks all at once. 

  • Flexible inspectors now allow you to show only the features you use and reorder them, so your favorites are where you want them. 

  • Mixed tasks and events so you can see how your appointments stack up against your essential tasks.

As with everything the Omni Group makes, the app is functional, powerful, and beautiful. Don't believe me? Head over to the OmniFocus website and download the trial and then watch the free portion of my OmniFocus Field Guide. You'll immediately see the benefits of using software made for people that get it done. Also, make sure you let them know you heard about here.

The new OmniFocus Inbox

The new OmniFocus Inbox

Free Agents 60: Be Strategic About It, with Mike Vardy

Productivityist founder Mike Vardy joins Mike and me on this episode of Free Agents to tell his free agent story, from Costco to comedian to productivity strategist. He shares how he learned to think outside the big box store, the importance of establishing systems, and how to create time and freedom for what's important.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

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

  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

Mac Power Users 456: Workflows with Laura McClellan

On this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Katie and I chat with Laura McClellan of the Productive Woman podcast to discuss her perspectives on productivity, finding and using the right virtual assistant, creating a community around her podcast, routines, habits, and more.

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.

  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code POWER at checkout for 10% off.

  • 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.

Automators 10: Web-Based Automation with Zapier

Today we release episode 10 of the Automators (Double Digits!), where venture into the brave new world of web automation. We start with grand-daddy, Zapier. We begin comparing and contrasting Zapier with other web automation services, like IFTTT and Microsoft Flow.

Did you know you can combine Zapier with Siri Shortcuts? We tell you how. 

Next Rose explains some of the Zapier recipes we use to automate the production of Automators. (Of course … we do that.)

This show is sponsored by TextExpander, which we both love very much.

Next I explain some basics about triggers and actions. We know this comes up often in automation, but Zapier has it’s own unique snowflake way of covering that, so we explain it. Eventually, we get to Zap organization, which makes Rose very happy.

I use Zapier a lot on the legal side. I use a lot of web services and Zapier lets me tie them together, particularly with client on-boarding. I explain my ongoing journey in that regard.

There are a few caveats, but we are both subscribers and Zapier believers.

Zapier makes you happier.

Want to see all the Automator production Zaps? Just download this PDF.

Brydge Teases Keyboard for new iPad Pro

Brydge is considred by many to be the premier third-party keyboard manufacturer for the iPad and now they are teasing new keyboards for the 2018 iPad Pros on Twitter. There isn’t much information yet but with the new iPad Pro, Apple has raised the prices of its own keyboard/cover so now it is $200 for the one on your 12.9 inch iPad. I spent the money on the Apple Keyboard and I’m not entirely sold. (The space bar isn’t consistently registering.) If you are thinking about buying the Apple Keyboard and you can wait, this may be worth checking out.

Sort of related … I should have a video of the 12.9” iPad Pro up tomorrow.


Get a Free Three Month Ulysses Trial (Sponsor)

This week, MacSparky is sponsored by Ulysses, the writing application I use every day. For a lot of people, myself included, writing words is one of the primary ways we pay for our shoes. For so many years I wanted a writing solution that just worked and I could have with me anywhere. Ulysses is that. Ulysses gives me a focused writing environment, eliminating distractions and encouraging me to do the hard work of moving the cursor across the line.

Ulysses takes the friction out of writing. That is because in addition to obsessive design, Ulysses has some real power under the hood. I love the way Ulysses organizes the various facets of my life and where I do my writing. As I go use Ulysses, I have all sorts of text that I'm currently writing, have already written, or use as a reference. And because it syncs across macOS and iOS, all of it is always available to me. There is a reason I always have this app open.

And the good news is that if you are getting a shiny new iPad Pro today, Ulysses has already been updated for it. As usual, the Ulysses team is on it with their latest update.

Best of all, the Ulysses team has agreed to give the MacSparky readers a free three month test drive. Use the links in this post to try Ulysses for three months. You’ll see immediately what I mean about why this app is good.

Mac Power Users 455: Apple October 2018 Event

Join Katie and I on this week’s episode of Mac Power Users as we discuss Apple's October 2018 event, the MacBook Air, Mac mini, iPad Pro, and our purchases.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Casper: The Internet’s favorite mattress. Get $50 off select mattresses with the code ‘MPU’.

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

  • 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.

