Mac Power Users 444: Workflows with iPhone JD Jeff Richardson

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Jeff Richardson from iPhone J.D. joins Katie and me to chat about how he uses a Mac at home and PC at work, going all in and adopting a paperless lifestyle with the iPad, starting a successful blog, using the Apple Watch, and more. Join us for the latest episode of Mac Power Users.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 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!
  • RXBAR: Whole food protein bars with simple, real ingredients. Get 25% off with promo code ‘mpu’.

Automators 4 – First Looks at Siri Shortcuts

Today we released episode 4 of the Automators, focused on the new Siri Shortcuts app and related automated tools. It's still in beta, but it is really powerful. 
This show goes through the history of automation on iOS and looks at things like URL Schemes in depth before moving on to Workflow and why it's so powerful. Finally, we go through the beta implementation of Siri Shortcuts and look at where it improves on Siri Shortcuts and where it feels more like a step backward.

I believe Siri Shortcuts is going to open up automation for a lot of people that have never tried it before.

We'll be sharing lots of Siri Shortcuts once it ships so get on board now.

Also, haven't been reading the episode notes for the Automators episodes in your podcast player of choice, you really should.



My younger daughter's laptop has been failing. It's a second generation 13 inch MacBook air (the first one with the wedge design), and it's starting to do silly things like random shutdowns (even when plugged in) and otherwise giving us warning signs that it is about to give up the ghost. So she's going to need a new Mac.

Rather than buy a new one, I'm going to give her my laptop. I have retina MacBook that's a few years old and which I hardly ever use anymore. Years ago, I gave my prior laptop to my other daughter in hopes that I could live the iMac plus iPad lifestyle. At the time we were in the throes of iOS 10, and I found it just didn't work for me. The biggest problem was the iPad's inability to manage multiple files. In my role as a lawyer, I often get numerous attachments (sometimes while sitting in meetings) and I need to be able to deal with them quickly and accurately. The old system, where you had individually tap and save each file and then dig through all of your nested folders to get it in the right place, just wasn't good enough. However, since iOS 11, I have found that use that laptop very little. File management is a lot easier now on the iPad. In July I took several trips, one of them internationally for a week. With all this travel, I was able to get by just fine with my iPad Pro. I handled several client emergencies on the road and never regretted leaving my laptop at home.

So for the second time, I'm starting the experiment of trying to run with just an iMac plus carrying around iPad for mobile computing. I expect this time the experiment will stick. In addition to improvements in file management in the core operating system, several of my other applications have also got more friendly on the iPad since the last time I tried. For example, OmniFocus 3 allows me to select and edit multiple tasks at once where version 2 did not.

Key to this decision for me is accepting that the heavy-lifting work I do on the iMac: screencasting and video editing, simply can’t be done on the road. For me this wasn’t a big sacrifice since looking back, I’ve never done screencasting and video editing on that laptop.

There are still a few sticking points. Google Docs is still not what should be on the iPad for instance. However, I think now I am at the point where those sticking points are just annoyances and not deal breakers for me. The other thing I did was update and reinstall Screens on my iMac so now I can remote access into the iMac if I ever get in a jam. I will report back as I continue with this experiment, but I expect for the foreseeable future I'll be laptop-less.

My Talk at CMD-D 2017


Speaking of Automation and Sal Soghoian, Sal recently posted a video of my presentation at his CMD-D conference last year along with several of the other speakers. My talk was about the Workflow application. This was one of my favorite (and most challenging) talks because the audience ranged from people that had never used Workflow to the actual application developers. Yikes. This was before we learned about Siri Shortcuts but there is still some good stuff. Finally, Sal is going to do the CMD-D conference again this year, and it is a three day AppleScript intensive.

Automators 3 with Sal Soghoian


Between moving into the new home office and dealing with the wildfire last week (that ended up a lot closer to my house than I would have liked), I neglected to post about the latest episode of the Automators.

Episode 3 is our first episode featuring a guest, and there is no one better as a first Automators guest than Sal Soghoian. Formerly at Apple, Sal has been an advocate of Automation with Apple gear for years. In this episode, Sal walks us through how to create an AppleScript. Sal created a website for this episode so you can learn along with him while sitting at your Mac. Rose did a complete write-up of the show over at her website. This is a pretty remarkable experience for an audio podcast, and I'm proud to have been a small part of it.

Get Ahead with OmniFocus 3 - Sponsor


This week MacSparky is sponsored by the Omni Group and their latest version of OmniFocus for the iPhone and iPad, OmniFocus 3. The latest version adds several new features while still keeping it a beautiful (and usable) app. What features you may ask? Why don’t you try these on for size:

  • 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. 

There is a bunch more. Just try it for yourself. Also, did you know that the Omni Group has world-class support? If you need help, they even have an 800 number. 

Conquer your task list today with OmniFocus 3.

The Next iPad

Jason Snell wrote up a nice summary of the current rumors and his opinions on the upcoming iPad at Macworld. It seems a near certainty that we'll get at least one new iPad next month with Face ID since the current iOS 12 betas on iPad have gone out of their way to move all information to the top right and left of the screen, thus making room for a notch. That bit of evidence also makes me think the iPad Pro will have an edge-to-edge screen since the current iPad Pro design has plenty of room in the forehead to accommodate the Face ID sensors without adding a notch.

Another interesting point is that with an edge-to-edge screen, what will happen with finger detection on the edges? When the iPad was first released, Apple made a pretty big deal out of the fact that it needed borders so you could hold it without touching the capacitive screen on the device. I know they've been working around that on the iPhone but I expect that problem to be harder to solve on the iPad where everyone will nearly always have at least one finger holding (and touching) the front of an edge-to-edge screen.

