A few weeks ago, I posted about my new two-screen setup. I explained that I have started using the second monitor as a "reference" monitor to the right of my iMac screen. I’ve received emails and questions in the forums about how I manage windows between the screens.
I explained in the post that I do use Apple's Spaces feature—although to a much lesser extent—with the new two-screen setup. What I didn't explain, however, is how I like to manage windows using keyboard shortcuts and our old friend Keyboard Maestro.
First, a Word about Window Managers
There are a lot of applications for the Mac that will manage windows for you. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and range from simple to complex. You can also manage windows with an AppleScript, if that's your thing. If I had to pick one window manager, it would be Moom. I've used it for years, and I still have it installed despite the Keyboard Maestro shenanigans listed below.
Keyboard Maestro FTW
I think Keyboard Maestro is an ideal tool for window management for several reasons.
First, it is hyper-customizable without being hyper-difficult.
The second reason for using Keyboard Maestro is that it does so much more. I am a big fan of "stacked" automation. This is the idea that you take two relatively simple automation tasks that you often perform in order and stack them together in the same script. For example, when I want to plan a day, I often open up OmniFocus and my calendar, and I arrange those two applications in a certain way that makes it easy to see data in both. Moreover, in OmniFocus I will open particular tabs so that I can click through them quickly. I demonstrate this below.
These are all simple automation steps, but when strung together (or stacked), they become a powerful tool to manage my day. Using Keyboard Maestro for window management, not only can I make simple scripts to move the current window to the left side of the screen, but I can also stack more complicated scripts that create a working space based on the task at hand. Since I need Keyboard Maestro to do that second part, it might as well do the first part as well.
And Now, a Screencast
So now it's time to dive into the technical details of how I do all of this. For that, I think a screencast is a lot easier than a bunch of words. Here you go.
The YouTube Plug
You may note with the above screencast that I’m distributing it through YouTube. I have finally set up a YouTube channel for MacSparky, and I'm going to be adding more content going forward. For that reason, I respectfully ask that you subscribe and push whatever other buttons you're supposed to push to make me feel special.
Finally, Some Screenshots
• Support for French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese (including full text parsing and localized address and phone formats)
• Smart groups: create dynamic smart groups that automatically update based on specific search criteria
• Template preferences to customize fields and labels for new contacts
• Printing support: print customized envelopes, labels, and lists of contacts
• Quick Action for printing: type “print” or use a Quick Action button to quickly print a contact or group
• “Add Notes with Timestamp” option to quickly insert the current date and time into the notes of a contact
• Typing into a related name field now suggests other names in your contacts
My favorite feature continues to be how fast the app is. I can access or add to my contact data with just a few keystrokes. This makes Apple’s Contacts app feel very old and fidgety. Best of all, I made a video for them of the new features.
PDFpen for Mac continues to improve. Today Smile released version 10 with several new features:
- Adds watermarks
- Insert Headers & Footers
- OCR multiple documents in batch (PDFpenPro only)
- New Precision Edit tool selects, moves, resizes and deletes line art and text
- Improves move & resize of images
- Enhances page number styling
- Adds larger Library item view
- Prettier drawing colors
- Adds context menu options
- Various improvements and fixes
My favorite new feature is the watermark function. I am kind of particular about the typography in my watermarks (surprised, right?) and now I can import and create my Futura based all-caps watermarks to my heart's content.
The app also got attractive new icons. Learn more about PDFpen 10 from Smile.
Finally, there's a screencast from yours truly.
I recently did a series of seven tutorial videos on how to use PDFpen for iPad and iPhone. They're now available to watch at the PDFpen website and I think they're pretty good. Looking back, it's remarkable just how much my document review workflows have changed with the arrival of the iPad Pro. The combination of that big piece of glass with the Apple Pencil make it easy for me to review and annotate documents digitally. This is superior to my old method of printing it out and using a red pen and highlighter. Now I have way more annotation tools available and because the product is digital, it is easy to save, copy, and share. Another benefit I've noticed over time is how much easier it is to hold on to these digital annotations. I recently represented a client on a contract dispute and being able to look at my original annotations when the contract was signed last year was helpful.
Anyway, if you haven't looked into digital document annotation lately, watch these PDFpen videos. I've embedded one of them below.