Video To Go eBook

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 2.00.59 PM.png

For years now, Wally Cherwinski has been teaching people how to use Apple technology to shoot great video. I got to attend one of Wally’s sessions this year at the Macstock conference and in addition to being a great videographer, Wally is also an excellent teacher.

Wally has now released a brand-new media-rich the iBook, Video To Go to help you get better at taking video with your Apple devices.

Free Agents 59: Kaizen

In this episode of Free Agents, Mike and I look at the concept of kaizen and how little changes can add up to big results. We also help listener Michael, who wrote in, as he makes his second attempt at free agency. Then, Mike and I share what we do for fun, how bad I am at using virtual assistants, and the music we listen to while we work.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

  • Timing: The automatic time-tracking app for macOS. Use this link to save 10% on your purchase. Check out the Timing blog for articles for independent workers.

The October 30 Apple Event

I’m looking forward to seeing what Apple does tomorrow at its  “There’s more in the making” event. I’m super-curious about the new iPad pros. Are they going to take even more steps for power users? I sure wouldn’t mind a trackpad on the new iPad keyboard. Either way, I’ve got a few things for you to remember:

 It’s at 10:00 AM ... Eastern

That’s three hours earlier than usual. Adjust accordingly. 

It’s Live-streamed

You can watch the event from Apple’s Events Page. If you want to watch on your Apple TV, you can watch on the Apple Events app.

I Know a Great Place to Watch it with Fellow Nerds

Join this thread at Twitter is increasingly turning into a mess. The Mac Power Users community is a pretty nice group of folks. It’s just a forum so you wont get flooded and it is fun to chime in as the news comes down.

See you on the other side. 

Let SaneBox Remind you About Missing Email Replies (Sponsor)


This week MacSparky is sponsored by SaneBox. SaneBox is the email utility that we all need. It is loaded with features, like the ability to auto-sort your email as it arrives. Every morning when I wake up, I don't see 300 emails in my inbox but instead just a few. Importantly, those few emails are the ones that I really need to see. All of the advertisements and other nonsense are automatically sorted by SaneBox into separate folders so I can look at them later.

The past few weeks SaneBox has really been helping me out with its reminder service. It is the end of the year so on the legal side I'm sending a lot of client emails about getting their annual minutes prepared. I do this, because I am a nerd, through an automated email that I created in Siri Shortcuts. Part of that form email in Siri Shortcuts includes a blind copy field to SaneBox then automatically monitors whether or not I was a reply to that email. If I don't in 1 week, SaneBox reminds me to follow up. I could have also done this with an OmniFocus project, but why when SaneBox does it for me automatically.

This is just one of the ways SaneBox helps me manage my email every day. I have heard from many listeners that decided to give SaneBox a trial just for a few days and then ended up subscribing within a few days because they immediately see the value in this product. If you'd like to spend less time on email, check out SaneBox and use this link to get a nice discount.

Mac Power Users 454: MPU+: Did You Just Fall Down?

It’s MPU+ time. Katie shares the end of her MacBook Pro saga and AppleCare Experience, and I talk about playing with my widget screen, moving out of Evernote, and finding more uses for Keyboard Maestro. We also discuss upcoming Apple Events, packing apps, our favorite non-tech podcasts, and listener feedback.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code POWER at checkout for 10% off.

  • 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. 

  • Gazelle: Sell your iPhone for cash at Gazelle!

My Learn OmniFocus Seminar

I'm doing a live seminar over at Learn OmniFocus this week on October 31 (Halloween!) at 10:00 AM PST. It's an hour long session and I'll be walking through some of the ways I use OmniFocus in my daily setup. There is still a little room left so get in there if you'd like to participate.

Too Much Email

Cal Newport linked to an Adobe study that concluded average users check email 5.6 hours per weekday. If you look into the study a bit further, it looks like these numbers are inflated but even cutting them in half, 2.3 hours a day on email is too much.

Historically, I always thought of myself as that guy who answered all of his email. It wasn't until I realized the cost of that self-image in terms of my personal productivity, my relationship with my family and my clients, and my simple ability to ship interesting products that I was able to abandon that particular hangup.

A big help for me was time blocking email. (Hooray for hyper-scheduling!) I have about 40 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the late afternoon blocked for email. On days that I stick to those numbers, I generally get a lot more work done.

Maybe this week you should keep track of how much time you spend with email. If you're spending hours a day in your email client and don't have a really good reason for that, start thinking about ways to lower that number.