Mac Power Users 443: Revisiting Music Management

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Join Katie and I on this week's episode of Mac Power Users as we revisit music management and discuss the state of the two major streaming services, how things have changed iTunes Match, managing our music, and audio at home and in the car.

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. 
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Marketcircle: We help small business grow with great Mac, iPhone and iPad apps including Daylight and Billings Pro.

Get Automated with TextExpander – Sponsor


This week’s MacSparky sponsor, TextExpander, is one of my favorite tools to recommend to folks interested in working smarter, not harder. TextExpander is a text expansion tool that changes your game. Text expansion tools have always been useful. Type “ccell" and the app automatically fills in your cell phone number, correctly formatted. 

What makes TextExpander so much better, however, is all the icing on the cake. And when it comes to TextExpander, there is a lot of icing. 

Need rich text and a picture in your snippet? Yup.

Want to add an AppleScript to your snippet? TextExpander does that.

Want to share snippets? You can do that. (I did that.)

Want to use it on Windows, Mac, and iOS. TextExpander does that too.

You can even get team accounts, so everyone in your company is giving out precisely the right message.

I use TextExpander every day, and the application saves me a ton of time. If you’d like to make your computer do the work, so you don’t have to, look no further. Check out TextExpander, and let them know you heard about it here for a discount.

Free Agents 53: The Value of Your Time

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Mike and I talk about protecting your most valuable resource and how to figure out what you shouldn’t be doing anymore on this week's episode of Free Agents. Mike gets inspired during his personal retreat and learns how to say “no.” I learn the hard way from my recent travels, but I have a plan for what to do differently next time.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • Hover: Show the world what you’re passionate about with 10% off your first purchase.
  • 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 442: Workflows with Joe Buhlig

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Joe Buhlig joins Katie and me on this week's episode to talk about his iPadless life, analog tools for productivity, live streaming, managing a business, Discourse, and more.

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

Save Email Attachments to the Cloud with SaneBox


This week MacSparky is sponsored by SaneBox, the email service that adds power features to any email system. With SaneBox at your back, you add a powerful set of email tools that can work in just about any email client. SaneBox will automatically sort your email for you, defer your email to a more convenient time, set reminders and automatically forward email.

The list of SaneBox features just keeps growing. One feature a lot of people overlook is SaneBox’s ability to automatically save email attachments to the cloud. Attachments are hard to find and take up lots of storage space in your email. Sane Attachments scans emails in your Inbox for attachments, puts them on Dropbox, and replaces them with a link. Not only does this save space in your email, it also lets you use Hazel on your Mac to perform automation on your email attachments (which appear in a Dropbox folder) as they arrive. Super useful.

These are just a few of the features that you get with SaneBox. Go check it out and use this link to get a discount off your subscription.

Apple Killing the Mac and iOS App Affiliate Programs

Today sent an email out to affiliate program members (myself included) explaining they will no longer be paying affiliate fees for Mac and iOS applications. There are a lot of podcasters and bloggers, myself included, that receive small bits of income through affiliate linking apps. For those of us in that category, it will sting a bit, but not be a business-ending event.

On the other hand, this is terrible news for some of the aggregator sites that do a good job of finding good apps to recommend to their readers, like TouchArcade, and pay their bills nearly entirely based on affiliate income. These sites have served an important role to the community over the years, particularly when the App Stores were particularly abysmal, and I honestly don't know how any of them can stay open with the loss of affiliate income. Imagine how many great websites, like Wirecutter, would get shut down if Amazon stopped making affiliate payments.

It's easy to think of Apple as an old friend and forget that they are a for-profit corporation. I think refusing to pay affiliate fees is silly in light of the fact that third parties are driving lots of sales in the Mac and iOS app stores every day. Frankly, one of the reasons I'm moving away from the iBooks platform is becasue I don't want to get caught up if they decide it isn't worth the effort in a few years.

One last thought is why they are only cancelling affiliate payments for apps? Music, video, and book affiliate links will presumably still work. Are those next or are there industry pressures keeping Apple from shutting them down.


Mac Power Users 441: MPU+: The Grass Is Always Greener

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Join us for this week's episode to hear Katie and I talk about how it's easier now than ever before to cut the cable, Katie's moves away from Evernote, my experimentation with iOS Mail clients, getting burned when selling online, choosing an email provider, the iOS 12 Beta, and answer listener questions.  

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. Ever.
  • 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!

Free Agents 52: You Can't Be What You Can't See with Ann Shen

Ann Shen started her career as a grant writer and realized that the ladder she was climbing was leaning against the wrong wall. She then took the courageous step of going to art school and starting over again. Since then, with a combination of skill, grit, and newfound faith in herself, she's gone a long way as a free agent. Click here to listen to Ann's story on this week's episode of Free Agents.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • Hover: Show the world what you’re passionate about with 10% off your first purchase.
  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

Plan Your Day with OmniFocus - Sponsor

This week, MacSparky is sponsored by the Omni Group and their new release OmniFocus 3 for iOS. I love the new version of OmniFocus for my iPad and iPhone. 

One of my favorite new features is the improved Forecast view. With the new version, OmniFocus mixes your due tasks in between your events, in order. Then, in Forecast view, you can see exactly how your day will (ideally) go. Click to enlarge the sample below.

So much of staying productive hinges on setting yourself up for success without overdoing it. Laying your calendar on top of your tasks in order has really helped me be more realistic in planning my days.

That is just one feature of the new OmniFocus 3 for iPad and iPhone. The Omni Group is a brilliant group of programmers, designers, and generally nice people. Head over to the OmniFocus website to learn more.