Jeff’s Meeting Workflow

The combination of simple-to-use automation tools (like TextExpander) and OmniFocus’s Mail drop is changing the way people get things done. Jeff Taekman (a clever fellow and one of our guests on MPU 100 recently wrote up his meeting workflow using all these pieces and it is definitely worth checking out.

Learning Keyboard Shortcuts

I often receive emails asking how I can remember so many keyboard shortcuts. It really isn’t that hard.

The trick is to just learn one at a time. Figure out something you do repeatedly and commit the keyboard shortcut to memory. For instance, sending an email from Apple Mail requires Shift-Command-D. Everybody sends email, right?

The next time you finish composing an email, press Shift-Command-D and you’ll hear that satisfying swooshing sound without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Do it for every email you send for the next few weeks. At some point, it becomes muscle memory. Then pick another keyboard shortcut and start on that one.

What you shouldn’t do is find a list of shortcuts and try to memorize them. Just pick a shortcut that help you right now and stick with it until it is second nature and then move on.

By the way, if you want help finding a shortcut, try CheatSheet. It’s a simple, free little app that feeds you all the shortcuts for your active application. Remember though, just pick one to learn.


Ever wake up in a Hangover like haze and need help figuring out what you did the day before? If you were sitting at your Mac, open Spotlight and type Date:Yesterday. This gives you a listing of all the apps, docs, and other related files accessed on your Mac yesterday.

When I’m returning to a big project, this is really helpful.

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Apple Mail Send-From Trick

One of my favorite keyboard hacks was the ability to change the sending email address from OS X’s 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 that fills in the sending email address of your choice. In order to create it, you need to use the exact syntax from the 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 with a keyboard combination. This screencast demonstrates.

More on DuckDuckGo

It’s been about a month since I switched from Google to DuckDuckGo for my search engine. This far in, I’ve found the search results to be slightly slower (not enough to matter) and sometimes different from Google’s. In some case different means worse. In other cases, different means better. It feels like a wash to me.

Overall, I’m glad to have made the switch and don’t see myself going back. I like the clean way DuckDuckGo presents results and did I mention DuckDuckGo’s privacy policy?

I’ve picked up a few tips since my last entry on the subject:

  • Use “ddg” as your trigger in LaunchBar or Alfred. It is easier to type than “duck”.
  • Make a TextExpander snippet: Fire that off in your browser’s URL bar and start typing your search. I got that tip from Jason Rehmus, via Steven Hackett.

1Password Stores E-Mails

Did you know that you can drag an e-mail from Apple Mail to 1Password? The fun begins later when you need that e-mail again. Just click the mail message in 1Password and it opens the mail message, even after you’ve buried the mail message in your archive. Pretty slick.

Six Mostly Irrelevant iOS Changes that Make Me Smile

My friends at Macworld are killing the iOS 5 coverage with some of the more amazing new features. I, instead, will focus on some of the small (and mostly irrelevant) things that make me smile.

1. Turn off e-mail badge

Hallelujah. No longer will I feel that irresistible impulse to open mail just because the badge tells me there is a new message.

2. Week View on the Side

A small upgrade to the the built-in Calendar app that I use every day.

3. Exchange Calendar Colors

This was always a pain before iOS 5. If you were to sync with an Exchange calendar, you had no control over its color. (There was a goofy way that involved lots of calendar deletion and re-creation but that really wasn’t an option.) Problem solved.

4. Twitter Integration

Twitter feels like the perfect social media to me. I’m really tired of typing in my Twitter credentials in every app where it makes sense. Problem solved.

5. Wireless Sync

Maybe this isn’t such a small and irrelevant upgrade but waking up to find my iPad freshly synced, golden baby.

6. Wireless AirPlay

iPad + AppleTV = Presentation Bliss is sponsored by Bee Docs Timeline 3D. Make a timeline presentation with your Mac.

NV Naming, Redux

It wasn’t so long ago that I wrote about my Notational Velocity naming system. Critical to my system was the use of a colon in the note names as my Frankenstein-like naming and tagging system. On our marathon Workflows interview, Merlin talked about a similar system using an “x” in replacement of my “:” After we finished recording, I thought about it and switched. The reason wasn’t so much a concern about Unix conflicts (since the use is inside Notational Velocity and I’ve been using this system for ages with no problem) but instead the iPad and iPhone keyboards, that require two taps to get to the colon versus just one for an “x.” Now instead of legal active matters coding at law:am as I explained here, I now use lawxam. Thanks Merlin.

If you want to get nerdy about colons and Unix, check out Dr Drang’s piece here. The good Doctor publishes a great blog.