field guides

Keyboard Maestro Update

Last month saw the release of the latest major update to Keyboard Maestro. Version 9 adds several new features, including multiple editor menus, a method for extracting text from images, and dark mode. That’s just the start. They also added support for the Elgato Stream Deck, which is pretty fun. I’m going to be doing a free update to the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide adding videos on the version 9 features just as soon as I get done shipping the new Shortcuts Field Guide, which is imminent.

Keyboard Maestro Script for Automating Contact Creation with Cardhop

Here’s a small Keyboard Maestro script that I use just about every day to create contacts on my Mac with Cardhop. The problem this is designed to solve is Basecamp project email addresses. Every new Basecamp project I create has a specialized (and nearly unreadable) email address attached. Any email I copy or forward to that address gets added to the project. Handy. Right?

But the process of creating a new contact card for each project is tedious, particularly with the Apple Contacts app that requires much clicking and typing. So I made this script that queries me for the project name and then grabs the magic email address from my clipboard to create a contact in the Basecamp Projects group in my contacts database. Cardhop’s quick entry system makes all the difference.

You can download the script here:

KM Script Download

And see the script in action in the below video. Note there is a discount code for the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide at the end of the video.

Also, here’s a screenshot of the script.

A Few Notes on Upcoming Field Guides

I’ve got some news on my upcoming plans for Field Guide releases. 

Shortcuts Field Guide, iOS 13 Edition 

Following WWDC this year, and after getting my hands on the new iOS and iPadOS beta installations, it was plain to see that Siri Shortcuts, now called “Shortcuts”, is a lot more than just a fresh coat of paint. The team at Apple fundamentally changed (and improved) Shortcuts so that this year we will be getting something way more powerful and useful than we had last year. Rose Orchard and I talk about this at length in the latest episode of the Automators.

This new version looks and acts differently than the previous version. It quickly became apparent that I cannot simply update to the existing Siri Shortcuts Field Guide, so I’m starting from scratch with a brand new Shortcuts Field Guide, iOS 13 Edition. It’s already in production and coming out great. I’m on track to release the new edition on iOS 13 launch day. It will be a separate purchase, but I will have a discount for folks who bought the prior edition of the Siri Shortcuts Field Guide. 

Photos Field Guide, Second Edition 

Like Shortcuts, Apple has also substantially improved Photos and photo management since I released the original Photos Field Guide, so I’m making an entirely new edition of the Photos Field Guide as well. Like Shortcuts, I’m doing the new Photos Field Guide entirely from scratch, and it will feature all the latest and greatest features. My outline is very ambitious in that I also hope to cover capturing photos and videos with your mobile devices in addition to managing and editing them. This one will ship after iOS 13 and Catalina are released, but not too long after. 

Help Me Make the Field Guides Better 

This is the first time I’ve pre-announced upcoming Field Guides. If you are interested in either of these titles and have topics you would like me to cover or questions you would like me to answer, now is your chance to become a part of the process. Send me a note. I can’t promise I will reply to every email, but I will definitely be reading all of them. I would love your help in making the next Field Guides even better.

Last Call for Introductory Pricing on Keyboard Maestro Field Guide

The response thus far has been pretty amazing for the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide. Thanks to everyone that purchased it. I really enjoyed making it and I’m happy it is resonating. I’m already hearing about some cool automations that customers have created and incorporated into their daily lives.

If you are thinking about buying the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide, now’s the time. The introductory price ends this weekend.

Announcing Learn.MacSparky

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new website for the distribution of all my video courses, 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, 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 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 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, sign up for the 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.

Announcing the iPhone Field Guide

Today I'm pleased to announce my latest MacSparky Field Guide is available for purchase from the iBooks Store, The iPhone Field Guide.

I've been working on this book for a long time and I'm really happy with how it turned out. 

With the iPhone Field Guide, you'll learn to get the most from your iPhone with  this media-rich book that is sometimes user guide, sometimes opinionated app recommendations, and sometimes iPhone sensei. This book was built entirely in iBooks Author and includes all of the multimedia goodness including screenshots, photo galleries, and video screencasts all engineered to make you an iPhone power user. There are over 50 screencasts adding up to over two hours of video instruction, 450 pages, 44 chapters, and over 65,000 words to help you learn how to squeeze every bit of awesomeness from your iPhone.

The material is accessible to beginners and power users alike with a thoughtful, fun, and systematic approach to iPhone mastery. Moreover, this book is beautifully designed and a joy to read. This is the seventh book in the MacSparky Field Guide series.

The book looks great on the Mac and iPad but, because it is about the iPhone, there is a separate scrolling mode for the book making it fully consumable on your iPhone. The video screencasts are even formatted to display on your iPhone.

I'm offering the book at an introductory price of $20 but that is going to go up later so if you are interested, check it out now. I'm really proud of this book and I hope you dig it.

OmniFocus 3 and the Next OmniFocus VFG

The Omni Group has been hard at work on OmniFocus, version 3, for some time now. The new version is going to include a lot of new features, including tags, manual sorting, better notifications, and more. It's a big update, along with visual changes, and a bunch more.

I'm already setting up the OmniFocus Video Field Guide, version 3. It's going to release with (or shortly after) OmniFocus, version 3. It's a big project and it is going to be a new purchase. Anyone who buys the current version of the OmniFocus VFG in 2018 will get a free version of the new edition. Now let me get back to work on this outline ...

The OmniFocus Video Field Guide Gets Streaming and Closed Captions

When I first started distributing the video field guides, I wanted to make it as simple as possible. Customers pay and then download a video. It worked great originally but lately I've been getting emails from customers that just work on iPad and iPhone. For them, getting a 2GB video file onto their device is not trivial. 

For those customers, streaming the videos makes more sense than downloading. So I've been looking for a way to distribute the videos that lets customers stream, download, or both. Vimeo gives me that so new customers will now get the OmniFocus Video Field Guide through Vimeo where they can stream or download.

I'm pretty happy with this new distribution method. It gives customers more flexibility and allows me to update small portions without requiring everyone to download the entire video all over again.

Also, with the move I've also added closed captions to all of the chapters. So if you have trouble hearing or english is a second language, check the closed caption box while watching and you're all set. If you've already purchased the OmniFocus Video Field Guide and want a closed captioned copy, please drop me a note.

OmniFocus Video Field Guide Update Coming Sunday

I’ve been working the last few months on an update to the OmniFocus Video Field Guide. I’ve updated it for several new features and gone deep on the iOS Automation and URL linking. I'm making final edits and additions over the next few days and intend to publish it sometime Sunday (probably late). The update will be free for people that have already purchased the field guide. However, please note that for new buyers the price is going up to $19.99. So if you want to get in on the current $9.99 price, do so between now and Sunday afternoon when it goes up.