Menu Close

Markdown: Create a System-wide Shortcut for Bold and Italics

If you use Markdown you know that you can make text bold by surrounding it with double underscores or double asterisks. Using italics works the same way, but you surround your text with single underscores or single asterisks.

In my job I frequently review text created by someone else, and need to select portions of the text to mark as bold using Markdown. I perform this action quickly with a keyboard shortcut that triggers a simple Keyboard Maestro macro.1

Here’s what the macro looks like:

All the macro does is take the selected text, adds it to the clipboard, and then repastes the clipboard contents, surrounded by the Markdown syntax, in place of the original text. To get italics instead of bold, you’d change the third step to use a single underscore instead of the double underscore depicted in the image above.2

Here’s the macro to download (you’ll need to unzip it after downloading it):

Keyboard Maestro Markdown Bold Macro

The Benefits of Occasionally Switching Task Management Apps

Geeks love trying shiny new toys. For me that love extends to experimenting with new task management apps. Over the past year I’ve switched task management apps twice – once temporarily, and once for good (for now). About six months ago I switched from OmniFocus to TaskPaper, before eventually switching back. Most recently, I’ve switched from OmniFocus to Things, and it looks like that one will stick. I discovered a few benefits in that exploration.

You rethink how you do things

In the brief time I spent with TaskPaper, I discovered how much I enjoyed its simplicity, and how I was more efficient in digesting what needed to get done. There was just something appealing about its simple list view, with headings and indented entries.

My use of TaskPaper helped me realize that as much as OmniFocus was much more complicated, I could replicate that list view with a custom perspective. My custom perspective listed all my important contexts, with tasks (or next actions) below each context.

The list was long, but still scannable. For my type of work, that was better than wrangling with a custom context that (hopefully) surfaced the actions that were important for me. It also worked better (again, for me, in my line of work) than diving into specific projects to perform actions of my choosing, since my work isn’t project based.

You learn what is important

My dalliance with TaskPaper got me primed for switching to Things. First, it made me realize I value simplicity. I was ready for a tool that didn’t require as much fiddling as OmniFocus.

It also made me realize how important easy capture was in a system. The ability to capture actions and tasks from just about anywhere is one of the strengths of OmniFocus. I came up with several workarounds to capture items into TaskPaper, but there was still friction involved.

You clean out the cruft

A regular review process is supposed to help you clear items out of your system that should no longer be there. That doesn’t always happen, though. Over time, your task management app can get bloated with tasks and projects you’ll never touch.

Each time I switched systems, I forced myself to take a long, hard look at my projects and actions, and decide whether an item really needed to come over to the new system. I started lean and mean, but knowing full well that task creep would set in soon.

It’s fun

Yes, the primary purpose of any task management system is to help you get things done. But, as a I suggested at the start of this post, geeks often like trying out new toys. I found this to be the case with both TaskPaper and Things.

That spark of fun also translated into a burst of productivity. Instead of slowing down while I learned a new system, I found myself reinvigorated and getting more work done.

In a perfect world I’d find an app and stick with it. I hope Things is it, but I’m a realist and know I’ll always be tempted by the next big thing.

OmniFocus vs. Things: Why I Switched

If you’ve visited 40Tech lately you’ve seen several posts on Things, which is now my task management app of choice. My switch to Things surprised me. For a few years, I was an OmniFocus snob. I fancied myself a power user, and thought other task management apps were somehow inferior because they didn’t have the level of power offered by OmniFocus.

Read more

Things: Cross-Platform Attachments with DEVONthink – Part 1 (40Tech Video)

I’ve made my first ever YouTube video for 40Tech. This short video addresses one of the main shortcomings of Things, my current task management app of choice. Things does not support the syncing of attachments from Mac to iOS, or vice versa. This video takes a look at how to use DEVONthink to add an attachment to Things on the Mac, and have it available in Things on iOS.

I’m sure I’ll work the rough edges off of these videos if I do more in the future, but I hope this one helps some of you out there. The video is embedded below, or you can click here to go to the video on YouTube.

Upcoming Publication – “How to Navigate Cybersecurity in 2018”

The Pennsylvania Bar Association publishes the Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine six times a year. The magazine, which has a circulation of approximately 25,000, has published one of my articles, “How to Navigate Cybersecurity in 2018,” in the March edition. The article covers tips a law firm can take to protect itself from cyber threats.

If you’re a Pennsylvania Bar Association member, look for the magazine in your mailbox. The publication is also distributed to the news media and libraries.