Why not have a little fun at someone else's expense? Here's how you make a meme with Pixelmator.
I mentioned on a recent episode of Mac Power Users how much I like the workflow I created for automatically creating, dating, naming, and saving PDF files from third party iOS mail clients. Here is is. You can create this workflow yourself from the screenshots and at the bottom of this post is a short screencast showing both how I built it and the workflow in action.
I'd like to thank the OmniGroup for sponsoring MacSparky this week. The OmniFocus team has been hard at work, releasing version 2.6 this week. The new version includes some nice new features, including dark mode, swipe to flag, and push syncing. The new version is great. Don't believe me? Take a minute and a half to watch the below video and you will. Learn more at the Omni Group.
The below screencast is one of nine that I did for the new version of TextExpander for the Mac. At the end, I added a bit about automating email subject lines and message bodies with one snippet and I seem to have touched a nerve. I've received a ton of email about this. A lot of people didn't realize this is possible.
The trick is the Tab key. In most mail applications, the tab key moves you from the subject line to the message body. Setting the curser in the subject line, you can have a TextExpander snippet type the subject line, the tab key, then the message body. For instance:
Subject: How about some waffles?
I'm really hungry for some waffles. How about you?
If you are automating email that includes a standard subject line this can be a huge time saver. Don't forget you can also include variables and fill-in snippets in the subject line as well. For instance, if you are standardizing the email for your monthly invoice, the subject line snippet could be:
ACME %b Invoice
which would render as:
ACME June Invoice
Anyway, if this stuff interests you, it wouldn't hurt to watch the below screencast. If you'd like to see more in this screencast series, click on the "Playlist" button. I'm proud of all of them.
Reading all the Apple Watch reviews it occurred to me that a lot of people are going to want to reign in their notifications before getting their new watches. So I made a short video. Enjoy.
Here is my latest screencast demonstrating PDFpen Scan+ 1.3. This new version has a lot of improvements on both the front end (with a new iOS 7 friendly UI) and the back end (wait until you see how good it is at edge detection). This is my favorite app for turning bits of paper into digital PDF files full of OCR'd bits of awesomeness.
I had the pleasure of producing a video for Smile Software about the new features in TextExpander touch version 2.5. I’d like the think the video does a good job of getting you up to speed with TextExpander touch regardless of your experience with the app and demonstrates some of the new 2.5 features. The snippet group management is much improved. You can now watch, download, and otherwise consume it at Vimeo.
I do a lot of writing in text editors and dictation. As a result, I often have little bits of text that I want to send as an email. One day I got tired of the process of blocking, copying, opening Mail, creating a message, pasting text, adding a subject line, and sending. This was especially the case with the people that I found myself doing this for all the time. So I made some services to solve the problem for me. With this service I simply need to highlight the text and select the service. Automator does the rest in the background. Here is a short video showing how.
When I was on Brett Terpstra's Systematic podcast this week, we both bemoaned the inability to change search token criteria without using the mouse. Turns out we were both wrong. You can. The key shortcuts are:
Option-Command-F to get in the Apple Mail search bar (We got that one right).
Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Return to select a name.
Shift-Left Arrow to get into the search token selections, like To, From, Any.
Below is a 20 second screencast demonstrating it with 100% more banjo than anything I've ever made before. Thanks listener Thomas for the tip.
At one point during development of the 60 Tips book, I had a chapter on iTunes tips but I was never really happy with it. When Apple announced they were re-jiggering iTunes last month, it gave me the excuse I needed to pull the iTunes chapter from the book. I did, however, have some screencasts already completed. I'm not sure if they'll still be relevant when the new iTunes ships but here they are anyway.
One of my favorite keyboard hacks was the ability to change the sending email address from OS X's Mail.app without resorting to the mouse or trackpad like some farm boy fresh off the turnip truck. This shortcut existed through Snow Leopard but disappeared with Lion. I'm happy to report it's back in Mountain Lion.
Specifically, you create a keyboard shortcut for use in Mountain Lion's Mail.app that fills in the sending email address of your choice. In order to create it, you need to use the exact syntax from the Mail.app and a handy keyboard shortcut. (I use Control + Command + Option + a corresponding key in the top row, Q-W-E-R.) Once you've set this up, you can quickly change the sending email address for any message you write in Mail.app with a keyboard combination. This screencast demonstrates.