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Category: Productivity (page 1 of 7)

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.

10 Ways I’m Using the iPad Pro

I’ve been using an iPad Pro for more than three months, and while my MacBook Pro is my workhouse, the iPad Pro has found an essential place in my workflow. Since I’m a couple of years overdue on posting a numbered list, here are a ten examples of how I use it.

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Voicemail to OmniFocus, via Keyboard Maestro

voicemail to omnifocus with keyboard maestro

Like many of you, I get deluged with voicemail messages, which is almost like a double whammy, because our phone system sends my voicemail messages to my email inbox. I’ve recently come up with a way to create a new OmniFocus task that contains the date and time of a voicemail message, allowing me to sort my messages in OmniFocus based on the time received. The OmniFocus task also contains a link back to the voicemail message (but see below for a glitch that may be unique to my phone system).

I put this system together thanks to Keyboard Maestro. I’m barely competent with Keyboard Maestro, but I was able to pilfer bits and pieces of other macros (and an AppleScript) from the Keyboard Maestro forums, and couple it with a good deal of tinkering.

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Apple Watch Q&A – Improve Your Office Workflow

I recently sat down for a question and answer session about the Apple Watch. That Q&A is up on my firm’s website, and does a pretty good job of identifying what I like and don’t like about the watch. For me, the two biggest benefits to the watch are the ability to quickly get information into my system, and to quickly review information and get on with what I’m doing. I don’t use the watch as a tool for generating work. Instead, it “greases the skids” and helps me get work done on my other devices.

How Can the Apple Watch Improve Office Workflow? Q&A with Attorney Evan Kline | Katherman, Briggs & Greenberg, LLP

Apple Watch – the Ultimate OmniFocus Capture Tool

I’ve been progressing through the MacSparky OmniFocus Video Field Guide, which has giving me some “ah-ha” moments. I’d already known how to use Siri and the Reminders app to get tasks into OmniFocus with my voice, but I’d fallen off the wagon and hadn’t used that method in months. When the Field Guide covered that method, it hit me like a ton of bricks – since you can add reminders to the Reminders app with your watch via Siri, you also can add tasks to OmniFocus the same way.

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3 Note-taking Apps, Used Together

For the past few years, I’ve been using three note taking apps side by side. Two of the three apps have stayed the same over the years, while the third has changed a couple of times. Why three apps? It’s partially a function of the strengths and weaknesses of the apps I use, but it’s largely a function of my brain liking to keep different types of data segregated into different apps. In my system, each app serves a different purpose:

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FileThis – Automate Your Bill Downloads

Filethis

I typically don’t gush here about a service that I’ve just tried out for the first time, but I’ll make an exception for FileThis. I just read about it over on Lifehacker, and thought I’d give it a try. FileThis is a service that collects your bills in one place, so that you don’t have to sign into multiple online accounts. I just gave it a try, and this could be one of the biggest timesavers I’ve seen in years.

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Evernote Tags vs. Notebooks: Which Are Better for Organization? [Reader Feedback]

evernote notebooks vs tagsA recent article on Lifehacker has me wondering if I’m using Evernote all wrong. I only have two main notebooks in Evernote: Work, and Personal. There are a few other random ones that are automatically created by apps, such as the notebook that Scanner Pro, an iOS app, creates. I also have an “Inbox” notebook where notes reside until they are moved into one of the other notebooks. But by and large, all of my notes go into my two main notebooks. Am I in the minority with how I use Evernote notebooks? Read more

Defer Items in Your Outlook Inbox, and Get to Inbox Zero, With Boomerang for Outlook

boomerang for outlook logoI’ve been using Mailbox on my iPhone for over a week now, and one of the features that I like the best is the ability to defer items in my email inbox. With a swipe and a tap, I can temporarily get an item out of my inbox, and set it to reappear at a future date (yes, I can hear the GTDer’s out there screeching in horror that I don’t just move it into my GTD system). I like the feature so much that I longed for the ability to do the same on my desktop at work, where we use Microsoft Outlook. The hunt was on.

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Mailbox Needs a Monitization Strategy, for My Sake

Mailbox needs a monetizaton strategy. For my sake. And yours, if you use the app. Read more

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