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Category: Apple (page 1 of 15)

How to Make the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar Useful

All of the good ones are taken.

That’s how I feel when it comes to keyboard shortcuts on my Mac. Between Keyboard Maestro and app shortcuts in System Preferences, I have used up all of the easy to remember shortcuts. Enter the MacBook Pro and the Touch Bar. When used with BetterTouchTool and Keyboard Maestro, some commonly used shortcuts are just a tap away.

BetterTouchTool allows you to configure the TouchBar on a per app basis, and also globally. You can configure TouchBar buttons to execute certain system commands, and also to type keystrokes. That last part – typing keystrokes – is huge. If you trigger a Keyboard Maestro macro with a keystroke combination, you can map that keystroke combination to a Touch Bar button via BetterTouchTool.

For example, check out my “End Call” Touch Bar Action in the screenshot below:

You can see I’ve mapped my “End Call” Touch Bar Action to the Option-Command-H keyboard shortcut. Over in Keyboard Maestro I’ve set up a macro that is triggered by that same keyboard command. The macro hangs up the VOIP software phone on my Mac, so I don’t have to hunt down the VOIP application to end a call.1 With the combination of the BetterTouchTool Action and the Keyboard Maestro macro, I press a nice red phone button on the Touch Bar, and the call ends. I have a similar Touch Bar button set up for answering calls.

In future posts, I’ll break down some more Touch Bar layouts to show what I’ve done with the Touch Bar, such as adding Markdown bold and italics buttons for use in my firm’s case management system, and more.

BetterTouchTool currently is sold under a “Pay What You Want” model, with a minimum price of $4.99 and a suggested price of $8.99. It’s sold directly from the developer’s website.

BetterTouchTool

  1. Even on my iMac, I typically keep apps spread between several Spaces. I didn’t want to have to hunt down the VOIP app, or tab between open apps, to go to the app and end a call.

Add Your Favorite Mac Mail Client to the PDF Print Menu

On the Mac, you can email a PDF of almost any webpage, photo, or other document, by selecting the print command and picking “Mail PDF” from the dropdown menu at the bottom of the dialog box that pops up. This automatically opens Apple Mail, regardless of what you’ve set as the default mail client on your Mac. What if you want to mail the PDF using a third party mail client?

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BetterSnapTool for Better Screencast Resolution

If you embed screen recordings (i.e., screencasts) into a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation, rule #1 is that your audience has to be able to see your screencast for it to be effective. If you are recording from a device with a Retina display, you might find that application windows sometimes become unreadable when later displayed with lower-resolution projectors. Images and text just become too small. While you can fix this by adjusting your monitor’s resolution either in settings or with third party apps1, my preferred solution is to use a Mac app called BetterSnapTool.

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Put a DEVONthink Sorter in the Menu Bar With Dropzone

One of the tools included with all Mac versions of DEVONthink is the Sorter. The DEVONthink Sorter is an optional tool that hangs out at the side of your screen. You can drag files to it, and send them off to preconfigured locations within DEVONthink. I liked the functionality of the Sorter, but didn’t like it always hanging out at the edge of my screen, so I came up with an alternative that resides in my Mac’s menu bar.

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Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts in Apple Mail

I recently enjoyed using Gmail shortcuts in MailMate, and wanted to bring those same shortcuts to the default Mail app on macOS.1 GMailinator, the only Mail plugin I could find to do so, hasn’t been updated in four years, so I didn’t bother installing it. Instead, I started looking for another way, and I think I’ve found it.

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Airmail to TaskPaper

I’m currently trying out TaskPaper as my task manager of choice, after almost five years with OmniFocus. More on that in the future, but for now don’t read too much into this – OmniFocus is a great app, and if it works for you, I don’t recommend switching.

TaskPaper has many strengths (again, more on that in the future), but one weakness is its lack of integration with third party apps when it comes to capturing tasks. On iOS, for example, native TaskPaper integration isn’t built into any email apps. There is a thread in the TaskPaper forums that points to a workflow, using the iOS Workflow app, to get Airmail email links into TaskPaper. I couldn’t get that working, though.

Instead, I stumbled upon a thread with instructions on how to get items from the Reminders app into TaskPaper (scroll down in the thread for the script). I set the JavaScript in that thread up on my Mac, and have Keyboard Maestro run the script every 10 minutes. That script slurps anything that appears in a designated list in Reminders into TaskPaper. Of course, for this to work, you’ll need to make sure you have Reminders syncing between your Mac and your iOS device.

Suddenly, TaskPaper is WAY more functional for me. I can use any iOS or Mac app that supports Reminders to get tasks into TaskPaper. One of those is Airmail, and the task contains a link back to the mail message.

More to come on how I’m using this Reminders integration to open up all sorts of possibilities with TaskPaper.

Arq Backup and Amazon Cloud Drive – a Perfect Match

There’s a new sheriff in town when it comes to my online backups, and that’s Arq Backup. For several years, I’ve been using Crashplan for all the Macs in my house. It was hard to beat the price of the Crashplan family plan, but my subscription expires in the next few months, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be renewing it. Instead, I’m switching to a combination of Arq Backup and Amazon Cloud Drive.

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MacTrack Legal Is Coming

The MacTrack Legal conference, formerly known as Milofest, takes place at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club in Orlando, Florida from October 6 to 8. If you’re a lawyer who uses a Mac or other Apple devices, this is the best conference of the year. I attended last year, and the sessions were fantastic. While the conference is tech-focused, there are other practical and substantive topics as well.

Beyond the sessions, though, the conference is worth attending just to mix with other Mac lawyers. I have yet to attend a conference with a friendlier group of people from all over the country. It’s a bonus that much of the banter among attendees covers Macs, other tech topics, and practice-related matters.

I’m going to attend and speak at the conference again this year (my bio isn’t on the site yet, but I’ll be there). My topic will be “Workflows and Tools for Mobile Lawyers.” I’ll also be part of “The Ultimate Gear Off” panel with Katie Floyd (Mac Power Users Podcast), Brett Burney, and Mark Metzger.

I hope to see some of you there. Come early or stay late, and take in Disney.

More info: MacTrack Legal

Jump Cursor Between Monitors with Keyboard Maestro

My monitors must be reproducing. A few years ago, I switched from multiple monitors back to a single monitor, happy to use different Spaces to organize my desktop. Recently, though, I’ve added a second and then a third monitor into the equation (one of which is my MacBook Pro screen). The drawback of this setup is the time it takes to drag the mouse cursor from one monitor to another. Keyboard Maestro fixed this.

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Fantastical – Now Even Better

Fantastical 2 is my favorite calendar app for the Mac, and lives in my menu bar. I love being able to tap the menu bar, and see my appointments at a glance from anywhere on my Mac. There’s also something about its natural language parsing that still gets me a bit giddy, even after using Fantastical for a few years. Today, the app got even better.

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